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My age: I'm 40 years old
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Summer brings with it so many delights: mangoes, festivals, my birthday, mangoes and long evenings of slow sunsets.

But the rising mercury heralds a minefield of distress for many a larger lass. Trips to the beach can yield anxiety and judgment, summer fashions don't always come above a 14, Christmas brings tactless relatives asking if you really need that second helping, and don't get me started on the CHUB RUB. So, as we count down to December, my festive contribution to my plus size pals is a little something I like to call: A Fat Lady's Guide to Summer.

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The fabulous Tess Holliday flexing at Mooloolaba. As sweaty season approaches, the mags lining news stands will start giving me super helpful advice on how to get a 'bikini body', my news feed will boast for fake tan and weight loss programs, and my friends will share well-meaning body positive memes.

While I agree with said memes in principle, enjoying the beach as a fat woman isn't actually that simple. Swimming is one of my favourite activities, alongside dancing, eating, talking and sexytimes. But the beach is a fraught place, where I risk judgment and discomfort.

It begins with the endless search for swimwear that fits and ends with sand in uncomfortable places. As a teenager, I remember working myself into a frenzy of worry — I so desperately wanted to go along to the beach with my friends but my pale and bumpy body looked nothing like theirs and I was sure they would be secretly amused or appalled.

These days, I refuse to let those fears stop me getting my ocean on and neither should you. Last summer was all about the fatkini, and shops like City Chic and Swimsuits for All have an array of gorgeous cossies. In principle, the fatkini, is a bikini on a fat person, but based on Instagram selfies and this very attractive listiclethey tend to be high waisted and glam. As my friend Kate said, "I heart '50s bikinis because they look rad with curves".

Alas, I am pale as a ghost and I like hurling my body into the biggest waves I can find, so a glamorous, skimpy halter-neck will leave me sunburned and at risk of public exposure.

Most days, I pair high waisted bikini pants with a well-structured, unsexy swim bra and a rashie. In fact, I'd like to take a moment to sing the praises of my swim bra — this one, purchased from Swimwear Galore. After years of struggling with ill-fitting underwire, weird moulded cups and those awkward boob shelves they love to put in one pieces, this single purchase has made swimming with my rather large knockers a damn delight.

Fat woman on beach images

If I want to feel a bit more feminine, I pop the swim bra on under a patterned one-piece and glam up with accessories. As writer, Nicole, suggests, "Rather than trying to camouflage anything, I just do some super duper flamboyant beach get-up.

Giant hat, Hollywood shades, 50s bikini, sheer kaftan. No negative reactions, just people giving that 'you look fabulous' nod. Sometimes I just don't feel confident enough to prance about half naked, and on those days I'm all about my sarong and my swim hoodie, pictured below. There's no right or wrong way to be in your body and, in the end, the sexiest and happiest I ever feel is when I am comfortable.

Fat girl beach images

Once equipped with swimwear options and a truckload of sunblock, trips to the beach are as much about companionship as they are logistics. Despite being a body-positive opinionated feminist, I still have hang-ups, so I choose to spend beach times with people who share my attitude to size. I find listening to other women discussing their 'flaws' or weight loss plans pretty distressing at the best of times.

If I am pushing aside my awkwardness to sploosh about in the shallows, I want to do it with likeminded folk. And what about those bikini body programs? Let's be honest.

No woman who is actually fat is going to look like a conventional bikini wearer in 8 short weeks. Those programs are for thin women who would like to be a tiny bit thinner and that is fine for them, but engaging with that crap is just going to make you miserable.

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Don't read bikini body manifestos, don't look up thigh gaps and bikini bridges on Instagram unless it's for a good pervestart following plus size bloggers, and, lord, don't read ANYTHING that tells you what to wear by comparing your body shape to a piece of fruit. You are not an apple or a pear or a mango for that matter ; you are a person.

And in summer, fruit's sole purpose is clearly cocktails. Maeve Marsden is a freelance writer, director, producer and performer.

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She tweets from maevegobash. Please try again later. The Sydney Morning Herald. By Maeve Marsden Updated November 6, — 7. Save Log inregister or subscribe to save articles for later. Normal text size Larger text size Very large text size.

First up? The Beach.