Six Things You Don’t Owe Anyone This Summer


Wednesday’s child is not down.

I CAN ALMOST GUARANTEE you’ve heard some variation of this from your friends on social media, but, IT’S SUMMERTIME, Y’ALL. Nothing to look forward to but long days, pleasant nights, hot weather, and fruity drinks, amirite?

Unless, that is, you hate summer. Which, of course, means that you hate fun and America. That’s what our summer-obsessed culture would have you believe, at least.

Look, I pretty much hate summer. I’m from the south, where high temperatures and humidity turn this season into an unfriendly hellscape of boob sweat, frizz, and sunburn. My favorite summer activities include sitting inside, reading books, and not feeling like the Wicked Witch after Dorothy hit her with that water bucket.

But saying that shocks a lot of people, because we’re conditioned to love summer. It’s tied into all the best things about U.S. culture: freedom, travel, cars, and strange meats served on buns. It also comes with a lot of baggage and expectations about “bikini bodies,” celebrations, and fashion.

So, as a proud Summer Grinch, let me tell you: you don’t owe anyone a damn thing extra during the summer. It’s OK to make sacrifices when you feel comfortable making them, but it’s not OK for others to demand that you do so. Here’s a brief list of things you don’t have to do this season.

1. Dieting or Exercising

There’s an enormous amount of pressure placed on slimming down and shaping up to look good during your summertime beach activities, but it’s just not an attainable goal for a lot of people. Trying to drop several sizes and develop lots of muscle tone in six weeks or less isn’t feasible for most of us. That doesn’t stop attempts to sell us miracle drugs, shakes, and workout plans, though.

Look, if you want to diet or exercise for yourself, by all means, find the healthiest way for you to meet your goals. And if you’re happy being fat, don’t let anyone take the wind out of your sails. You don’t owe anyone a crash diet or a pulled muscle, even if it is summer.

2. Wearing a Bikini

I think there are a lot more bathing suit options now than when I was growing up, because tankinis and boy shorts are no longer super-difficult to find. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a premium placed on wearing a bikini, however.

But bikinis aren’t all that great, and the emotional baggage they can carry might outweigh whatever liberation you would supposedly get from wearing one. Whatever your reason for not wanting to wear a bikini is, it’s ultimately your decision. You alone are responsible for what you put on your body, and you should wear what makes you feel lovely and comfortable.

3. Dressing Modestly

Because we’re women and there is a sexist double standard in play, people will also say that you should not wear a bikini, in the interests of modesty. These folks don’t seem to understand that 1) it’s hot as balls out, 2) you don’t owe them anything, and 3) pervs gonna pervert no matter what you’re wearing.

Wear that thong and those pasties, if it makes you feel lovely and comfortable. Summertime is all about enjoyment, so you should enjoy it.

4. Tanning or Shaving

Why is summer all about expectations about how we style our bodies? Seriously.

Listen up, people: no one has to tan or shave in order to enjoy their summer. Someone having pasty skin or unshaven body hair doesn’t affect the fun you will have on your vacation. So we can all stop putting such a priority on tanning and shaving. It really cuts down on the time you get to spend in the pool, you know?

5. Getting in the Water

Traditional summertime activities usually involve water, but a lot of people don’t want to get in the ocean, on a boat, or in a pool, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Still, the supposed importance of water activities ranks so high that a lot of people think pushing another person into the water — essentially forcing them to “enjoy” it — is a reasonable response. Uh, no.

It’s also inappropriate to assume that people don’t want to get in the water because they have irrational fears or body image hangups. Instead of trying to counsel them, just shut up, leave your friends alone, and let them enjoy the summer they way they want to, OK?

6. Going to Parties or Weddings

It’s wedding season! And party season! Aren’t you happy? Don’t you just love the idea of being around dozens of strangers all day?

Yeah, me neither. Look, unless it’s your wedding or your party, you’re under no obligation to attend. If you’d feel more comfortable staying at home, send a nice note and gift to the newlyweds or host, and make your summer yours instead.