The Summer I Decided To Stop Hating My Body

One summer day, I spent 40 minutes struggling to get dressed. It took me one minute to choose the perfect maxi dress, and 39 minutes to find a cardigan that would cover my arms without making me melt in the summer heat. Turns out, there is no such thing.

Sitting on the subway, I caught a reflection of myself in the window. Everyone around me was wearing shorts, tanks, and sundresses, and there I was looking like I was waiting for snow to fall.

I pushed the sleeves of my cardigan up to my elbows for some relief, and as I moved my arms, I noticed something. Even though I was wearing a stifling hot cardigan to cover up my arm fat, I could still see my “bat wings” jiggle inside the fabric. Growing up as a big girl, I’ve tried to cover my body with everything from baggy clothes to tight shapewear, and then there’s the plus-size cardigan trick.

I realized that even if I bought a short-sleeved shrug of some sort, my arm fat disguises weren’t fooling anyone. They might be covered in fabric, but every time I moved, my arms were waving “hellooooo!” I was trying to hide something that is impossible to conceal. And, my cardigan-come-comfort-blanket was making me hot and uncomfortable.
The Summer I Decided To Stop Hating My Body

Dress details here

I would like to say that in that very moment I stripped off my cardigan and liberated myself from the chains of cardigans and shrugs, but it wasn’t that easy. Even though I considered going sleeveless and letting my arms flap in the wind, I still had stretch marks to consider. I had been hiding those since the 7th grade! My tangled web of body image issues needed to be unraveled slowly. Was the world ready for my arm jelly? Even worse, was I prepared to show my stretch marks in all their striped glory?

Over time, I’ve realized that no matter how many crochet “summer sweaters” and flowy tops I buy, the truth is: You can’t hide the fat. I’m a big girl with big arms and stretch marks. I can waste 39 minutes every morning trying to shield the world from the horror of my arms, or I can throw on the cute summer dress in one minute and save those 39 minutes for something more productive.

It took me about a year to get comfy with sleeveless clothes, but since then, I’ve felt pretty liberated. I no longer ruin beautifully made formal dresses with intrusive shawls and boxy taffeta shrugs. I wear tank tops to the gym. And, I even went sleeveless on a first date once — a huge accomplishment for me.

Of course, I still do my favorite fitness workouts that strengthen my arms. But, even if I never have Michelle Obama guns, I’ve liberated myself by refusing to hide my body.

Summer is here. Will you be going sleeveless?

42 thoughts on “The Summer I Decided To Stop Hating My Body”

  1. So ironic that you blogged this today… I had this conversation with my mom yesterday. As confident as I come off… I still try to hide my guns! This summer I’ve decided to not hide them. So far so good. Shockingly no one has stopped me on the street to say “how dare you show your fat arms in public!”. Actually as the summer goes by my arms are enjoying the feeling of sun days and gentle breezes. I don’t know if it’s the tan that I’ve accumulated or this “learning to love your body” thing is actually starting to work but, my arms have stopped being the focus of my summer!

  2. ercoleman@gmail.com

    So ironic that you blogged this today… I had this conversation with my mom yesterday. As confident as I come off… I still try to hide my guns! This summer I’ve decided to not hide them. So far so good. Shockingly no one has stopped me on the street to say “how dare you show your fat arms in public!”. Actually as the summer goes by my arms are enjoying the feeling of sun days and gentle breezes. I don’t know if it’s the tan that I’ve accumulated or this “learning to love your body” thing is actually starting to work but, my arms have stopped being the focus of my summer!

  3. I had this same problem during high school. It was after very soon after that one day I saw this black dress at h&m (that I still wear ten years later) and it was sleeveless. I hated my arms. It runs in the family. They hate their arms and that day I bought it and wore it and kept wearing it and now I don’t even think twice about my arms. I have no idea what happened after that day. I was like forget it I’m too cute to be hiding and that was that lol.

  4. I had this same problem during high school. It was after very soon after that one day I saw this black dress at h&m (that I still wear ten years later) and it was sleeveless. I hated my arms. It runs in the family. They hate their arms and that day I bought it and wore it and kept wearing it and now I don’t even think twice about my arms. I have no idea what happened after that day. I was like forget it I’m too cute to be hiding and that was that lol.

  5. I’ve been proud to show my arms for years now. I’ve come to realize that some people are going to have a problem with me, whether or not I cover up. I do dress appropriately; however, I bare my arms….shoot it’s too hot to be covered up! :-)…glad you ladies are realizing the same.

  6. This was me a few summers ago. I’ve always wanted to cover up my body, but a day came (in the summer) where I realized it was too hot to be trying to cover my arms in cardigans and wear jeans and I started discovering so many online communities of plus-sized women wearing whatever they wanted and I just became inspired. I live in New Orleans it’s wayyyyy too hot and wayyyyy to humid too hot to have on layers of clothing. I never wore short sleeved shirts alone, dresses, skirts, or shorts and now I do! It took a minute, but I can do it now. I actually wore a romper Saturday for the first time and it was a big accomplishment for me. So I’m going sleeveless and pantsless this summer. lol 🙂

  7. sa.pointer@yahoo.com

    I’ve been proud to show my arms for years now. I’ve come to realize that some people are going to have a problem with me, whether or not I cover up. I do dress appropriately; however, I bare my arms….shoot it’s too hot to be covered up! :-)…glad you ladies are realizing the same.

  8. terinikaamiee@gmail.com

    This was me a few summers ago. I’ve always wanted to cover up my body, but a day came (in the summer) where I realized it was too hot to be trying to cover my arms in cardigans and wear jeans and I started discovering so many online communities of plus-sized women wearing whatever they wanted and I just became inspired. I live in New Orleans it’s wayyyyy too hot and wayyyyy to humid too hot to have on layers of clothing. I never wore short sleeved shirts alone, dresses, skirts, or shorts and now I do! It took a minute, but I can do it now. I actually wore a romper Saturday for the first time and it was a big accomplishment for me. So I’m going sleeveless and pantsless this summer. lol 🙂

  9. Wowsa, this really spoke to me on another level. Fellow cardi addict/”fat arm” coverer here. I remember when I studied abroad in Europe 10 years ago in college, my friends making fun of my cardigan collection saying it took up half of my very limited amount of suitcase space and that I had a problem. And since, ne’er a formal celebration have I attended without some kind of shameful shawl to cover my arms. Even in the dead of summer in Texas where I live. I’ve even been known to rock a cardi on a 100-degree day at an outdoor music festival, or a sweaty club while dancing my heart out. While it began as a way to cover myself, it slowly over the years became a staple of my wardrobe allowing me to express my style as I sought out mix-matching or brightly-colored or ones with unique buttons and trims. In the past year or so I too have shed my cardigan skin as I’ve enterered a new realm of self-acceptance and felt the same feeling of liberation. I went to a music festival recently in a tank top sans sweater in June just like every other sane human woman. And I’ve even forced myself to be allowed in photos cardigan-free and not untagged them on Facebook! Just the other day I bought a new dress from Target and thought about how it didn’t “need” a cardigan and then I didn’t wear one with it. While I’ll never totally get over my body issues and be able to go shorts-free over a swim suit, freeing my arms of the captivity they were in has been a big step for me. I still love me a good cardigan as an accessory to an outfit, but I now refuse to use them solely as a “cover up!” Sleeveless summer for the win!!

  10. laurenlynn86@yahoo.com

    Wowsa, this really spoke to me on another level. Fellow cardi addict/”fat arm” coverer here. I remember when I studied abroad in Europe 10 years ago in college, my friends making fun of my cardigan collection saying it took up half of my very limited amount of suitcase space and that I had a problem. And since, ne’er a formal celebration have I attended without some kind of shameful shawl to cover my arms. Even in the dead of summer in Texas where I live. I’ve even been known to rock a cardi on a 100-degree day at an outdoor music festival, or a sweaty club while dancing my heart out. While it began as a way to cover myself, it slowly over the years became a staple of my wardrobe allowing me to express my style as I sought out mix-matching or brightly-colored or ones with unique buttons and trims. In the past year or so I too have shed my cardigan skin as I’ve enterered a new realm of self-acceptance and felt the same feeling of liberation. I went to a music festival recently in a tank top sans sweater in June just like every other sane human woman. And I’ve even forced myself to be allowed in photos cardigan-free and not untagged them on Facebook! Just the other day I bought a new dress from Target and thought about how it didn’t “need” a cardigan and then I didn’t wear one with it. While I’ll never totally get over my body issues and be able to go shorts-free over a swim suit, freeing my arms of the captivity they were in has been a big step for me. I still love me a good cardigan as an accessory to an outfit, but I now refuse to use them solely as a “cover up!” Sleeveless summer for the win!!

  11. I used to wear cardigans and over sized clothes in the summer time in high school because I had very hairy arms, pits, and legs. I used to be teased, because of it. When I was college, I gained weight and hid under leggings and tunics for years to hide my arms, stomach, and thighs. I must have been close to 30 when I started finding and feeling comfortable in traditional pants. Only within the last 2 years have I really started to embrace wearing sleeveless dresses without some type of covering. I don’t care if people are offended by my hairiness or my weight. I only care about being comfortable. 🙂

  12. I used to wear cardigans and over sized clothes in the summer time in high school because I had very hairy arms, pits, and legs. I used to be teased, because of it. When I was college, I gained weight and hid under leggings and tunics for years to hide my arms, stomach, and thighs. I must have been close to 30 when I started finding and feeling comfortable in traditional pants. Only within the last 2 years have I really started to embrace wearing sleeveless dresses without some type of covering. I don’t care if people are offended by my hairiness or my weight. I only care about being comfortable. 🙂

  13. Yaaassss. And how many outfits have we taken from fab to regular cute trying to hide the waving arms. I have finally learned to love my arm swing. Without the extra lushness I would not have these gorgeous shoulders to share. ?

  14. 1wisenana@gmail.com

    Yaaassss. And how many outfits have we taken from fab to regular cute trying to hide the waving arms. I have finally learned to love my arm swing. Without the extra lushness I would not have these gorgeous shoulders to share. ?

  15. I have been going sleeveless all summer! By accepting my arms more has lead to further acceptance of my body and has increase my self-care, self-esteem, and self-worth. I encourage and challenge that everyone goes sleeveless this summer.

  16. tomasinacook@aol.com

    I have been going sleeveless all summer! By accepting my arms more has lead to further acceptance of my body and has increase my self-care, self-esteem, and self-worth. I encourage and challenge that everyone goes sleeveless this summer.

  17. I tried this last weekend (sleeveless top and bermudas) and was so self-conscious. I caught a few people actively staring at me so it may be awhile before I’m brave enough again! I wish I had as much confidence as you and your commenters!

  18. kristi.ferree@comcast.net

    I tried this last weekend (sleeveless top and bermudas) and was so self-conscious. I caught a few people actively staring at me so it may be awhile before I’m brave enough again! I wish I had as much confidence as you and your commenters!

  19. I’m still struggling. I have BEAUTIFUL sleeveless dresses in my closest that I’m afraid to wear because of my arms. I should really stop “trippin” and take the plunge. I really should!

    1. Wear them. You are beautiful and should never deprive yourself of happiness or the warmth of the sun on your skin. Do you, girl.

    2. I don’t blame you I still do it too. I’m still overweight and it’s not just the flaby arms it’s also the stretchmarkes, skin chaffing spots and darkened skin. I’m not confident to go without it yet. But I applaud those who do.

  20. sweetiepiewash@gmail.com

    I’m still struggling. I have BEAUTIFUL sleeveless dresses in my closest that I’m afraid to wear because of my arms. I should really stop “trippin” and take the plunge. I really should!

    1. konnichiwa.audra@gmail.com

      Wear them. You are beautiful and should never deprive yourself of happiness or the warmth of the sun on your skin. Do you, girl.

    2. bolahanson@gmail.com

      I don’t blame you I still do it too. I’m still overweight and it’s not just the flaby arms it’s also the stretchmarkes, skin chaffing spots and darkened skin. I’m not confident to go without it yet. But I applaud those who do.

  21. Char Walker Young

    I, too, decided that I have wasted so many years hating my body; especially my arms and my toes. My arms are big and flappy and continue to say heyyyyyyy long after I’ve stopped waving. This summer I made a declaration that I would stop hiding cause I am fabulous….no matter my size. So, I’ve been going sleeveless more often, even at work (but I always have a sweater cause my office is an icebox). I am 42 years old and I’m just starting to get it and I owe a lot of that to you, CeCe. We all have the right to bare arms AND toes 🙂

  22. charwalkeryoung@gmail.com

    I, too, decided that I have wasted so many years hating my body; especially my arms and my toes. My arms are big and flappy and continue to say heyyyyyyy long after I’ve stopped waving. This summer I made a declaration that I would stop hiding cause I am fabulous….no matter my size. So, I’ve been going sleeveless more often, even at work (but I always have a sweater cause my office is an icebox). I am 42 years old and I’m just starting to get it and I owe a lot of that to you, CeCe. We all have the right to bare arms AND toes 🙂

  23. You are GORGEOUS. I was just browsing the web for awesome fashion bloggers and found you. You are absolutely dazzling with your radiant smile, beautiful hair and gorgeous skin. Your inner strength and beauty shine right through, and that’s something no amount of muscle, money or skinniness could buy! <3

  24. konnichiwa.audra@gmail.com

    You are GORGEOUS. I was just browsing the web for awesome fashion bloggers and found you. You are absolutely dazzling with your radiant smile, beautiful hair and gorgeous skin. Your inner strength and beauty shine right through, and that’s something no amount of muscle, money or skinniness could buy! <3

  25. morgswilson@gmail.com

    I turned thirty last October. I decided that this would be the year I start to love myself no matter what. I’ve slowly gained the confidence to wear what I’m comfortable in and, most importantly, stop COMPARING myself to friends and strangers. You know what happened? I actually enjoyed time with friends and family instead of constantly worrying about how I looked. I wore bathing suits and played in the water with my kids. They could care less about my rolls, stretch marks and flab! I’m 100 lbs heavier than I was when I met my husband ten years ago but he still thinks I’m sexy as all get out when I’m naked – so why I should I care about what others think? It hasn’t ALWAYS been easy. I still have my days where I complain about how things fit and I throw that cardigan/shawl on but it’s been a very freeing year. This post has encouraged me all the more to keep loving all parts of me, even if they’re not my idea of perfect.

  26. I turned thirty last October. I decided that this would be the year I start to love myself no matter what. I’ve slowly gained the confidence to wear what I’m comfortable in and, most importantly, stop COMPARING myself to friends and strangers. You know what happened? I actually enjoyed time with friends and family instead of constantly worrying about how I looked. I wore bathing suits and played in the water with my kids. They could care less about my rolls, stretch marks and flab! I’m 100 lbs heavier than I was when I met my husband ten years ago but he still thinks I’m sexy as all get out when I’m naked – so why I should I care about what others think? It hasn’t ALWAYS been easy. I still have my days where I complain about how things fit and I throw that cardigan/shawl on but it’s been a very freeing year. This post has encouraged me all the more to keep loving all parts of me, even if they’re not my idea of perfect.

  27. Love this article. When I turned 30,I made a promise to myself to stop fat shaming myself. Some days are easier than others, butbut I’ve been mostly successful. I’m now on a mission to be more healthy, but I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t allow me to degrade myself. Nobody should ever feel ashamed of themselves. It’s just not healthy!

  28. julytabicat16@hotmail.com

    Love this article. When I turned 30,I made a promise to myself to stop fat shaming myself. Some days are easier than others, butbut I’ve been mostly successful. I’m now on a mission to be more healthy, but I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t allow me to degrade myself. Nobody should ever feel ashamed of themselves. It’s just not healthy!

  29. i love your liberation, i did the same thing 1 and half yrs ago i have gotten over that and now i have an apron belly that i need to deal with. i can’t wear jeans because they are not becoming on me, but some times i will wear jama-jeans i feel real awkard, but they don’t hurt my stomach. i am 62 and became a widow 9/11/2015 and want to change my dress code. thank you for your help

  30. sguild1977@gmail.com

    i love your liberation, i did the same thing 1 and half yrs ago i have gotten over that and now i have an apron belly that i need to deal with. i can’t wear jeans because they are not becoming on me, but some times i will wear jama-jeans i feel real awkard, but they don’t hurt my stomach. i am 62 and became a widow 9/11/2015 and want to change my dress code. thank you for your help

  31. I don’t even know the way I ended up right here, but I believed this publish was great. I do not know who you are however certainly you’re going to a well-known blogger in case you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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