Being the introverted wife and mother that I am, I kind of feel a bit like my time for festivals has come and gone. I don’t like drunk people, crowds suck the life out of me and I am really not good with loud noises. Yet as a teenager I longed to don my wellies with my friends and tag along on their ‘festival shopping’ trips, and somehow could never bring myself to do it. Why? Because I wasn’t even at the beginning of my body positivity journey at that time: I was just a chubby teenager with confidence issues and thin friends. Being fat should never stop you from doing anything you want to do, and now that the sun is rising on festival season I felt like it was my duty to stand up and say “Hey. I missed out, and you shouldn’t have to”. Here are the eight tips I would give my teenage self in order to survive a festival as a fat girl.
First thing’s first: you need the right place to sleep. Tent sizes are described in terms of how many men they can hold, so your average two-man tent is not going to cut it for your above average body and a gal pal. Don’t be afraid to suggest sizing up in the name of comfort. Your body naturally takes up extra space, and it is totally okay to make it clear that additional room is essential for you.
I honestly think that the biggest problem fat people face in situations like this is the physical discomfort of being fat in the heat – in particular, this includes chub rub. I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember ‘prevention, not cure‘ when it comes to chafing: if your body has started to chafe, it is already too late. There are various lotions and potions which help deal with thighs rubbing together, and some people swear by things like talcum powder to soak up any extra moisture. Personally, I choose to wear leggings that are cut into shorts – or even better, a pair of Chaffree shorts – and I make sure my bra isn’t sitting too tight or doesn’t have underwire poking and prodding at my underarms. Other than that, all you can stay is stay clean and dry as much as physically possible and wear clothes in soft materials which fit you comfortably.
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Being fat can automatically raise your temperature a degree or so – and I’ll avoid the obvious joke about how hot you are – so it’s even more important to stay cool and well hydrated than it would be for a straight sized person. I personally find that it really irritates me when my hair sits on my shoulders, and I end up feeling hot and bothered and generally uncomfortable. An uncomfortable person is not a person who is having a good time at a festival. Spend a couple of weeks perfecting braided hairstyles like the gorgeous halo braid, or simply stick a headband on and tuck all of your hair around it to get it off your neck. Or go one step further, like I did, and just shave an undercut into your hair purely because you hate the feeling of hair on your shoulders. I appreciate that not everybody is as extreme as I am.
I’m sure everybody has heard of the SheWee, but honestly I never thought it would be an option for me. At the risk of too much information, when you have additional flesh it can be difficult to navigate something like that, especially without having it spill over your legs. But the thought of a those grotesque portaloos you find at festivals forced me to get googling, and sure enough I found a solution: did you know that SheWee does extension pipes? Hurray for easier access! Now, to work out what to do when you need twosies…
Please do not feel that, because you have more skin, you are less eligible to display it. Your body can be as dressed or undressed as you feel comfortable with. Covering up large arms and legs makes you more at risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion: let your limbs be free! Though of course, make sure you do cover up in direct sunlight and apply the highest factor sun cream you can find, as a bigger body means more space to soak up the sun, increasing your risk of sunstroke.
Speaking of sun cream, it’s worth remembering that it can be difficult for even a straight sized person to apply sun cream to every inch of their bodies. There are fantastic little devices for reaching over your shoulder to get your factor 50 to the very middle of your back, and it’s worth remembering for your other hard-to-reach areas. Please remember that you might not be able to reach somewhere, but the sun certainly can.
When all of my friends would shop for wellies, I would avoid the conversation at all costs. Standard wellies just did not fit my extra extra extra large calves, and it was easier to tell people I just wasn’t interested in joining them than it was to admit that I was different, and things didn’t fit me properly. I was embarrassed. Please invest in a decent pair of wellies with extendable calf sizes before you go; something that won’t pinch your calves as you walk, doesn’t form that weird suction/air pocket around your ankles and looks adorable to boot. To welly boot. Get it?
Finally, something every single festival attendee should do, regardless of their size: create two care packages. In number one, include pain medication, rehydration packs, sun cream, baby wipes, kirby grips and a lip gloss because you need something to make you feel human while you’re there. And most importantly, the care package for that first night you’re home after your trip, when you’re ready for nothing more than fluffy slippers, a hot chocolate and Bridget Jones on DVD. Brownie points if its Bridget Jones’ Baby, so you get to relive the glory of one of the best festivals of your life.