London in July and the pressure that summer heat puts on imperfect bodies

In the first world, there are two types of summer heat – the kind where you can sprawl out on the beach and lounge in the refreshing water, and
the other kind. The kind where you attempt to go about your business  - work, school, errands – in a bustling city of however many million people with the sun beating down on you making you sweat through even the lightest of blouses and yet still being unable to wear shorts to run said errands. That type of summer makes the former seem like a privilege, as though it’s an escape that can only be afforded by the few, while the many spend the hottest days of the year in the city that turns into a sauna.

This July, London’s heat has been unbearable. Speaking in Celsius, it was in or around thirty for most of the month. With this kind of heat comes those who tell people like me that I need to grin and bear it – that my moaning is unnecessary. These people are usually thin, tanned, and without a ginger pigment in their hair.

Here’s a fun fact: pale people aren’t just complaining about the heat for the sheer banter. We are actually scientifically less tolerant to high temperatures, and more likely to feel faint, to get sun-stroke, and to undergo the classic painful burn that never turns brown. The effects of this, aside from the physical, include mood swings and general unhappiness that isn’t helped by the fact that we’re covered in a layer of thick cream, that – despite what the bottle says – really does not ‘absorb instantly’. This is all made worse by the fact that we constantly have to pretend that we love the sun and that the temperature is divine.

Imperfect bodies everywhere fall below beauty standards and suffer in the heat. Elderly people have their feet swell in their shoes, pale people deal with dangerous skin threats and fat people have a hotter core temperature than anybody else. That’s even outside of extra issues that people have that knock them further down the privilege ladder, like having serious illnesses or not being able to afford iced lattes.

When in London this July, I spend a lot of time sight-seeing and shopping and eating and seeing family, but I seemed to spend more time dwelling on yet another reason to be jealous of girls who meet impossible beauty standards. Beautiful olive-skinned girls with toned arms and legs, unaware of the danger the sun could pose and wearing whatever they pleased fearlessly. There were too many of them. Do you think they even know what chaffing is? It feels like the world wasn't constructed for anything less than perfect.