Every year summer comes, and then as quick you can panic-buy a fan in your local supermarket lest you physically melt, it's over again.
Time, however, is a sneaky little fuck, because soon it is July again, and you are going about your business trying to deal with the fact that: a) you are definitely sweating from your every pore, and b) you smell. If you are a person with breasts, you decide that probably the best way to address the whole having-flesh-sacks-attached-to-your-upper-torso-in-furnace-weather thing is to wear something comfortable. Something that – and I apologise for this regrettably nan-like turn of phrase – "lets the air get at you". You pick a small T-shirt and a pair of shorts, or maybe a dress, because you would like to remain more human than puddle. Maybe you omit a bra if you can, for the simple reason that having a fabric cage around your tits is not ideal during a heatwave.
And then, as soon as you step out the door, some fucking man directs his eyes right at your chest, and they linger there for a few seconds. You watch him looking, and he continues to do it as he walks past you. A few more steps down the street, another man does the same thing. Despite the fact you are merely trying to function as a person in the climate, your body is now, fundamentally, a sexual object for public consumption.
It's a sad phenomenon, and one that makes you feel alternately self-conscious, worthless and angrier than the lad who drove a digger into a Travelodge. This may be a very 2012 Lena Dunham sentiment, but when you consider that men strip off their polo shirts to reveal their sunburn as soon as it hits about 18 degrees, I would like to be able to go to Sainsbury's for a brief spot of Sticking My Head In The Freezer without being leered at.
The thing is, I have a suspicion that most of the leerers would probably be put off if they knew how disgusting having boobs in the summer is, especially in a city, where humidity and despair are both unusually high. Having boobs in the summer is like managing a difficult client.
The tits are on their own sweating schedule (that schedule is usually: a litre a minute, meaning any lightly coloured clothing is out, unless you want sweaty half moons showing up on your top), and they have their own needs (maybe you have to wear a soft T-shirt because your work has air-conditioning that will harden your nipples, making it Game the Fuck Over for you unless you’re in 100-percent cotton), which you have no choice but to attend to. They will likely be the least sexy addendums on your body – more "sausage meat in a pair of tights" than Love Island – for the entire summer period, and, to reiterate, it is just like a whitewater rapid under there (see also: arse sweat). When my face is purple with possible sunstroke and my entire body is dolphin-slick with my own moisture, it is not a sensual feeling. Know that.
Fairly obviously, the larger your breasts, the worse this whole sorry situation gets. Many people with big boobs have a harder time finding clothes that are comfortable in the heat than their smaller-titted counterparts. When they do get something they like, they often have no choice but to wear a supportive bra (read: iron prison of heat) even on the hottest days, and be objectified on top of that. All of which – it will not surprise you to discover – sucks! Especially when you are also sweating from your genitals and have a pressure migraine from the sun!
So: if you do catch yourself visually immersed in the erect nipples of someone in a halterneck, I have some advice. The best form in this situation is probably just to remember that they're a person – not just a body – with feelings, acknowledge that they're likely sweaty as fuck, and honestly just leave them alone.