For the sake of our collective wellbeing and capacity for love, it’s time to welcome a new term into our cultural lexicon: weather-shaming. Below I will define and explain the term in exchange for your promise to both cease the behavior and encourage others to do the same. Together, we can bring forth its eternal demise. This is important!
Weather-shaming, a term I coined after I wore a puffer coat in August and faced an onslaught of criticism, is a commentary made by one or more persons about the temperature-appropriateness of another’s outfit, especially under the guise of feigned surprise or concern. It often sounds like: “Omg, shorts in this weather?!” or “Aren’t you hot in that sweater?” or “Wow, how are you in pants right now?”
It was raining, okay, and the red coat clashed with my pink jeans in a pleasing manner. What’s the problem!
Ever since my dad ruled that my low-rise jeans couldn’t sit below a certain freckle on my stomach in the 7th grade, I’ve hated my outfits being policed. But while his motivations were of genuine (if outdated) concern, those of weather-shamers are anything but. In my esteemed colleagues’ case, I have a theory they were jealous of my red puffer, but only their outerwear come winter will tell. Those who weather-shame may not admit it to themselves, but what they’re really trying to do is EMBARRASS you. A tale as old as bullies!
I’ll only admit an August puffer is absurd if they admit that “Isn’t it a little hot for that coat?” is not a well-meaning question, but bold-faced shade.
Let’s review some of the reasons someone might dress unseasonably:
1. They were in a hurry, i.e. their morning sucked so be nice, and they forgot to check the weather.
2. They love what they’re wearing and really wanted to wear it, weather be damned! Don’t you get that?
Or, in my opinion, the most common, and absolutely the case for #puffergate:
3. They couldn’t find anything weather-appropriate that made them feel good, their self-esteem was down, so they went with something that did make them feel good/safe/like themselves, even though they’d be hot or cold as a result.
None of these circumstances are cause for ridicule; they’re cause for empathy and understanding! In the third case, to weather-shame is to call someone out for favoring their emotional comfort over their physical comfort. That’s literally SO rude. Sometimes I wear pants when it’s 100 degrees because I detest shorts so much that I’d rather sweat all day than wear them, and I’d rather you not make me explain that. And if you do? You’re this witch:
^You after saying to me: “Wow, jeans today, huh? Won’t you be hot?”
Listen. I understand the impulse. I, too, have weather-shamed! But I’m a bigger person now, I say that with the utmost arrogance, and I hold my tongue when my friend wears a skirt in January, because maybe she overslept because she’s stressed, or maybe the skirt is new and she needed a mood boost, or MAYBE she hates pants so much that she’s willing to get frostbitten knees in exchange for avoiding them, all of which I understand on a deep, human level. And I, as her friend, want to just let her fucking LIVE.
It was just a puffer coat! And it was RAINING. You’re not my dad!
Photo by John Rawlings/Condé Nast via Getty Images.