words by Marielle Elizabeth
Two years ago, sitting in a body inclusive boudoir course, the instructor referenced how some people struggle to touch their bellies. I shifted in my seat. I couldn’t remember the last time I had touched my softly growing belly. I felt waves of guilt, knowing that I had been subconsciously avoiding tenderly touching myself, letting my body disassociate from itself. The chasm between my heart and my legs dappled in cellulite, growing. Somewhere deep inside me, the soft spoken truth whispered that if I didn’t touch my body, I wouldn’t need to acknowledge the way it had changed.
For me, self love and self care have been an ongoing act of deciding that I am deserving. No matter what, your body deserves to be cared for, protected, embraced. I think of the moments in my life when I felt let down by my body, the sting of my thighs ignited during a walk home, and how rarely I’d choose to respond with empathy to my fat body's needs. I’d quickly think, “Well if my thighs were smaller, this wouldn’t hurt,” therefore on some level, the physical discomfort must be my punishment, the rubbed raw skin penance for my fatness.
I wrapped myself in these self-inflicting views for years, thinking there was surely a size when I’d care for my body. I was just never the “right size” to be worthy of body oils and baths and putting in the time it takes to care for my body — all of these “rewards” I purposely kept just out of reach.
I share all of this to remind you (if, as you read my words you find yourself in them) that you know you’re not alone. But you can decide that your body deserves better, and you can start today. If you’re neglecting your body because of deep rooted shame about WHAT YOUR BODY LOOKS LIKE, maybe today is the day you start dismantling that self imposed harm. And I hope you can start to question the fairness of those actions — or inaction.
The way self love and self care are enmeshed means you might be neglecting both. We are all tenderly trying to settle back into our skin amid it’s undulations and evolution. Body acceptance is work — a continual pursuit full of moments of bliss and frustration, not a finite destination.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Relearn the Act of Self Love
Does your body not deserve to be tenderly cared for, even if your size means that care looks different? Are you afraid that if you offer your body affectionate care, you might stop trying to change it? Or that you might have to engage with precisely how it looks and feels right now? Do you approach your body's physical needs with enthusiasm or reverence? Can you imagine how compassionate care for your body would feel? And if asking those questions, you find yourself wanting better — how are you working to relearn that act of self love?
If you don’t have any answers to those questions, here is your starting place. Keep scrolling for a guide to fat-centric self care, suggestions for treating and caring for issues people in larger bodies regularly experience, and the various ways I’ve loved my body not in spite of, but because my thighs burrow themselves into each other like inseparable lovers, soothed the itchy skin nestled on the underside of my breasts where my bra bites, quelled post-sex irritation, and more. Together, we are here to arm you with the information to best care for your body, exactly as it is and exactly what it deserves.
If you get chafing on your thighs or under arms, then strengthen skin with Body Oil
Chafing is caused by friction between either your skin or your skin and irritating fabrics or tight clothing. The best immediate solution is to rinse chafed skin with warm (not hot!) water, apply a moisturizing topical such as Body Oil to protect and strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier, and try to resist movement for as long as possible.
If you must get up and walk/run/dance again, a thick slather of Salve acts as a protective barrier between your skin and whatever is irritating it to help prevent further issues, and is the softest balm to put on overnight for quicker healing. Also, consider wearing bike shorts or something else in a breathable material to fully protect your skin if and when you engage in more movement.
If you have chafing near the vulva & outer labia, then soothe with Salve
Chafing around the vulva and outer labia could be caused by tight underwear, clothing, or even sex, since there’s a lot of friction involved. Similar to Body Oil, Salve provides the moisture to make you comfortable and lasting lubrication to prevent further irritation. The essential oil powerhouse tea tree oil is known to calm all skin types, and can help cool and relieve swollen, inflamed, or peeling vulvar skin. Salve’s Coconut and Jojoba Oil base also helps protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier while the sustainably sourced beeswax slows the dispersal of active ingredients and moisture to protect you from environmental and lifestyle stressors all day, everyday.
While it’s better to forgo underwear while you sleep, if you prefer to put on undies after application, I highly recommend using a natural fibre garment, as breathability is key (I personally swear by ARQ underwear). Also, I find that I get chafing on my outer labia when I wear period underwear for a few days, so the Salve has become a part of menstrual care routine too!
If you have abrasion from damp skin or fabric irritation under the breasts or belly, then ditch the underwire & hydrate with Dewy Duo
You’ll want to avoid wearing bras — or at least those with an underwire — and try to wear loose, breathable clothing until the abrasion fades. Fabric irritation caused by sweat can lead to tons of itching, for which the Dewy Duo is your best friend.
I really like using the Hydrosol spray to calm my skin when it’s really itchy before using the Body Oil. Just rub as much oil as you need onto the affected area and lay down. Once the oil has been absorbed, and while my skin is healing, I use ARQ tanks to tuck under my breast so when I sweat, the moisture is absorbed with the cotton and doesn’t extend the duration of any irritated spots. This is especially helpful in the Summer heat. If you find excess moisture and irritation occurs in the folds of your stomach / belly-hang, the same two step routine steps offer soothing respite.
Try to avoid itching since scratching can damage the outer layer of your skin. Applying a cool compress before going in with your moisturizer may help as well.
If you get ingrown hairs or cysts on the upper thighs, then treat with Tonic
Tonic is our go-to moisturizing spot treatment for any ingrown hairs or cysts on your pubic area and upper thighs. It’s antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and completely body safe. Since it won’t disrupt your vaginal pH, Tonic is the perfect product for body parts near any sensitive areas. For ingrown hairs, you can either soak in a Tonic-filled bath before shaving to soften hair follicles and prevent ingrown hairs before they pop up, or use the Tonic as a pre and post shave oil. You can also apply it between shaves, right on ingrowns or directly on those cysts as concentrated spot treatment.
If you experience post-sex irritation, then spritz & get some salv(e)ation
For relief immediately after sex, a cool floral spritz of Hydrosol directly on the vulva or onto underwear is the way to go. Hydrosol protects the body’s natural moisture barrier, and being an oil-distilled water based spray is certainly better for those with sensitive skin, or for those who might be intimidated by applying oil based products directly onto sensitized skin.
If you want something even more soothing, try applying Salve after any time of sexual experience. The multi-use Salve helps immediately cool down hot and irritated areas as well give added nutritious benefits of vitamin packed ingredients to help your body heal and stay balanced.
Okay, also this isn’t exactly sex related but certainly sex adjacent, a generous application of Salve also helps if you take your menstrual cup out with a little too much vigor (just me?).
I hope this guide helps give you a few tools and methods of self care to support your body as temperatures start to rise, and that reading through these (very common) issues helps to normalize any body frustration you might feel.
All of the above skincare challenges are ones I face too, but ignoring my body's needs only ever made it worse. When I started to regularly devote time to giving my skin what it needed, it was harder to disassociate from it. When you offer care to yourself, you are simultaneously affirming your existence, reconnecting with your body, and working toward understanding and giving it the tailored care you need, grounded in self touch — the ultimate form of body acceptance and affection. Your body is worthy. You are worthy.
Meet the Author
Marielle Elizabeth (she/her) is an outspoken fat activist in the Ethical Fashion community who advocates for broader size inclusion and radical body acceptance. Through her social media presence, writing, and photography, she shares not only her lived experience as a plus size person trying to live a #slowfashionforall life, but also the ways in which we can all be kinder to the skin we’re in. In addition to her work on social media @marielle.elizabeth, Marielle runs a Patreon with over 700 subscribers, writes for Vogue.com and works closely with ethical brands as a consultant, fit tester, model and photographer. Find her at marielleelizabeth.com
Momotaro Apotheca and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Momotaro Apotheca is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition.