A Fat Lady’s Guide to Summer: 'Chub rub'


Maeve Marsden

Ally Garrett’s famous thighs enjoy the beach, chub rub free.

Ally Garrett’s famous thighs enjoy the beach, chub rub free.

 Summer brings with it so many delights: mangos, festivals, my birthday and long evenings of slow sunsets. But the rising mercury heralds a minefield of distress for many a larger lass. Trips to the beach can yield anxiety and judgment, summer fashions don't always come above a 16, Christmas brings tactless relatives asking if you really need that second helping, and don't get me started on the CHUB RUB. So, as we count down to December, my festive contribution to my plus size pals is a little something I like to call: A Fat Lady's Guide to Summer.

Last summer, I experienced a coming of age like no other. I was Danny and Sandy at the start of Grease, waves crashing over my body. I was Jennifer Love Hewitt accidentally murdering someone. I was Macaulay Culkin and some bees.

My great awakening came courtesy of Twitter Goddess, Ally Garrett, who taught me the magical marvels of 'chub rub cream'. I don't know what you did last summer, but I started wearing flowy sundresses without fear or remorse. I was reborn.

When I took to social media, the great research tool of the modern age, asking friends for Fat Lady Summer Tips, I was overwhelmed by one topic: chub rub, its prevention and treatment. Settling in to write about it I first considered potential euphemisms for the condition and its victims. I even took to Urban Dictionary, a low point in my creative career. But the Internet appears to be united in its shorthand. It's chub rub, you guys. Own it, bemoan it then learn how to stop it.


If you don't know what I am talking about then you are rare and lucky woman possessed of either the famed thigh gap or unchafable skin. Indeed, no topic was as popular in my fat summer call out as thigh chafing, and the distress wasn't restricted to my plus size mates. Even slim friends suffer the blisters, redness and welts that summer exercise brings, a condition only exacerbated when naked thighs are combined with post-beach salt and sand. Chub rub fucking hurts. And it hardly gets a lady in the mood for a summer fling.

I'm still using the 3B Action cream Ally recommended, but my friends suggested a whole range of solutions, from Lady Speed Stick (Clementine) to talc (Nikki).

Ally told me "I personally love chemicals and feel they are just preserving me so I swear by 3B. You can get it from any chemist. Since I bought a tube I haven't had to bother with bullshit bike shorts ever again. Honestly I am too slutty to fuck around with bike shorts. I also keep a tube of Body Glide from Rebel Sport in my handbags for emergencies. Hippie pals who don't like aluminium also use a product called Secret Shield, which is aluminium free but it has to be shipped from the USA and shipping is expensive. Best to go in on a bulk order with other fatty pals."

One such hippie, Nicole, told me "Cooking grade coconut oil is a dreamy alternative to those chafing sticks. Apply liberally in the morning and for the rest of the day your inner thighs slide past each other without even a hint of painful chafing. Plus, they become all soft and yummy."

The best approach to Chub Rub is to buy a few products and see what works on your skin. Melanie told me "I've never understood the chafing creams and think maybe my chafing is at a whole other level. To me, it's all about dryness. Creams just make things more moist. The only thing that's ever worked for me is having a baby powder constantly in my purse and sitting at tables where no one can see the massive airing leg-spread that's going on beneath!"


If you need me, I'll be at the beach for the next five months 🌞🌞🌞 #fatkiniseason #fatkini #plussize #fatfemmes

A photo posted by Ally Garrett (@allygarrett) on

One friend suggested these lacy, um, leg headbands? They are called bandelettes and I have to confess to not having tried them; they seem completely absurd and highly likely to fall down when running for the bus. Also, surely if they weren't sitting exactly opposite each other on the thigh the lace would chafe the opposing patch of flesh. Fatty fail.

Chub rub is but one topic on a long list of taboos women are shamed out of discussing. We're too fat, we chafe, we bleed, we sweat, we grow hair, we get stretch marks. When we don't talk about these things, publicly and with each other, we lose opportunities to learn, to build our body confidence and to laugh about shared experiences. Blister sisters unite!

Despite chub rub being so ubiquitous so many of my friends didn't know their local chemist (and kitchen cupboard) was full of low cost fix-its. As my friend Jessica said, "How did I get to 31 without knowing that there are solutions to chub rub beyond the 'I just rode a horse for 3 days' walk? And how did I get to 31 without knowing that the name Ginuwine was also a booze pun?!"

Speaking of booze (see what I did there?), how good are summer cocktails? For me, this summer is all about gin, Pimms and gin. Next week, this Fat Lady will cover Summer Eatings and Drinkings and the perils of Christmas parties full of nosy colleagues and judgy relatives.

Maeve Marsden is a freelance writer, director, producer and performer. She tweets from @maevegobash.

Read Part 1 - A Fat Lady's Guide to Summer: The beach.