Does This Arctic-Grade Parka Make Me Look Fat? A Southern Girl’s Guide To Winter

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not even from the Deep South–I’m actually from Miami, and if you look at a map of all the climates in the US you’d see that where I live is covered by a little dark green crescent shape that signifies a “sub-tropical climate.” So whereas other places in the South might experience cold or even snow, I never did. Before I came here, I’d seen snow a total of four times–twice in my cousin’s backyard in Boston, once in a different cousin’s backyard in Long Island, and once in Central Park (even though I’m still convinced it was coming out of a snow machine). So leaving my beloved beaches and 97-degree weather for college in the Coldest State Ever as a total winter amateur was something of a bold move. But I think I’m figuring it out. And so I present to you:

A Southern Girl’s Guide to Winter, alternatively named Does This Arctic-Grade Parka Make Me Look Fat? or Okay Mom and Dad, I’m Transferring Home to Florida:



A coat is, undoubtedly, the pinnacle of winter survival. In September I bought a really cute medium-weight parka that was olive green with a faux fur hood that I was stoked to wear because it made me look like JLo. It still makes me look like JLo and it keeps me warm, but I don’t wear it with the same excitement as I did before because I’m tired of looking like I’m wearing the same outfit every day, even when I’m not.

Also, I didn’t know this, but apparently a) EVERYONE wears long black coats in the winter, no matter who you are or what your style is, and b) those aforementioned coats are pretty expensive, so you might want to consider going on a bargain-hunting adventure (which is what I did, and I ended up with extremely warm coat for the price of a moderately warm coat, so.) Additionally, after doing some comprehensive research (with my mom), I’ve learned that there is a difference between waterproof and water resistant. I couldn’t tell you what that difference was, but I think water resistant is the one you want, so keep that in mind. You know, in case it snows, which it will.


Gloves. Scarf. Headband. You need it all. If your head is warm, you are warm. There’s obvious merit in trying to change it up with different colors, but if you want to go for the all-black Burnt Marshmallow look, it’s surprisingly chic. Also, wearing a hood is totally acceptable.


Haven’t worn a dress in a while. Starting to forget what I actually look like in one. Also, the no-navy-and-black rule is down the drain, or at least it is for me. Also, even though it’s tempting, I haven’t worn a sweatshirt to class once because I think it looks frumpy (sorry I’m not sorry), but no promises for when it gets even colder.


The cold weather is actually really good for taming the frizz, especially since humidity is like zero. Hat/headband hair is a necessary exception. Alternatively, if you go outside with wet hair when it’s cold enough, your hair will literally freeze into icicles. I haven’t tested that yet, and I don’t intend to, but someone told me that it’s true.


There is nothing–I repeat NOTHING–worse than walking around on a cold, windy, rainy night.* It is the worst combination of weather conditions because you have to worry about maintaining feeling in your frozen hands, not ruining your shoes/hair/makeup, and literally getting blown away. Also, boots with a good tread sole are very important–when it’s freezing outside and you have .75 miles to go before you arrive at your destination, the last thing you want to worry about is slipping and falling or sore feet, which are two epidemic problems.

*I say “NOTHING” even though I haven’t yet experienced a blizzard, so this opinion is subject to change.


You still have to do it. Even though the cold weather makes it logistically difficult because it messes with your motivation. And when you flash a Nike-compression-short-clad leg, blindingly white from the depressing lack of UV rays, you’ll at least be reminded that you indeed have legs. And that Thanksgiving/winter/spring break in whatever wonderfully sub-tropical city you call home is only a few days/weeks/months away.


Look, I know it’s tempting to give up, claim that the frozen darkness is giving you SADS and that you want to go home. But there’s a reason you ventured out here to the Coldest State Ever, and it’s to pave the way for other cold-fearing Southern girls who are trying to get a world-class education. It’s honestly not as bad as people say–we all know everyone likes to complain about things just to have something to talk about, and that’s a real fact. So what–people will literally talk to you in a baby voice and ask, “How’s the cold, Miami girl?” You can just look at them in the eye, show them how tough you are, and say, “It’s so not as bad as everyone said!”

Then put on your gloves, knit headband, and floor-length coat and head out like the climate-transcending star you are. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog