“We’re so used to being told to minimize ourselves,” says Annette Richmond, founder of Fat Girls Traveling. Feeling that both fat people, but more importantly, women, are put into a box when it comes to seeing and experiencing the world, the travel blogger didn’t sit back and complain. She did something about it.
Traveling itself isn’t really fun for anyone — transportation options can be limited, destinations overcrowded, hotels and hostels cramped or small — but for people who identify as fat or plus-size, it can quickly become a rather intimidating experience. And this is all after being inundated with happy-go-lucky people (always thin or fit men and women) breathlessly enjoying beaches, hiking, restaurants, and theme park rides, pushed by travel brands and tourism destinations as the kind of person you’ll see whenever you get to where you’re going.
Frustrated and tired of not finding different bodies types included, recognized, and celebrated in the modern day travel influencer and blogger world, in 2017 Richmond launched her Fat Girl Traveling community, blog, and Instagram account to foster positive discussions surrounding fatphobia and to encourage fat travelers how to leave the shame and stigma behind.
The word “fat” has often been used as an insult against those attempting to bully or belittle people of size, but for many activists, and participants in the body positivity movements, fat is no longer an insult but rather a descriptor of the body they inhabit. Richmond’s intention was to create a safe space for fat women, like herself, to ask questions related to traveling. She also wanted to carve out a place for folks to feel proud of taking up space, no matter where they were on their travels or in their body liberation journey. By reclaiming this three-letter word, fat folks are empowered to remove the negative association attached to it, and for many, the concept of learning to take up space is new and even radical. Richmond wanted to be this guide, to fellow fat travelers like herself.
Fat Girls Traveling started as an Instagram account, and turned into a full-fledged movement which spread across North America. From colorful vignettes and happy faces to beautiful vistas, followers gain insightful tips on everything from how to gain confidence in themselves to tips for places to visit as a fat traveler and more importantly, how to feel seen in a world that tries to make fat people feel invisible.