When I began blogging, it wasn’t intended as a means of group travel. It wasn’t even called BlackGirlFly, it was originally ‘PrettyFatChronicles’. A blog that was meant to be about my weight loss journey with travel infused in it. But in the midst of designing and blogging, it became bigger than that. Something became bigger than my weight. Imagine that.
A few weeks back, an article came across my Facebook feed. It was written by a plus size woman who loved to travel but her blog post didn’t speak on how amazing her travels had been or the amazing things she has done while traveling. It focused on her worrying about what other people thought of her while she traveled. She mentioned not eating, her airplane fears and some other things that my overweight self can’t identify with. Fortunately.
My first international trip was because of my drastic weight loss. In a year I had lost 80 lbs and countless inches. I was floating (in my mind) and I wanted to do something that forced me out of my shitty self esteem bubble. That’s how Spain happened. My initial goal was to travel without needing a seatbelt extension, asking for one mortified me and I had nightmares of being the only fat girl on board and everyone watching the stewardess give me the demo belt after she had ran through her “in case of an emergency” script. I boarded my flight to Paris and what do you know, I didn’t need a seatbelt! It felt amazing, I even cried. Yes, I cried on an AirFrance flight as I took a picture and phoned my mom. I met my goal.
As my trip progressed, I dared myself to just exist. Smile. Laugh. Engage in random conversations with strangers on day trips with me. I dared myself to lose that feeling of being inferior because of my weight. Travel did that for me. Although I still fight my obesity (stressful year, that weight came right back and I’m back measuring my food while doing squats in between tv shows), traveling is the one thing that is mine. I pay NO mind to my weight when I travel. When I’m abroad, I feel that is the one place I can just BE.
I feel at peace and my weight didn’t pay the airfare to interfere with that
I enjoyed pasta in Italy, I even ate it outside and with no apology. Traveling abroad cost me way too much to spend my limited time worrying if my fat is offensive in Costa Rica. Before travel, I covered my arms and didn’t dare to wear a skirt or dress. Since I’ve began traveling, my arms stay out and I love summer dresses. I’m unapologetically myself, maybe that’s why travel has become such a staple in my life. I found my comfort because of it.
When I came across this bloggers article, I felt depressed. She truly had no love for herself and in some ways, her experiences, as amazing as they were, did nothing for her. She couldn’t even enjoy herself out of fear of being fat shamed by the world around her. She didn’t realize that she fat shamed herself. She didn’t realize that her blog became an apology to the world for her obesity. She didn’t realize that she promoted self neglect, self loathing, self hate and zero body positivity. She didn’t realize that it wasn’t the world that judged and reprimanded her, she was her own culprit. I had such high hopes for the blog when I saw the title because I had been searching for a plus size travel blog and I thought “FINALLY!!” but I was sadly disappointed.
For every self-shaming reason she posted, I realized that the only time I could identify with her discomfort was prior to traveling. Do I still loathe asking for a seatbelt extension? yes, but it’s not because of public humiliation or concern of what may or may not be floating in a strangers head about me. It’s because it reminds me of my weight loss journey and my personal goals, not if someone thinks I’m fat. The purpose of travel, at least to me, is to disconnect and reconnect. Lose and gain. I disconnect from parts of me that serve me no good and reconnect or discover parts of me that are pretty damn amazing. I lose fear or else I wouldn’t survive in a country alone and gain confidence with each day I’m away from everything I know and every habit I’ve formed at home. The next time you sit in a restaurant in another country, I challenge you to allow yourself to exist – no – LIVE, unapologetically. Life has no weight limit.