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I’m Not Sorry for Traveling While Fat

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When I began blogging, it wasn’t intended as a means of group travel. It wasn’t even called BlackGirlFly but rather PrettyFatChronicles, a blog meant to be about my weight loss journey infused with travel. But in the midst of designing and blogging, my site became something became bigger than my weight, imagine that. A few weeks back, I read an article by a plus size woman who loved to travel but her post didn’t speak to her amazing trips. Instead, her words focused on worrying about what other people thought of her while she traveled. She mentioned not eating, her airplane fears and some other things that my own overweight self can’t identify with, fortunately, but it wasn’t always this way.

After I lost a drastic amount of weight, I took my first international trip to Europe. I’d lost 80 pounds in one year and countless inches. I was floating (in my mind) and 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 while everyone watched the stewardess give me the demo belt after she’d finished her ‘in case of an emergency’ script. But when I boarded my flight that year, what do you know, I didn’t need a demo seatbelt! It felt amazing, I even cried. Yes, I cried on an Air France flight as I took a picture and phoned my mom. I’d met my goal.

As my trip progressed, I dared myself to just exist. I smiled, I laughed and struck up random conversations with strangers on day trips to surrounding countries. In Italy, I enjoyed pasta and even ate it outside without apology. On other trips I realized that traveling abroad cost me way too much to spend my limited time worrying if my fat is offensive in Costa Rica. Before traveling, I covered my arms and didn’t dare wear a skirt or dress. But now, my arms stay out and I love summer dresses. I’m unapologetically myself and maybe that’s why travel has become such a staple in my life.

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I found my comfort and dared myself to lose that feeling of being inferior because of my weight. Although I still fight my obesity (It’s been a stressful year, that weight returned and I’m back to 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 space I can just be.

Back to that blogger’s article, when I finished reading her words, 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 was fat shaming herself and her blog had become an apology to the world for her obesity. She promoted self neglect, self loathing, self hate and zero body positivity. It wasn’t the world that judged and reprimanded her, she was her own culprit. I had such high hopes for her post because I’d been searching for a plus size travel blog and thought ‘Finally!’ but I was sadly disappointed.

For every self-shaming reason she posted, the only time I identified 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 over whether someone thinks I’m fat. I’m reminded of my weight loss journey and personal goals I’m working toward. For me, the purpose of travel is to disconnect and reconnect, to 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. So 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.

– Gabrielle Victoria

Catch more of Gabrielle’s writing at Black Girl Fly.

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