This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write but I think that it needs to be talked about.
What I really want to address is how to travel as an overweight female. Little things that most people might not think about like; worrying if I had reached the maximum weight limit for ziplining in Costa Rica, the embarrassment of not being able to buy any kind of boots in Italy because my calves were just a bit too big or even having to almost over plan what you’re packing to go to the jungle because you know it will be hotter than Hades but you’re self conscious about the way your arms look in tank tops.
This will not be a self-depricating post. This will not be a pity party. This will be about how to empower not only myself but hopefully find other women who experience the same things.
Let’s begin with pre-trip. Packing is a bitch.
There’s always the “what do I want to wear?” question but sometimes I find myself double guessing my choices because of how I will look. I want to wear things that make the most sense like tank tops in tropical climates but sometimes I find myself putting in t-shirts instead because I’m self conscious about my arms. I’ll pack capris or even pants instead of shorts because I’m not ready to show the world my legs. I’ve found that in a way, I’ve stopped caring. I have to embrace how I look and how I’ll look in the things that I pack. I need to be comfortable and if that means I have to be uncomfortable about the way that I look a little bit, then maybe that’s okay.
Besides packing, there’s the actual flight itself. In all reality, airlines sell you 27″ of seat space, that’s all you get. So if your hips are a little bigger and you’re slightly pushing into the seat next to you, that’s not really their problem but rather, your super uncomfortable one instead.
I’m not hugely overweight by any means but I’ve noticed, especially as a female, that I get judged. Constantly. I’m not the norm of what people perceive travelers to look like. I defy that norm. Proudly. But there’s always that defeated feeling that comes along with traveling.
Every time I plan a trip, I always make a goal to lose weight before but it’s not always easy. I work a full time job, I write, I go to school and I try to maintain a blog. No, there are no excuses but I feel as though I go into the trip excited about the possibilities but sad that I didn’t reach the weight goal I had set myself. I’m sure we’ve all been there. “I want to lose 10 pounds by my cruise” or “I’m studying abroad for 3 months and I want to be super skinny!” But when departure date arrives, we’re not as close as we had hoped we would be. And to that, you kind of have to brush it aside and realize that we have all been there. And it’s okay. You’ll still have a great trip.
It’s not so much the big things when it comes to traveling as an overweight female but it’s the culmination of little things that seem to fester. On my most recent trip to Belize, we climbed ruins. A LOT of ruins. Ruins that were 50 stories tall and ruins that had more stairs than I could count. Of course, wanting to experience the view from the top, I climbed them all. But I could feel myself trying to prevent myself from breathing hard because I didn’t want people to think I was that out of shape. Granted, even the skinny mini’s were huffing and puffing but I felt like there was a stigma because of my weight. People expected me to huff and puff. Which, looking back, wasn’t true at all. We were all just happy to get to the top.
But here’s the thing. They’re not judging me. They’re more focused on not falling off the ruin, not dying, on just being able to breathe. So this silliness about everyone staring at me is just nonsense. But it’s hard to push those thoughts away.
Now, the epitome of uncomfortable. The bathing suit.
I love going to the beach. Absolutely love it, but I loathe having to wear something that makes me feel like I’m constantly having to suck in or wear extra layers or whatever. Luckily, I’ve found a suit that makes me feel awesome. I’m totally happy with my body in it and I’m not always so worried about how I look.
But, it’s not always that easy. So here’s my advice. Find a suit that you feel stellar in. I know it will take some time to find and you’ll have to battle those fitting room demons but just do it. Don’t be afraid to go a size up. Don’t be afraid to try something on that you don’t think will look good. To be honest, the suit I love is one that my mom picked out and I literally made a face at her for picking it up. Shows how much I know.
No matter what, try to love the body you’re in. I know it’s not always easy and sometimes it’s just downright hard but I promise you that you’ll be so busy on your trip, it won’t really matter.
I know that someday I will be comfortable in my own skin and I’ll be able to take on the world headfirst but until then, I’m completely content with having a few reservations. I know I’m not the skinniest, nor will I ever be, but I’m happy with who I am. And that’s all that should matter.