What It's Like To Be A "Fat Girl Traveling," According To This Popular Instagrammer

"Traveling while fat" sadly still often carries a stigma. Women with bigger bodies face discrimination both at home and abroad, get body-shamed on flights, and many tend to shy away from the camera instead of taking all the travel selfies. Annette Richmond hopes that her project #FatGirlsTraveling will help plus-sized women gain more confidence when they're exploring the world — one jealousy-inducing travel photo at a time.
"It's incredibly humbling to know that lil' ole me is helping women feel better about their bodies and more confident when getting their passport stamped," Richmond tells Refinery29 in an interview. "One of the things that gives me the feels is when a member posts about taking her first trip and having the courage to do so after joining Fat Girls Traveling. It's like, society tells fat women that we don't even deserve to leave the house, let alone the country. So getting on a plane and putting yourself in a position to be judged by the person sitting next to you or the flight attendant you have to ask for the seat-belt extender can be so paralyzing, that many don't dare leave the comfort zone of their hometown."
Richmond hopes to change this by featuring plus-sized women in incredible locations worldwide on her Instagram account. She also writes a blog, and she's created a Fat Girls Traveling private Facebook group where women discuss their anxieties about travel and offer each other support. They talk about everything from the way different cultures perceive larger women to being worried about taking up space on flights.
Ahead, Richmond tells us the story behind Fat Girls Traveling, why she wants to take the stigma out of the word "fat" itself, and how she deals with horrible online comments.
It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Annette Richmond.
So how did Fat Girls Traveling start?

"I wanted to create a profile that ONLY features fat female travelers. And in January 2017, I created the Fat Girls Traveling Instagram page and hashtag. In the beginning, I mostly featured major plus-size fashion bloggers because I noticed that some of the ladies in the travel-sphere weren't aware of all of the incredible women making an impact. I would also feature my recent travels.

"From there, it was a steady growth. I asked women to use the hashtag #FatGirlsTraveling to be featured. As a fashion stylist and having a background in fashion marketing, I have an eye for what I like and I knew I wanted to feature strong images. Images that you could see on other major profiles if the women were smaller."
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Photo: Courtesy of Annette Richmond.
What are the most common topics about which people reach out to you?

"Fashion is a major one. Some of our members live in different countries or are traveling frequently. So they are looking for brands that cater to their body type as well as deliver to wherever they are. There are also outdoorsy members who love hiking and camping and need waterproof items and hate having to shop in the men's section. Shoes are a common discussion because when you travel, you walk a lot. We fat women want and need shoes that are not only chic, but comfortable."

How do you juggle Fat Girls Traveling with your full-time job?

"My life is a beautiful mess. When I'm not styling clients for Stitch Fix, where I am now a plus-size stylist, I am writing posts for my blog or articles. Luckily, there are four other amazing women that help me moderate the Fat Girls Traveling Facebook group.

"I'm currently planning my trip to New York for Fashion Week. I'm not going to lie, it's a juggling act. And sometimes I feel guilty about dedicating more time to Fat Girls Traveling than my blog. But I know that it's needed. So sometimes, like last night, I'll stay up until 2 a.m. working on Fat Girls Traveling projects after I get my daily styling done."
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Photo: Courtesy of Annette Richmond.
What are some of your favorite responses you've received to your blog?

"The blog post I wrote 'Traveling While Fat and Black' got a lot of attention and resulted in a lot of emails from my readers. One that stands out is a woman who identified with a section where I talked about being in Thailand and eating outside at a mom-and-pop-style place. Most of the chairs were plastic and when the lady saw me walk up, she looked at me and asked me to wait. She then went to grab a wooden chair for me and asked me to sit there. In my head, I got defensive. The truth is, I might have broken that tiny plastic chair and she was being kind and trying to save me the embarrassment. My reader wrote about a time that she and her husband were in Asia and he was not spared the embarrassment. He broke a chair. She was thankful that someone was open enough to share their experience with this very touchy subject.

"I do feel that Fat Girls Traveling is helping to take the stigma out of the word 'fat.' Even in the microcosm that is Fat Girls Traveling. Many of our members are writers and bloggers. A handful of them have personally told me that before joining the group, they were uncomfortable with the word. They now use it in their blog and are comfortable call themselves 'fat.' Even fat women have been brainwashed to believe that fat means: lazy, unhealthy, unlovable, and a myriad of other negative things. In reality, it just means that we have fat on our bodies."
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Photo: Courtesy of Annette Richmond.
How do you deal with the haters? Is it easier on some days than others?

"It's nearly impossible to ignore the haters. But I just don't give them my power. I see the comments and I recognize that the way they feel about me and my body has nothing to do with me or my body. It has everything to do with how they feel about themselves and their bodies. Of course, there are days when I don't feel confident and just want to crawl under the covers and watch Netflix. And sometimes I do that! Shit, I'm human.

"There was a time when I responded to the haters, telling them to fuck off. But I realized that giving them any attention or energy is exactly what they want. I'm a busy bitch! Ain't nobody got time for that! So I keep it pushin' and encourage members of Fat Girls Traveling to do the same. Don't allow them to dull your shine, boo."

What's next for Fat Girls Traveling?

"One of the things in the pipeline is a Fat Girls Traveling retreat. It will be happening next summer, and I'm super-excited to be planning it. I've also collaborated with one of the members to create Fat Girls Traveling merch. Other things in the immediate future are Fat Girls Traveling meetups all over the country. New York is first, then San Francisco. Then I'm off to Asia for a few months and I plan on bringing Fat Girls Traveling everywhere I go."
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