Traveling is fun, but if you’re fat….
From belts that don’t buckle to spaces that simply don’t fit: the unique challenges facing plus-size travelers
The excitement of planning a trip can be one of life’s greatest joys, that’s undeniable. But for plus-size people, the anticipation of new discoveries, emotions and experiences can be somewhat more complex.
Feminism and human rights without intermediaries
In November 2022, in the middle of the World Cup in Qatar, a surprising event occurred. Brazilian model Juliana Nehme was prevented from boarding a flight from Lebanon to Doha because of her body size. This incident generated international concern, prompting action by embassies and global organizations. However, this was not an isolated event. Some airlines even suggest or require passengers to purchase additional seats for comfortable travel.
The truth is that you don’t have to be exceptionally large to notice that the space provided in airplane or bus seats is far from adequate for many travelers. Take for example the dancer Thaís Carla. She made a video highlighting these problems during one of her flights. The answer? A wave of venom on social networks.
More than 50% of women report experiencing anxiety about their body during the vacations. Nearly 90% of plus-size women report experiencing discomfort or embarrassment while traveling. Only 18% of plus-size women say they feel comfortable asking for a belt extender on an airplane. More than 80% of plus-size women report experiencing discrimination while traveling.
The guilt of fat women
Instead of demanding from the companies the necessary conditions to accommodate their passengers, what fatphobia does is to blame and punish the fat person for being who he or she is. As Jéssica Balbino reminded me in a conversation we had on the subject, the fat person is treated as a large suitcase that obstructs the way, takes up space, adds weight.
This is how we normalize prejudice, which sometimes manifests itself in the critical gaze of the thin person sitting next to a fat person on a trip. In extreme cases, these stares turn into public complaints, such as the American influencer who complained about traveling between two fat people and received $150 from the airline for the “inconvenience caused.”
But not boarding or spending an entire flight in discomfort are not the only challenges we face. If we apply a gender approach, the bias becomes even more evident.
Looks at fat women
It happened to me on a recent trip to Fortaleza. When I managed to get minimally comfortable in the seat, I realized that the seat belt was not going to close on me; I would need an extender. I mentally prepared myself to ask for one, because I’ve had everything happen to me at times like this: from the equipment not being available to the attendant announcing over the aircraft’s sound system that the passenger in seat 14D needs a seat belt extender. And all eyes, and judgments, were on me at that moment.
That day, however, as soon as a fat man sat down in the front row, the attendant brought the extender without him having to ask for it. I had already been sitting for a while, and I came to the conclusion that fatphobia is for men and women, but public exposure and shame are for women.
And prejudice continues to appear at other stages of the journey. If a fat person has their luggage misplaced, for example, they will have difficulty replacing the clothes it took them a lifetime to own, precisely because we know that “inclusive fashion” is still a very misunderstood concept by brands.
There are even museums and tourist attractions that, like airplanes, are not accessible to larger fat people. Even when it comes to sampling the cuisine of a destination, an activity so common in travel, our eating habits are scrutinized and judged.
With so many layers of discomfort, it is not uncommon for fat people to forgo travel. The idea that we are not worthy, capable, deserving, is not only in our heads or in prejudiced comments. These are very concrete actions of a project that, ultimately, wants to extinguish us.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Color Click.
Our aim is to stimulate debate on the various trends in contemporary thought.
What are some common stereotypes that plus-size women face while traveling?
When we, as plus-size women, venture out into the world, we often encounter a number of misconceptions and stereotypes. These can sometimes be challenging to deal with, especially when we are supposed to be enjoying our travel experiences. However, understanding these stereotypes can help us prepare for and navigate through them with confidence and grace. Here are the most common stereotypes we face: We often encounter the belief that we can’t or won’t participate in physical activities. This is far from the truth. We hike, swim, explore, do everything. Another stereotype is the assumption that we feel uncomfortable or unhappy traveling. Again, this is far from accurate. Traveling is an act of joy and freedom for us, as it is for everyone else. Finally, there is the damaging idea that we don’t care what we look like or how we present ourselves.
. On the contrary, we take as much pride in our appearance as anyone else. The bottom line is that we are more than these stereotypes; we are adventurers, explorers and globetrotters.
What are some practical tips for plus-size women to travel comfortably?
We are often bombarded with images of slim, young travelers skipping through picturesque landscapes. But the truth is that plus-size women can and do travel, and we have every right to enjoy it to the fullest. We don’t need to look a certain way to explore the world and we can definitely do it in a comfortable and stylish way. Here are some practical tips that can help you make your next adventure the best one yet, no matter your size.
Research and Plan
The key to a comfortable trip is preparation. Invest time in researching your destination, the culture and what attire is acceptable. Look for information about seating on public transportation, walking distances and the nature of the activities you wish to do. This will help you plan and pack accordingly.
Travel is not a privilege reserved for slim people. We, as plus-size women, deserve to experience the world as much as anyone else. We are entitled to adventure, discovery and self-exploration through travel. However, navigating the world as a plus-size woman can present unique challenges. But we are here to tell you that it is possible, it is empowering and it is wonderful. To help you on your trip, here are some tips and practical advice.
Choosing Plus Size Friendly Destinations
A crucial step in the planning process is to choose destinations that are welcoming and accommodate plus-size travelers. Some places are more aware and considerate of bodily diversity than others. Look for destinations known for their inclusivity, which cater to all sizes in clothing stores and have size-friendly public facilities. Remember, we deserve to feel comfortable and safe wherever we choose to visit. Keep in mind that the world is vast and so are the places that will welcome us with open arms.
Choose Your Lodging Wisely
When booking your accommodation, do not hesitate to ask about the size of the beds, the solidity of the furniture and the accessibility of the facilities. Hotels are beginning to understand the need for diversity in their services, and many are happy to provide information to ensure your comfort. We deserve to relax as comfortably as anyone else after a long day of exploration.
Packing smart is another key to a successful plus-size trip. This includes packing comfortable, well-fitting clothing. Recognizing that plus-size clothing can sometimes take up more space, strategic packing is essential. Consider rolling your clothes instead of folding them, or pack multi-purpose garments. Remember that taking care of our bodies and dressing comfortably and confidently is more important than packing light.
Despite the challenges we may face as plus-size women, the world is ours to explore. We are beautiful, we are strong and we deserve every travel opportunity that comes our way. So let’s embrace our desire to explore, defy social stereotypes and confidently travel the world. Plus-size women travel, and they travel fantastically!
Plus-size women can find welcoming travel destinations all over the world. Some popular destinations include Bali, Indonesia, which has a growing plus-size community and a variety of activities such as yoga and surfing that cater to all body types. Another popular destination is Puerto Rico, which has a vibrant culture and beautiful beaches accessible to all. In addition, many European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam have made efforts to be more accessible to plus-size travelers by offering larger seating options on public transportation and in restaurants.