Annette Richmond, fashion stylist, writer, and creator of the body-positive travel group Fat Girls Traveling, says she didn’t see herself represented in the mainstream travel lexicon so she decided to create her own community—a safe space for women who aren’t a size 0 to post their travel photography and be inspired.
“Our public Instagram page is more inspirational,” Richmond said. “I hope that it inspires other women and young girls to aspire to see the world and not to let anything hold them back from living their best lives.”
Fat Girls Traveling (FGT) also has a private Facebook group where women can ask questions about various locations and airlines. They can vent about terrible experiences and rave about wonderful ones. Most importantly, Richmond explains, these women can share photos of themselves in bikinis, floating in their infinity pools, and enjoying the same luxuries that they’re left out of in many mainstream Instagram feeds and advertisements.
“One of my favorite things is when members share photos of themselves in a new swimsuit or something they previously thought they weren’t confident enough to wear,” Richmond said. “The fashion girl inside me always does a little happy dance.”
Diversity in travel
Luxury adventure travel is not just an activity for the white, wealthy, and physically fit. Diversity in travel is actually a booming business. Black travel communities like Travel Noire and Nomadness Travel Tribe, brimming with people often excluded from the average conversation about experiential escapes, have popped up across web. Around the world, black people spend about $50 billion on travel annually, and they’re not the only ones.
Other communities focusing on underrepresented groups of nomads are created daily. Travel Latina, “featuring women and gender non-binary people of the Latin American & Caribbean diaspora traveling the world,” has amassed over 14,000 Instagram followers. OUT Adventures, a gay travel startup, plans full tours with amazing itineraries for its target audience. These are groups who say there’s room for everyone in travel and, where corporations won’t make room for them, they’ll make their own space.
It’s not always easy
Of course, forcing your way through a door that was previously closed to you comes with its challenges. It’s a labor of love for Richmond, balancing her work as a stylist and traveling full time with managing the FGT social media pages. But she stays the course with FGT because the benefits far outweigh the costs.
And her message of self love, anti-fat shaming, and embracing your body has its share of critics. In its bio, the Instagram page includes the message “no body shaming will be tolerated” for good reason.
“In general, the most challenging part of managing Fat Girls Traveling is no different than the challenges of being a fat woman,” Richmond said. “People judge. People without any medical credentials think that they can look at a photo of you and make a medical diagnosis. People hear about what I’m doing with FGT and accuse me of promoting obesity. The sad truth is, no matter what I say or do the way I look will always be more important to some people.”
And that’s what’s at the heart of FGT’s message—body positivity despite what anyone may think. It’s travel with a purpose. And its impact is not lost on Richmond.
“My goal with FGT is to encourage women to be happy with themselves and with the bodies they have today,” she said. “I want to encourage women to be more than OK with their bodies but to celebrate their bodies now. I want to promote the fact that regardless of my rolls, dimples and cellulite I love my body, I love myself. Some call that promoting obesity, I call it radical self love.”