Annette Richmond was tired of not seeing plus-sized women represented in the travel industry, so she created Fat Girls Traveling.
“I started the platform because when I started traveling in 2015 because I wanted to transition my fashion blog into a lifestyle platform to include travel. I noticed when I was sharing and tagging and hashtagging all of the major travel platforms, not only wasn’t my photos getting reshared but I noticed that there were no plus size or fat travelers ever being reshared,” said Richmond. ‘I started using the fat girls traveling hashtag on my personal platform from Annette With Love first and then started the Fat Girl Traveling platform. My goal with that was just to kind of reshare images of people that used our hashtag.”
That’s what prompted her to start her own community, featuring women who she felt were often overlooked. Richmond calls herself a “fat activist” She’s the founder of Fat Girls Traveling: an online community dedicated to showcasing the diversity of the travel industry beyond color but in size.
“I understand why people would think the word ‘fat’ is degrading but it’s a descriptor just as ‘short’ is a descriptor and ‘blonde’ is a descriptor. Words only have as much power as you give to them,” said Richmond. “Part of my fight as an activist is to take away that negative connotation that comes with the word ‘fat’ because not only am I fat, but I’m also beautiful. I’m also kind. I’m smart as f**k.”
While her Instagram is dedicated to representation in the form of images, her Facebook group is dedicated to creating a safe space for members. She and other moderators answer questions about which airlines are the best for plus-sized travelers, as well as activities that are accommodating for all shapes and sizes.
“The focus of that is to answer questions, empower, and encourage fat people to actually get out there and travel because something that most straight-sized people don’t recognize there is a lot of barriers for fat people when we just walk outside of our house,” said Richmond. “When you’re traveling you want to figure out if I am going to need two seats on the airplane or am I going to be able to just book one seat. If I do need two seats, is there an airline that will give me a discounted rate for that second seat or a free second seat?”
She adds, “people also don’t recognize things like kayaks and tents and sleeping bags, actually have size and weight restrictions. Members of the community will ask questions like, ‘hey, you know me and my significant other are going camping, what is the most fat-friendly tent for two fat people because my partner is also fat?’ Or, ‘me and my partner want to share a couple sleeping bag but a regular size couple sleeping bag won’t fit the both of us. Does anyone have any tips on a fat-friendly couple sleeping bag?’”
For Richmond, her platform is all about representation, fighting for size inclusivity, and making people of all sizes feel comfortable traveling just as they are.
“70% of American women are considered plus size, and if you’re a female-focused travel platform, it’s a disservice to your audience if you’re not showing them or anyone that looks like them.”
Richmond acknowledges that even with the progress her movement has made, there is still work to do. She hopes to see more women of color embrace the term ‘fat.’
“As a Black woman and Black platform, it has been a struggle for me because the majority of my community is white. I think the reason that is, because while I haven’t done any research on it, but as a black person, I know that people of color, prefer terms like ‘thick’ or ‘curvy’ versus the term fat […] so more white women are attracted to my platform than if it were ‘Thick Girls Traveling.’”
You can follow Fat Girls Traveling on Instagram.