As humans, we have this natural, overwhelming need of labeling things… and people.
So I recently started wondering about what label(s) I carry, as a blogger.
Am I a travel blogger?
Well… I don’t really write about destinations… I blog mostly travel gear and tips, ideal clothing and the travel industry. At the same time, most “regular size” travel blogger don’t share my plus-size travel concerns.
Am I a plus-size blogger?
Well yes, technically. But still, many of my tips could also work for “standard” size travelers. (This is not going to be an easy process!)
Am I a body diversity activist?
Well… I believe in traveling light at every size and I’m proud to share tips and alternatives to allow everyone to do so. I firmly believe and support body diversity but I don’t really think I’m the biggest (no pun intended) advocate for the cause.
Most of the bloggers I follow – and I love every single one of them – have more specific audiences and they answer to people’s quests about empowerment, style, courage… (Don’t get me wrong : there are way more types of bloggers than the types listed below, but these are probably the most common blog types I’ve encountered so far…) I am pretty much the only blogger right now with a website addressing solely the needs of plus-size travelers. It feels very special to be “the first one” at something, like a pioneer of some sort… but it can also be quite lonely and challenging at times!
I’m not a super-sophisticated-couture-sassy-fashionista-lady.
I don’t know fashion. I know about backpacks and suitcases, hiking boots, activewear and airlines luggage policies. And jeans maybe. I notice a trend here and there, but that’s it. (By the way, the whole pastel color thing… not really a backpacker friendly trend, haha!) My biggest fashion statement are my earrings, which I like funky and because they give a girly edge to my very short hair. That’s as far as it goes for me.
My go-to clothes are jeans, Adidas vests and Blundstone boots. Or leggings, sneakers and a tunic or some long top. I will wear dresses in the scorching heat summer, but always with bike or anti-chafing shorts or leggings under (because, you know, chub rub) and strictly for heat wave reasons. And I got huge, flat feet. So I can’t wear any of these cute shoes, even less wear heals. (I wore white, mid-calf Converse on my wedding day.)
I’m not a gorgeous-tattooed-pierced-rockabilly-vintage-pin-up-vixen.
I have tattoos, yeah. A few. Not really visible though. And no piercing (other than the traditional ears). I did try an industrial in my ear 5 years back, but it never fully healed so I gave up on it and took it off after 6 months, before leaving for my first solo trip to England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Also, I can’t handle make-up, and I barely know how to use it. So no pretty, sophisticated, contoured face for me. And I’m OK with that. Also, like many people living with hyperhidrosis, I gave up on make-up a long time ago!
I’m not a perfectly proportioned woman who can rock pretty much anything she wants, as long as they make it in a size 14-16.
Nope, I’m waaaaay chubbier than that! And yes, I mean you, amazingly gorgeous Ashley Graham! #NoHardFeelings
I’m not comfortable rocking a VBO (Visible Belly Outline) and/or owning and “representing” my every curves like many other bloggers are.
Though I don’t consider myself as a person that carries the most complexes about my body, I’m not there yet. I’ve worn a super cute, high-waisted bikini like twice and I’ve never felt so self-conscious in my whole life! On the other hand, I’m quite satisfied with my legs, especially skinny jeans…
I’m not one of those amazing yogis, triathletes, runners or other awesome sportsperson who defies all standards and odds by excelling in a discipline where they are not expected to…
…I really love their outfits though!
Back when I was 15-16, in Matane, I did contribute to open the doors to plus-size synchronized swimmers in my hometown… I was the first plus-size synchronized swimmer ever to be on the local team, the Aqua-R-Elles. Sadly, 2 years later, I had to quit because of shoulder issues, but not before I had the chance to do a few public performances and competitions. Shortly after my first year-end show, other chubby girls and teenagers started joining the Aqua-R-Elles. That was the first time I realized I could leave a trace and make a difference. I busted the myth of the slim synchronized swimmer. I was so glad to see that these girls could too perform in bright suits and wear sequin toques in their hair. This was my first “legacy”. But that’s as far as it went and I never pursued my “battering ram career” in sports. (Kudos to Josée and Geneviève, our coaches back then, who never let the size of a girl decide if she should be – or not – part of the club.)
In the current blogosphere, am I some kind of a… unicorn blogger?
What is my place in the plus-size community of blogs?
What are the sources of inspiration behind my posts?
I do share, with my fellow body-positive-plus-size-fashion bloggers, the dream of a world where fat-shaming and sizeism is a thing of the past. Just like them, I’m also fed up with reading over and over again the same comments about how plus-size people automatically means we are not healthy, that we should lose weight, that we are a burden on the healthcare system, and so on…
I travel the world. (And when I don’t, I plan my next trip.)
I work to pay for my next plane ticket, to get the budget for my next adventure. I travel to be breathless and gasp in front of splendor. To meet new people. Try new food. See the world through different eyes. To be challenged and voluntarily kick myself out of my comfort zone. And see how I can manage in an environment where I don’t understand, can hardly be understood, and have to live with a whole new set of customs and rules. I do that with the smallest luggage possible and by spending as little on possible to get the most out of my savings and travel as often as I can !
I work out, but I know I will never be thin…
… and I’m fine with it. And don’t workout to lose weight. I just want to keep good legs and cardio to roam the world with my backpack the way I want to. But I don’t consider myself an athlete. I do it so I can keep up with my travel plans and be able to explore and photograph the world, with my backpack, on my own terms. I work out, regularly and intensely. Sometimes “breathing like a beached whale” intensely. Often to a point that my headband is soaked and dripping (again, damn you, hyperhidrosis).
The reason I have remained discrete about it on the blog thus far? No one wants to be annoyed into exercising or have it shoved down their throats… In fact, no one wants to be forced into doing anything. (I tried forcing myself into working, that didn’t work.) When we decide to undertake such a journey – because it’s a choice, one that should be based on personal reason(s) rather than society’s pressure -, we need to be INSPIRED to be successful… or you will give up at the first obstacle. (Who wouldn’t, without the right motivation?)
I want to be UNSTOPPABLE…
… or something close to it. (And it’s also nice to prove people wrong, while you’re at it, hehe…) I refuse to let my size dictate the things I “should want to do”. My passions, my dreams and my interests are the inspirations behind what I want to see, to live and accomplish!
I have the urge to kick down closed doors and prove wrong people who think we are less capable because we are plus-size people.
I am truly eager to show the world that plus-size travelers are not what they expect, which is often limited to people taking too much space on the plane or slowing down a group excursion. Too often, we are considered lazy and inept.
Every time I travel, I’m reminded of all the stereotypes and preconceived ideas that are associated with travelers that are larger than the so-called “standard” size. I also notice how very few plus-size backpackers – especially women – there are out there.
And every single time, I can’t help but think that I can’t be the last unicorn! I want to reach to every woman out there who thinks that traveling or backpacking is not for her. I’m here to prove you wrong! (I think we’ve established I like to do that quite a lot…)
Maybe you are a unicorn too and you already know it. Maybe you don’t know just yet, that you are one… maybe it’s still sleeping inside you.
In all cases, I’m here to awaken and emancipate your inner plus-size backpacking unicorns, ladies!
Now, let’s start something awesome together, shall we?