This open letter was sent to the 3 major French newspapers in the Montreal area – La Presse, Le Devoir & Le Journal de Montréal – in January-February 2017. It was never published, though it was written according to the requirements of each publication. So here it is, for your “pleasure”, and hopefully, for you to share around, so it can get the visibility it deserves.
*Minor changes were made to the original text sent… after all, I’m the Editor here!*
The United Nations declared that 2017 would be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. What a great news for travelers who care about not leaving a trace, or at least leave a positive one, on the world!
Because I am a plus-size traveler.
All the way from here, I can hear people howling “Well, eat less, eat better, move more!”. (Because that is what they ALWAYS say to us, the chubby, the overweight… the fat people.)
Well, guess what? I did it.
My newly discovered passion for travel made me crave for a higher level of fitness. So I worked out, to improve my cardiovascular capacity, after falling in love with hiking.
I lost 82 lbs. Without crash dieting or crazy starvation. Without debilitating boot camp that would give Jillian Michaels nightmares. I plateau-ed. I even gain back some.
But I’m still going to spin class regularly and my coworkers still like to joke about me preferring the gym to happy hours…
That’s how I went from “super obese” to… “super obese” (and top shape).
I do pretty well in the jungle, the ruins and on mountain trails. My blood sugar and cholesterol levels are within normal ranges. My pulse is in the right spot, and doesn’t fear to be compared with the least active.
Still. Airplane seats are – way – too small.
Backpacks, waist pouches, and other accessories, that are meant to be adjusted to body size, are rarely adapted to active travelers of my size.
Travel-designed clothes hardly go beyond a size “L” for women. (Hats off to Tilley, a Canadian company, a rare exception.)
When I asked a well-known outdoor and recreation retailer “When can we expect plus-size clothes?” on their Facebook page, they responded that “they understood my frustration”. Maybe someone, somewhere, will finally recognize that I have the right to be disappointed when facing the commercial indifference that plus-size active people have to deal with?
À la question “À quand des vêtements taille plus?”, posée sur la page Facebook d’un magasin de plein-air bien connu, on m’a répondu qu’on “comprenait ma frustration”. Reconnaîtrait-on enfin que j’ai le droit d’être déçue de l’indifférence commerciale à laquelle sont confrontées les personnes actives ET corpulentes?
A proverb says that the customer is always right; I’d like to respond that it often depends on the client’s waistline!
In a world where fat-shaming (discrimination based on weight/body size) remains one of the last forms of “socially acceptable” form of bullying, it seems that potential profit is not yet enough to motivate the designers and retailers to respond to the needs of their overweight customers, a market segment that destined to grow and become an important, if not essential, part of their client base.
Are weight stigmas that terrible that being commercially associated with fat people is frowned upon to a level that businesses rather skip on potential clients than benefit from their buying power? If they don’t care about body diversity, can we hope that these big companies will see the actual profit there is to catering to the needs of a “fattening”, yet active population?