Traveling While Fat & Black

Traveling is truly a unique experience. No matter the age, sex or skin tone, no two travelers will EVER have the same experience. The main reason for this is that expectation affects the experience just as much as the destination. I’ve seen a ton of articles listing the “Safest Countries for Black Travelers” and the “Top Ten Destinations For Black Women” On the other hand, I RARELY if ever, read articles about what it’s like to travel as a Fat woman. Not to mention a Fat, Black Woman, how’s that for a triple whammy!?  Below I share a few of my personal experiences and travel tips as a Fat, Black Female Traveler. Please keep in mind that these are my struggles and experiences. Still, I hope you can find a common thread.

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Making Friends in the Netherlands

I always advise visiting a place yourself and forming your own opinion. However, expectation plays a great role in traveling to countries that are deemed “unfriendly or unsafe” for Black Travelers. I will undoubtedly find Germany and Italy on these lists. And although both countries have had and continue to have issues with African immigrants and African-American tourists, I’ve visited both places and have nothing but positive things to say.

Fat & Black in America

Believe it or not, I experience the most prejudice while traveling in my own country. From backhanded compliments like, “You’re so well spoken” to “You have such a pretty face” underlying racial tension and size discrimination have been constants in my life.

Because I’m black, some people assume that I should speak a certain way or have a certain level of education. When I exceed that expectation, they feel it’s appropriate to congratulate me on the fact that I’m smarter than they thought black people could be. Or I speak more proper than black people they know.  Excuse me while I jump for joy at small-minded Americans!

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Striking a Pose on Melrose

The one that really kills me though is, “You have such a pretty face.” which basically means, “your body is disgusting, but your face isn’t bad!” Remind me again, when did I ask for your opinion? Oh right, I didn’t! One last question, who told you I gave a fuck about how you feel about my face or my body? Oh, no one? Great! Then keep your opinions to yourself, please and thank you.

Flying While Fat & Black

I don’t have to use an extender when I fly. But that doesn’t stop the stares as I side shuffle down the aisle so that my hips don’t bump into other passengers. And it sure doesn’t stop the groans I get when I ask for the window seat. Yes, I prefer to look out the window when I fly. Yes, that means I will ask you to get up every time I need to go to the bathroom. Get over it!

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The View from my Window Seat

People do watch me while I eat. People do ask my opinions on the meals they ordered, even if I ordered something different. What, just because I’m fat I know how your duck and rice tastes? No ma’am! Because I have a bigger body, I have less space on the plane. So, when the person in front of me leans back, they’re basically laying on my boobs! So grabbing my magazine or the ear buds I dropped could lead to a mission impossible style search and rescue.

Fat & Black in Europe

I visited Europe when there was a major influx of refugees. It was a time when the mood was changing from inclusive and welcoming to worried and restrictive. As a tourist, I felt welcomed in every country I visited. Still, I couldn’t help but notice the shanty towns on the outskirts of almost every major city. Some of the refugees had brown skin, like me. All were fleeing their own countries in search of freedom, only to end up on the outskirts of a developed country struggling to survive. Growing up poor and being one of the few Black girls at my school, I relate to feeling like an outsider.

I won’t lie, I expected to have a terrible time in Germany. I’ve studied World War Two at great length and was pretty hesitant to visit some of the places on our itinerary. Including the Hofbrauhaus where Hitler announced his presidency and would hold regular Nazi Party meetings. However, entering the beer hall I felt nothing but good vibes! There was a live band playing and the place was packed. I was instructed to look up at a Bavarian Flag mural which covers a swastika on the ceiling of the dining room.  While the waitresses were rude – mostly to the Australians, the food and BEER were delicious!

Being the social butterfly that I am, I quickly made friends with a local couple and a Bavarian cutie. Within hours I was dancing the night away with them, my roommate and a few other friends from our  Contiki Tour at Milchbar. I’m happy to say that I had the MOST fun in Germany. Probably because my expectations were so low!

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Having a Pint at Hofbrauhaus

I’m aware that there is a lack of melanin in some European countries. Like America, there are some communities that don’t have people of color living in them. So when they see someone with brown skin, it can be thrilling! While visiting the Louvre in Paris someone yelled out, “Yo, Yo, Yo!” and waved at me. Were they challenging me to a rap battle? I guess I should’ve busted a flow real quick! Although I was visiting one of the most famous museums in the world, I felt like an exhibit when asked by strangers if they could take a photo with me. I assumed it was because I was one of the few black people they’d met in real life. So I chose not to be offended, but to grin and bear it, literally.

Fat & Black in Asia

Not only was my melanin something special, being fat in Asia felt culturally unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have high hopes of a shopping spree, but I did not expect the staring. And it didn’t stop at staring, there was pointing and laughing. Asia is very different culturally. In that culture, it’s okay to comment on a strangers weight or to make gestures and think nothing of it. I was often stared and laughed at and if I caught it, I would smile and wave. My friend on the hand had a bit of a rougher time.

As a big and tall white male, he’s used to size discrimination but Asia took it to another level. He was asked multiple times if he was pregnant and if they didn’t ask outright, they made the gesture. Handling rude comments and gestures is one thing when it happens once in a while, but feeling like you’re constantly under attack for how you look is exhausting.

Eating in Asia was also an experience. While in Thailand I almost always opted for street food. With that comes more onlookers and judgments. I always ordered what I wanted and ate as much or as little as I wanted. There were a few times that the host had to change chairs for me before I sat down. The first time it happened, it was hard not to feel offended. What, am I too fat for your chairs!? And then I realized, yes, yes I am. And instead of me being embarrassed by breaking a chair, I would rather allow them to find the perfect one for my voluptuous ass!

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All Smiles at the Damnoen Floating Market

Ever since the season of Top Model where the girls go to Thailand I’ve wanted to visit Bangkok’s Floating Market. So one day I woke up at dark thirty and made my way to the Damnoen Floating Market on a group tour. There are walkways and shopping areas you can get to without being in a paddle boat, but I wanted to see it the traditional way, by water.

It was my turn to get on the boat and an argument started between the guy paddling the boat and the guy taking my money. I can only assume that the guy who was paddling didn’t want me on his boat because of my size. As soon as I got on the boat he was pushing a poking me to move this way and that so that the boat could balance out. I understand that balance is key, but he didn’t have to be so rude. He then had the NERVE to ask for a tip, #boybye! My tip, don’t be rude to people you have to ask for a tip.

Light is right in Asia. Meaning the lighter your skin, the better. However, I felt like this way of thinking is more directed at Thai people. Walking through the city you’ll see lots of advertisements for skin-whitening products. I needed a new stick of deodorant and couldn’t find an option without “whitening”.  I also saw the results of some of this skin lightening. Men and women with faces notably lighter than their neck or hands.

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Snail White Skin Whitening

I was surprised by the number of African immigrants in Thailand. When I stayed in Sukhumvit I noticed a lot of men and women that looked like me. Then I realized that I was in the Red Light District and most of the African women there were prostitutes. So when I was propositioned a few times I wasn’t shocked. I just shook my head and quickened my step.

I had the chance to do a little island hopping while I was in Southern Thailand and I noticed that the braiding business is pretty popular down there. Now you know messing with a black woman’s hair is a no-no. Asking to touch it is a cardinal sin! When I was in Thailand the locals frequently complimented me on my rainbow braids. One lady asked a few questions and if she could touch my hair.  For some reason, I wasn’t as offended by that as the woman who started petting me without my permission in Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago.

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86 thoughts

  1. Great article. I love to travel and I understand all the cultural differences and wonders that you talk about. Thanks for sharing your unique perspective, it’s a good reminder of how much other people have to go through because of their differences.
    One of my first experiences with this was when I studied abroad for a year in a small city in England, coming from San Francisco. Our first day in England, at orientation, I met students from all over the world doing the same thing as me. there were 3 students from my university, two white guys and a young black woman. We all shared the same excitement and anticipation for the year to come and vowed to remain the closest of friends for the year. While that didn’t really happen, we did all stay connected on Facebook and occasionally ran into each other. That year was one of the best of my life, with adventures and making lifelong friends.
    What struck me was each time I ran into the young black woman, she was increasingly unhappy and the last time I saw her she couldn’t wait to get home. Another female black student from the South who was a neighbor, really hated it and ended up going home early. I could never figure out why, but I imagine it has to do with some of the same issues you encounter.
    The interesting thing that has to do with your ideas of expectation is that there are many African and black English female students who I became great friends with who LOVED it there. I think there is some dynamic of being American and female of color at work here, although I haven’t totally worked it out. To be sure, there were some white female and male students from America who really hated it too, so in the end, I guess it has to do with individual expectations and upbringing, etc.

    Thanks again for sharing your story and I am glad you are able to take it all with an open mind and put things into context so you are able to enjoy yourself.

    cheers,
    Peter

    1. Thanks for sharing that Peter! I think that every experience is unique and those girls left early because of whatever they were going through. It could’ve been cultural, or plain old homesickness. I just wanted to share my experiences because I read a lot of them, but no one ever talks about being Fat and Black. Which is what I am if I had to label myself. I don’t see either as a negative, just facts. Thanks for checking out my blog! <3

  2. Love this post! Also love your rainbow braids 🙂 Btw., the whitening creams are so weird, I have quite some problems with my skin so I rather opted for a kitchen oil than to put that and risk my allergy going nuts!
    As for the photo taking, I happily let all the people in India take a selfie with me – it´s quite fair as I take so many photos of locals everywhere doing any mundane tasks I happen to find interesting.

    1. I’ve not been to India, but I’ve read about that. It’s very interesting. I find it kinda funny, but it’s a little different when people yell out Yo, Yo, Yo. It’s because of the Hip Hop culture and because I’m black, I’m associated with that. It’s a trip, but not bad. Thanks for your comment Karin.

  3. As a ‘larger’ person myself I can concur that the place I felt most uncomfortable was Asia. My time in Vietnam was not enjoyable because I was constantly looked and pointed at. I felt like everyone was laughing at me. Great article .. it’s always nice to read a ‘real persons’ perspective – if you know what I mean!

    1. LOL! I know what you mean Sarah! Yeah, Asia is so different culturally. Still, I loved it so much that me and my Fat Ass are moving there!

  4. I am not sure i like this article. In fact, I think it is outright bad 🙁

    You write:
    “I won’t lie, I expected to have a terrible time in Germany. ”

    I am German. You know….this sentence sounded EXACTLY like you saying that Americans seem to expect you to speak in a certain manner and tell you how pretty your face was.

    Personally speaking, I’d treat a “black, fat women” no differently than any other human being who is able to fullfill his duties and rights. But I’d utterly ignore any person who “studied history” and came to the conclusion all Germans were Nazis before her visit.
    you might want to edit it, because who knows..maybe all Germans will continue to think that all Americans are dimwitted, uneducated and limited in their views. Nobody really needs these predjudices, wouldn’t you agree?

    1. Hi Norman. It’s interesting that one sentence made you dislike my article. As I stated in the beginning, these are my personal experiences and opinions. I don’t expect everyone to have the same experiences or agree to my perspective. But that’s exactly what it is. My perspective and my blog. I NEVER said that I thought all Germans were Nazi’s where did you get that from? I actually said that I met an awesome German couple and a cute German guy and we all went out dancing…So I’m utterly confused on how you came to that conclusion. I was most worried about visiting concentration camps (which was VERY difficult) and the beer hall where Hitler announced his presidency, which I said that I actually enjoyed. I never said anything negative about Germany, just that I had low expectations of having a good time and I was wrong about that. I had the BEST time in Germany. So you taking that negatively is a personal issue. I feel like my article was EXTREMELY positive and will not edit it to make you feel better. Sorry, not sorry! Also, if you’re calling Americans names like dimwitted and uneducated when I’ve said nothing but positive things and expressed how close minded I was to think that Germany would not be fun because of the history of the country, it sounds like you’re the uneducated and prejudiced one. Thank you for reading my blog, but please don’t think that your opinion matters to me so much that you can request that I change my views and feelings on MY travel experiences. If you can’t do that, please use your time criticizing someone else’s work. Thanks!

  5. Thank you for your unadulterated truth!! I haven’t visited as many European and Asian countries as you, but I did experience the stares and random people walking up and taking my picture and then running off like they stole something when I visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I wasn’t really offended though because I could tell they probably had not seen too many black people. Let me speak on being fat in Dubai. I was a snickers bar away from being too big to ride Formula Rossa at Ferrari World!! The seats were tiny, but I made it work. We attempted to get on another ride. The attendant told me not to worry about sitting in the demo seat because he was certain I’d have no issue fitting into the seat. I’m glad I followed my gut because my hips were too wide!!

    Paris was a different story. A lot of the people we encountered there were pretty rude. The people I met in Brussels compensated for what we experienced in Paris though. They were extremely friendly and welcoming. I can’t wait to return!!

    1. Livi!! Fitting these hips in some of those seats is a STRUGGLE!!! I know the feeling LOL. I really want to visit Dubai and I’ve heard very similar things about traveling to India, it’s selfie central! As women of color, we know these things happen, we experience them first hand. But I was talking to a white male friend about my experience getting stopped in Paris to take photos and he didn’t believe me. He was like, “there are a lot of Black people in Europe.” I explained there are also a lot of tourists in Europe and some of them are from small communities where they’ve never seen a woman of color. Or maybe they have, but never had the courage to go up and ask for a photo. So when they ask me and I say yes, it makes them feel good. We’re all unique snowflakes and all of our experiences are different. I find value in hearing others experiences. Thanks for taking the time to read about mine <3

  6. P.S. your rainbow braids are awesome! Great pic. With old guy behind you looking like he’s photo bombing. Haha

    1. LOL! Thanks Peter! I did not know that guy, he TOTALLY photo bombed me! I was taking a selfie and he just jumped in! Then he went on about his day as did I! LOL classic moments and memories like that is why I blog. It’s hilarious!!

  7. Thank you for the enlightening article. As an American I am often ashamed of the continuing struggle in our country for racial equality and acceptance of other cultures. The worst is the self loathing it can create in those that are discriminated against. I hope your voice and message are heard because you have a strength of character and a way with words that could be very healing.

    1. Penny!!! Such a sweet and thoughtful comment! Thank you for that. Yeah, I want to break the cycle of shame and self-loathing. Especially being a Fat woman. I appreciate all the comments and emails I’ve received from this post and I want to continue to use my voice to help others feel heard and seen. <3

  8. Love this post! Despite the stares I got in SE Asia, the rare time I felt offended is when an American expatriate told me the stares were because I “looked like one of the farmers.” I got stared down and endlessly approached in Istanbul. And don’t get me started on Italy. But all were magical experiences and I felt like more of a curiosity than an object of scorn. Where I feel most uncomfortable at times? Traveling through these United States. But I’ll never stop traveling! Here or most anymore else! Don’t like it? Don’t look!

    1. LOVE your attitude Dita! Yeah, I haven’t experienced any hateful stares, I don’t think. Just curiosity- I usually have crazy rainbow hair as well, so I’m shy! LOL

  9. Fantastic article. I too am fat and black!😊 I travel solo a lot latest place was Portugal. I’m British so unless I go to a small village or town outside London I have zero issues with starting. Everyone ignores everyone here lol but my first time in Germany I too was aprehensive. I got stared at and had people give me looks like what am I doing here. And pure hate. But that was mostly in small towns. Not Berlin or hamburg. I love Germany anyway because it is actually a nice place. I want to go to Asia but I don’t want to handle that level of staring and rudeness as it would ruin my trip. Perhaps when I lose more weight I will go. I know that’s may sound lame but no way do I want to stand out even more for my size as well as my colour in a place where nobody looks even remotely like me😅. Well done with your blog ☺👍x

    1. LOL! Thanks for your comment Liz! I’m moving to Asia later this year, meet me out there! Then we will be two Fat Black Ladies in the Land of Smiles. Thailand is incredible, just culturally different. Most of my close friends are Latin and it’s culturally acceptable for them to talk about weight too. Like my friend’s mom might say “You gained some weight!” and I’d be like yep! Or “actually I’ve lost a few since I saw you last” it’s just a thing that some cultures are more blunt than others, but don’t let them hold you back girl! Do you! Also, maybe think about going with a travel group…

  10. Annette I salute you for sharing your unique travel experiences while traveling abroad. I am a frequent visitor to Europe
    I know how people can be rude and insensetive.
    While visiting Istanbul my friend and I were constantly hearing Yo Yo
    Yo which we ignored. As for Naughty Peter comments your comments were priceless.
    You are an inspiration to

    many who want to travel but don’t have the courage. I look forward to reading about your next travel adventure.

    1. LOL!! Fanny, trolls are gonna troll, right!? How did you like Istanbul besides the gawking? I’m honestly used to most of it by now. Especially with my crazy hair! I guess I stand out no matter what!

  11. To read about your experiences is super interesting! Although I am white and normal weight, some people in Asia would laugh, stare, point at me, take pictures etc. So I think, it’s just a way to react to “differences” and show their curiosity. Anyways, I am German and I did not feel offended at all. I am actually glad that you had a great time in Germany! So just ignore this German douche – he just cannot deal with expressions of experiences. That’s your experience and your way of dealing with your thoughts – that’s what matters to me the most. I like it, when people process experiences and share these.

    1. Awww! Thanks for your comment Nate. Yeah, Asia is just different culturally, they treated me the same as my friend, staring and pointing. It’s just a thing. Asking him if he was pregnant is another story, but being blunt about things like that is more culturally acceptable. We can’t go to a different country and expect them to be the same why that people are in our own country. But when it’s so in your face it can be hard to process. I totally had a blast in Germany. It was LIT!!! I can’t wait to go back to Europe after I spend a year in Asia. Def need to visit a few of my Polish and Czech friends. Yeah, it can be hard to admit when we’re wrong and I was wrong about Germany. I knew I would learn a lot, I just didn’t think I would have THAT much fun! Honestly, I had more fun in Germany and Switzerland than Amsterdam or Paris (purely from a party perspective). I would’ve never thought that possible until visiting all of them. You live and you learn right?

  12. I’m so glad I discovered your blog!!! I really enjoyed your post and I’m happy to see more women discussing traveling as a fat/plus size/big woman.

    I am a black American woman and FAT lol traveling around Asia. Currently in Penang, Malaysia and will be going to Taiwan next month!!!

    It’s so funny that I’m reading this today because I just got back from the mall where I was looking for a shop that sold plus sizes. I almost left the mall when I found one! The woman was so sweet and I have 2 (non-backpacker looking) dresses for Taiwan and wherever else I go after that.

    I hope I can get my ish together and start making YT videos again so I too can share my experiences traveling. It’s been pretty positive so far…LOTS of stares and “OH WOW!” comments lol….people are honestly just shocked to see us…its a combo of my fro, skin tone, bigger size, pretty face, etc. People can tell when you are comfortable in your own skin and OWN the space you take up. It’s something to admire 🙂

    Thanks again for the post!!

    1. Thanks for your comment Ediyie!! Own it boo! How is Malaysia? I’m moving to Thailand and am thinking about checking it out. PLEASE do start making YT videos! I’d love to check them out. I’m devouring anything Asia related at the moment, planning for the move. Thank you for your kind words and good luck with shopping in Asia! LOL <3

      1. you HAVE to visit Penang!!!

        KL is chill as well, but I really feel at home here which sucks because I’m leaving soon (i have good hostel/food/touristy recommendations so let me know when you plan to go). I’m def coming back to Malaysia to explore the other areas I didn’t get to like Borneo and Cameron Highlands.

        I can’t wait to go back to Chiang Mai!! I’m excited for your upcoming Thailand adventures<3 I hope you enjoy yourself !!

  13. as a feminist and having been working on female beauty stereotypes… and as a volunteer for intercultural learning associations I find your post so interesting and I’ll share it in all the fb groups of the associations. I think that in Europe (Germany in particular) you were welcomed like almost all US citizens, actually. There’s much more stereotypes and “fear” about a black skinny person (since probably poor… and wealthy people tend to be afraid of poor ones) then abt fatter people. I have to admit that in Italy maybe you would have felt absolutely unnoticed at first, but after a bit people tend to notice and comment f***** body shape, measures and to make a comparison with most common models. Hope to be wrong, indeed. By the way, you look so damn sexy!

    1. Thanks for your comment Sabrina! I don’t have anything bad to say about Italy or Germany. The thought that those countries are more dangerous for black people than others is false in my opinion. But I know, everyone has an opinion and it’s shaped by their experiences. I just want to encourage people to experience things for themselves. Please feel free to share my post. I love all the feedback I’m getting on this one! ; )

  14. The Snail White cream in Thailand was also something I noticed! All I can say that people will laugh at anyone who is different for any reason, I cannot imagine how it must have felt for you, but I really have the experience that someone can pick on you for whatever the reason 🙁 Growing up in my country, I was often called a gypsy because of my notable darker skin and almost black hair (most of my classmates were blond), I was too tall for everyone (and I am still the walking zoo for people in China being this tall), I used to be extremely skinny (so I was told things like – go eat a burger, men are not dogs, they don’t like bones, why do you eat, it just falls through you and you are wasting food etc) and in India people would take picture of me even when I told them I don’t want to, they would make a quick snap with the phone. But, that will never stop me from travelling! And, I am happy that it doesn’t stop you, so you go on and do your thing, and others can think what they want to, don’t let it ever influence you!

    1. Thanks Alina! I’m sorry you had to deal with that! Children can really be cruel, but all of those things are taught. Hate, prejudice. Honestly, it’s like no one can be perfect, we’re either too fat, too skinny, too muscular, nose is too big, SOMETHING! We just need to embrace each others differences and know that those are the things that make us special. <3

  15. Thanks for sharing this! Too bad for those finger pointing, staring and asking questions, that´s really rude. I remember while travelling around SE Asia with a friend who´s melanin level is as low as you can imagine ha ha year, and every woman in Vietnam wanted to take a photo with her and touch her skin!! It became so annoying for her, really. Everyone was admiring her skin and touching her. Similar to what we now experience with our son (who is blond) when we travelled to the Middle East or Morocco – people are constantly touching and even kissing him. Surely they do not mean anything bad by it, but he eventually found it strange and was a bit annoyed when it happened. I guess it´s impossible to avoid all those reactions, as people are always (secretly) staring at everyone who looks different as their neighbours 🙂 Good luck in Thailand!! x

    1. WOW, Kat. I don’t know how I’d deal with strangers touching my baby! I don’t have one yet…but I think Mama Bear would come out REAL quick! You are more patient than I! Thanks for your comment. Yeah, it’s totally common for people to be curious and maybe even stare at something that is different or strange. I’m just thickening my skin for Asia, because I know things that are considered rude in the US are very common in Asia. So since I’m going to be in the country, I have to get comfortable with their ways. Maybe not love them, but don’t personalize them. Which is what I hope my post conveys.

  16. I’ve never been to Asia, but I live in Vancouver, Canada, and have a lot of Asians come up to me (out of nowhere) and ask me why I weigh so much. Um, excuse me? Who asked you??!!

    Also, I LOVE the picture of you with the wings!

    1. Thanks Brooklyn! You’re so right, I’m like if you’re not buying my food, clothes and walking in my skin, why does my weight matter to you? Some people are just BORED! LOL

  17. Glad I found this post through facebook. You describe things I didn’t even consider. I never really thought about the colour or size of people as I grew up with so many different people around me. Different colours, different shapes, different (dis)abilities,…
    But I must admit that sometimes I feel like not seeing someone as different might ignore their struggle.

    1. Yay!! I’m happy you found it too Fenne! Yes, I agree sometimes we have to acknowledge our differences to show empathy. If you don’t acknowledge that I’m Black or Fat or a Woman, how are you going to relate to me when I talk about those issues? We all just need a safe place for these discussions and I hope this space will be it. Thank you for your comment. <3

  18. This is such an interesting perspective! I think perhaps all travellers will have one or two of uncomfortable and inappropriate situations while in culturally diverse places. In Tanzania, I was pointed at and called ‘muzungu’ (white person) multiple times a day for 3 months and after a while I just wanted to scream “I have an actual name!”. What really shocked me about this post is how you are treated on your own home turf in the US (although with the current political environment I suppose it’s not too shocking). So sorry you have to deal with that BS, but thank you for sharing such an insightful post 🙂

  19. Thanks for sharing this! I appreciate that putting this out there for the internet to possibly troll you about was probably nerve wracking! I’m glad you push through and don’t let it bother you, because I love reading your blog 🙂

    I am also on the larger side and quickly learned while traveling Asia that being called fat wasn’t them being rude. They were just stating a fact. I actually got used to it after awhile and when I went looking for pants in Bangkok, I had no problem asking where the fat girl store was 😂😂

    1. Thanks, Kassie! LOL! Yeah sometimes I think it’s just all semantics- Fat, Curvy, Plus Size. I want to help take the stigma out of that word. It’s just like any other word. It’s only bad if we give it that power. Thanks for your comment! <3

  20. Wow, Annette, I loved this post. I’m glad I discovered your blog :-). You write about things I didn’t even consider… I live with so many different people around me that’s I never really thought about the color or size of people ! So, thanks for sharing your personal view: it’s a good reminder of how much other people have to go through because of their differences.

    1. I’m happy you discovered my blog too! Yeah, I agree sometimes it’s just about acknowledging the differences in others. Size and skin color only scratch the surface when it comes to possible differences, they are just very visible ones. I plan to continue to be candid about my experience and I hope you enjoy reading about it. <3

  21. Hey anette, SOO HAPPY YOU WROTE THIS! I have a Perspectives section in my blog that addresses this exact thing! So many black women submitted posts about how their curves are received, their go-to hair styles (and struggles), the being mistaken as a prostitute, the dreaded hair touching and pictured taking, and so much more! But I don’t think anyone directly addressed being fat how you did and want to tell you from a “skinny” person, I appreciate you and all of your fatness!! And I wouldn’t mind sitting next to you in a plane!! You go girl, keep on doing what the fuck you want!

  22. WOW! Took me almost the same time to read through all these comments as your post. Man, this was hilarious! Not the fact of being discriminated, but the way you describe your challenges and endeavours. I love the fact that you have turned a difficult subject into an easy read, one where a reader can laugh as well as shake her head. And boy, should you have challenged that yoyo-dude at the Louvre into a rap battle – you would’ve won it 10-0!
    About the whitening creams: I guess it’s just the same as the self-tanning creams white Westerners use. I guess Asians ask themselves: why do these people want to seem tanned all the time? The beauty concept is just different.
    As I’m a typical Northern European, I can’t ever know what it’s like to be black. Fat, maybe one day, who knows. However I can relate to a part of this, as in Tansania I was sometimes discriminated because of my skin color and I couldn’t find clothes that fit me – there it’s: the bigger, the better. But I think a good post is something people can understand without being the same. And that’s what you’ve accomplished. Thank you!

    1. Sissi! Thank you for your sweet and thoughtful comment! Yes, I definitely see the similarities between tanning and whitening. A cultural difference in beauty standards. It’s just kind of shocking to see huge signs that say WHITENING and almost every beauty product from lotion to deodorant have labels that say Whitening. I needed deodorant, but I didn’t need the whitening! LOL. But there were literally NONE without it. Zero.

  23. I enjoyed your post! 🙂 I think much of the staring and comments in Asia just comes from lack of exposure. Our family lives in South Korea. When I first moved there I was a size 7 and people were constantly making comments about how big I was. I went into a store one day. Just looking at some items that DID fit me. A woman came up to me yelling “No large-e! No large-e! Too fat!” and took the shirt from my hands. Years later, there are far more Westerners, Koreans have been exposed to more different cultures, there are more larger Koreans etc. and despite actually being “large” now no one has made any comment about my weight in years!

    My son has a similar problem with people touching his hair non stop. In a region with only straight hair he has been blessed (cursed?) with curls. Your rainbow braids are amazing!

  24. This is so interesting and I appreciate you writing it. Part of travels opens our eyes and this is something that as a small whites woman I have not experienced. My dearest friend has struggled with weight and we’ve traveled together many times over the years. Once, in England, she and I were walking together and I was flabbergasted- truly at people so freely commenting rudely about her size/weight. It hurt my feelings so much for her and made me feel so angry. Who are they to care? Why does anyone care one way or another about a perfect stranger walking down the street? I have no answers but appreciate you opening his up for conversation.

  25. Fantatc article! I was very interested to read as I’ve been reluctant to do air travel as a fat woman. I’m white and 6′ tall with a large, natural bust of staggering proportions. I get stares at home in Canada, even when I was slender, on account of my height and bosom. Now, I think the spectacle is just too obvious for people to pretend not to notice. I’m not sure air travel would be comfortable and having to pay for another seat is always a concern. Then yes, getting around and seeing things knowing that chairs and accommodations are much smaller elsewhere. I wonder though, have you had much experience in South America? I’d love to read about your experiences there! Currently I travel a lot around North America and have been pretty much everywhere- now it’s time to spread my wings and do further afield again. I enjoyed Europe on my motorbike when I was younger. Glad to find your blog, courtesy of Oneika The Traveller. 🙂

  26. Hi Annette!

    As a fat, black female headed to Thailand in a few days, your article is very insightful. If they change my chair out before I’m seated, I won’t be so taken aback now…lol I’m not to good with people pointing out my weight, but as I have learned in my recent move to the Middle East, what Westerners consider rude is just normal procedure for many parts of the world. Thank you for your article and safe travels! Maybe I’ll run into you one day.

  27. Excellent post! Next time you’re in Paris let me know. Paris is FULL of sisters, and I’m one who has lived here for 16 years. And I’m happy to hear that you had such a great time in Germany. My husband is German and his friends and family have never shown me anything but love in our 18 years together.

    1. Thanks for the invite Barbara! I know that Paris is very multi-culti, it’s also tourist central. The people that stopped me were fellow tourists! I love Germany, can’t wait to go back and visit some of the smaller towns and mountainsides.

  28. Thank you for being so real and transparent. I remember the time my hubby and I went to the Maldives, and we wanted to go parasailing together. The guide said they had a weight allowance for two people. They then had us get on a scale, and told is we were too heavy. Hmm, happy honeymoon, lol! Keep sharing your powerful voice. We’re listening!

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback Eulanda! I am completely overwhelmed by the response of this post. Thank you so much for listening! I have SO much more to say. <3

  29. I have read in other articles where african-americans get approached by white people at walmart, trader joes’, wherever, only to have their hair or dreads touched. I always thought it was a joke, stated for comedic effect. I am now getting the sense that this is no joke. I swear to goodness, as a white person, if I ever see a fellow white person doing this, I will go off.

  30. Oh Annette! Thanks for this post! My first experience abroad was being fat and black living in Thailand for 2 years! It was a mentally exhausting experience of which none of my friends there could relate to! It was so hard to explain to others and I almost felt like I became paranoid. I was always on guard of who was staring or laughing at me. Going to the grocery store was even a chore! I am much stronger for it now and still visit the Thai islands on occasion. I find the islands of Thailand to be much more sensitive and kind towards others. Anyway, I can surely write a book about being a fat, black woman abroad! Thanks for sharing and what a relief to know I’m not the only one.

    1. Lol, I sure you could! I’d read that book! Yeah, I’m moving there in October and plan on writing a book! So, let’s see how it goes!

  31. I’m super self-conscious about traveling because of my weight. Truth is, I’ve never been happy with it even when I weighed like 70kg!

    Love your body-positivity. Going to Thailand in a week (been 2 other times already) and having some mixed feelings about wearing shorts etc. but this made me feel good! <33

    1. So good to hear that. Thanks for sharing! Where are you off to in Thailand? It’s one of my favorite places. I’m moving there! Make sure to search this site for my travel and itinerary tips! <3

  32. I love the way you take the bull by the horns. It is amazingly refreshing. The Asian lust (let me call it lust because that is how I see it! Oh and I’m Indian so FYI!) for fair skin extends across all the way to India. There are times I find it almost comical because people apply layers of talcum powder on themselves. This makes their face have a 10 shade difference from their neck or the rest of their body. To each their own I guess!

    1. I read yours! Very interesting perspective. I started an FB Group called Fat Girls Traveling and I’m planning on having a thread based on your post next week. Thanks for your comment Daneka!

  33. It’s funny that I JUST got back from Paris and had the total opposite experience! I LOVED it and the people were awesome. I never had an issue with my size nor had anyone be rude to me for any reason. Those steps about killed me though! Lol. No one assumed that I liked hip hop except for one Uber driver (and it was more because it was “American” music and not black music). But I did notice that the young people really seemed to like Future, lol.

    1. I want to go back to Paris. I loved the history of that city. I think the people who were surprised to see me were other tourists. Not Parisians. Paris is a melting pot, but it’s also a high tourist area. So people from smaller countries in Europe and around the world go there to experience life in the big city and seeing people from other cultures is one of those things.

  34. I really enjoyed your article. I have passed up invitations to travel abroad for the reason ,worried about my size. You have breathed life into me!

    1. That’s so good to hear! Please don’t let anything hold you back from seeing the world. It’s one of the most eye-opening things I’ve ever done! <3

  35. Funny, honest and heartbreaking at the same time. I really enjoyed reading this and to many things, I can relate. It was amazing to see your positive outlook behind a lot of the rude behavior. Really a good read!!

  36. i used to always tell myself i was going to workout and lose weight before my next trip…. haha silly me. now i take my fat black self on trips through asia/europe and go hiking and adventuring all while stuffing my face 😂😂😂😂.

    While is Hong Kong, people stared, pointed and took pics(asked or not). i truly didnt mind because it is such a homogenous country. I didnt habe any issues with all the walking and the stairs didnt bother me eith. Shopping was def out the question. then i went to the phillippines were the men clammored over me and my friend. There all shapes n sizes were accepted.

    thanks for this. Germany, Bangkok and Marrakesh are next.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Yeah, I will never let anyone’s perception of me ruin my trip! Just gotta keep pushin! It’s like, sorry you’re opinion of me matters not! Okayyyy! Lol! Have SO much fun traveling! I won’t be back in Bangkok until October. Otherwise I’d love to meet up!

  37. Hi Annette! I found your beautiful article through The Curvy Fashionista on facebook. Thank you for sharing your experience with such courage. I love your attitude! As a fat girl, I can relate to that part of the experience, but I believe I have been lucky so far. I read the comments (that german stuck up, wow! brilliant answer) and saw the one about a fb group?? is it only for people you know? I would be interested in being part of it, if it’s possible and of course depending on what’s happening there.. I will be a fat traveller soon, i’m doing europe with my bf for a few months and will be blogging about it.. Anyway, thank you again for sharing 🙂 hope you have a nice day!!

    1. Hi Gabrielle. Thank you for your kind words! I didn’t know Curvy Fashionista shared my link and I’m honored. Thanks for letting me know. Yes, you can join Fat Girls Traveling, it’s my FB Group. I look forward to chatting more there. 💜

  38. What a great article!

    At the ripe old age of 53, I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot of the world. Thin or fat, strangers are noticed. When I was and exchange student in Japan, I was often asked how I got my eyes this color (I’m white with grey eyes) and how I got my hair the way it was. As a much older adult, I can usually only purchase accessories and shoes in other countries, and not even shoes in Asia. I’ve been sneered at by sales women in Paris but welcomed in Amsterdam. London was very friendly but Andorra not so much. So I can only image what adding race to weight and foreign to the mix would be like! Sometimes I have just had to say to myself “this is their home, not mine” and hope I could be a better host to someone different than myself. And at other times, I’m remindied how kind and loving people can be.

    And I am completely there with you on air travel. I get that look too. I usually go for the aisle seat because I’ve discovered that there is a button under the outside arm on those seats that allow them to raise. It eases the pressure on my hips and allows me to not be leaning into the person next to me.

    You are young, beautiful, fabulous and courageous. Don’t every let the skinny world stop you!

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Morey! I’m so inspired by you! Keep on living your dream! You inspire me to keep living mine! <3

  39. Annette, I think you’ve struck viewer gold with this post. Probably because it is so honest, raw and unique. Great job! I found it because my sister posted it on her Facebook. Keep up the great work. You’ve got a fan here! I can’t wait to read new stuff.

  40. Hey Annette, just stumbled across your blog. I never really comment on anything but had to say this article was so funny and relevant. Love your self-deprecating humor and your no-fucks-given attitude. Keep writing. Cheers, Louis

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