STEREOTYPES. They exist in everything. Literally everything. We don’t go a day without confronting some kind of stereotype about ourselves, our job, your neighbor, that stranger you passed - they’re everywhere.
Solo travel is supposed to be a freeing, liberating experience for a person. You’re suppose to feel free of those stereotypes and expectations from the “real world” for however long your travels take you. The whole point of being solo is to avoid these stereotypes and social conformities that are placed on every single person, so how have they crept into this luscious world?
I don’t have a direct answer for that, but I truly feel Instagram and Facebook have had something to do with it. For women there is the standard back-facing photo in the cute outfit in some place exotic. For men it’s the rugged, yet handsome muscled bro that looks like he’s built a house then sipped a coconut for the last twelve hours.
Here’s the reality: that’s a very limiting point of view.
The pressure to look a certain way while traveling has grown to a point where people feel they’re too fat to travel, to create new memories and experiences for themselves. I still don’t feel comfortable showing my entire body in photographs while I’m traveling (I’m working on it). I’m not a body confident lady just yet. I’m slowly getting there, but my lord I’ve got a mountain to climb. It hasn’t stopped me from traveling, only encouraged it, but I do find it more a comfort to see people who look like me when I search for travel blogs.
There are so many reasons a larger, plus size, fat, etc… person wouldn’t travel: small plane seats, fear of judgement, photographs, new customs, no security blankets, etc… the list goes on. My issue has to do more with activities. I want to SCUBA, as I’ve mentioned before, but the idea of putting on a skin tight suit, struggling to get it over my blubber sends razor shivers down my wiggly butt. I wanted to go kayaking, but I was worried I was too heavy for that. Then there’s the fear of the “overly considerate” people. Those that want to take multiple breaks because they notice I’m breathing hard and red in the face (I work out 6 days a week and I still pant like a hot dog). Those that pull me aside and say “I know you’re a trooper, but are you sure you’ll be able to walk the seven mile trail? It’s a long walk…” Are you fucking kidding me. Look, if I can’t do something - I’ll say it, but only then can you question my abilities.
It doesn’t help that airlines are constantly trying to single out the fatties. We’re not going to sink the plane and we’re not the issues, seats are becoming smaller and no one is stopping this from happening. In the linked article it states,
“Economy-class airline seats have shrunk in recent years on average from a width of 18 inches to 16.5 inches. The average pitch -- the space between a point on one seat and the same on the seat in front of it -- has gone from 35 inches to about 31 inches. Many airlines are charging passengers for extra legroom in amounts that used to be standard.”
It’s another way greedy people are using fat-phobia to squeeze money from the average person's pockets. It costs anywhere for $50 to over $150 dollars to travel with proper leg room, not to mention the embarrassment that happens when you have to ask for a seat belt extender. I’m not at this point, but I feel for people that do. It’s not that they’re too big, it’s that money is too desired.
Putting this aside, there’s another issue of safety. How many times have we seen viral videos come out of women confronting men who have sexually harassed or molested them while sleeping, or just sitting near them? There’s no room for personal space on planes anymore.
I think too often are motivational quotes and pretty photos masking what it's like to actually travel as an average person. I also believe that there is an agenda for the majority of people running these airlines. I want to believe that there are honest people encouraging travel, but unless you fit a certain niche it's extremely challenging.
I know this post might seem very discouraging, but I you can't travel without understanding the game that's been set up. You're a piece moving around thinking you have free will, but those plane ticket prices are really making those choices for you. The airlines you choose to fly with respond differently to you. There's a reason we have a loyalty to certain airlines, and those CEOs know and understand more than you think they do.
I encourage you to do your research and to travel intelligently. I also encourage you to fight back against selfish capitalists that want to keep the normal, day-to-day person from seeing this beautiful world.