With the rise and rise of travel bloggers, Annette Richmond has found an inspirational way of standing out from the crowd; by bringing the Body Positive movement to the world of travel with the help of a thriving new community.
Annette is the creator and moderator of Fat Girls Traveling, a Facebook community of more than a thousand women and an Instagram account with more than 5000 followers. The aim is “to be a voice for the curvy, plus size, fat female traveler” and help tackle the issues and stigma that can sometimes be a deterrent to women to make the journey of a lifetime.
When she was able to move from California to Atlanta, she was finally able to travel internationally, bringing wanderlust into her life as a fashion stylist. With new adventures, came an opportunity branch out. “My blog started off as a Plus Size Fashion Blog”, Annette told Lonely Planet. “I wanted to use my voice to let women in bigger bodies know that they are beautiful and can be as fashionable as women half their size.”
“When my life transitioned into traveling more I almost felt pigeon-holed by my blog. I felt like I couldn’t write about my awesome adventures or the down sides of Traveling While Fat and Black. That’s when I decided that I needed to re-brand and make my blog all about what I’m into. Once I started writing honestly about my experiences as being fat and black others started to take notice.”
What followed next was an online community on both Instagram and Facebook . The Facebook group has a focus on travel but Annette says people can expect “a safe, Fat Positive space where members are open and honest about their experiences travel and otherwise. There is absolutely no shaming of any kind allowed in the group and my moderators and I keep a steady eye on the posts and comments so that things don’t go sideways.”
As well as travel, there are regular threads where members can post about fashion, promote their blog posts, share their location or just chat. “I wanted to create a community where no topic is off-limits as long as we keep it kind and respectful”, she explains. “Other Facebook groups don’t allow members to post non-travel posts or even posts that they’ve written. I wanted to create a community where we can share our work with each other in hopes of helping and inspiring one another.”
Members may even get some free advice as Annette admits she loves to get involved in the fashion questions. However, the results of the group’s encouragement and support are the most rewarding elements.
“Nothing is more exciting than a new member sharing that they have a trip coming up, maybe their first time ever on a plane or maybe the first time since they’ve gained weight. Seeing all the love and support the ladies show that member, then getting to see photos of that member on her trip, enjoying herself and letting us know how much our words of encouragement meant to her. Sometimes all it takes is a few kind words to help someone change their life for the better.”
The result is a space on the internet that Annette believes is truly unique. “It all sounds so simple but there is not a place that I know of where women can talk about the trials and tribulations of not only traveling, but finding love with someone who’s doesn’t fetishize fat women, and get recommendations on where to find a formal dress in a size 24. That is precisely the reason I created Fat Girls Traveling and why I devote so much time and energy into keeping it true to my initial vision. The best part is that there are so many women who believe in the same vision. Together, we can’t fail.”
Annette is currently getting ready for her next adventure. From October she’ll be spending a year travelling through Asia, studying culture, beauty and, of course, the fashion. You can follow along on her blog and social media channels.