When I’m lucky enough to travel, I try to remove myself far from my daily life and immerse myself into a world of possibilities instead.
Travel helps me forget problems plaguing me at home. I’m not saying ignore personal challenges or run away from everything you perceive as problematic in your life; however, travel provides great opportunities to distance yourself from common stresses that pick and poke at you, on the job and at home.
I’m far too good at forgetting my problems when I travel. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone on trips, yet was uncertain about whether or not I had a teaching job waiting for me back in the United States. Thoughts of resumes, uncomfortable interviews, and reference letters were always shelved in some dusty corner of my brain as I grabbed life by the horns and threw myself into bustling city streets and jaw-dropping national parks.
However I can’t forget one problem. It’s plagued me since childhood and unfortunately joins me on my travels: my weight.
My weight simply drives me insane. I hate the number, I hate how big it makes my thighs, and I hate that it makes me worry so much.
Now I know weight and body image are VERY touchy subjects especially for women, because let’s be honest for five seconds: we’re the main target of a multi-million diet industry and are often told our bodies are never good enough for anyone, even ourselves.
I’ve been overweight all my life. From a health point-of-view, I know I need to shed pounds for my overall health. Diabetes and heart disease both run rampant in my family. The good news is I’ve been much better about addressing my issues with food since I’ve gotten older and matured quite a bit. If my doctor mentions I need to lose weight, I don’t snap defensively at him and instead ask for advice on ways to lose said-weight in a healthy, steady manner. Despite perpetual “out of shapeness” frustrating me, I’ve been 35 pounds below my heaviest weight for close to 5 years now. It’s a never ending process.
Yet it’s hard for me to stay encouraged when images of perfectly slim people bombard me in advertisements, especially ones related to the “worlds of travel and backpacking.” These slim objects of envy make it look so easy and simple to stay fit, even though I’ve no clue about other people’s work out routines, eating habits, or metabolism.
The “travel world” isn’t exempt from the Beauty Standard presented to us by the Western media.
Do a google search of “female traveler,” and then check out the pictures on your computer screen. All young. All white. All pretty. And all skinny. Now I fall into the “white” and “young” categories, and I’d like to think I’m cute (haha, subjective, but my face is gorgeous, sorry), but the “skinny” part? Ehhh, not so much. Maybe if I pose a certain way and you squint.
Images, such the pictures found via google, isolate me. Occasionally, I feel like an “outsider” on the backpacker trail. Granted, I don’t experience these tense feelings all the time, but they happen often enough to annoy me – especially because other travelers have always been super welcoming and don’t seem to care about a random number measured on a cheap American scale purchased from Khol’s.
A lot of the negativity only exists in my own head. I want to emphasize being overweight is never an excuse not to travel.
But my insecurities still take a toll on me.
I want to be brutally honest in this post, so I’ll admit another uncool habit of mine: my miserable emotions creep over into the blogging world too.
Yes, I’m sure that bit of knowledge will win me friends and admirers!
Anyway I read as much as I can in this niche. As a holder of a Masters Degree in English Lit, I pride myself on my abilities to research in order to improve my skills, so why would blogging be excluded from that? I probably spend more time on other blogs than I do tweaking my own website.
While my research has been helpful, I hate admitting that there have been moments when my eyes roll far back into my head. Why? Because so-and-so, cute and skinny, has only blogged a little longer than me and has double the amount of social media fans.
I find myself feeling incredible jealousy toward these bloggers and vloggers, because my mind immediately decides “they have so many fans only because they’re pretty and skinny.”
Terrible, right? Terrible for many reasons. I’m truly ashamed of myself for turning into a cartoonish stereotype: The High School Mean Girl.
My jealousy is unfair.
I don’t know how long this other blogger worked on her website. I don’t know about the hours or money that went into creating an aesthetically pleasing layout or building an audience on a specialized instagram account. My envious attitude belittles not only other women, pits me against other women, but clouds my judgment on my own efforts and what I can do to improve my blog.
Jealousy, especially “weight jealousy,” is absolute poison. From this day onward, I want to make the following promises to my readers and (more importantly) to myself:
- Stop believing other travelers only care about weight. While Google paints a single and exclusive image for “the female traveler,” the real world is far more diverse and I have experienced said-diversity first hand in hostels and on tours. I’ve met old and young travelers, large and small travelers, travelers of all races and sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome to roam our planet, not only skinny and/or athletic people.
- Stop mentally attacking other women. I’m smart enough NEVER to leave trollish comments on blogs. Hell, Blond Wayfarer has a strict “no abusive comment” policy. But mentally bringing down other female bloggers because of their body type is disgusting. How am I better than “fat shamers?” I’m not! So, yeah, I don’t want to join the “woman vs. woman” brigade and instead applaud other women’s achievements in the blogging world.
- Focus on what I can conceivably do to improve myself. Bemoaning my weight doesn’t lead to tangible results. Instead I want to push on my energy into becoming a healthier and happier person. I want to spend more time making improvements to my blog to build a stronger audience so my tales of travel go further on the internet. Maybe instead of lounging on the sofa watching House Hunters International, I could participate in a travel chat on twitter or go for a jog.
WISH ME LUCK.
Do you ever experience strong feelings of jealousy? Do you have problems relating to self-image and travel? How do you cope with them? Do you have any reasonable advice for me? Again, thank you for reading and supporting Blond Wayfarer. Make sure to subscribe to my mailing list before you leave!