Updated: Jun 9
When I first met Fat Papa, I could not stand the idea of a tropical vacation. Literally, I told him I had NO DESIRE to go to Hawaii or anywhere else tropical. I was fat, pale, pasty, and besides, I liked to be active, not lay around relaxing by some pool or on a beach all day. And that is the story of how we chose to spend our 3-week, mid-March honeymoon in the UK. I continued my “no tropical destinations” mantra for another 5 years until Itsy Bitsy was 4 months old and I was going stir crazy as a new, sleep-deprived mama. At that point we were looking to take our first trip as a new family with a baby and grandparents in tow.
As a new mama I knew 3 things:
Everything needed to be easy. I will fully admit, I was a nervous new mama. I don’t feel like I really calmed down or got a good night of sleep until Itsy Bitsy was about a year old. So planning, booking, and going on this vacation needed to be as easy as possible.
We were going to be traveling in January. I did NOT want to deal with freezing weather or unpredictable cold rain with a baby.
Wherever we stayed needed to be either all-inclusive or fully serviced so that if I was too tired or too overwhelmed traveling with a baby, I never had to leave the resort.
Taking these three things into consideration, it quickly became clear to Fat Papa and me that my moratorium on tropical vacations was over.
Becoming a Fat Mama
Now you may be asking yourself, "Fat Mama, why did you have a moratorium on tropical vacations to begin with? In other posts you talk so lovingly about Hawaii." Well, ducky friends, that is a great observation … let me explain.
Today I am a bold, beautiful, confident, fun-loving, full-figured, Fat Mama. I have learned to love myself for who I am, to disregard the opinions of those who I don’t give two quacks about, and to pursue life the way I want to live it regardless of my size or societal pressures. But I was not always this way.
For the majority of my adult life I have, like many Fat Mamas, suffered from low self-esteem, poor self-image, and great shame in “allowing” myself to “become” so fat. I allowed society to dictate the way I should think about myself. Even worse, I surrounded myself with people who reinforced my negative thinking. It wasn’t until I met Fat Papa that I realized my self-worth and image didn't have to have anything to do with a number on the scale. Only then was I able to start seeing me the way Fat Papa sees me. Now, all of this self-love and getting help to overcome your inner demons is important … but … it’s a post for another day, probably for a different blog. My only point in mentioning it is this … I didn’t like the idea of a tropical vacation because for the vast majority of my adult life I didn’t look like the kind of person who goes on a tropical vacation.
Tropical Vacations are for Everyone
As I mentioned, I was a VERY nervous new mama. It had taken Fat Papa and I over two years to get pregnant with Itsy Bitsy and then the pregnancy had been a painful, stressful, high-risk, and downright uncomfortable experience all around. In many ways, the confidence I had fought so hard to gain as an adult flew right out the window. All of a sudden, here was this screaming ball of pure joy that was 100% reliant on Fat Papa and me. What the QUACKING HELL were we doing?
By the time Itsy Bitsy was 4 months old, I was sleeping less than 4 hours at a time, I was a hormonal wreck, and I felt like life moving forward would never ever come close to resembling life as I had known it before Itsy Bitsy. So it was time for a vacation. With a baby. On an airplane. First time. Remember the three things I knew about my first vacation as a Fat Mama … let’s get back to those …
Seeing that we needed to find a place to go that would have reliably good warm weather in January, with a resort that could keep us fully fed and entertained for 5 days, and trip planning that would be easy as pie, Fat Papa and I decided to book a Hawaiian vacation. We knew that by choosing Hawaii, at worst we would get warm tropical rains, I could deal with warm rain, and the likelihood was that the weather would be mostly sunny (check). To make things easy we booked with Costco Travel where we could find vacation packages that included flights, hotel, and car rental all in one booking (check, check). Plus, Costco Travel let us compare a ton of different resorts, so we were able to find one that met my very high criteria for this particular trip (check, check, check). My one drawback … I don’t look like the type of person who goes on tropical vacations. Even though I was more confident by this time, it still would be a few more years before I fully came to love me as me. I still didn’t like hanging out at pools or going to beaches. But, for the first time, I realized why. Because I didn’t LOOK like I belonged.
This was NOT an attitude I wanted to pass on to Itsy Bitsy. So I adopted the mantra "fake it till I make it," and I bought some cute tropical shirts, a nice bathing suit, and super cute clothes for Itsy Bitsy. And you know what I discovered? Tropical vacations are for people like me!
For starters, if you have ANY body issues whatsoever or feel any shame in being overweight, then ducky let me tell you, the Hawaiian Islands are the perfect place to see firsthand that size does NOT matter. Hawaiians are BIG people. Sure, many of them are slim, fit, or average size, but plenty of them are large, fluffy, chunky, have cushion for the pushin’. It is one of the only places I have vacationed where I KNOW I can walk into a store and easily buy fun vacation clothes off the rack. And you know what? The beaches and pools are full of plus-sized beauties who are living their best lives just enjoying the sun and water. This was such a shock to me. Why?
I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. Every summer we went to beaches known the world over for being filled with beautiful people. I’m not exaggerating. The beaches I grew up with were places like Huntington Beach, home to yearly international surf competitions, and state beaches in Malibu, need I say more? I grew up around a culture that reinforced in a thousand little, and not so little ways, that if you were not tan, thin, and attractive, beaches and pools were not for you. So you can imagine my shock when Hawaiian beaches were nothing like what I had grown up with, or what I had seen in travel brochures.
Did I still feel a little uncomfy being in my bathing suit at the pool? Sure. Do I still prefer to be out and active rather than relaxing on the beach? Absolutely. But those are mostly for other reasons not related to my size and body issues now. What this first trip to Hawaii as an adult taught me by giving me firsthand experience, was that size just doesn’t matter. It makes me so mad now as a confident big person to think about all the energy I have wasted being so worried about what other people think or tormenting myself about the negative comments of others when it just doesn’t matter. What I realized in Hawaii was that CLEARLY, tropical vacations are for EVERYONE. But more importantly, anyone who is making comments, judgments, or flashing you some shady side-eye is doing so out of their own insecurities, not because of any offense your size gives to the world (that was the hardest lesson I had to learn). Hawaii is living proof of this. Fat people can live sun, surf, tropical, piña colada, hike, kayak, pool, boat, snorkel, dance, beautiful filled lives and have TONS of fun doing it (pun intended)!
That first trip to Hawaii as a Fat Mama opened my eyes so much. For whatever reason … maybe it was the hormones, maybe it was my new need to protect Itsy Bitsy from all of my own insecurities, maybe it was the experience, maybe I was just ready to love myself … the Hawaiian Islands opened my eyes to the fact that fat is only a medical classification (and the technical term is obese). I am not fat, I have fat, so does everybody (literally every body, we can’t live without it). On this trip, I learned to start living, not just my vacation life, but my whole life as a Fat Mama.
Fat Mama Tip: Letting go of our insecurities is ridiculously hard. Believe me, I am still working on it. But even if we cannot fully let go of those nagging voices in our head that say we aren't good enough or don't deserve something (those voices are wrong by the way), we can at least take a deep breath and work to put on an outward appearance of confidence. Now, I never want to tell someone to pretend to be someone they are not. That is NOT what I am saying. What I am saying is that the best way to start feeling confident, is to start acting confident, even if it is just that, an act. When you start acting and projecting a persona that aligns with the way you want people to see you and treat you (regardless of your size or perceived imperfections) you will be amazed at how quickly people respond to that energy.
So whether your hang up is tropical vacations like me, or its European spas, or learning to ski ... whatever it is that you have always wanted to do, but haven't done because it's not for people like you ... stop getting in your own way. You are the only one who thinks that people like you shouldn't go enjoy the beach, or the sauna, or the bunny slopes. And IF anyone does say something, just remember, they are so insecure in their own self that your very presence is shaming them into acting out to build themselves up. So good for you! Wear it as a badge of honor and reply with "Oh, honey. Bless your heart." Then just walk away and enjoy your Fat Mama life; because I assure you its going to be much more travelful than theirs!
You got this. Quack on!