22 “Plus-Size Travel Struggles” Skinny People Don’t Have To Worry About When Traveling

Meet Jae’lynn Chaney, a 25-year-old travel blogger, body positivity advocate, and content creator out on a mission to help society unlearn harmful biases. She believes that all bodies can be travel bodies and that everyone deserves to travel comfortably. By covering anything from her wanderlust moments to the hurdles she encounters on the way, Jae has captured the internet’s heart.

With over 108,000 followers on TikTok, Jae recently went viral with her ‘Plus-Size Travel Struggles’ series where she lists the things “plus-size travelers hate” and highlights the issues in an industry still hostile to all bodies, sizes, and shapes.

In the videos, which amassed more than 16 million views on the platform, the TikToker evaluates her experiences and sheds light on how airlines, hotels, and other businesses consistently fail to accommodate larger-bodied globetrotters. Below, we gathered some illuminating examples Jae shared with her audience, from towels that don’t fit to tray tables that wouldn’t come down. So continue scrolling, upvote as you go, and be sure to share your own stories in the comments below, we’d love to hear all about them.

Body positivity advocate Jae’lynn Chaney recently went viral for sharing “things plus-size travelers hate” that highlight how the travel industry is still hostile to bodies of all sizes

Image credits: jaebaeofficial

You can watch Jae’s “Things Plus-Size Travelers Hate” series, which amassed over 16 million views, right below

@jaebaeofficial These are some of the struggles that plus size travelers face. Travel is possible for everyBODY, but it definitely comes with challenges and should be more accessible!! What travel challenges have you faced? #plussizetravel #plussizetravelblogger #flyingwhilefat #travellingwhilefat #travelingwhilefat #traveltok #plussize #plussizeedition #fyp ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Here are some of the obstacles Jae faces when traveling

Jae’s incredible personality and powerful statements may have racked up millions of views, but they also deeply resonate with people struggling in a society obsessed with seemingly perfect looks and unrealistic beauty standards. This just goes to show just how absurd and flawed the travel industry is by failing “to realize that the average woman is no longer a size 14,” as Jae said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “They are now a size 18 and beyond. Yet as we’ve gotten bigger, things like airplane seats, clothing, and everything else has gotten smaller or stayed the exact same.”

To gain more insight into the struggles larger-bodied travelers face on their journeys, we reached out to animator, illustrator, and body positivity activist Stacy Bias aiming to amplify marginalized voices. “From running the Flying While Fat Facebook group for the last several years, I’ve witnessed thousands of concerns and I’ve learned that there are some experiences that are shared across the size spectrum,” she told Bored Panda.

Being the creator of the research-led Flying While Fat documentary animation, she helps travelers make their voices heard by allowing them to share their experiences. And she was more than happy to chat about the infuriating, annoying, and stressful challenges plus-size people face.

According to Bias, anticipatory anxiety is a huge factor that affects folks’ emotional well-being when flying — or even considering it. “What individuals anxiously anticipate does vary, but common themes are ‘not fitting’ and/or being re-seated or asked to deplane, needing to ask for a seatbelt extender and fearing potential humiliation at the hands of a potentially insensitive flight crew, or not having an extender available, rendering them unsafe.”

Bias continued that needing to use the airline toilet can also cause dread: “Being afraid of not fitting through the narrow doors or having insufficient space to adequately engage in hygiene practices once inside.” Moreover, fellow passengers seems to also be a source of anxiety as travelers may fear bumping or disrupting them “when traversing the aisles, or being seated next to someone who is hostile.”

“For some at the smaller end of the size spectrum (within fat activism, the relevant categories are ‘small fats’ or ‘medium fats’), these fears sometimes or even often prove unfounded,” Bias continued. “For those at the higher end of the size spectrum (‘large’, ‘super’ or ‘infini’ fats), those anxieties are more often realized and are accompanied by physical barriers to access and safety as well.”

The fear of “not fitting” causes a great deal of stress for plus-size people, as they often feel pressured to make decisions that would ensure a smooth experience. But sadly, they don’t come without a cost, whether it be financial, social, or wellness-related.

“Some are forced to purchase two seats or to navigate uncertainty in using inconsistently applied Customer of Size policies. And some, in fact, 25% of my research participants, intentionally dehydrate themselves before getting on planes to avoid having to use the restroom and/or stand up and disrupt seatmates or other passengers in the aisle, and both dehydration and lack of movement are risk factors in developing DVT [deep vein thrombosis],” Bias explained.

The idea that larger-bodied people should be granted the same respect and opportunities as anyone else isn’t new. But the overwhelming response to Jae’s video series makes you wonder why this important conversation is so rarely touched upon. When we asked Bias to share her opinion on the matter, she told us this topic pops its head up once every now and then with a new person going viral with their experiences.

But unfortunately, “the cultural conversation around whose suffering is legitimate and what space people are entitled to when that space is highly commodified is once again held on the backs of fat people with no meaningful change at the end.”

“It tends to bring on haranguing abuse from one side and supportive comments from the other, but on balance, there’s been no measurable movement in creating safer and more equitable travel for passengers of all sizes and abilities,” the activist added.

When asked about what kind of change is needed in the travel industry to make it more supportive of bodies of all sizes, Bias said, “I think the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] needs to mandate an increase in minimum seat width and pitch and require that airplane safety testing and cabin design include a realistic distribution of body sizes, ages, and abilities.”

But it’s important to note that people can also seek change. “The FAA is currently accepting public comment on setting minimum seat widths and I would highly encourage people to voice their opinions.”

Bias knows the FAA is not interested in the comfort of people in larger bodies, but they must pay attention to concerns regarding safety. “If a body does not have sufficient space or leverage to rise quickly, if a body has insufficient space to adopt a brace for impact position, if a body has insufficient space to overstep a neighbor or travel an aisle that may not be cleared of debris, then the plane is not safe for anyone,” she said. “Current airplane configurations present a risk to wellness for all passengers and this must be rectified.”

To anyone struggling with travel anxiety and fearing the industry will fail to cater to their needs, Bias offered some words of encouragement. “Find community. Ask questions. And don’t put yourself in harm’s way to avoid inconveniencing others.”

“Understand that capitalism is the driving force in creating the medians upon which built space is constructed, and that very fat, very tall, very short, and disabled bodies are excluded from the processes of determining those medians. Bodies have always been and will always be diverse, and for a diversity of reasons. You are worth accommodation,” Bias concluded.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *