Strong, Practical, and Hopeful: J of Comfy Fat
I love nothing more than to curl up all comfy on a lazy Sunday at Casa Alexander. But lately, I've been inspired by J Aprileo of Comfy Fat to ponder an alternate reality: "What if traveling could feel more like a lazy Sunday and less like a stressful grind on my body?"
I think we can all agree that any way to make travel a little sweeter and comfy is more than welcome. If anyone can get us traveling with more ease, it's J.
I recently had the chance to sit down with J, new blogger to new blogger, and learn more about how travel can be transformed for our bodies.
What inspired you to launch Comfy Fat?
I was inspired to launch Comfy Fat when I was reflected on my first traveling experience as a super fat person. I really wanted to share what I learned. I wanted to create a space where fat people could read about my journey and feel validated in wanting to get their needs met. We are such a beautiful group of people who deserve to navigate the world just as comfortably as our thin friends. I also wanted to challenge unattainable beauty standards that the plus size fashion industry holds us to. The fat community deserves a space to freely celebrate our beauty, successes, and experiences. So I created Comfy Fat.
Your article on Fat Hygiene seems like it's been getting a lot of traffic. What made you decide to cover this topic?
When brainstorming what topics I should cover on Comfy Fat, I wanted to push boundaries on what fat people can talk about. Fat hygiene advice is rarely talked about, but we all have valuable tips to share. And I think we have a really different experience than thin folks. So I wanted to get the conversation started!
As you know, AllGo is hoping to reduce fat people's anxiety about going new places. Was there ever a time where you didn't go somewhere because you couldn't fit?
Oh absolutely. I still struggle with this. It's hard to even pinpoint one specific time when I limited myself from having an experience because I might not fit in the venue or seating. I continuously have to work through anxiety about going to new restaurants, bars, concerts etc. But most often what holds me back from even trying now is going places where I think accommodations for seating would be really difficult, maybe impossible: Places like the theater, sporting events, and amusement parks.
I've found that almost everyone I talk to in the course of building AllGo has a story about breaking a chair. Do you have a broken chair story you're willing to tell?
I actually do have a broken chair story! This kind of surprises me because I tend not to even attempt to sit in chairs that I'm not sure will hold me. I even lean and put most of my weight on my legs and feet when I'm slightly uneasy about the strength of a chair. Which can be really tough on the thighs and ankles after a while. But back to the time I actually broke a chair. I was with friends and family at a pool celebrating the 4th of July. I was sitting on one of those white plastic lawn chairs with the narrow arms (awful), and doing my "sit on the edge of the chair and put your weight almost entirely on your feet" thing when it just crumbled beneath me. I was so embarrassed. I laughed a bit as I sat among the pieces of plastic on the cement. Then I jumped into the pool to hide my tears. I was so ashamed.
What would it mean to you if the world was more welcoming for people with fat bodies?
It would be so validating. Which is sort of sad. I think to myself, "How beautiful would it be for people to have our bodies in mind when figuring out the logistics of a place? How good would it feel to know that they wanted to share their world with us, without it being a hassle or for mockery?" And then I'm just like, "Wow we really deserve that. That is the bare minimum really." I want that for us without it being celebrated. That's not to say I don’t celebrate when I see stores actually starting to carry my size clothing and restaurants who have accessible seating available. I just think this kind of work that we're doing is so important and so necessary. I want it to be normal soon!
What does the future have in store for you? What are your plans?
Right now my focus is on learning as much as I can. I want to help open up conversations within the fat community and connect people to resources they need. I want to keep traveling, experiencing, learning, and sharing. My hope is that Comfy Fat will grow into something inspirational and helpful to others.