Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wait....fat girls hike? (Part Two)

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 37, for those who care. So I have just three years to train my body and prepare for this huge goal of mine. Over the weekend Ben and I went to the store to spend some of the money I got for my birthday and start to prepare for my training.

As we walked around the shop I realized that I was an oddity. A fat girl in a fit girl's world. I hate that people look at me like that. Judging me for being in a sport store. How dare I venture out of my house and into the world of outdoor activities.  It isn't the employees of these places who look at me like that, it is only other shoppers.

The truth is, I love the outdoors. Over the years though, the more weight I gained, the less I felt welcome outside of my cage. It is tough to be a fat person who likes to be active and to be outside. People are often patronizing and belittling. They often whisper to their companions or give you a funny look to make sure you know you don't belong. You are not one of them. Why is it that any time someone overweight tries to participate in life that doesn't involve food or sitting on the couch, someone is always quick to make sure they know their place?

While hurtful, these people can't actually STOP me from participating. They can make me uncomfortable, they can hurt my feelings, they can avoid me and laugh at me, but they cannot physically stop me from being outside. They cannot ban me from the outside world and the nature I love to experience. It isn't just the haters that frustrate me or make me feel unwelcome and sized out.

Even manufacturers size me out.

It seems that if you are a larger person, either in build or in weight, the manufacturers of outdoor gear and clothing don't think you matter. It is as if fat people and outdoor sports simply don't go together. They do not make clothing beyond a size 12 in most cases for hiking. They do not make jackets for snow sports or the various types of weather we get when ding outdoor sports that accommodate a larger chest. Even thin I had a hard time finding things that fit my chest, and with the extra weight it makes it harder. You would think that the huge selection offered to women who are under a size 12 (USA) would also be offered to those of us who are over that size. Instead, if you are lucky enough to find a handful of items that DO size over a 12, they are frumpy, homely and plain, with nearly no selection. 2-3 top options (which are just a large square) and maybe 2 bottoms options (in 2 colors and only long enough to hide the parts of your body the rest of the world has deemed "repulsive").

It just doesn't make any sense! Why do manufacturers seem to believe that people who wear larger than a size 12 have no interest or need for clothing that fits outdoor activities? It boggles my mind. As I look through stores like REI, North Face, Dick's and Cabela's I'm rudely reminded of my size and the fact that "my kind" are not a welcome addition to the community. The lack of options for clothing, the limited measurements built into gear for women, often leads me right out the door and back to my couch, safe within my cage where my body offends no one but me.

Manufacturers and stores are still posing that hurtful question "Wait....fat girls hike?" Yes, we hike. We cycle. We swim. We climb. We camp. We kayak. We run. And we need more than a handful of ugly tent-like options for clothing and gear to do it. Maybe if we were not constantly sized out and treated like unwelcome invaders, more of us would want to be outside and be part of a community of health.

1 comment:

  1. Great insight to your perspective. I, for one, would love to have more options in athletic clothing. Thank you for sharing!