#ThisIsActive Q&A: Body Positive Founder of Fat Camp Annette Richmond

Annette Richmond is a fashion stylist, writer, speaker and the creator of Fat Girls Traveling. When she’s not sharing her travel experiences on her own blog, you can find her contributing at Ravishly and PopSugar. This self-proclaimed Fat Girl is a staunch supporter of the Body Positive Movement. Her Fat Girls Traveling Instagram and Facebook Groups have been featured in Teen Vogue, Allure, Self and Shape Magazines. From dressing top models and celebrities to traveling to over 18 countries, her goal is to continue to be a voice for Fat Travelers and Fashionistas.

 1. What inspired you to start Fat Camp?

I was a camp kid. Growing up in a single-parent home, my siblings and I went to camp every summer and it really helped shape me into the outgoing, nature-loving woman that I am today. I really think that having those positive camp memories are important for everyone, it’s just a great time to unplug for a bit and enjoy nature. I also know that so many people have camp horror stories, especially if they went to a weight loss camp as a kid. So I created Fat Camp to enable us to relive those moments in an empowered and enriching way.

I’ve been the office manager at a summer camp in North Carolina for three years and anyone I tell gets so excited and tells me how much they wish they could work at camp. It really is like going back in time! So I wanted to bring the experience to my Fat Girls Traveling members and thanks to the camp I work at, they are allowing me to rent that camp for it!

2. Fat Camp is a camp sponsored by your group Fat Girls Traveling, a body positive travel community. Why did you start the Fat Girls Traveling group/Instagram?

I started Fat Girls Traveling because I wanted to create a platform that celebrates Fat Female Travelers. As a blogger I would share and tag my travel photos on Instagram in hopes of getting reshared. But that rarely happened. I noticed that the people that were getting reshared were usually blonde, thin or both! So I wanted to create a space that only featured Fat Girls Traveling. I also wanted to develop a community where Fat female travelers could ask questions about travel, shopping and things that come up when living life in a bigger body. So the private Facebook Group was next.

I really think there is a need for diversity and inclusivity in the travel space. The facts are 80% of travel decisions are made by women, no matter where they go and who they go with. 67% of American women are a size 14 or above, so there are a lot of Fat Girls Traveling but no one is catering to us and our unique needs. It’s time for us to start asking for what we need and want. Developing a community and becoming more vocal and visible are the first steps.

3. Taking back the word “fat” has become more popular in the past couple of years in the younger plus-size community. What does that word mean to you, and why did you choose to call the camp “Fat Camp”?

I feel like words have as much powers as you give them. Yes, some words can carry baggage but we can teach ourselves to remove the association. The word fat has a stigma and a sense of shame associated with it. But in reality, it’s just a descriptor. In the same way that woman, man or tall is a descriptor. I chose to call camp Fat Camp because Fat Camp is another thing that has a negative association. I want to flip that by creating an adult summer camp experience that will begin to change the association to a positive one.

4. Why is building a community around plus-size women traveling important to you?

I think we thrive in a community. Life is better when you have friends and family to share things with. People to relate to and who can understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. People that can help you celebrate your successes and lift you up when you’re at your lowest. Traveling as a fat, black woman I often feel like the only one. I’m currently in Asia and I stick out like a sore thumb here. Not just because of my size, but because of my race as well. So building a community with women who can understand and relate to the things I deal with while traveling was really helpful. Like the pointing, staring, laughing or strangers coming up to you and telling you to lose weight for your health. Or not being able to shop in some countries (looking at you Thailand). A community is also great because of the hive mind. I can ask for recommendations for my upcoming trips to Japan and Canada and get lots of feedback. I think these are the reasons why the group continues to grow. Because we are all engaged and invested.

5. What has been the best part so far of building your following on Fat Girls Traveling?

The best part of building Fat Girls Traveling has been the opportunity to encourage other women to travel the world. I love when members share photos from a recent trip and thank other members for suggesting certain activities. I love that the group helps inspire other women. Inspire them to go outside of their comfort zone and go on a solo trip, or wear a bikini for the first time.

I also find so much joy in seeing members encourage each other to overcome negativity. There are so many times when people share unsolicited advice about weight or health. This included strangers, family members and partners. It’s nice to have a community to vent to because we can all relate. But when I see other members commenting, sharing how they got over a similar situation it makes my heart dance! It’s seriously one of the best feelings.

Fat camp attendees wearing JunoActive tees. The background is a lake during summer.

JunoActive supported Fat Camp 2018 with donated plus size tees for tie-dye.

6. What kinds of activities will you be doing at Fat Camp?

There will be a mix of retreat, conference and summer camp activities at Fat Camp. Each morning will start off with yoga taught by one of the most popular Body Positive Yoga Instructors in the community. During the day Campers can enjoy arts and crafts (YAS lanyard strings, friendship bracelets and tie dye!). They can spend time cooling down in the pool with our daily pool parties. There are two lakes where Campers will be able to paddle board or jump on the Blob. Basically, water activities galore!

Later in the day there will be Q & A’s and seminars where campers will hear from some of our VIC’s (Very Important Campers) who are influencers in plus size fashion, travel and body politics. The VIC will share their path, how they got where they are and how others can do the same. And campers will have time to ask questions.

There will be a daily Happy Hour and nightly dances and each night will end with roasting marshmallows by the campfire. Campers can get as involved as they want and the VIC will be there the entire weekend. So campers will have the opportunity to get to know all of their favorite bloggers and influencers on a more personal level.

7. Who should attend Fat Camp?

Over 60% of American women are considered plus size. Fat Camp is for them. All women size 14 and above who are looking for a fun, empowering and enriching weekend this summer are invited to attend Fat Camp. Looking for a place to celebrate your body? Fat Camp is it. Want to learn how to love your body even more? Fat Camp can help! Want to have a fun, girls-only getaway this summer? Fat Camp is the perfect place.

Fat Camp 2019 is already sold out! Congratulations to all the participants.

We encourage you to follow Annette’s writing on her blog, and join her on Facebook and Instagram.

This blog was originally published July, 17 2018 and has been updated June 4, 2019.

Our #ThisIsActive Q+As are part of an ongoing series to show how plus size women live their active lives. Share your active life with us on social media by using #ThisIsActive on Instagram or send your story to social @ junoactive.com for a chance to be featured.

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