27 Y.O. Teacher Shows The Reality Of “Traveling as A Fat Person” And It’s Brutal

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We tend to take our privileges for granted. The closer we resemble the “norm” of what society accepts, the easier it is to go through life. As soon as we look a bit different or have more challenges, we become excluded because we no longer fit that mold. Unfortunately, as much as society has progressed in accommodating our human differences such as weight, disabilities, ethnicities, etc, we still haven’t reached an equal level of adaptability.

Many of us still struggle to enjoy everyday things because they weren’t designed with people like us in mind. For Fran, she noticed how little accommodation there was when traveling for people her size. Rather than dwell on it, she decided to show how much it sucks by creating a “Traveling as a Fat Person” viral video series. This is what her brutal reality is like.

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Meet Fran, Who Identifies As ” A Fat Person”

Fran Donnelly is a 27-year-old social studies teacher and body positivity advocate. As her day job is literally to teach and bring enlightenment to social issues, she decided to document what it’s like to travel as a “Fat person.” Her goal was for people in similar situations to relate but also to shed light on the obstacles “fat people” face while traveling.

Fran in swim wear posing by blue background
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

Fran has been using her TikTok platform to spread her body-positive message. Since Fran started the series, it has gained over 6.7 million views. People either relate or are intrigued by how differently people her size experience vacations and hotels, places that are supposed to be relaxing and hospitable. As it turns out, the hotels she had stayed at were clearly unequipped to serve anyone with a large body…

Hotel Bathrooms From Towels, To Toilet Seats

In the first video of the series, Fran gave a tour of her hotel bathroom. She showed how the hotel bathroom barely fit her and the toilet at the same time. She could sit on the toilet but nothing more. As she moved to the showers, she demonstrated how even the towels did not wrap around her body as they were designed for people with smaller bodies.


Because Tik Tok thinks I’m bullying MYSELF, here’s the re-upload for the besties

♬ original sound – Mary Fran

Fran claims that the hotel was “fatphobic,” but this seems to be the experience in many hotel rooms.

Going For A Swim Requires Extra Planning

In the second, Fran brought her viewers along the experience of amenities for plus-size people. Although the pool towels were wider, they still didn’t fully cover her body. Fran can only choose between covering her front or back, but not both on her way to the pool.


Traveling as a Fat Person Episode 2

♬ original sound – Mary Fran

Showcasing the balcony furniture in her balcony, they look way too tiny to seat her comfortably. “After a swim, maybe you want to go sit on the balcony,” she says, hoping to make use of another amenity that came with her hotel room. “Oh look, a lovely table with a chair. Will it house me? I’m not too sure.” As she sits on it, she does her best to balance, but it’s clearly too small.

Coping Through Humor

Fran’s sister stands behind the camera taping Fran’s experience. She can be heard uncontrollably laughing in the background. With her sister, Fran can laugh off how exclusive her travel experience is, but the reality is these inconveniences make traveling very stressful for plus-sized people. Feeling excluded can be detrimental to mental health and ruin a supposedly relaxing vacation.

screenshot from Fran's Tiktok about drying on the balcony
itsmaryfran / Tiktok
itsmaryfran / Tiktok

“I cope through humor… I was making light of a situation that is a very real stress for fat, plus-size people… my sister and I could only laugh at how absurd it was,” Fran said.

Shedding Light On The Small Things

The issues that Fran brings to light might otherwise go unnoticed by the average person. Those of us who can simply grab a towel, dry off comfortably then go sit on the chair on the balcony might see nothing wrong with the design. It takes someone going through the experience of being excluded from these designs to shed light on the real challenges they represent.

Fran posing in hawaian shirt posing
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

Thanks to Fran we’re able to see the issues people outside of the “norm” face in everyday tasks, and even on vacations. This hopefully can help society become more accommodating to their needs and a more equal space can be created.

Anxious Thoughts

We all have an inner voice inside of our minds who speaks to us. The more we have good experiences in the world, the more we reinforce that voice and the kinder it is when speaking to us. However, when people have bad experiences multiple times, it hurts their inner voices. It becomes confusing, and afraid of repeating these negative experiences. It starts to speak with doubt and worry,

fran smiles standing outdoors
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

Fran admitted that the obstacles she experiences when traveling impact her decisions. Her inner voice is full of anxious thoughts: “I don’t travel alone because I worry about strangers being upset about sitting next to me on a plane. [I also wonder,] will the seat be uncomfortable? Will the seat belt fit? Will the towel fit at the hotel? Will the chairs at the pool hold me? Will the tables at the hotel restaurant be comfortable?” she said.

Fran’s videos have resonated with all those whose inner voices or self-esteem have been hit by similar negative experiences.

Strength In Community

Fran’s experience isn’t isolated. While many feel too ashamed to share their experience publicly, Fran’s videos normalize it and bring the right kind of attention to it. Many have shared with her their similar struggles:

fran and family take selfie at disney world
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

“People [are] commenting about [how] these little things, like hotel towels, lounge chairs, and toilet placement, aren’t an isolated worry for one person; there is a whole community of people that feels the same way. And those people [are] giving thousands of recommendations on how to alleviate some of that stress,” she said.

In Fern’s community, people aren’t only sharing the obstacles but also their recommendations to create better travel experiences. Some of the suggestions are to bring towels from home and research hotel room measurements beforehand, for example. While this doesn’t fix the root of the problem, it helps relieve some of the travel stress for plus-sized people.

Plus Sized People Are Valid Human Beings

The main message that Fran hopes to relay through her videos is that all people are just people, no matter their shape or size. Being bigger doesn’t make a person any less worthy of having a good experience, not only when traveling but every day s they walk through life. It’s hard to create an equal reality when people aren’t even aware of the ways others are excluded.

Fran posing in summer dress on balcony
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

“I don’t think [the challenges I pointed out] cross the minds of most,” Fran said. “But I think that it’s time that [they] do. Body shapes and image have become so relevant in recent years that there isn’t any excuse as to why hotel and travel industries cannot begin to reevaluate their practices. Fat, plus-size people deserve to be seen as valid human beings in an industry that should cater to everyone’s size and physical needs.”

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fran in pool on an orange floatie with arms up
itsmaryfrann / Instagram
itsmaryfrann / Instagram

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Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]