Wednesday, 5 July 2017

On super fat packing

As I’ve shared before, I’m on sabbatical for the second half of this year. I have the privilege of spending seven months in Germany (with short trips around Europe to collaborate with Fat Studies scholars and activists). Packing for a long trip is difficult; trying to cultivate a 3 season wardrobe into two suitcases feels insurmountable at the onset.

Lots of people who I spoke to about this were sympathetic, but then quick to quirk that I can simply buy what I need there. And that suggestion was always said with a wink and a nudge; ya know, you’ll HAVE TO buy new wardrobes in Europe and what a hardship that will be. Sometimes I just smiled and played along, but usually I took it as an opportunity to help them check their privilege.

“I can’t be guaranteed that any stores there will carry clothes that will fit me, so that’s not really a good way to plan for someone who is super fat, like me.”

This usually returned blank stares or dawning horror as it never occurred to them that clothing options are limited if you’re above a 18 (and even more so when you’re a 34/36 like me). I usually continued on, just to drive the point home.

“I’m sized out of all the clothes stores here in NZ. So, if I need something, I have to order it online and wait for it to arrive. And hope it fits well. Or at all.”

So, packing for my seven month trip to Europe is filled with more anxiety than anything else. Because I can’t just stroll into a shop and buy what I need. (Luckily, the same places that ship to NZ will definitely ship to Germany, so I will have access, albeit slow access, to additional options).

What I’ve done is twofold.

First, I’ve a definite colour scheme. I’ve gone with white, black, and red. Now, I wear a lot more blue than anything else, but I had key pieces in red (turtleneck and stretch tank top) that made red my best accent colour.

Second, I’ve curated a wardrobe where everything can go from summer to winter (except the heavy duty winter stuff).

So, for example, take this sundress.

Me and Substantia Jones of The Adipositivity Project (she was a keynote at FSNZ16)

It’s perfect for hot summer days. If I add leggings (& maybe a black duster jacket) it’s good for cooler Fall weather. And if I put a turtleneck on first, and switch the leggings for thick tights, I’ve got a winter outfit! And I can change between three turtlenecks (in white, black, red) and three leggings (guess the colours) and three tights (ahem, you’ve got this, right?), and I’ve technically got 13 different outfits (feel free to check my math) in this one dress & accompaniments.

This is how I’ve planned to fit seven months into two suitcases. I’ll report back on Twitter over the next several months about how I’m going (follow me for lots of super fatting around Europe! @FOMNZ). I’d love to hear from other super fats what challenges they encounter when packing for trips – and any hacks they’ve worked out to make that part of travelling less of a hassle!



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