This Instagram account dedicated to fat girls traveling will give you serious wanderlust.

Annette Richmond is fat. Annette Richmond loves to travel. Yes, these two truths can coexist.

In fact, Richmond built an entire movement on this foundation.

Photo via Annette Richmond, used with permission.


Richmond works remotely and spends most of the year traveling around the globe as a "digital nomad." When we connected, she was in Thailand, one of her favorite destinations. Richmond will spend the next eight months in Southeast Asia, based out of Bangkok.

"Like many people, I thought I had to work a job I hated and scrimp and save for one or two vacations per year. I’ve learned that I create my own path," she explains in an email interview. "After I received my first passport stamp, I was hooked!"

Photo via Annette Richmond, used with permission.

In January 2016, Richmond created the Fat Girls Traveling Instagram account.

As a travel blogger, Richmond writes about her adventures and takes stunning photos in exotic locales, hoping to get them cross-posted on popular Instagram travel accounts. But time after time, the only photos making the cut featured thin, white women. So Richmond launched Fat Girls Traveling, where she showcases photos of fat women travelers.

Followers are invited to tag the page to share their photos and stories. Richmond re-shares them to her 13,000 followers across Instagram and Facebook.

🍂Fall Feels 🍁 📸FGT Member @katlynnemo 📍 Berlin, Germany

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As her community grows, Richmond is branching out to host fat-positive events, including her first summer camp in 2018 for fat women, called Fat Camp, where guests can talk travel, take in the outdoors, play games, and eat great food in a judgment-free zone.

"I feel honored and humbled that what started out as a passion project has inspired so many women to travel the world," she writes.

📸 @somewhere_under_the_rainbow || 📍 New York City, New York

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"... I know that the work I’m doing is challenging the status quo and not only opening up the minds and hearts of fat shamers. But opening up the world to so many fat people who are afraid to leave their comfort zones out of fear of being ridiculed."

📸 @itsmekellieb || Rivera Maya, Mexico

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And like most women challenging the status quo, Richmond faces trolls on the regular.

Some people simply aren't ready to see fat women as carefree and joyful. Some try to mask their contempt with disingenuous concern, she says. Richmond and other fat-positive voices call these people concern trolls.

"People that troll the interwebs spouting health and weight loss advice to people they don’t know and truly don’t care about it," she writes. "People that if they were honest with themselves, would admit that seeing someone that’s fat and happy with themselves and with their bodies makes them uncomfortable."

📸 @kellyaugustineb @plusjones @iambeauticurve || 📍Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Richmond does her best to face the disdain with love and positivity, but she admits the abuse takes a toll.

"There have also been negatives, like cutting toxic people from my life. Calling out friends and family members who use abusive fatphobic language," she writes. "It’s important that we remember to be kind to each other, because we’re all humans that bleed when cut and cry when feelings are hurt."

Photo  via Annette Richmond, used with permission.

But nothing will keep Richmond from doing what she loves — and encouraging others to do the same.

For anyone thinking about exploring the world, but concerned about their size, Richmond recommends traveling with vendors that support larger travelers. One airline, Southwest, even offers a second seat for free (you book and pay in advance, then get a refund). Purchasing your own seat belt extender may also ease anxiety around having a potentially embarrassing conversation with a flight attendant.

As for fear of sticking out upon arrival, it's bound to happen — even to smaller travelers. Keep in mind that different cultures have different standards of beauty, and try to go with the flow.

"In Jamaica my body was embraced. In that culture curves are coveted," Richmond writes. "It’s a different story in Asia, but for the most part I know that people here aren’t doing things to be cruel, they are intrigued by my size ... "

📸 @avery_hungrycaterpillar || 📍 Beaufort, Sabah

A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

So if you're thinking about traveling more — or just getting started — do what you can to make it a reality.

There's a great, big world out there and we all deserve the opportunity to experience it.

📸 @mamafierceblog | 📍Gama Laugin, Secret Lagoon, Iceland

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True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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