Being Fat at Burning Man – Follow Up to the 2014 Burn

I recently wrote a post about how Burning Man isn’t just for thin people. I really wanted to take a minute to reiterate this, because there was more body diversity on the playa this year than ever before (says everyone I discussed it with). I also found out that more people wonder about this issue than I thought, so here’s a bit more on it: 

In my camp, we had 18 folks who trekked from all over the U.S. Here’s the half [and whole]-assed demographics: 

12 men, 6 women— 

2 of the men were over 60. 2 of the men were between 40 and 60. 2 of the men were between 30 and 40, and the rest (6) were between 21 and 30. Out of them all, 2 were super thin hippie types. 2 were college kid summer hipsters. 4 were the athletic/adventurous type. the rest were overweight to varying degrees. Our camp leader was about 300 pounds and rocked mesh and fur costumes ALL week. He was fierce. 

2 of the women were over 50. 1 was 40ish. 2 were 30.  1 was 20.  Of these women, 2 were obese, 1 was overweight, 1 was extremely athletic (she ran the BM 50k ultramarathon), and the other 2 were hippie granola crunchy women who obviously take good care of themselves… except when I made them bacon. 

Ok, so now you know the numbers (in case you ever wondered for whatever reason), but what about how I *FEEL* as a fat woman on the playa? 

I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes I feel intimidated by all the art installations folks climb up and into. The ziplines, the crazy ladders, the tiny cubbies, the massive climbable structures — I just can’t do any of that. I *AM* limited by my weight. But does that stop me from having a good time? No… it just means I find other things to do. 

YES YOU CAN: 

  • ride an art car (and YES, there are some great art car owners who aren’t intimidating pricks out to find the most elite hollywood-esque riders they can muster up) 

  • climb SOME structures

  • ride your bike around the playa like a BOSS (I made NO changes to my simple $100+ WalMart cruiser bike and I rode probably 5-10 miles per day. It felt GREAT (despite the chub rub, which I managed in various ways)

  • LOOK the part. Just be YOU. Figure out outfits beforehand – find at least 1 or 2 outfits YOU think you look awesome in, regardless of how BURNY it is… bring that. 

  • look amazing even if you aren’t comfortable being naked. Look, I’m 230 pounds and 5’5″. I have a huge ridiculous chest and a giant belly and I am just not comfortable for others to see what I’ve got swaying in the wind. I keep myself highly clothed the entire week because I feel COMFORTABLE with clothes on. Some overweight women looked amazing in their scantily-clad outfits. Me? I stuck with what I knew this year. I’d rather feel comfortable and be clothed than wondering all day if my TuTu is covering my crotch. 

 

That’s it for now… more about BM later… it was incredible. 

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“HELP! My thighs are on FIRE!”: 7 Things To Help MINIMIZE Chub Rub

I’m gonna start this off by saying this: Look, most of us don’t have a thigh gap, and therefore CHAFING HAPPENS. What am I referring to? Chub rub, that frictiony painful ouchie that happens when you sweat and an open wound burns into your skin. My thighs are huge and they chafe most days even when I take a 30-minute walk. It’s painful.  I inherited them from my father (may he RIP), and this is something I’ve had to deal with all my life — but PARTICULARLY at festivals when you’re walking around all day, I think it’s important to keep these tips in mind. Here’s one last thing before I get started, and it’s the sigh-worthy truth: I do all these things and it STILL doesn’t prevent it – but these things DO help.

7 ThingsThat Help MINIMIZE Chafing 

chub

First Defense: 

1. LOOSE CLOTHING: I will be the first to tell you that sometimes this just doesn’t cut it, but it TOTALLY depends on where you’re wearing them. If I’m walking around all day in a wet heat area (lots of humidity), I wear very loose pants. If I’m walking around all day in a dry heat (no humidity) area, it doesn’t matter as much because I sweat less. Try a few combinations and see what works with you. 

2. LADIES, ADD BOXERS: Under your pants and over your underwear, add another thin layer: form-fitting boxers that FIT. I’ve tried 4-5 different brands and the ones that work best for me are men’s UnderArmour boxer briefs. You can find them at most things that end in -Mart, but I also found them at Target and Macy’s. While the mesh series are nice, find the one with the most cotton. It’s breathable, and they WILL help better than anything else you can do because it prevents your skin from rubbing against itself. That brings me to #2. 

3. COTTON underwear – really. For a long time, I tried to hide my gut with compression panties and synthetic underwear made of who-knows-what. It feels nice for a bit, and yeah it does the job, but they all make chafing SO MUCH WORSE. Stick with cotton. 

4. TAKE BREAKS – if you’re walking around and you start to feel friction down there, STOP for 20-30 minutes and when you sit, keep your legs a few inches apart. Find a coffee shop, sit for a snack, ask whoever you’re talking with to chill on a bench for a little while — the purpose of this? Stop for a few minutes to let the sweat that’s causing the friction to dissipate. it really helps on long day treks and festival strolling. Stopping regularly will allow you to go MUCH further with much less pain.

Second Defense:  

5. GOLD BOND powder: Most chain stores and pharmacies carry the original Gold Bond powder, and you can buy tiny little travel sized bottles just for this purpose.  If you’re doing everything above and still ending up with some nasty chub rub marks at the end of the day, pad your thighs with some of this before you add your layers. (Men, this works well on your boys, too, I’ve heard)

6. ON THE GO: Gold Bond FRICTION DEFENSE chafing STICK: It looks like a stick of deoderant, but works great not only to dry anywhere you rub it, but soothes the already-irritated skin. I keep one in my glove box. 

Last defense: 

7. DUCT TAPE: In an emergency, when you KNOW you’ve got a crap TON of walking/biking to do and it’s already hurting so bad you want to tear someone’s face off, grab a roll of duct tape and WRAP YOUR THIGHS – here’s the key: wrap a piece of gauze on the sore spots before you wrap them in tape, so it’s not horrible to pull off. Yep, I’ve done it at Bonnaroo twice. Not only does it prevent any further damage, but it protects your already-opened-up sores from getting worse.  At Bonnaroo in 2010, it got so bad for me that I went to the medical tent. They treated the “wounds” (because at that point, that’s what they had turned into), and sent me back out into the world. Six hours later, it was KILLING me and definitely not getting any better. I grabbed a roll of duct tape, some gauze, and headed out to a porta potty. I LOOSELY wrapped BOTH my thighs (even though only one was hurting – and don’t wrap so hard you cut off your circulation – it can happen!). This allowed me to keep going for another two days. In a situation where you can’t shower or bathe, and where you absolutely MUST keep walking or working despite the pain, bring duct tape. To get it off later, unwrap gently or sit in a bath til it loosens. That said, your sweat WILL loosen the glue on the tape after a while, so if you’ve got it on for more than 24 hours, it will start to loosen and fall off on its own (no painful tearing). If needed, just clean and reapply. 

Here are a few remedies I’ve HEARD about but haven’t tried myself. If you’ve got experience with any of them, let me know: 

  • Bodyglide
  • Monistat anti-chafing cream (apparently works for both men and women) 
  • Aquaphor
  • Hydrocortisone cream 
  • Karma Sutra Honey Dust 
  • IF biking – add some thick foam to your seat and cover with fabric. 
  • Cornstarch (use like gold bond powder) 
  • http://www.2toms.com
  • Beaudreaux’s Buttpaste 
  • http://www.bagbalm.com

“My Boobs Are The Size of Shrek’s Head”: Finding The Perfect Bra For Travel

I have self-image issues, a small budget, and a huge chest that can’t be hidden from the world. These things don’t mix. It reminds me of that triangulated graphic business model thing that goes like this: you can have something good or fast, fast and cheap, or good and cheap – you can never find something that fits the criteria for all three categories. Bra shopping is similar: good quality, inexpensive, and locally available are the three points I’d change the graphic to, though.

bra graphic

My personal bra agenda? Inexpensive and good quality. The internet can take care of the third point as long as you aren’t in a rush. The question is: How do larger travelers like myself navigate the world of bras when they’re traveling or doing outdoorsy things? Carefully. It’s an important topic because we all want to travel light regardless of our size. Most people don’t go away for a week and bring one bra per day – you bring one or two extra that WORK for whatever it is you’re doing. Larger women have a tough time with this. 

All you women that can go to Old Navy and pick up a sports bra? I hate your skinny guts (ok, not really, but I am jealous). If you’re in the category of folks who have to do some serious shopping around for a bra that actually fits, keep reading.

Sometimes we don’t give a shit about pushing anything up, or strapping anything down, or whether something has a little padding, or whether it’s lacy and cute. Sometimes we care about comfort and whether or not the damn thing will hold up after repeated wear, or whether our cleavage will pop out of every shirt we wear. Sometimes we care about the dreaded side boob much more than we care about whether a bra goes with our outfit. Ok – maybe I’m just speaking for myself. 

I only own 2 bras that I actually wear. To be fair, I own two of each of the same bra that I alternate and wear repeatedly. One is a regular ol’ white bra with the best support, strong fabric, and silky cups- originally from Fashion Bug, which I never thought I’d shop at (that’s ok because it no longer exists). Both copies of it are about to go belly up from wear and tear, so it’s time I find another little under-slice of fabulousness. 

What I can offer you in this little post is a link to the PERFECT sports bra for plus size women that nullifies side boob, hides my cleavage, and keeps them above my ankles: Glamorise Women’s No Bounce Sports Bra. It took me HOURS of searching to find this little piece of lovely. You can find them anywhere from $20-$50 (avg. $40, and I’d never spend much more than that on a bra), depending on whether your size is available on eBay or Amazon. I’m a 38G. This bra is moisture wicking, comfortable, and has this awesome little mesh patch they call a camisole over where my cleavage usually hops out of my shirts: 

glam

I’ve worn this bra to many festivals, on trips to Europe, to India, on cross-country road trips, on jogs,  and while clumsily riding my bike. it holds up to every test I’ve given it (no one paid me to say that in case you were wondering).  Traveling any time soon? Go get one of these. That said, I need a new “regular” bra that will hold up to the same tests — remember, 38G here. And I’m rough on them. Know of any that might be worth it for me to try out? Leave me a comment and I’ll give it a shot. 

“It’s for skinny people. Don’t go.”: Burning Man Part 1

I’m going to assume for this post that you’ve heard of Burning Man. Huge annual summer arts-based event in the Black Rock desert, full of gorgeous thin west coasters who spend the week showing off their coolest pseudo-gypsy selves. Fuck that. I’m over 200 pounds, I’m from the south, and I go, too. Have you ever done a google image search of “people at Burning Man”? It looks sort of like this: 

People at Burning Man

Well, do your own search and take a minute or two scrolling through the thousands of posted photos. How many curvy people do you see in those photos? One, maybe two (if any)? I bet if you do find any, they’re men.  Overweight people [of all ages/genders] DO go to Burning Man, and they [we] have a great time, despite the severely under-represented photographic history presented by the almighty Google and its user base. 

So, if you’re overweight and wonder if you’ll be able to hack the desert or if you’ll feel like the last fat kid to be picked on a dodgeball team, stop worrying and start packing. Trust me – there’s plenty of people that look like you that will be there. That’s all I wanted to say in this post – because noone else has said it. Grab your fatkini and head for the desert, and wear it proud. The Burning Man principle of RADICAL INCLUSION says you’ll be welcomed with open arms. 

In my next Burning Man post, I’ll discuss how difficult it’s been for me to put together a Burning Man wardrobe: plus size costumes and plus size desert gear aren’t terribly easy to find, but I’ll save you a little time and effort and post some great resources.  They do exist. 

Lightbulb!

Today I had an idea (a lightbulb went off). I spend a LOT of time searching the web for gear, clothing, and advice for plus size travel. I do this because I’m fat and I travel a LOT- because  there isn’t much out there, and certainly no place where it all comes together in a neat little suitcase. So here I am, about to embark on the creation of a site dedicated to just that. My goal is to, over time, create a guide for plus sized festival goers, plus sized trekkers, plus sized pilgrims, plus sized nomads, plus sized adventurers — because these are the things that non-plus sized people assume we DON’T do — and the things we do despite being told we can’t, or shouldn’t.

What tents and cots work for me? What backpacks work for me? What shoes should I take? Where can I find cool plus sized steampunk costumes? How can I prevent chafing while hiking or at a festival? These are some of the questions I can [and will]  answer.

I think I’m qualified to make this site happen because as a woman who weighs over 200 lbs,  I’ve spent years searching for this kind of resource, because I’m pretty good with wordpress, and because I travel a lot both in the U.S. and abroad. I’ve never let anyone skinny tell me I shouldn’t do something because of my size, even though they’ve tried, and as a result, I have a lot of experiences to share. I go to festivals like Bonnaroo, VooDoo, Burning Man, Falcon Ridge, Jazz Fest — and I know what gear and clothing works best at each one, and what doesn’t work at all. If you happen to run across this blog, and would like to help me out with it, shoot me your qualifications and maybe we can partner up…? I think it’s got a lot of potential.

Back later – I’ve got to finish wrapping faux fur around my bike this afternoon.

A Site Dedicated to Plus Size Festival & Travel Planning