To The Fat Outdoorswoman

Words and photos by Emma Harris

I know what it’s like to be the last of the pack – panting, breathless, giving it all you’ve got to keep up with a group of people that seem to be giving almost no effort at all.

I know how it feels to to curse your heavy body for not being able to pull yourself up and over a ledge. To think that if only you were smaller, your adventures would be great.

I know the wishing that your gear would sit more gracefully on your skin. To feel every part of your clothing that is too snug. To know that a pack designed with curves for women will still chafe and bounce up and down your back. To settle for dark colored men’s gear because nothing seems to fit just right.

Outdoorswoman cliff view

I know it’s much easier not to, than to do. It’s so easy not to lace up boots for a hike. It’s so easy not to pack up gear and hit the trail. It’s so easy not to tie in and scramble onto jagged rocks. It’s so easy not to dip a paddle in and slide forward across the water. It is so much easier not to do the things that scare you.

This is for every time you choose to do it anyway. This is for every time you lace up your boots and pack your gear and hit the trail and pull yourself up past the fear.

Fat Outdoorswoman Gros Morne National Park

It is so much easier not to do the things that scare you. This is for every time you choose to do it anyway. This is for every time you lace up your boots and pack your gear and hit the trail and pull yourself up past the fear.

For every time you saw someone gliding so lightly across the ground, know that your feet were made to follow with thunder, connecting with the earth in a way that no one else can. For every time you’ve reached a peak, drained and out of breath, know that your lungs are refilling so that you may shout your powerful shout across the valleys below you. For every time you thought your arms could not pull you up any further, know they are strong enough to embrace those who love you, and that stretches far beyond the crag.

Your body was made to carry the weight of your spirit across the world. Your soul is made to thrive in it. Know that your body can take you both where you need to be, and want to go.

You are able to carry your body on any adventure you choose, and you have been doing it since the day you were placed on this earth.

I know you, I understand you, I am you. I love you.

 

Emma Harris is an outdoors enthusiast living in Oakville, just outside of Toronto, ON, Canada. She spends as much time as she can exploring the trails in Southern Ontario, and is trying to visit as many national parks as possible during Canada 150. Her preferred method of travel is by canoe! Find her on Instagram and see more of her work at awalkinthewoodspodcast.com and A Walk in the Woods Instagram.

Do you know you’re strong enough?

8 thoughts on “To The Fat Outdoorswoman

  1. Emma, I admire your strength and courage to get out there. Just don’t be fooled by the ‘athletic’ looks of someone. I’m a skinny person and even though I enjoy sports and the outdoors, I often think mother nature somehow forgot to give me some muscle tissue. I need to stop and catch my breath every ten metres on a steep path. But I prefer to need a lot more time and effort to get to the top than not going at all and miss out on the amazing views.

    1. I agree with you! Taking your time is sometimes the best part of adventuring. Some of my favorite moments have happened when taking a break on the trail – that’s when you really get to notice all the beauty surrounding you. Happy adventuring! xx

  2. Emma, I have now become the woman who brings up the rear, the one who gets out of breath going uphill, the one who has trouble getting out of a kyack. I was into my 40s when I really developed my “adventurous” side. It was at that point that I started to rock and ice climb. And I was good at it for an old girl. I was well into my 50s before I tried downhill skiing and I loved it. (I also tore both ACLs) but that didn’t stop me. Now I face knee replacement surgery———I hope that won’t stop me. Keep going for it——-it’s o.k. to be slower. And, oh yes, I gave up smoking and took up cooking——almost 20 extra pounds, but who cares!!!

    1. Thank you for these words, Suzanne. They really mean a lot! You are truly inspiring. I know what it feels like when everyone around you is able to slip in and out of the kayak so gracefully, while you struggle with fitting your hips and knees in. Too many times I have chosen the “safe” option and gone for the sit-on-top kayak instead. Here’s to future adventures – all the best with yours! xx

  3. Emma, I took your words along with me as I headed out for a 5 day solo biking adventure. Your words: “Your body was made to carry the weight
    of your spirit across the world. Your soul is made to thrive in it. Know
    that your body can take you both where you need to be, and want to go.” were copied onto the first page of the journal I kept on my ride. I read them at least 2 times per day. Thank you for your honesty. I feel like we should start a club or something. We could invite Suzanne Bonilla from the comments too! I am 55, 5’9″ and 230lbs full of adventuring loving self!!! I did not get back on a bicycle until I was 50 and started kayaking at 52 and since I was gifted a sit inside kayak I have to take the hard, often embarrassing way out!
    Here’s to all of us Big Girls rocking the outdoors.

  4. This is so empowering! Fear and embarrassment used to hold me back from participating in so many activities. Now I love to hike and kayak everyone my RV take me. Thanks for this encouragement!

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