Mary Fran Donnelly, a teacher and body positivity advocate, is going viral on TikTok for her hilarious and powerful series, Traveling as a Fat Person
Social studies teacher Mary Fran Donnelly has been bringing her infectious spirit and body positive message to TikTok for a year, but she’s recently seen viral fame for her video series, Traveling as a Fat Person, in which she hilariously (and powerfully) highlights the many, many ways fat people’s needs, comfort, and preferences are diminished or ignored entirely when it comes to travel.
Traveling is enough to make anyone anxious (has anyone ever felt truly comfortable in a plane seat?), but for people who live in larger bodies, it can be downright demeaning – comfort aside, the mistreatment and fat-shaming from fellow passengers and staffers can make the entire experience for fat people absolutely traumatic.
Donnelly’s series – which she began after a recent hotel stay on a family vacation, according to Buzzfeed – will low-key make you laugh so hard you might pee a little… fair warning. She gave a tour of her hotel bathroom, which featured barely enough wiggle room for her to sit comfortably on the toilet, followed by a peek at the shower and bath towels. Spoiler alert: It was all clearly designed for people with small bodies, because apparently fat people don’t deserve a bath towel that fits them comfortably!
For episode two, she donned a joyful rainbow bathing suit to highlight a few other issues: hotel amenities. Pool towels, which she joked are “a little bigger, but not much!” She tried the towel on for size and comfortably covered her tush and well, not much else, before moving onto the hotel balcony, which featured a table and chairs she jokingly called “stable.”
The sisters were clearly making light of the situation, but Donnelly told Buzzfeed that she did want to emphasize the very real struggles people in larger bodies face when they travel. “I cope through humor,” she said. “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.”
Donnelly also shared the worries she has about her body size and comfort level on an everyday basis that are magnified when she travels, from feeling comfortable in chairs, wearing seat belts, and, of course, hotel towels. “I don’t travel alone because I worry about strangers being upset about sitting next to me on a plane,” she said. “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?”
Her clips have clearly resonated with many, racking up millions of likes, comments, and shares in the days since she posted them. They’re also sparking long overdue conversations about the dignity and accessibility every person deserves to feel when they leave their home.
“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,” she said. “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.” Bravo!