Empowering Yourself By Defining Your Own Identity

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I am almost always the biggest (fattest) person on almost every single travel media trip I am on. I am often the only person of color, which is always interesting. I am sometimes almost always the oldest too, but that’s not as obvious sometimes. Definitely not as obvious as my physical self.

I was recently on a trip where the tour guide didn’t know I could speak Spanish and referred to me as “la gordita” (the fatty), when speaking to her partner. I said nothing. 

I’m sure you’re wondering how that made me feel and I will say that I was surprised, not because I wasn’t “the fatty” in my group (because I was), but rather because she was so confident that I wouldn’t understand her and it was unprofessional. I mean, to me she was, almost from the moment our group met her, “the ahole”, but I didn’t say that out loud out of respect for her.

And though there are moments where I have been overcome by the insecurities over my weight (read about the time I hiked the summit in Vail), I spend more time not worrying about it because I never think I can’t do things I set my mind to. I may be scared, but I never worry that I can’t do it because of my body being what it is.

I say all this now because I was moved by the comments from a reader and friend when I shared this picture:

Carol Cain_cenotes_girlgonetravelI may be the gordita in most of my press trips, but I am also the first one in line for all the fun.

She said she wanted so badly to zip line, but worries that her weight will be an issue (I know her, and it isn’t) and it reminded me of when I go zip lining and have to have the extra belts and straps attached for my boobs and my ass. I am almost always the only one that needs the extra stuff – and take the extra time for it, but I don’t care.

Because what I know that those who judge me don’t is that I don’t let anyone’s opinion of me define how I live and want to live my life. And it’s not always easy, because words are a powerful thing, but I had some help with the process.

I have often shared how I grew up and I was very, very lucky to grow up with a father who told me from a very early age that I would never be loved, that I would never succeed, and that I would never be happy because I was, in his eyes, not thin enough.

And I am not sure I ever believed him, because I always felt I was destined to be happy, and loved, and successful. It’s one of those things I always knew. It’s one of those things you have to believe in to make reality.

Now that I feel I am all those things, I have nothing to stand in my way, because my father was wrong, as were the people who thought I would never make it to the summit, as has been anyone who doubted me.

How people define us and limit us, be it for our weight, or race, or gender, or age, isn’t how we have to define ourselves. I am living proof of it.

There are people out there living their lives on the borders of limitations society has placed on them. They won’t travel, or pursue their passions. They won’t seek out their joy wholeheartedly or express their voices loudly. They believe what others tell them is their truth. And I say, take your power back and screw the haters. No one has the right. We all deserve to give ourselves the chance to be as happy as can be.

So, yes, my dear friend who I know is reading this, and anyone else who may find this relatable: you can zip line. You can do anything you set your mind to. It may take you longer. You may need extra support. But you can do it. And if they call you the gordita, that’s OK. If they are lucky, they’ll get to see all the other awesome things you are too.

You are who you are. Let who you are be defined by you, not by others and learn to be happy on your own terms.






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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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14 Responses to Empowering Yourself By Defining Your Own Identity

  1. I saw you tweet this article and found it really inspiring and very well put! The majority of people are drawn to people because they are interesting, exciting, kind and/or funny… not because a smaller number comes up when they stand on a bathroom scale. I wish society instilled this kind of self-confidence regardless of shape from a young age… sometimes it takes too long for girls to realize it shouldn’t matter.

    • caincarol says:

      I have learned that everyone, no matter what, has their issues and sometimes, they project those onto others. It\’s important to know who you are, what you stand for, and be proud of it all.

  2. tgruber says:

    Facebook comments are so strange. I got a notification that you replied to me, yet when I look at the post I don’t see any comments left using the Facebook commenting system or your reply. They make it seems so easy to implement yet it definitely has its challenges as a commenting system.

    • caincarol says:

      Ugh. So annoying. Sorry about that! I can see my reply to you, sorry you can\’t : ( Here it is:

      \”Thanks Tamara for sharing. My heart hurt for you! That sucks. Especially when one feels so vulnerable. I did tell the PR lead for our trip, and they were horrified for me. It\’s one of those things that really didn\’t affect me enough to get worked up, but you are right it was unprofessional and could\’ve been very hurtful to someone else, so I might say something to the tour operator. xoxo\”

  3. Ugh, I feel your pain, Carol. I’ve had some things said to me that really made me feel like crap, when I was feeling just wonderful minutes before. After all these years, and I am much older than you, I’ve learned to be more vocal and to say what I feel. I think you’re an awesome person, and yeah, I love reading your posts!

  4. nnennaya says:

    Lol! Nice and inspiring, Carol. Do you know what I would have done if she called me that? I would have turned to her and given her a BIG smile and turned back to something else to distract me while smiling to myself….that kind of thing un-nerves people *wink* Anyway, you handled it well and maturely. People like to say mean things about others without even thinking how it would affect the person. Keep on keeping ur skin thick to such “mean talks”, dear.

    • caincarol says:

      I just laughed it off. People\’s over confidence in situations like that, whether it be because they think I won\’t understand them, or they think it will affect me, is amusing to me.

  5. curvyroads says:

    So inspiring! I too, grew up with a parent who made me feel totally unlovable and insecure because of my weight, and I have struggled to put that behind me, because, sadly, I believed her. It didn’t keep me from having a successful career, and finally finding the love of my life, but it sure slowed me down and kept me from doing many things that I thought might not meet with her approval. In the last few years, and I am now almost 55, I have worked through much of the aftermath, and feel more ‘my authentic self’ than ever before. Women like you can help so many get past that crap that came from their parents, and much sooner than I was able to do it. More power to you!

    • caincarol says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and so happy that you have been able to work past so much. It takes a lot of strength to do that!

  6. Thanks for writing this. I am SO insecure about my height and weight. I was always called, “big boned” growing up. When someone says our family isn’t small they point to me. It kills me a little inside each time and I wish it didn’t. It was great to read you embrace YOU. I need to do this.

  7. So true Carol! I think that strong mindset and high self esteem is a task for everyone. It is probably harder to build it for the people with visible features seen by others as inferior (I know something about it as I was raised by a disabled Mum) but eventually we all need to deal with it. Great and inspiring post! Thanks!

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