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I’m a plus-sized traveler backpacking in Asia – strangers touch my stomach, ask me if I’m pregnant and tell me to walk more

A plus-sized influencer has shared the struggles she has encountered while backpacking around the world, including people asking to touch her stomach.

Lexi Malan, 28, from Rexburg, Idaho has been travelling Southeast Asia since 2022, and despite being viciously fat-shamed, she is still urging plus-sized people to travel.

The content creator, who gained weight as a result of her polycystic ovary syndrome, refuses to let nasty comments get in her way. 

She started her trip in Bali before travelling to Cambodia. While there, locals asked her if she was pregnant, while strangers told her to ‘walk more’.

‘Travelling as a plus size person can definitely have hardships than travelling as a straight-sized person does not,’ she said.  ‘At the beginning of my travels, I realised I was not only very plus-size, but I was also very out of shape as far as physical fitness.

Lexi Malan (pictured), 28, from Rexburg, Idaho has been travelling Southeast Asia since 2022, and despite being viciously fat-shamed, she is still urging plus-sized people to travel

Lexi Malan (pictured), 28, from Rexburg, Idaho has been travelling Southeast Asia since 2022, and despite being viciously fat-shamed, she is still urging plus-sized people to travel 

‘It also feels like you have to think two times as much as everybody else. Will I be able to fit in the chairs at this restaurant? I need to remember to ask for a seat belt extender on my flight.

‘Is there a weight limit on this activity? Will I be able to keep up with everyone if I go somewhere in a group? There are tons of things to consider.’

Shockingly, the traveller has even had strangers approach her to touch her, purely because of her size. 

She said: ‘I spend a good amount of my travel time in more local areas, so I have had children and old ladies come and touch my stomach and tell me I am fat, but nobody ever means it in a bad way’.

Lexi has also come across challenges when travelling with other people. She said: ‘When you are with a group it can sometimes be hard to voice the things you need because it can feel embarrassing or like a burden to everyone.

‘I have met some incredible people while travelling, but it’s always hard to not get in your own head.

‘The plus side of travelling solo while being bigger is that you can decide a lot more things for yourself without having to explain or have people accommodate you.

‘If you don’t feel like you can manage a hike then you just don’t have to go. If you don’t think you can be at a certain restaurant then you pick a new one’.  

Lexi has dealt with harsh comments from locals abroad who have asked her if she was pregnant or even touched her belly. Pictured in Cambodia

Lexi has dealt with harsh comments from locals abroad who have asked her if she was pregnant or even touched her belly. Pictured in Cambodia

Lexi amazed by Thailand's stunning White Temple - a sacred religious site for Buddhists

Lexi amazed by Thailand’s stunning White Temple – a sacred religious site for Buddhists

Lexi set out to see the world in September 2022, starting in Bali before heading to Cambodia, and then on to the rest of Southeast Asia

Lexi set out to see the world in September 2022, starting in Bali before heading to Cambodia, and then on to the rest of Southeast Asia

In her video, Lexi can be seen speaking to the camera as she reads out some negatives.

She said: ‘If you go to Asia, people will talk about you being fat. Not especially backpackers but locals definitely will. I’ve had so many people touch my stomach, people telling me to walk more and little kids asking me if I’m pregnant’.

‘Also a lot of people stare. Also aeroplanes, busses, trains, small boats, they can be difficult. I’ve managed to luckily do everything but it can be super uncomfortable.

‘I’ve been on trains where you have to share tiny seats with people and it can just be hard. 

‘There are also weight restrictions for some things like if you do skydiving or zip-lining it can be difficult. More extreme activities can be harder to do but the vast majority are possible.’

Lexi is proud of her body and urges other plus-size women to travel despite what she tells them in her TikTok clip

Lexi is proud of her body and urges other plus-size women to travel despite what she tells them in her TikTok clip

Lexi peeking behind some green foliage, beaming gleefully as she travels across southeast Asia

Lexi peeking behind some green foliage, beaming gleefully as she travels across southeast Asia

The post has since amassed just under 4,000 views, as well as hundreds of likes and comments from users showering Lexi with love.

Lexi said: ‘As far as people I’ve met, I have had some people be mean to me or just treat me differently but the vast majority of people I have met have been absolutely incredible!

‘I know that sounds like such silly advice you always hear but people often get frozen in the planning or wanting to do something stage and then never end up doing it’.

The travel influencer urges plus-size people to go for it and take a risk.  ‘No time will ever be perfect and you will never be 100 per cent prepared.

She added: ‘When I first left to backpack I had never been out of the country on my own, and I could barely walk for 10 minutes without being absolutely exhausted and now here I am!

‘I never would have done so many of the incredible things I have been able to experience if I waited until I was “ready” or “prepared”.  You can do this, you are just as capable and worthy of living the life you want as anybody else.’

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