Meet The Black Man Inspiring Plus-Size People Through His Travels
By DeAnna Taylor
Orlando native Jeff Jenkins is the face behind the popular brand Chubby Diaries. Through this platform, he aims to help plus-size, big, and curvy people travel the world.
We had the chance to chat with Jeff to learn more about his brand and some of his tips for the plus-size traveler.
Travel Noire: When did your love for traveling start?
Jeff: Back in ’06, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan with this organization while I was in college. Going to Japan changed my whole perspective on life and being able to experience other cultures, foods, and people, that is where I was bitten by the travel bug. And I’ve been to 38 countries since.
TN: How was Chubby Diaries born?
Jeff: I wanted to get into the travel influencer space and was told that I need a niche if I wanted to stand out. I asked myself, ” How do I show up in the world and my answer was that “I am a fat black male.” It wasn’t until then that I realized that there was no representation that fits that description nor was there much in the travel space that promoted plus-size travel. That is when I realized I was on to something and started to figure out how to be a conduit between brands and plus-size consumers.
TN: What is the goal/aim of the brand?
Jeff: The main goal is to make travel more accessible for any body type. The majority of people in America are considered overweight and we have seen the fashion industry embrace plus-size people by making trendy clothes that they can wear and I would like the travel industry to be the next to embrace plus-size people. The other goal is to motivate plus size people to live life NOW and not allow their weight to be the thing that keeps them from seeing the world.
TN: As a Black man, why is it important for you to have a space like this?
Jeff: As a travel blogger/ influencer I feel like I am a unicorn because there are not that many black men in the travel space creating content full time. And I am the only man period promoting body positivity in the travel space. Representation matters and I believe that black men like myself and other guys like @philwaukee and @alivelikethewind are changing the narrative.
TN: What is your favorite destination so far?
Jeff: My first country is still by far my favorite country I visited. Japan was the biggest culture shock compared to other countries I’ve been to. I am a food lover and when Japanese people prepare your food it feels like a masterful piece of art. Also, I love that I can slurp when I sip my soup. Their traditions still hold true to this day but with a modern spin to it.
TN: What are some of your favorite tips for the plus-size traveler?
Jeff: Plan, Plan, Plan: We live in the age of the internet so it is now very easy to plan your trip. But not only can you plan a trip, you are able to find out beforehand what attractions or excursions are plus-size friendly and accommodating. Some companies give you the dimensions of their seats on a plane, rides at an amusement park, weight limits, and/or sizes for mandatory gear that has to be worn during an attraction.
2. Don’t bother with trying to buy clothes in other countries: Out of all the countries I’ve been to, South Africa is the only place where I found stores that had trendy plus size clothes. Every other country I’ve been to does not. Most Southeast Asian countries look at you crazy when you walk in because they know they don’t have anything for you.
3. Study airline policies: I know I briefly spoke about it in number one but airplanes are the biggest reason why plus-size people are hesitant to travel. So learning dimensions, bringing your own seat belt extension, or knowing that Southwest will accommodate you better if you need more room than others helps.
4. Go with an open mind: Don’t let fear cloud your mind. Exploring the world is exciting, and every corner is worth discovering. Your big size is not a limitation, it’s simply part of who you are. And who you are? A lucky person that is about to make unforgettable memories, so let’s make sure they are fantastic.
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.