is a vagabond Australian freelance journalist and photographer
who is currently on walkabout in San Francisco, California. We're
delighted to welcome this delightful adventuress to our Journeywoman
Network. Lara writes...
I am fat.
I have a belly that wobbles when I walk and a bum that echoes
my movements. Don't get me wrong. This is not some life-altering
confession � la Alcoholics Anonymous: Hello, my name is Lara and
I am fat. Rather, it's an easy way for you to picture me, climbing
up a rope, ass over end into the back of a rocking Indonesian
fishing boat, desperately trying not to bounce into the propeller
and to retain, well, at least a crumb of dignity.
a plus-size body...
Backpacking is always
adventurous but it takes on many new twists when a plus-size
body meets rickety transport, bamboo bridges, and tiny locals
who find all Westerners--let alone those with wobbly bellies--startling.
Let's take the tiny, upright women of Central Lombok
who are less than half my size. Whether in the multi-colored
chaos of the local markets, the golden rice fields, or the
whitewashed lanes of small villages, my appearance invariably
produces animated discussion in Sasak and wild gestures towards
me. The boldest of the group comes up and slaps the thick
of my arm, uttering more exclamations. Gestures of eating,
offers of rice follow. One old woman pats her hips, expands
them large with her hands and then follows with her breasts,
producing proportions that would make Dolly Parton proud.
The message is always the same: good breeder.
no Kate Moss-but no great loss!
The scene is replayed
throughout the islands of Indonesia. Size is frankly acknowledged
and appreciated--a refreshing change from Kate Moss and
the Weight Police. When I learn how to thresh rice, the
women circle my waist with their hands and say, "Stay! You
can work harder than us!" "But I would eat too much rice,
and then there would be more work," I reply. "Ah yes," the
women nod sagely, ever the wise housekeepers.
Indonesians always appreciate my pride when I come back
from a day clambering around the fields. They can imagine
how hard it is at my size to avoid falling, breaking a delicate
bamboo bridge or slipping down a muddy slope.
The only murmur of discontent--and
more often riotous laughter--is on local transport, where
a combination of size and innate clumsiness can prove disastrous.
I take up three seats, and with legs up to my chin and a
huge backpack, it can take a while to untangle me. My most
fervent wish when squashing past startled locals in their
tiny minivans, aiming for an unlikely looking space at the
back, is: "Please don't let me get stuck."