Hiking, Body Positivity, and Inclusion in the Outdoors
My name is Celeste Thompson and I am 33 years old, living in sunny California.
I consider myself a hiker enthusiastic, I love exploring trails and be one with nature.
However, hiking was never part of my vocabulary and it wasn’t until 2013 while living in Mau’i, Hawaii that I decided to hike my first trail.
Why did I decide to start hiking?
To be completely honest, I was tired of feeling lonely; I was bored of the same routine every day I needed something exciting. Back then I was experiencing a very difficult time in my life and I couldn’t recognize the person that I was becoming.
I wanted to connect with myself and that is why I chose to hike, because I knew I was scared to do it, especially being a plus size woman, I felt like I was going to be judged or make fun of just because I need to stop every 5 minutes to catch my breath or just because it would take me 5 times longer to finish.
I was terrified because I knew I wouldn’t blend in with the typical stereotype of fit and healthy.
I knew that facing my fears would help me to become strong.
That is why I hike because it wasn’t easy for me.
Do I ever think this activity isn’t for me because I may not fit the typical norm of what I see hikers as portrayed in the media and in hiking outfitting stores like REI, Patagonia ads, etc?
Absolutely! Especially when I am trying to find hiking clothes in my size, it’s a challenge pretty much. This taught me to remind myself that I deserve to be here … exploring and finding my own happiness.
My first hike as an adult was in 2013 and it was the Lahaina Pali Trail. At the time I didn’t know anything about hiking or even hiking gear, I just knew I wanted to explore the island that I love so much.
Being at the top of the mountain to see the sunset was so worth it, however like I mentioned before I didn’t know anything about hiking so I was not prepared to hike after dark. I was able to hike back down using my cell phone flashlight.
From this moment I did research and started following a few hiker accounts on Instagram and little by little I was involved with the most amazing hiking community.
This trail made me realized how much I love nature and how much I love achieving goals.
Now I have hiked so many trails in Mau’I ,
In 2017 I decided to go on my first solo road trip, as I wanted to learn how to enjoy being alone, learn how to be self-reliant, to enjoy my own company. So I drove my tiny car and I packed my hiking gear (trekking poles, small backpack and my hiking shoes), and I drove from sunny California to Reno, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and back to Cali.
This is when I decided I wanted to hike in every state and see the beauty that every state has to offer.
So far one of my favorite places to hike is Zion National Park. This picture doesn’t do any justice to this beautiful canyon!
Overall I believe hiking helped to find the confidence I lost years ago. I learned how to love myself as I am now, I don’t see myself as a plus size person but as a confident woman who’s trying to break those silly stereotype walls.
Right now I have been training to hike Mt. Kilimajaro with the Curvy Kili Crew on March 2019--such an amazing group to be part of.
This journey has challenge me to leave my comfort zone and enjoy my training as this is not a competition but a journey.
Some things I have learned so far throughout my training to Kili :
My body is capable to do amazing things
I am stronger than what I thought I was
This journey has changed me a lot and made me stronger. I am ready to hike Kilimanjaro!
About the Author: Celeste Thompson
Celeste Thompson lives in Los Angeles, CA with her mom and her cat named Lily. She is an advocate for body positivity and inclusion in the outdoors.
Celeste is one of the members of the Curvy Kili Crew a group of 20 plus-sized women from around the world will step foot on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. 6 days later, on International Women’s Day, they all hope to be standing on top of the tallest mountain in Africa together. You can follow Celeste's hiking journey on instagram @fatgirlforthefitsoul and the Curvy Kili Crew's adventure on instagram @curvykilicrew