Body Image and Boys: 4 Ways Traveling Abroad has Changed My Personal Life

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how travel lets you experiment with new things/new looks/new ideas and get comfortable in your own skin. This lets you take risks and test your own boundaries before you commit to something in your home life. It’s the ultimate beta test–try something and if it works out, awesome! If it doesn’t, who cares-you were on vacation.

Here are 4 risks I took abroad that gave me the confidence to change my personal life at home.

Rock a Bikini 

I finished reading this post from Unbrave Girl, and her entry about groundbreaking plus size model Ashley Graham got my brainwheels churning. She was commenting specifically on this special edition of Glamour Magazine:

It was Ashley’s partnership with swimsuitsforall that first inspired me to take a risk and stop wearing matronly skirtinis and just rock my body in a two piece regardless of what people think.

But…when I was ready to take that risk, it wasn’t like I went out and flaunted it at my apartment’s pool. Nope, I debuted my new look on my trip to Rio with my girlfriends. I absolutely loved it. I felt more girly, more confident, and I felt like I was truly embracing my curves for the first time in my life. This was a change I gladly brought back to the States with me, and I’m not looking back. I even recently threw my old Lands End skirtinis in a ThredUp bag for someone else to get some mileage out of.

Join Tinder

On the same trip, I let my friend Bridget give me a tour of Tinder. This was my first big trip post-separation, and I loved being away with my single girlfriends. I was no stranger to online dating from before my marriage, having come up in an OkCupid world, but Tinder seemed like a much bigger leap of faith. We spent a few hours and a few bottles of wine matching with Brazilian boys, and jeez Brazilian boys are cute. However, I met a really adorable, really nice guy in Rio who was a great first date and showed me that the men of Tinder can be fabulous dinner companions and a great way to enjoy your time abroad. Besides using the app on other trips, I’ve used the app at home, too. Back in Philly, I have gone on a few dates from the app and I haven’t had a bad experience with anyone I’ve actually met in real life. For me, spending a few days chatting before I go on a date really helps keep out people that are a bad fit, and I’ve gotten to meet people I never would have run into in real life.

Embrace My Long Legs

At 5′ 10″ I am a tall chicka. I’m tall for the US, but I still know quite a few chicks who are taller than me. However, there are parts of the world where I am likely to be the tallest person regardless of gender.  When I was flying out of Quito airport, I was the tallest person on the plane! A whole freaking plane!


Straddling the equator in Ecuador…feeling like a giantess and not worried about it at all.


In Sweden a couple of years ago, I met an awesome woman who’s six-foot-something and rocked the highest of heels in all situations. She doesn’t let anyone’s idea of what she should be affect her choices. What an awesome way to live!

I wear high heels when I want to. I don’t when I think they’ll be painful (which is a lot of the time!). I love my ass and my thighs and my calves, and I don’t give an eff if someone else doesn’t. Spending time in all different cultures which have all different body types has given me confidence to just be myself. Five or ten years ago, being the tallest person on a plane would have freaked me the eff out. Now, it’s just one more cultural experience where I get to see how my experiences are both the same as everyone else’s and, at the same time, totally unique.

Going Out with Bare Arms


At Ggantija in Malta…sans arm covering (gasp!)


You would not have caught me out of my house without covering my arms before 2011. However, when you start to love yourself, you start to forgive yourself for not being perfect and you don’t punish yourself anymore. Instead of covering up and punishing myself when it’s hot, I will choose to be comfortable in a cute dress instead. Of course there are places where you cover up out of respect (especially in churches), but if I’m exploring an outdoor site in hot weather, I no longer feel the need to hide my body under a pile of clothes out of a fear of what others may think.


What are some ways that travel has boosted your confidence or changed your personal life at home?


  1. Thanks so much for mentioning my post, Stephanie. You are KILLING it in that red polka dot bikini. I love it! And I definitely need to work on my fear of baring my upper arms this summer. Because nobody’s supposed to be wearing cardigans in 80 degree weather!

    • Stephanie

      Thanks Sally! Considering that I woke up to snow in Philly, your post was wise in more ways than one! Thanks for stopping by!

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