By providing representation, Jenkins hopes to inspire more plus-sized travelers seek adventure and voyage with confidence.
For many plus-sized travelers, there is a certain hesitancy that comes along with venturing out to see the world. But, Orlando native Jeff Jenkins is not only showing that it’s possible, he’s also showing there are no limits to the adventures one can experience around the world, too.
Just four years ago, Jenkins launched his digital brand, The Chubby Diaries, to provide real-life representation, and a voice, for the plus-size travel community. Now, we’ll soon get to see his larger-than-life personality shine through our televisions, bringing us that same body positive content— but on a larger scale— thanks to his new adventure travel series that will air on NatGeo and Disney+.
“This is a dream job for anyone to have,” Jenkins told EBONY, fresh off returning from shooting an episode in New Zealand. “But for me— a fat, Black man— to be in this position, it speaks volumes. This show is an amplification of the work that I’ve been doing with Chubby Diaries, and it will not only be entertaining, but inspiring as well.”
The 8-episode series, is not yet titled and is set to air sometime in 2023, will take Jenkins to exotic destinations across North America, South America, Asia and beyond. He will immerse himself in the various cultures while highlighting indigenous communities and taking us inside local life. We will also see him test his own limits through activities such as scuba diving and more, as he steps outside his comfort zone.
“One of the quotes that we use for the show is, ‘life begins on the other side of your comfort zone.’ You are going to see me doing things that a person, like me, wouldn’t normally be seen doing. In many of the episodes, I am definitely pushing my limits, while learning more about myself in the process.”
For Jenkins, this show is more than just taking NatGeo watchers inside unique adventures around the globe. It’s about providing representation not only for plus-size people, but for Black people as well. He wants us all to see ourselves in his adventures as he continues to use his platforms to push for more inclusivity and accessibility in the travel space. And, he wants us to walk away from each episode knowing this is also for the culture.
“I’m praying that once the show is edited and comes out, you all will feel proud, Jenkins said. “I am literally doing this for us. NatGeo has never had a host that looked like me on any of their shows, I am the first. It is simply me being me as a fat, Black man, and I have made it my mission to take on these challenges so that you can see yourself through me, and hopefully be inspired to create your own adventures.”
Prior to inking the deal for the show, Jenkins worked as a consultant within the travel industry, helping companies and brands better accommodate all travelers. He went inside nearly all US-based airlines, many hotels, and even global destinations to highlight what worked well and what didn’t.
We asked him to provide insight on his favorite inclusive airlines, as well as a few other tips for plus-size travelers wanting to venture out more.
“Southwest Airlines does a great job with its ‘People of Size’ policy. The airline will allow you to get an extra seat for free if needed, if there is availability on the flight. If there isn’t availability, they will book you on the next flight that does, if you have flexible travel plans.”
He also points out that sometimes paying for a first class or even a premium economy seat upgrade is worth it, if you can. As far as destinations that are inclusive, he says, mostly all Caribbean destinations are plus-size friendly as well as South Africa.
“I absolutely love South Africa. I was able to do nearly any activity I wanted while there. That isn’t always possible in other places due to size and weight restrictions. There is still a lot of work to be done, but just know that the industry is shifting, and I’m making sure of it.”