Mountains are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring wonders, offering a challenge to anyone willing to take them on. For many people, however, climbing a mountain may seem daunting, especially if they don’t feel like they have the “right” body type. (Where did this whole “right body type thing” come from anyways?! Over. It.) But the truth is that mountains are for every body type, and climbing them can be an incredibly empowering experience for people of all shapes, sizes, and ages.

Body positivity is a movement that has gained a lot of traction in recent years, and for a good reason. Too often, people are made to feel like they are not good enough because of their size or shape, and this can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy, which can, in turn, affect their self-esteem and overall well-being. But body positivity is all about celebrating and accepting your body as it is, regardless of societal norms or expectations. Yes, you are worthy no matter what size and shape you are. (I will be your cheerleader if you need a reminder from time to time. I got you.)

When it comes to mountain climbing, there is a common misconception that only people with a specific body type can reach the summit. For example, some people may assume you must be lean and muscular to be a successful hiker. But the truth is that anyone can climb a mountain, regardless of what damn size pants you wear and the number on the scale.

Having a different body type can be an advantage when hiking mountains. For example, people with larger muscles may have an easier time carrying heavy packs, while people with a larger body mass may be better able to keep warm in cold climates. (Yay, internal furnace right here!) And even if you don’t have any physical advantages, the mental strength and determination required to climb a mountain is something anyone can endure, regardless of their body type.

Of course, this is not to say that climbing mountains is accessible, and it is a challenging and physically demanding activity requiring preparation and training. But with the right mindset and support, anyone can do it. (Again, I will ALWAYS cheer you on!)

One way to cultivate body positivity while mountain climbing is to focus on what your body is capable of, rather than its limitations. For example, instead of thinking about how heavy your pack is, focus on how strong your muscles are for carrying it. Or, instead of worrying about how difficult the climb is, focus on the mental fortitude it takes to keep going. 10/10 times when I am hiking, I never think about how I wish my body were different. I feel grateful for my strength, even when ready to give up. (Damn you, McKenzie!… We will talk about that in another time…)

Another important aspect of body positivity in mountain climbing is surrounding yourself with a supportive community. This could be a group of friends who share your passion for hiking or a larger online community of climbers who can offer advice and encouragement. (Personally, I love to hang out at Tmax and Topos hostel. They’re the coolest.) By surrounding yourself with people who celebrate and support your body as it is, you can build a sense of confidence and self-worth that will carry you through even the most challenging climbs. (Thank you, Chelle, for getting my ass up, McKenzie! McKenzie……) In short, ensure you aren’t hanging out with a$$holes and keep listening to Lizzo!

I hope you can adopt your own positive mindset and know that mountains are for every body type, and hiking them can be an incredibly empowering experience for people of all shapes and sizes. By building a mindset of body positivity and surrounding yourself with a supportive community, you can overcome any physical or mental obstacles that may come your way. Don’t let societal norms or expectations hold you back from experiencing the beauty and challenge of mountain climbing – it truly is an activity that is accessible to everyone.