Nearly Naked for Charity in Petra, Jordan

Taking A Break From the Sun in Petra, Jordan

Why We Got (Nearly) Naked For Charity


I’ve never known what it’s like to be skinny.


Even as a child, playing soccer at age 6, I was taller and broader than most of my teammates. By the time I was 12, they called me “Bulldozer” because of my penchant for going through a line of defenders rather than around them. Even when I became a semi-pro dancer at age 15, rehearsing 10-12 hours a week, I still had to work out every single day to keep my weight down.


In high school, acquaintances often referred to me as “Big Man.” When it came time to buy my costume for One-Act Play during my Senior year, I had to shop at a different store than my classmates: Back then, a 38-inch waist meant you had to shop at the Big & Tall store.

Waterfalls in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Cooling Off in the Waterfalls of Wadi Rum, Jordan


As a result, I’ve dealt with body image issues for over 30 years now. I never had problems with the ladies, but I always had problems with how I perceived myself, often wearing baggy clothes to hide my spare tire. One of my fitness-obsessed, post-divorce girlfriends actually dumped me after I took her to Jamaica, saying she was embarrassed to be seen with me when I took my shirt off to play beach volleyball.


Where most people gain weight when they go on vacation, my four years of adventure with Mary have actually helped me get in the best shape of my adult life. But when I was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year, I decided it was time to get even more proactive about my health. We began swimming 3 times a week, walking our dog Huckleberry more often, and cutting our sugar and carb consumption.


As a result, I’ve lost 20 pounds in the past 7 months, and increased my strength and stamina to boot. Not only do my clothes fit better, but I FEEL better for it.


Sunbathing at Islas Secas, Panama

Sunbathing at Islas Secas, Panama


Mary’s story is remarkably similar: “At 10 years old, I was a B cup, with a chest larger than some of my teachers,” she recalls. “At 16, I was a DD, much to my parent’s horror (and my prom date’s delight). I had to evaluate every piece of clothing through the lens of whether or not it made me look like a ‘working girl.’


“By age 18, my boobs were in triple letters. To tame my buxom bosom I dressed in baggy, boxy clothes, which made me look heavy and frumpy. Such an ample chest might be a blessing if I was 5’10”, but it’s a very different story when you’re 5’2”.  It took me until age 35– and meeting Bret– to become tired of hiding, embrace the way my body was made and permit my inner va va voom to shine.”


When our friends Chris Walker-Bush and Alexandra Kovacova began discussing the idea of coordinating “Men & Women of Travel Blogging” calendars to raise money for charity a few months back, it didn’t take long for Mary and I to jump on board, along with 22 other bloggers from all around the world.


Women With Curves Are Sexy

Warning: Dangerous Curves Ahead


Though the project has been the subject of some criticism from those who consider it a vanity project, the fact that all proceeds will be going to worthwhile charity organizations (even graciously donated their printing services) made saying yes a no-brainer.


Through a vote among participating bloggers and their readers, a list of over 20 worthwhile charities was narrowed down to two: Mitrata Nepal is a children’s home in Nepal designed to provide a loving family environment for children who have known little or no security in their lives; VSO Bahaginan is the Asia/Pacific member of the world’s leading independent international development charity, which works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. These two non-profit organizations will ultimately receive every penny of profits from the sale of the calendars (after covering shipping costs).


Men & Women of Travel Blogging Calendars


For us, posing for the calendar photos (which are not the ones featured here) was a chance to have some fun, show a sexier side of ourselves that our readers rarely get to see, and hopefully raise money (our project goal is $10,000) for a good cause. For me personally, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the results of my hard work to lose weight, and perhaps show that life doesn’t have to stop or slow down just because you hit middle age.


At 44, I’m obviously not as young or fit as some of our fellow calendar models. But for the first time in my adult life, I’m no longer ashamed of what I see when I look in the mirror.


The calendar, which is available for purchase now at, costs a mere $25. But for us, the empowerment of being nearly naked for charity was priceless.  –by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


If you enjoyed our story on Getting (Nearly) Naked For Charity, you might also like: 

The Secret I’m Ashamed To Tell You

Bret & Mary, A Love Story: How Green Global Travel Was Born

To Write Love On Her Arms

Travel Bloggers Give Back: Use Your Blog To Make A Difference

24 Responses to Why We Got (Nearly) Naked For Charity

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    Bravo! What a brave post. I’m like Mary – short and busty. If I put on even the tiniest bit of weight it heads straight for my boobs. I’m with you… better to embrace it rather than fight against the curves or try to hide them!!! Work with what you’ve got!!!!

  • Kate says:

    As the owner of E cups, bravo Mary! That is an awesome red bikini. I have so much trouble ever finding bikinis I can fit into. My current swimsuit is a tank top one because of that. Va va voom is right!

  • I am happy to see your stories, especially that Bret lost so much weight and feels better now than ever. Keep doing a great job both 🙂

  • Good for you guys…don’t think anyone wants to see me “take it off” anytime soon:)

  • Christy says:

    I love that it’s for a good cause and that last photo of Mary is gorgeous. Good luck reaching your goal!

  • Micki says:

    You guys look absolutely great – the photo of Mary in the red shirt is gorgeous.

    Love the charities you choose for the calendar!

  • Fantastic Bret and Mary – you both look awesome in the calendar pics!

  • Ah, Body Image… Sounds like you and Mary have tamed that terrible beast, become healthier in the process, AND look great. Bravo! I have an eleven-year-old daughter, and have caught myself (on bad, PMS-filled days) muttering things like: “Ugh, I look like hell today.” The good news is that I then glance at her, shake it off and smile, modifying what I had said with a: “But I can change that.” I then put on a goofy face, dance around like an idiot, and make up songs that basically exclaim to the world how beautiful I am. The kid laughs, I feel better, and, despite my horrible singing, we BOTH recognize my beauty. Confidence goes a long way, and it sounds like you and Mary have a lot of it. I think the two of you are gorgeous.

  • Bravo on doing the calendar and sharing your weight-loss stories. I hope you guys continue on this path and manage to reach your goals for your health 🙂

    • Thanks, Reena! It takes a lot of work as we get older, especially when you’re on a cruise ship in Antarctica, where they seem to feed you constantly. But we’re looking forward to getting back into the workout groove when we get home.

  • Marshall Norwood says:

    Bret & Mary – great work, fantastic story and wonderful pics. It is truly an inspiration to us all!

  • David Moran says:

    What a refreshing post. I thought Mary’s photo was no only nice but sexy! Wow.

  • Alyson says:

    Well done both of you, Mary, you’re my hero, I hate having to get my kit off in public these days and hide from cameras whenever possible. You look fantastic.

    • Thanks, Alyson! I (obviously) think Mary looks fantastic as well, though we both still suffer from a bit of embarrassment when exposing our bodies in such a public forum. We always seem to see the flaws more prominently than the progress…

  • Anne Karen says:

    I’m absolutely horrified when reading stories like the one about your girlfriend dumping you, Bret… That kind of thinking is so far away from how i and the people I surround myself with think, I find it hard to process…

    You both look fantastic, both body wise and because I see confident and fun people in you. This is such a brave post and I’ll repeat what I’ve said earlier: You are both an inspiration.

    Anne Karen recently posted..Just around the bend…My Profile

  • Ramesh says:

    Mary looks beautiful with that awsome curves

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How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
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