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What It's Like to be a Fat Person on a Plane

January 03, 2014 2 min read

On Jezebel, Lindy West posted an article about her experience flying and what it feels like to be a fat person on a plane.  She talks about how hard it is to even fly at all because of her weight and the constant scrunching and compressing that has to be done in order to even fit in the seat.  The seats which now are barely 17 inches wide on most international flights.  With that and reducing the recline to 2 inches from 3, Southwest was able to add another row of seats or 6 altogether to every plane adding up to a newfound and low cost gain of over $200 million. Lindy recounts her first ever altercation with a seat mate who, because she almost missed the flight, thought he was going to get the row to himself.  After storing her bag overhead she says, "Sorry, I'm over there," and points to the window seat.  The man then mutters, "[Something something] say excuse me." My adrenaline went bonkers. Was someone being a dick to me? In person? At 7 am? In an enclosed space? For no reason? When I have a hangover? And we're about to be stuck next to each other for the next five hours? I'm used to men treating me like garbage virtually, or from fast-moving cars, but this close-quarters IRL shit-talking was a jarring novelty. Me: "What?" Him: "Nothing." Me: "No, you said something. What did you say?" Him: "Nothing." Me: "No. What did you say? Tell me." Other passengers: [silent screams] Him: "I said that if you want someone to move, it helps to say 'excuse me' and then get out of the way. You told me to move and then you just [gestures at my body in the aisle]." Me [head melting]: "I'm putting my bag in the overhead bin. You know, because that's how planes work?" Him [dripping with disdain]: "Yeah, okay." I sat down. They closed the doors. I said, "Looks like there's no one in the middle seat, so you won't actually have to sit next to me. Since I apparently bother you so much." Him: "Sounds great to me." Whatever your feelings about the obesity epidemic in the West, human decency should be required of us all.  Lindy points out in her article that it is much worse to be the fat person getting those death stares while boarding an aircraft and sitting next to a small person than it is to be the "normal" sized person having to sit next to a larger person. All that said, it isn't easy to be a fat person and it certainly isn't a treat for them to fly.  Perhaps instead of glaring and sighing we tried talking to them...you never know how much you could change a person's life by just smiling and being cordial.

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