A call to action: your fat friend is going it alone.
Your Fat Friend

I love much of this article but I wish the airline seat example had not been raised. There is a big difference between mean-spirited fat shaming and the physical reality of not being able to fit into a space.

For example, I wear a size 14 pants, a size 12 if I squeeze into something with a stretchy fabric or a brand that runs large. I cannot get into a size 10 or a size 8 because it is physically impossible. I don’t think that pants that are size 10 or smaller are discriminating against me or shaming me — I accept that they don’t fit and that if I want to wear pants, I need to buy pants that are big enough for me.

I absolutely believe that some fat people have been shamed on airlines and unjustly removed from seats they fit into because of oversensitive seat mates. But I also believe that some people were removed from flights because they literally could not fit into their seats, yet this article glosses over this circumstance.

I myself sat next to a gentleman who did not fit into his seat (he had a middle seat, could not sit with the armrests down, and was so large that his arms were squarely in my seat). He was gracious and apologetic; I understood his situation and I was also gracious. Yet, it was objective fact that I did not have full use of my seat. It made me a lot less comfortable on my flight. And while I think the world would be a better place if more people bucked up and stopped complaining about petty first world problems such as this, I also believe that if I buy an airline seat, I’m within my right to ask for full use of the seat I bought.

So, yes, it sucks to care so much about being comfortable on a flight that you would sooner see somebody have to get off of a plane than endure that discomfort. But it also sucks if you knowingly buy a seat on a plane that you can’t fit into and expect others to deal with the inconvenience. If you are too large for a standard airplane seat, it’s not anyone else’s job to make sure you have enough space on the plane.

And let’s be honest about something else — the airlines charge a universal premium to anyone who wants or needs extra space. Tall people pay extra for the exit row or the bulkhead (the airline doesn’t provide it for free, no matter how tall the person). Parents of young children are forced to buy a seat for any child older than 2, even if the child would be happy sitting on a parent’s lap, etc. It does a disservice to invoke this example and categorically call it discrimination.

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