What It's Like To Fly When You're Fat

Daisy Murray
Photo credit: Guido Mieth / Getty

From ELLE UK

The democratic force of the internet means that we're hearing more diverse voices than ever. Thank goodness.

Blogs and social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter mean people can speak out on issues they feel strongly about, untempered by editor, advertiser or agenda-fuelled newspaper magnate.

One of the problems that minority voices come up against is the lack of understanding around the specific issues they deal with. Because the 'majority', or more importantly, the represented, do not go through the same experiences, so they can be discounted or ignored.

How fat people experience the world is one of the issues that has seen increased attention recently. Roxane Gay's new book 'Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body', discusses such issues, including the fat phobia she experiences daily, including on planes.

Photo credit: Getty

Recently, 'plus-size' model Natalie Hage outed a fellow passenger on her flight for fat-shaming her over texts that she saw. She filmed an exchange in which she explained to the passenger why it was unacceptable to treat her this way.

Now there is a new thread from fat activist, 'Your Fat Friend' who uses her Twitter platform (and her role as a journalist) to start conversations around all things fat.

She asks questions of her followers, encouraging debate.

She posts screenshots, showing the horrible abuse she receives for daring to be honest.

She writes reminders, to help uplift her 'fellow fats'.

And, she writes kick-ass Threads, explaining her quotidian experiences, like this one about aeroplanes.

She opens by discussing the crazy bureaucratic and financial issues around trying to get on a flight.

'Your Fat Friend' explains how fellow passengers actually pose a greater threat for her ability to travel.

This culminates in a feeling of humiliation, since she feels she is treated like an object, as opposed to a person, tragically explaining, 'As a very fat person on a plane, I am treated like luggage--a cumbersome, exasperating inconvenience. Inanimate & unfeeling.'

The anonymous writer explains that her entire journey centres around ensuring she makes everyone around her as comfortable as possible.

She calmly stating, 'No one likes flying. It's not comfortable for anyone. But for some of us, it's a major physical, financial & emotional risk.'

The thread continues, detailing the first time she was the subject of another passenger's complaint, and how it led her to stop flying for a year and a half, despite the fact her family lives over 1000 miles away.

Her thread is an attempt to change how people like her are treated when they are trying to get from one place to the next.

She even details the experience in more detail in this article.

And whilst some people read this thread and saw a competent account of someone's struggle for dignity, others saw an opportunity to prove her completely right.

Some responses to the journalist's tweets have called for her to lose weight and to have more respect for her other passengers.

And, of course, there were Twitter's residential pseudo-Doctors who swooped in to give their not-so-expert opinions.

Thankfully, there were people who really considered 'Your Fat Friend''s story, one person even wrote an open apology to her, describing how they, themselves, have fat-shamed before.

Whatever the medical issues surrounding obesity are, obese people are just that, people, who deserve the respect and care afforded to everyone else.

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