Fatiquette…AKA The Etiquette of Size

by admin on March 12, 2012

A little bit of background:   I am a very heavy woman, 5’3” and 300lbs, in my early thirties. Because of my girth, I buy two tickets when I go to the movies. This way I can raise the armrest between the two seats without inconveniencing anyone by “spilling over” into their space.

Saturday night I went to a 10pm showing of “Sherlock Holmes 2” and bought two tickets as usual.  I tend to arrive about 40 minutes before the movie starts so I have time to pick up some snacks, settle in, and enjoy the previews. About 5 minutes before the previews started the theater was getting full. It was becoming harder and harder for people to find seats together. I was sitting on the aisle with the armrest up and my purse on my 2nd seat to my left. The third seat in the row, the one next to my two seats, was also empty. I can understand why someone would see this and think there were two seats open next to me.

A couple in their late twenties or early thirties approached me and asked if I they could have the two seats next to me. I replied. “I’m sorry, there is only one seat available. The one next to me is taken.”  The woman in the couple said, “You can’t save seats. The movie is about to start. If your friend isn’t here yet, we should get the seat.”  I smiled and told her, “Actually, I have the tickets for both seats. I like to have two seats for my own comfort. Sorry, but this seat is taken. The only one available is the one next to it.”

At that point the woman threw a screaming fit. She began cursing and yelling that just because I was a fat b-word, didn’t mean I could take two seats. She was there with her boyfriend. They should be allowed to sit together. And if I was so fat I needed two seats, I should just stay home where I wouldn’t disgust the rest of the world with my hideous fatness.

She then began a diatribe about my popcorn and candy. How it was no wonder I was so fat and obviously I had to attend the movies by myself since who would want to be seen with such a pig…

I wish I could say I stood up like an avenging valkyrie and let the woman know exactly how unacceptable her behavior was.   ,Instead, I’m ashamed to say, I turned bright red and had to choke back tears.

My response, after a few deep breaths, was “I bought two tickets, these are my two seats.”  The man pulled on her arm and said, “F-word this B-word. Let’s just find another place to sit.”  They then stomped up the stairs while I prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me.

My weight is due to my food choices and lack of exercise.  There is no one else to blame.  But, do my food issues mean I have no right to enter a public venue?  Does being fat give people a free pass to hurl verbal abuse at me?

To accommodate my weight, I am willing to pay for an extra seat at the movie theater, on airplanes, on trains, etc…   People shouldn’t have to deal with me taking up my seat and half of theirs.  But even when I pay extra to ensure their comfort and my own, this isn’t enough for some people.

Was I rude one for not letting the couple take the two seats next to me, even though I paid for one of them?  Does being fat mean I’m simply not “suitable” for polite society?   0103-12

A blog post on the subject of “fatiquette” has been a long time coming and today seems as good as any.   Given the extremely volatile comments on forums and blogs on the subject of how obese people affect their fellow traveler’s traveling experiences, it is with a teensy bit of trepidation and a word of caution that we’ll explore the issue of how we all should walk through this world together in as civil  manner as possible.

First off, OP,  those two persons were anything but polite so don’t measure what “polite society” is by their actions.   When people act like this, it is more a statement of their own frustrations at themselves for not planning better or being late.  So you become a more convenient, safer target than squabbling with each other.   I’m obnoxious enough that I would have introduced the couple to my friend “Mr. CoatAndPurse” who I had invited to sit next to me and whose ticket I had purchased.  Having bought two tickets, you were entitled to take two seats and have no obligation to strange bullies to give it up.

Here are a few ground rules.  It is absolutely no one’s business…

1.  …what another person weighs.  And this goes for whether the person is obese or very skinny.  You can speculate about it to yourself but if you say it aloud, you are a busybody and possibly a cad, too.

2.  …what other people eat, or in some cases, what they don’t eat.   Hovering over someone’s plate dissecting the contents of their meal like the food police is rude.

3.  …what another person’s health is.   I’ve heard rude comment about some0ne’s weight justified under the slim pretext of “concern” for their health.   Unless you are a spouse, parents or trusted friend or family with personal knowledge of someone’s health issues, you have no business speculating as to how weight is affecting that person’s health.

I’m sure there are a few more but off the top of my head, I can’t think of them.

The above rules apply to everyone, in every situation but there is a portion of the population that believes either the very thin or the very large are exempt from receiving these courtesies and rude comments are forthcoming.   I am a Big, Beautiful Woman and I’ve had my share of stupid things said to me over the years such as the rude stranger who commented on the ice cream in my grocery cart, not knowing that I dislike ice cream and it was for the husband.   Young men, in particular, seem to have no governor on their mouths when expressing their disdain for the appearances of a female that isn’t exactly to their specifications of perfection.

For the obese, the rules are simple.  Don’t inconvenience anyone.   You do have a physical condition that does present some limitations as to your mobility and your personal space is substantially bigger than the average person.  You must, therefore,  think proactively as how you are going to negotiate certain situations.  Within various cultures, personal space can vary in size but for most Westerners, that space is about a 2 foot zone around them.  When that zone perimeter has been pierced and as the  another person gets closer, the tension level goes up.  Some violations of personal space are to be expected such as standing in an elevator, bus, subway, long line, etc. but where possible, effort should be made to not intentionally or unintentionally infringe on others’ personal space.

Large air travelers must either buy two coach seats or fly first class where the seats are wider until such time as the airlines redesign their seats.   I know there are fat advocates who will disagree vehemently with me on this but  even my own fat accepting family has told tales of flying in coach seats where their significantly larger co-travelers have overflowed their seat into theirs, much to their discomfort.    I’m a BBW and I fly first class when I travel which is infrequently in recent years.  I want to be a good ambassador for the larger members of society and not insist that others must sacrifice their comfort to accommodate my size.  I see it as a win-win situation where no one is inconvenienced and I am quite content and comfortable in a roomier seat.

And for the record, one does not have to be fat to not fit into a coach airplane seat.  My petite daughter was once seated in coach between two very muscular, tall men whose shoulder widths were considerably wider than the 17″ seat.  Both of these men hogged the arm rests and spilled into her seat simply by virtue of being overly endowed with muscles.  My averaged sized husband recently dealt with a situation where a very large man overflowed into his coach seat taking over about 1/3 of my husband’s already small seat.   While he doesn’t mind getting close and personal with me, it’s an entirely different matter with a stranger.

It’s unfortunate that we have to even address this but I feel some blame lies with the airlines who have made the seats both smaller in width and more compacted from front to back.    I have a 24 year old photo of me seated in a wide body plane in coach holding my then infant daughter.  I’m a big woman but you can clearly see that the seats are much more roomier back then than they are now.   Even first class seats have shrunk over the years….you have to research seat sizes for different airlines and planes as they can vary by as much as 3 inches.   But there may be good changes coming.  Some airlines are redesigning their coach seats to be more comfortable:  http://youtu.be/hqV9sAL4fxg.

Large theater or movie goers should either sit with family who are quite happy to “cuddle” with the arm rest up or buy two tickets.   If there is a possibility that there could be backside spillage into someone’s space, I think there is an inherent obligation to not inconvenience others. So, plan ahead, get to the theater early and stake out your seat choice

Those are my thoughts this day.   Comment away, readers!

 

 

 

{ 135 comments… read them below or add one }

Wink-n-Smile March 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

78 – Jess – Wait, wait, wait. They said you’d have to pay 150% of the price for an EMPTY SEAT?! AND that you wouldn’t get the luggage allotment?

That makes absolutely no sense.

If I ever do the double-seat on an airline thing (which is what they TELL you to do, if you’re beyond a certain size), I’ll book it under “Fatty McFatterson” and dare them to deny me or charge me extra. They should be giving you a discount, since there won’t be as much weight as if another person were using that seat. Not charging you half-again as much!

I think you might have a case for a lawsuit, there. If that’s not a case of blatant discrimination (charging EXTRA?! No luggage?!), I do not know what is.

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mstigerlily March 13, 2012 at 10:12 am

OP- I wish I was in that movie theater with you. I would have been the curvy girl who told those two exactly where to find their seats…..

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bagellover March 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

This is so sad. Why do people think they have the right to comment on people’s weight, food choices, exercise habits, etc? Something similar happened to me recently, I went to GNC with a friend and was eating a bagel while I waited for her to find what she was looking for. The employee helping her decided it was his job to comment on my food choice and spent most of the time we were in there criticizing me instead of assisting my friend. Finally, when he told me I should eat some fish oil instead of my bagel (I live in NYC, no WAY I’m taking fish oil over a warm, fresh, water-boiled bagel) I snapped and told him “Gee, I’m so glad I asked for your opinion.” My friend left her items on the counter and we walked out. Looking back, I wish I’d asked for the manager.

Maybe I was rude to be eating a bagel in a store, but I hadn’t eaten all day and was starving (it was 4pm).

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Shannon March 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

I’m not as trim as I used to be (my 30s have pulled me from a size 2 to a size 6, so at 5’2 I’ve gone from teeny to average-sized). But it doesn’t matter – the food police are still after me. I loathe “eat a sandwich” jokes (and respond, “Oh, yeah, then YOU eat a SALAD”). Also, “real women have curves” – I am petite, and hardly imaginary. And if I say the comments are rude and intrusive, I get a self-righteously obnoxious lecture about how much harder it is to be obese. I don’t doubt it, but that doesn’t give anyone a free pass to be a doink.

Like the OP’s daughter, I’ve noticed that I encounter a lot of people I refer to as “The Pigs of Space.” They see I’m small, so they immediately recline their airplane seats as far as they’ll go (which is really uncomfortable if you’re short, because the seat back is RIGHT IN YOUR FACE). Or they jam their purse into my seat on the subway, or hover right next to me when I’m ordering drinks in a bar, and so forth. If I protest, I hear, “Oh, you’re small, you don’t need any room whatsoever.” I may be small, but I am also intensely claustrophobic – possibly from a lifetime of people shoving me into corners or squishing me because they feel like it’s their right to do so.

As for the OP, I respect your grace under pressure. I would have either gone avenging angel or burst into useless tears. It amazes me that anyone feels they have the right to mention someone else’s size, let alone harangue them about it.

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Erin March 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

OP, you sound like a nice person and I’m sorry you were treated so horribly.

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The Elf March 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

Lia, “saving seats” is typically not for the person grabbing popcorn. It’s for the dozen friends that have yet to arrive. If the theatre isn’t crowded, go ahead and save your seats. But if it’s opening weekend for a big blockbuster, no dice. This is especially true as the movie start time approaches. Asking if the seats were saved and objecting to saving seat is legitimate. Having a hissy fit because someone legitimately occupied seats you’d want is not.

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Cherry March 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

To the OP, well done on being able to handle the rudeness of that idiot with class.

I have suffered at the other end of the spectrum to this. I used to do martial arts three nights a week, which blessed me with both a big appetite and a fast metabolism. I greatly enjoy my food, but inevitably, people started to notice and comment on the fact that I ate a lot and yet stayed the same size. Of course, the only possible reason for this must be that I had bulimia!

I just love people who assume without knowing ANY of the facts.

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Helen March 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

OP, I’m so sorry you were treated so horribly. You deserve so much better.

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wowwow March 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I **think** we already talked about people saving seats on here before and I thought, at the time, that the general assumption was that it shouldn’t be done (can’t throw sweaters over seats, lay purses on seats) etc. Didn’t we? Maybe I’m wrong.

BUT…I have never had a problem with that. I’ve always thought that if I’m going to the theater with someone, I should have ever right in the world to save seats–just because YOU are late doesn’t mean I can’t save seats for my friends.

I think the OP should have just held up her two tickets and ignored the folks. Hard, I know, but there wasn’t a soul in that theater that thought those two ignoramuses were right, so I’m sure the majority of the group was on your side OP.

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Enna March 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

OP, those people were discusting in the way that they behaved. If I had seen it I would have complained to an usher on your behalf. Wow. Some people. I llike you OP, you are considerate of others, if you brought two tickets for yourself then they are for you. Nasty people.

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Enna March 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm

@ Compelled to Comment it is easy to be wise after the event, I think the OP could chalk this down to experince but the shock of it I think left her in an emotional state that she couldn’t say anything.

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ilex March 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I’m afraid that fat-bullying is becoming more and more acceptable. It’s easy to say, well, that couple was just trash, but there are so-called intelligent people who see nothing wrong with “fat-shaming,” and in fact think it’s beneficial. Google any news article about the fat-shaming billboards of young girls, and the comment sections are pretty awful, filled with self-righteous people who think they’re helping kids by being cruel. I’ve even seen pictures of beautiful plus models on Pinterest with a comment thread was basically “ewww” and “stop glorifying fat!” with a small minority leaving positive comments (and getting beat down for it). I think the well-meaning anti-obesity campaigns caused it. Bullying is such a big issue today, and I’m glad, but it seems like the fat kids and adults have been left out.

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achtung March 14, 2012 at 12:37 am

This problem would have been easily solved if movie theatres in the US started implementing the “reserve” seating policy.

In my country, you pick your designated seats once you buy your tickets. Your movie ticket has the seat number and of course, you cannot seat anywhere else.

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Cat Whisperer March 14, 2012 at 12:44 am

Bagellover, my husband got the ultimate “you shouldn’t be eating that” takedown that beats your bagel story hollow.

My husband is a salt fiend. He salts just about everything he eats, and he salts it a lot. He likes his food salty. That’s just him.

So we were eating breakfast at a restaurant that specialized in crepes and belgian waffles. One of the items on their menu was a ham-and-egg crepe with a white cheese sauce on it. It was delicious.

I should mention that at this restaurant, there were no salt shakers on the tables. Since most of the items on the menu were sweet, rather than savory, that made some sense. If you asked your waiter/waitress for a salt shaker, they’d bring one out. They kept these foot-long grinder kinds of salt shakers for patrons who asked for them.

So my husband and I ordered the ham-and-egg crepe, the waitress brought them out, and my husband politely requested the salt shaker. The waitress cheerfully brought it over, and my husband started raining salt down upon his crepe.

The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy at that moment, and the lady who owned it and who was responsible for the menu and who did at least some of the food preparation, came out of the kitchen and was checking things out in a general way.

My husband was still salting his crepe. When you’re shaking salt out of a shaker that’s a foot long and you have to grind the salt to get it to come out, you can’t do it unobtrusively. I saw the owner’s gaze land on my husband, she registered what he was doing, and the fun began.

She came over to our table and proceeded to lecture my husband about how awful it was that he was salting his food that way. It was unhealthy, she said, and told him all about high blood pressure and kidney disease and heart disease. Further, she said, it was an insult to the kitchen staff for him to pour so much salt on the food: everything that left the kitchen was seasoned precisely the way it was supposed to be, and it spoiled the food and rendered all the careful preparation useless to have him dumping salt on it the way he was!

My husband sat there with the salt shaker suspended in mid-shake, gaping at her and completely speechless. He looked at me, he looked at her, and he looked at me again. (I was trying hard not to laugh, the situation was so ludicrous and his expression so helpless.) And he set the salt shaker down.

That was about the only thing he could do. The owner lady was satisfied that she’d made her point and marched back into the kitchen. There were people giggling and chortling all around us. Then my husband, who is one of the most unflappable people I’ve ever met, just shrugged, picked up the salt shaker and finished salting his plate, and happily set about eating it.

We went back there many times after that because we really liked the food, but my husband was always a lot more discreet about salting it after that.

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Aje March 14, 2012 at 4:03 am

I see a lot of people commenting on how it´s not right to say skinny people are anorexic or whatever. And they are right of course. However one of my friends, a very thin girl, was an advocate for skinny rights… and the whole time she actually did have an eating disorder. Good judgement guys. Yes, very big people probably have health problems. Yes, very thin people probably have health problems too. But unless you are the best friend, the mom, the doctor or that person has brought it up FIRST, keep your mouth closed.

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Kate March 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

I do think you have to be a very specific size to fit into airplane seats. I’m six feet tall and air travel is pretty much a nightmare for people my height, but I don’t recline my seat heaps into the person behind me or shove my knees into the seat in front. You just have to put up with it and figure that a bit of discomfort won’t matter when you’re at your destination.

OP, movie theatre rudeness like this is why I usually download movies now. Good on you for standing up for yourself and not relinquishing your seat, which after all, you did pay for.

I would also like to thank Admin for pointing out that it’s rude to comment on people of ALL sizes. I have had a lot of comments about being a beanpole, too tall for a woman, eating disordered etc. just because I’m tall and fairly slim (used to be slimmer, but then the childbearing hips came in!). A woman once walked past my sister and I as we waited in line at McDonald’s and said to her friend “I hate that they can eat that, but they’ll probably just throw it up anyway”. It was extremely embarrassing and I don’t think you should be forced to comment on or justify your size at any point in an interaction with strangers.

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jess March 14, 2012 at 7:18 am

Wink-n-Smile

lol, I thought about the law suit thing when I was on the phone, I am a law student and have access to case law databases and unfortunately its a no-go here in Aus. I really could not believe it myself. They disguise it as a fee for booking over the phone but then REQUIRE you to book over the phone for two seats in one name so they can disgustingly get away with it.
Fortunately I am losing weight so for the next trip it should be a lot more pleasant and less costly :)
“Fatty McFatterson” made me crackup :D

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Anon March 14, 2012 at 8:18 am

I have been on both sides of this – I have been very thin, and also overweight. When I was skinny, I could understand people making snide comments about my weight, as it usually had to do with jealousy, etc. However, it always “floored” me (and still does – since I am now overweight) when skinny people make snide comments about my being overweight . . . why do they care??? I could go into great detail about the difficulties I have had losing the weight after my son was born – but really, why are thin people so obsessed about other people’s weight? When I was skinny, it never crossed my mind to be obsessed about other people’s weight . . .

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Wink-n-Smile March 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

Anon – why do thin people get obsessed and make comments about fat people?

My theory is that the people who are doing it are realllllllllyyyyyyyy struggling to stay thin, so that they will be “acceptable,” and so, when they see a fat person, they automatically assume the person is fat because they are relaxing and enjoying life, rather than literally working their ***** off, working out and starving themselves, and they are, in fact, jealous.

The thin people who pride themselves on living on 400 calories a day, and always denying themselves, in the name of physical beauty and “health,” then see someone eating, someone who is NOT denying themselves, and they lose it, because misery loves company.

People who are comfortable in their own bodies don’t denigrate the bodies of others. Since you were comfortable in yours, it never occurred to you to feel any discomfort about others’.

But comfortable or not, it’s still rude.

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Wink-n-Smile March 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

Jess – 50% of the ticket price is a fee for booking over the phone?

So, first they make the seats too small, then they tell you that if you’re too fat, you MUST book a second seat, and then they charge you not for two seats, but for two AND A HALF seats, and have the gall to call it a booking fee?

Gah.

I sure hope someone comes up with transporter beams soon. Gene Roddenberry, where are you?

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Vibiana March 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm

My heart hurts for the OP, being a large woman myself (5’8-1/2″ and 310 lbs) I know what it is like to be uncomfortable in available seating, so I always buy an extra seat when I fly. Not so much in movie theaters, but if I were really uncomfortable there I would.

Those two people had ZERO call to talk to you the way they did, and I agree with everyone else that they deserve each other.

I hope knowing that there are 120 people who think you are a doll and those two are jackwagons helps you. :)

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Mimi March 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

OP, you seem like a thoughtful person who plans ahead and takes time to do the right thing. Buying a second ticket for yourself is a great solution for your own comfort and the comfort of others. Those people were unimaginably rude. I’m sorry no one in the theater stood up for you. I’m sure you must have felt awful. Keep being your considerate self and try to ignore others’ rudeness!

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Xtina March 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

No matter whether you are thin or fat, short or tall, attractive or not, or anything in between, people will find something to pick on about you. There’s no winning, and the sooner we accept that some people are just evil, nasty, and unhappy, the happier we’ll all be. The OP, as far as I’m concerned, is a paragon of virtue–she thinks ahead, makes no excuses, and is polite in conducting herself. These two people who picked on her are simply vile. They deserve each other.

I know it’s not good manners to return an insult in a like manner, but it would have been sooooo tempting for me, had I been the OP, to look them in the eye with a look that could melt hell itself, and say in a calm tone, “I can lose weight. There’s no hope for changing someone as nasty as you”. Or something like that.

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Merriweather March 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Several people have questioned why people are so obsessed with other peoples size. My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that there are simply people who must, in order to feel good about themselves, feel superior to someone else. And to truly feel superior to someone else, they must also make it well know to those they feel superior to, and treat them with contempt.

These people focus on what they feel makes them superior, and then find people who are “less superior” in this area, and use them as their own personal whipping post.

Those with good jobs focus on making life miserable for retail workers, hotel maids, etc – anyone without a high profile or high paying job is fair game. Those highly educated, or who were educated in the best schools attack those with “lesser” educations. Those with money are quick to show their contempt for anyone with an old car, a small house, non-designer clothes, etc.

Then you have those who don’t have great jobs, great educations, or money. They have to find targets of some sort to make themselves feel superior. So if they are lucky enough to be of “average” size, then they feel “superior” to those of smaller or larger size, and justified in letting those people know how superior they themselves are for being of average size, and how inferior the other person is. These I rank with the lowest of the low, along with those who try to get their feeling of “superiority” by virtue of being a particular race, religion or gender.

Fortunately, the people who feel such a need for feeling superior at the expense of others are in the minority – they just are often the loudest and most outspoken, so we notice them a lot more than the average person.

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nk March 14, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I applaud the OP for being so conscientous of others. The people who abused her in the movie theater were undoubtedly rude, but I have also dealt many times with people who simply take up too much space to fit in one seat but refuse to address the issue. They end up taking up their seat and half of mine, and they seem to feel that they have that right because it’s “un-PC” to say anything about it. Kudos to OP for not being one of those people, and for reacting with grace and class to the absolute boors who insulted her.

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The Elf March 15, 2012 at 8:39 am

I think you hit the nail on the head, Merriweather. And since showing “superiority” by way of race, sex, religion, or disability is so deeply frowned upon by society, many seize on size. With the health angle, they can even justify it to themselves that it is for the “inferior” person’s own good. Wink-n-smile makes a great point too, and the two thought processes coming together make for a larger-than-usual number of comments on the subject.

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OP March 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Hi everyone! I’m the letter writer on this one. It has taken me a couple of days to formulate a response to your out-pouring of support.

Thank you to everyone who went out of their way to confirm the couple in the theater we just jerks and should be ignored.

Thank you to everyone who said they would have stood up for me in the theater.

Thank you to everyone who shared stories where they were treated poorly due to size, large or small. It helps me stop from feeling alone or like a freak.

Thank you to everyone who stated their appreciate for my practice of buying two tickets when I go to the movies, ride on a bus, ride on a train, or ride on a plane. So often I hear horror stories from people who were squished by the fat person in the seat next to them. Every time I hear a story like that I cringe and vow not to be that kind of fat person. I don’t want to squish anyone. It makes me uncomfortable, makes them uncomfortable, and everyone loses.

Also, I understand that some fluffly/large/big boned/rubensesque/fat/tall/broad shouldered people don’t have a choice, especially when it comes to airplanes.

When traveling for business, try to get your company to pay for two seats. Mine won’t.
So I pay for an upgrade to first class or I pay for an upgrade to an aise aisle seat where the aisle side arm rest moves (this way I spill out into the aisle rather than onto the poor person in the middle seat), or I pay for a second seat.

This means every time my business sends me to another location for a week of training, I am looking at spending an extra $50 – $700 out of my own pocket. Thankfully, I have always been in a position where I can do this. But I understand that not everyone necessarily has the resources available, and when your job is on the line you do the best you can in a bad situation.

Also, thank you to everyone who provided awesome come-backs and great suggestions regarding contacting an usher or management. At the time I was so shocked and embaressed, my brain froze. Should this happen again, I will be prepared to show polite spine and contact someone with the authority to remove the hate spewing cretins.

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bagellover March 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Cat Whisperer – good for your husband for finishing his salting! I’m picturing a cartoon of a tiny man with a massive salt shaker being scolded by a lady with smoke coming out of her ears. I can’t stand people who think you don’t have a right to eat food exactly how you want it. I would have been laughing too!

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Sally March 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I have been “skinny” all my life and have been teased all through school because of it. That has made me very sensitive towards others and a lot of my friends are overweight, some obese but I have never said a word to them about their weight. The way I see it is this, people know what they look like and they don’t need me to tell them.

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Noelle April 3, 2012 at 2:28 am

I have been an avid reader of this site for five years now (I started reading when I was planning my wedding and have been a fan since). I have never commented before on a story, but this one touched me personally. I fall into the BBW category, and I was appalled by this story. I haven’t had abuse like that since high school, and it’s supposed to stop in the “real world.” It does slow down, but I know sometimes I’m judged by my weight. Or people will assume I am incapable of certain activities because being so overweight and obviously out of shape (I’m actually still fairly nimble and spry, since I work as a videographer, which can be a very physical job). But what you had to go through, OP, was beyond the pale. Kind of makes me hope people like this will someday experience the humiliation we fluffy types feel, and learn some empathy. Admittedly, for years, I had a bias against thinner people, believing most of them are cruel, judging me and every bite of food I take, pitying me. I have since gotten a bit better, but I would still trade the obesity problem for being underweight. Yes, those comments you all described were pretty harsh, and I can understand how that would lead to your feelings of non-acceptance. But I honestly believe many people make these comments toward the very thin as a compliment, misguided as it may be. I’m not trying to minimize your pain from these comments. Being from the other side of the weight issue, though, I can say not all of these insults are meant maliciously. If anything, they are said sometimes out of jealousy. Doesn’t excuse it, but it’s a different perspective on it. Take it for what it’s worth. It’s sad we live in a society where so much value is placed on size. Is it just the U.S. or does this happen in other countries? I didn’t feel this disdain when my husband and I were in the UK a few years ago, but I don’t live there, so it’s hard to judge. It’s also a shame more is not done by businesses to accommodate the larger portion of the population. I just wanted to say, to those who have mentioned being “squished” by a large person in a theater, airplane, etc., that not all overweight people can afford to buy extra seating. And rest assured, we are not unaware of your discomfort or doing this on purpose, nor are we any more comfortable having to be squished with you, due to situations possibly out of our control. Cut us a break when you can. You’re uncomfortable, but we’re uncomfortable AND embarrassed.

Hugs to you, OP, and anyone — whatever size — who has been bullied for their physical appearance. Hopefully, a change will come some day.

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Guinevere April 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

The really sad thing is that no one stood up for you, when you clearly needed help. From the sound of things, this couple was loud, and the theatre was packed – plenty of people would have noticed. Not one of them said “You don’t speak to people that way! Grow up!” Why?

Good for you for standing your ground, even though it wasn’t easy. I am constantly amazed at how complete strangers can be so vicious and uncaring. Maybe I’m getting older, but I no longer put up with that crap. I would have stood up for you without a second’s thought!

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Stefanie April 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

A subject so dear to my heart.

OP, I’m so sorry you had to endure the dolts. There are so many of them out there. What I dont understand is they dont think their behavior is bad; we are to blame just because we exist. My very good friend and I do a similar thing…we buy 3 seats at the movies for both of us. We’ve never been challenged on it. Probably because the prospect of going up against 2 fat women is a little threatening.

The worst airline story I ever heard was this. I heard it from the woman it happened to. She had bought 2 seats for a rather long flight as she wanted to be completely comfortable. None were available in first class, so she bought the 2 coach seats. Fine. She gets there a little early, settles in with books, magazines, etc next to her. Plane starts to fill and a slim woman stops and says to my friend, “Um, you aren’t allowed to put your things in an unoccupied seat.” Friend says’ “Oh, its my seat; I bought it for my comfort and for the person who will get the 3rd seat. I didnt want to spill over on to them.” Woman gives her the stinkeye one over and says with an indignant sniff “Really? I would have thought a membership to Jenny Craig would be cheaper than the 2nd seat.” Yeah. She said she looked at the woman and said in a very dignified tone; “Madam, I am fat, I know it. You, however, feel I should be ridiculed and vilified, whereas you would likely be very understanding if there were a totally shit faced drunk sitting here taking up 2 seats instead..you would say he has a disease, poor thing.” I commended her for the restraint. Me, I would have snatched that woman bald headed on the spot.

I did have a run in personally on a flight somewhere. Was seated in the aisle seat, and the plane was boarding. I dropped the seat belt in the aisle and reached down to retrieve it as I didnt want someone to trip on it. A young man (20’s) and his grandparents were boarding, and unfortunately they had to briefly stop while I finished what I was doing. Took maybe 2-3 seconds. While I was apologizing profusely to him, he looks at me and says in a loud voice “Would you mind moving your fat self out of the aisle so us normal people can get to our seats?” I looked up into his nostrils and said “Normally I would say F*** you, but that would be giving you the biggest thrill of your miserable life you’ll never have.” He started saying something else, but the attendant came over by that time….she heard what went on and sent him on his way.

Speaking of flying. Please, if you dont already know the following, pay attention, may save you some money in the long run and some of your nerves. Southwest airlines does require you to buy 2 seats if you are of a certain size. Ok, dont start screaming…this is how it really works. If you buy 2 seats, it automatically entitles you to board the plane with the handicapped folks and families. You automatically get priority boarding. If you are like me and arrive with your own mobility scooter or wheelchair, and bought 2 seats, you get to board 1st; really 1st. When the flight is completed, if your seat was not needed for another passenger, then you get a refund for that 2nd seat. Yes, you do have to file for it, but you get your money back; the entire purchase price of the 2nd seat. I dont know of another airline that will let you do that. To my knowledge, it is only Southwest who will do this. With the others, if you buy 2 seats, you buy 2 seats; no money back. Maybe another airline allows you to do that, but I am unaware of it.

Yes, we know we are fat; we dont need to be reminded, we dont need someone to point it out, or lecture us on what we do or dont eat. Its a sad day when it is an act of tremendous courage to do something innocent like eat an ice cream cone in public. God help you if its noticed you are enjoying it. When the idjits would point my size out to me, I finally got to the point that I would act horrified and in a loud voice say in mock horror “NO…you dont mean it!!!! When I went to bed last night I was a size 4. Oh, the horror!! I cant imagine who would do this to me. Thank you for letting me know! How could I have missed it??”

Its funny that it seems individual folks are more tolerant and accepting of us large folk, yet our culture and organizations as a whole are less tolerant. Look at how the media bombards us day and night about it. We are told obesity is the cause of or contributes to everything from dandruff to global warming.

Me, I spend a lot of time indoors these days, But when I do go out, I am unrepentant about it. I have a right to live in this world, and I do. With utmost consideration for my fellow planet occupant having to share space with me, but I will not deny my right to occupy space as well.

Some folks have already pointed it out, but the most ironic thing is the very slim and the obese are more alike than you think. They have the same difficulty in finding clothes, fielding public opinion, and others. I sincerely feel for the very slim because I know they are facing similar issues as I do.

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Angela June 14, 2012 at 1:25 am

I’m not big but I know a lot of bigger people. I hate that people feel the right to comment on others’ weight in front of them/ to their face. They’re either unhinged because of their own problems, as the admin said, or just plain nasty.

Anyone would have choked back tears and tried not to break down. I hope that you’re not discouraged to go to the movies/ go out as you do and able to roll on! Stay up.

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Skyline September 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Rarely am I moved to post on such an old entry, but this story moved me to tears.

OP, I am so sorry you had to undergo this. Words fail me, but had I been there, I would have stood up for you and succintly told these awful, awful, awful excuses for members of society what I thought of them.

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NostalgicGal December 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

I used to live in a major urban city with a good city bus system, and occasionally had to take pets in carriers (cats) to the veternarian about 1 1/2 miles down the busline that ran past my corner. They were allowed on as they were in carriers and I ALWAYS paid a fare for each carrier, and requested transfer slips for all the fares I just paid (mine too)

Then stuck the transfer slips on top of the carrier(s) as I claimed seats. That way if someone asked me to pick up the carrier so they could have the seat, I could prove that carrier had paid for that seat, and was entitled to use it. I usually managed to avoid when the bus was fairly full so there were enough seats to go around, but. I had a few times where I had to (sit) my ground over it paid fare, it is using a seat that it paid for, and there are other seats a few more rows back.

As long as the seat/space is paid for, there is no other explanation needed. The couple that accosted and berated the OP were way out of line. If I needed two seats, paid for two seats, and was using two seats, then I’m within rights to use those two seats.

The only person allowed to comment about what I eat, my weight, and my health is my doctor. Anyone else is going to be told the same.

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