Heart-wrenching piece about being the “fat person” on the plane goes viral

On a popular forum website called Medium, one woman has opened up about her struggles when she has to travel.

On a popular forum website called Medium, one woman has opened up about her struggles when she has to travel.

She is obese, and she constantly feels awful when she is seated next to just about anyone.

The piece has gone viral online, with major media outlets sharing it.

Typically, we see articles about people who are complaining about the fat person on their flight, but now we have the other side of the story.

The unnamed flyer wrote the heart-wrenchingly honest piece no doubt to show people they need to be a little bit more considerate, and that obese person on your flight is more than aware they aren’t fitting in and people are staring.

In the 1200+ word piece, the author describes being told she has to go on a flight for work: “My heart is pounding and my breath is tightening. I close my eyes, feel my feet on the ground and my breath in my throat, trying desperately to avoid the embarrassment of a full-blown panic attack at work.

“I will have to get on a plane. And I am fat”.

She talked about how fat people are portrayed on screen:

“Fat people are shown on planes all the time: loud, obnoxious, elbowing people, taking up space, getting cheetos crumbs all over ourselves and you, our whole existence designed to make you miserable. That caricature doesn’t just hurt when I see it — I crumble under its weight. I am a confident woman with wonderful friends, like you, and a fantastic job”.

She talked about the simple process of just buying a ticket:

“I research policies, because every airline has one now for “passengers of size”. All of them include the possibility that I will be charged double, or denied a seat on the plane on the day of the flight, leaving me to explain to my boss, partner, friend, family why they won’t be seeing me this week”.

She recalled an incident on a recent flight:

“A passenger loudly complained to a flight attendant while I sat next to him, about how he couldn’t be expected to travel like this. She moved him to another seat, switching with another passenger. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me for the entire flight. Neither would the other passengers in my row. I was so big, and so invisible. This could happen again. I blink back tears”.

She has so much preparation to do before she even gets on board:

“I pay to check a bag, so that my fellow passengers won’t have any additional reasons to complain about me.

“I practice how I will sit on the plane, pushing my body against the cabin wall, one arm holding the other firmly over my chest, so that I will make no physical contact with the person sitting next to me. I bring mints, so I won’t need anything to drink, so that the flight attendant won’t have to reach across the row for the fat person. I research whether the airports I’ll pass through have a history of confiscating seat belt extenders. If I bring my own, I’ll be spared the white hot spotlight of asking the flight attendant for one”.

She says she doesn’t sleep before a flight:

“I don’t sleep that night. At 1:30 am, I think about everything I’ve been doing to get healthy”.

But it was this admission that was heartbreaking:

“I remember the countless, surreptitiously filmed youtube videos of fat passengers on planes with titles like “Gross Obese Fat People on planes overweight” and “fat man slobbering on airplane, sleeping, snoring, drooling” and “BAN DISGUSTING FATASSES.” I make myself smaller still, doing my best impression of a calm person. There’s nothing to see here. Move along”.

She believes obese people become a punching bag for other passengers frustrations on a flight:

“I understand why all of my fellow passengers are on edge. Because everyone is uncomfortable in airplanes. No one, it seems, is having a good time. And at the peak of all that stress   the person my fellow passengers see is me… I become a scapegoat for all that frustration. I become the other.

Her final remarks:

“I am watched — and judged harshly — as I try — and fail — to fit into a space that was made for someone else. I am always too big, always too much, always unacceptable”.

Do you know how she feels?

You can read the full article here.

  1. yes airplanes have a lot to be guilty of i to have seen the embarresment it causes
    i have witnessed it first hand add clusraphobia to the mix and its hell for me .i asked and begged that they put me in a aisle seat i booked i year before we went i was assured i would get an aisle seat yes i got a seat were i wanted until 3 hrs before we took of we were spread all over the plane all the seats were in the middle when we asked why we were changed they just said its to late to change i was so angry it was a 14 hour flight .i would have lost it and had a panic attack being on a plane is bad enough but stuk between to people not able to get in or out no way .they moved me but the people i was travelling with were up the other end of the plane a miserable trip .if i have to i will pay xtra for a better seat

  2. I too am a large women and I fully understand her pain but I will not let it stop me from going on holiday with my husband. Aircraft seats have got smaller over time. You only have to look at the Dreamliner. Even people without a weight problem complain on long trips about this plane and the seats are so close to each other that no matter what is done the knees are always up against the seat in front. I might add that not all large people are their size because of what they eat. Have some consideration next time you fly.

  3. chrism  

    i think airlines need a big re-think on their seating. I am super small , does this mean I should pay less. Maybe we hould travel together, what I don’t use, you can. People in general should be a lot more polite. Remember the old saying.”There but for the grace of God, go I.”

  4. Maureen Trevanion  

    Why dont they just make one row two seats on either side rather than three to be used specifically for larger people.

  5. No I don’t know how you feel, but the insight has been invaluable and I will try and be more understanding on my next flight.

    • G Maller  

      Yes I agree with you Lynn….I like you will try to be more understanding.

    • G Maller  

      Yes I agree with you Lynn….I like you will try to be more understanding.

  6. J Jones  

    I flew from London to Sydney with my knees pressed against the seat In front so the leg room Is now less than It was. I then caught a domestic flight to Adelaide. I mentioned to the Steward that the seat was rather snug. his answer….. Perhaps Madam has put on weight. My answer was……..what after an hour after leaving the long haul flight.

  7. Cheryl Sampson  

    This is a constant problem with me. I have health issues which presently make it impossible for me to lose weight so every time I fly I have to pay more money to upgrade to premium economy (which is really what basic economy should be), or endure the discomfort, pain, embarrassment, jibes and jokes that have been aimed at me on previous flights in economy class. I even had a flight attendant ask me once why I had not booked on a plane that wasn’t so full. How the hell was I to know how many people would be on the plane. Trust me, I’d love to get on a half full flight these days, so I can have the extra comfort of a seat next to me. Less profit for airlines and more comfort for passengers I say…

  8. Susan Duckled  

    Be overweight due to the drugs I take and be disabled as well and the comments are just gross
    After my last flight from US to Sydney have decided it will be my last ever

  9. Joyce  

    Yes new planes have less seat room on them. They want to get as many customers onto the flights as possible. No comfort for the passenger at all.
    You should not be targeted for your size. You have the right to travel without having to pay extra for another seat. Maybe if a person sued the airline for discrimination there might be a change of attitude from flight attendants and the airlines.

    Unfortunately people now are rude and unforgiving. I was on an overnight flight and down near the back of the plane and had two people standing behind me leaning on the top of the seat and talking constantly. When I asked them to move I was told that I should expect that when traveling down the back. When I asked why they couldn’t talk in their seats the excuse was their wives wanted to sleep.

  10. Fat people could pay the extra and fly business or first class for extra room. Why should I have to put up with a fatso sprawling into my seat area. Its not my problem. Its between the fatso and the airline.

  11. Before you travel, do a Google search for airline seating information e.g. cabin layout, leg room, seat width, seat angle etc. Different airlines, different routes, different models of aircraft have vastly different conditions for passengers.

    Some airlines have even promoted the idea of semi-standing “seats” to pack in more passengers on economy flights.

    I have problems with some economy seating despite being fairly short and only slightly plump (due to medical conditions over which I (and doctors) have no control). If I had to do a very long flight in an aircraft with “anchovy” class seating, I would purchase two seats side-by-side.

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