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.