One issue I’ve not really seen addressed in the last few days re: the Kevin Smith/Southwest Airlines debacle is the issue of folks who *are* “THAT FAT.” You know the kinda fat I mean. THAT FAT — so fat that the armrests *don’t* go down. So fat that they *do* have to ask for the seatbelt extender. So fat that, even if they do fly business class or first class, the folks next to them are often more disdainful than those sharing closer quarters at having to share their luxury experience with someone who so obviously is only there because they *have* to be, and not because they are similarly entitled to it through class or creed.
I’m THAT FAT, though I’m just past the margin, and proportioned in such a way that i can slide my generous posterior into a coach seat if I have to, dealing with the emotional trauma to a larger degree than the physical. Still, I never book a flight without checking SeatGuru.Com, and I curse the lack of detail on which models of airplanes are given in most flight bookings. I am nearly neurotic about booking flights, having only recently taken air travel up again after beginning to date someone in, god-help-a-fatty, London. Prior to this I had flown exactly five times in ten years — each of them a palm-sweating, face-stabbing, self-loathing yet vaguely empowering (considering I lived through it) experience.
So, as a FFF (Frequent Fat Flyer), I have been following this Kevin Smith thing with great interest over the last few days. I’ve watched all of his videos, followed his tweets, read the interviews, analysis, etc. I’ve stomached the hatred in the comments, I’ve applauded the emotional bravery with which he’s met his own humiliation, I’ve nodded in agreement with most of the analysis/commentary on the fat-friendly side of the issue. But one thing continues to stick in my craw.
“I may be fat, but I’m not *THAT* fat. I’ll TELL you when I’m there — but I’m not there yet.”
And what happens when he is? What happens for those of us who are?
Truth is, I don’t have the answer. But I know it can’t be found by using fatties bigger than you are as a litmus test by which to judge the rights and privileges you’re claiming to be entitled to. Either we are all, regardless of our size, entitled to humiliation-free travel, or none of us are. There’s no ‘all beings equal–to a point’. It’s equal or not equal. And by saying you’re not *THAT* fat, you’re indicating there is a point at which it is acceptable to humiliate fat folks, or yourself if you eventually get *THAT* fat.
The airlines need to come up with an affordable, reasonable alternative for the growing girth of the global populace. At the very least, they need to create a fair and equitable way to distribute cost and space that doesn’t involve the public humiliation and shaming of those who fall outside the perceived norm. FOR ALL people. Not just the people who aren’t *THAT FAT* yet. No more throwing super-fatty under the bus, or onto the jetway.