The average clothing size of American women is 16 to 18. Lora Grady falls within that average spectrum, but on a recent flight in which the curvy blogger was body-shamed, she felt anything but average.
“I was seated next to a young couple,” Grady shared with Chatelaine. “When we sat down, the dude and I both went for the armrest and, almost immediately, he began complaining that he was uncomfortable to his girlfriend.”
Headed to Mexico, Grady flew coach but upgraded to what airlines call “priority seating.” For a few more dollars, travelers get extra leg room. Although the young couple and Grady had a bit more room to enjoy during the flight, the man was still complaining.
“He then asked her to switch seats, so she would be in the middle and he could lean against the window, and I heard him murmur, ‘Oh, she’s definitely comfortable,'” said Grady.
Most airline policies state that if you don’t fit in a seat with an extension seat belt and the armrest down, you will be charged for two seats or removed from the plane. Grady fit fine, but that didn’t stop the other passenger from body-shaming her.
Grady decided to take a stand and not feel apologetic for the space that she takes up. “My skin got hot and prickly. Was he talking about me? My heart started racing and I wanted to cry and yell all at once — a reaction I’ve had to fat-shaming before. I managed to compose myself and stay calm, but 15 minutes later, I decided to say something: ‘Excuse me, were you talking about me?'”
The couple immediately denied the comments had anything to do with her and said it was simply that the man did not like the middle seat.
Grady’s perfect world is one where all travelers would “try to adjust our expectations just a little bit and tap into our compassion when it counts, whether you’re seated next to a stressed-out parent with a crying toddler, a lady with thick thighs, or someone with a disability.”
However, despite Grady’s wishes, body-shaming on airplanes happens not only to women but men as well.
A columnist in Minnesota got fired for body-shaming a man who was seated next to him on a flight. “When a 300-plus guy has you effectively pinned in and you can’t even run for it, when they grimace at you, your first thought is: ‘Oh, man. He looks hungry,'” veteran columnist Alan Linda wrote in his weekly piece for the Fergus Falls Daily Journal, referring to the passenger who sat next to him.
And a few years back, director Kevin Smith was escorted off of a Southwest Airlines flight because of his weight, after he was deemed a hazard by the airline. Since the incident, Southwest promotes that “customers of size” should purchase two tickets for themselves but offers a reimbursement of the extra ticket after the flight.
Grady’s flight went a lot smoother than Smith’s, however. After she called out the couple’s comments, the man ended up switching seats. “I wasn’t going to let him make me feel like I didn’t belong in that seat,” she said. “I cannot help that my arm and thigh are touching your arm and thigh. Because as much as I have tried, I can’t magically shrink myself to accommodate others, and I won’t apologize for the space I take up.”
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