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I have to say this.

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  • I have to say this.

    Okay, folks. *deep breath*

    Most of you know me. Most of you have cheered me on as I've been making progress getting my blood sugar under control, beating my arthritis and migraines and diabetes, and dropping weight like it's going out of style. People ask me about cholesterol numbers because I decided to make a point of learning what they meant, and people know that I know, which is really thrilling for me when someone posts about their blood work and multiple people say "Go ask Griff; he'll know the answer to that." So I think in the past six months that I've been here at MDA, I've managed to establish myself as a worthwhile, credible member of this community. I hope I have, anyway.

    But I'm part of other communities as well, and one of them has been the subject of derision and mean-spirited comments here more than once, and recently, too. I've decided I have to speak up for that community, as well, or I can't look at myself in the mirror anymore.

    So, here goes.

    Remember how, back when I first came to MDA, I made a point of saying "I'm a fat activist"? It was part of my story that got posted to Mark's blog. When I started Primal, I was an active activist for the rights and dignity of fat people.

    Well, I still am. Even though I'm Primal and losing weight like it's falling off me, I'm still going to be an activist for the rights of fat people to be treated like human beings. Many people here have probably been there, so they know what I'm talking about. Becoming smaller doesn't mean it's okay to become small-minded.

    The reason I bring this up is twofold. First, Kevin Smith (the movie director) got thrown off a Southwest flight earlier this week. Why? Because he is fat, and he hadn't spent twice as much money to fly as a thin person would by buying two seats. Therefore, he was a "safety hazard" - and someone who would make all the thin people on the plane uncomfortable, and so he had to GO.

    Let's just say that he didn't take that treatment lying down, all right? Twitter was full of his anger, and rightly so. And Southwest backed down and apologized - sort of.

    Now. I know that there are folks here who have had to sit next to really heavy people on airplanes, and may have felt intruded upon or cramped or uncomfortable or digusted, or as Southwest so indelicately put it in their "apology" letter to Mr. Smith, "infringed upon."

    But. I have never been able to fly in a single seat in a plane. Never in my entire life. Even now, even after I've dropped somewhere between 70 and 80 pounds, Southwest's policy would still force me to buy two seats or risk not being able to go to my destination (or worse yet, get back home). Otherwise, I might "infringe on" someone's space, apparently. My husband and I went to Denver in May. That was the last time I flew anywhere. We had to buy, between us, three seats so that we wouldn't bother any of the thin people.

    It was humiliating. All right? It was frigging humiliating. Nobody should be subjected to what we went through.

    As a result, and sparked by things like Mr. Smith's experience this week, I've decided that I'm not going to fly again unless I have absolutely no other choice. The airlines have lost my business because this is flat-out discriminatory. And yes, a lot of heavy people could lose weight if they chose to do what we're doing. That's not the point. The point is that they don't know that, and CW is not going to help them know that, and meanwhile, they're being condescended to and jeered at and told they have no willpower because they're "morbidly obese" - or worse, that they're just like little piggies at the trough - while they struggle with 1000-calorie-per-day, low-fat, high-carb weight-loss diets that sabotage them right from the start. I'm sure that those of us who have been or still are overweight or out of shape remember those hurtful words, right? And those of us who have never been in that position? Be glad you haven't been.

    I am taking a risk posting this here, I think. I mean, it's a forum for people who are either already healthy (like arthurb999, Tarlach, and DianaRenata) or people who are still getting healthy (like me, OnTheBayou, and BagLady, just to name a few). So the thought of fat people, of out-of-shape people, of the people we're trying not to be - it's probably hard to talk about or think about. And I'll admit, this post is also sparked by some of the hurtful comments made in Mark's blog post earlier today, as well as in a couple of conversations here in the forums, about fat people. And I know that a lot of the commenters on the blog posts don't necessarily come here to the forums.

    But let me share a little story with you that one of the fat-activist blogs I read posted a link to today. Maybe that will give you a different perspective on this whole situation about being fat and having to fly.

    It seems that Kate Harding, who is a fat-rights activist, lost her mother a while ago. Kate and two of her siblings rushed to their mother's side after her mom had a massive heart attack. Kate could afford two seats on the airplane, you see. But another of her sisters, who was morbidly obese, could not afford two seats on the airplane. So instead, she drove a thousand miles in about three days, to be with her mother as she was dying.

    Do you get that? Her mother was _dying_, and in order not to inconvenience a few thinner people for a few hours, she drove for three days straight to get to her mother's bedside. Why? Because she was fat, and she might "infringe on" someone's space while she was trying to hold herself together on her way to her mother's deathbed.

    Now, if that doesn't break your heart, I can't imagine what will. I know it broke mine.

    I know that many of us look at fat people as disgusting, and it's easy to forget that they - we - are still people.

    I'm fat. But I'm still a person, even though I'm fat. And the comments that have been made here about fat people in the last couple days have hurt me in ways that I can't even begin to describe. Not everyone has made them. But enough people have that it's made me wonder whether I should stay, since I'm still unacceptably fat.

    For the record: I'm 5'10", I weigh (about) 325 pounds, and my BMI is 47 point something. By any standard, I'm still morbidly obese. I wear a 2XL t-shirt and size 52/28 jeans. I'm still one of the fatties, even though I'm Primal. And when I read someone in these forums saying "my, she is a bit of a fat biffa," or someone saying that fat dieticians have no credibility, it hurts. Like I said above, I've been helping people on this forum with cholesterol questions for six months now.

    Now that you all know that I'm still one of those disgusting fatties, did my credibility just disappear?

    Thanks for reading, and listening, and thinking about this. I haven't been able to reconcile my deep-seated belief that we all deserve to be treated equally, even if we aren't taking care of ourselves or are different in ways that people don't like, with the physical-fitness-(by which people mean a ripped body like Mark's)-is-everything viewpoints of some of the folks on these forums. The comments and insinuations I read about fat people here in the last couple of days really hurt, and made me decide it was time for me to speak out.

    I'm just asking, please, that while you try to help people with Primal nutrition and exercise and so forth, be kind to the fat person who has to sit next to you in the airline seat, or the bus, or the train, or on the bench... because for all you know, that fat person might be me, or my husband... or a grieving woman on her way to her mother's deathbed.

    Kate's story is here:

    Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.

    Looking for my Cholesterol Primer? Here it is:

    Ditch the scale!:

    My Success Story:

  • #2

    Griff the link doesn't work. thanks for sharing, will reply soon but am reflecting on what to say


    • #3

      Hi Jedi,

      Yeah, I just tried to click on it, and apparently Salon is down for maintenance. It'll come back up.

      Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.

      Looking for my Cholesterol Primer? Here it is:

      Ditch the scale!:

      My Success Story:


      • #4

        Thank you for saying it, Griff. It means a lot to me, primal, but still fat too.


        • #5

          Griff, thanks for sharing. I have been overweight but never obese so i think it is hard for me to appreciate some of the judgements against obese people. It is a great reminder. It sooo easy to judge. However, I am not sure it means someone is being treated unequally if they have to buy two seats on a plane. I am sure it is embarrassing but there is a reality of simple space. Of course this never warrants rudeness or judgmental comments but at the moment, despite Kate's tragic story, I guess that is where I stand. I am always open to changing my position on things, though, but if someone had their leg in plaster and had to have it elevated on a second seat they would pay for that too; Or maybe new planes could at least have some larger seats which could be booked at a slightly extra amount? Also if you have ever been on a long haul flight between two obese people then i think there is a fairness issue to the passenger in the middle who has to turn sideways and can't use armrests.


          • #6

            Good on you, Griff.

            I believe when people look down on others in a scathing or disparaging way, it may be linked to some kind of insecurity. Just saying.


            • #7

              Some fair points Griff, but as Jedi says, it's not always about unfair discrimination.

              I have no problems with this guy:

              Because he isn't really bothering anyone (esp. on a domestic flight) and that's probably why he was allowed aboard when he didn't pay for a first/business class seat. It appears he is going out of his way (and comfort) to be courteous to the guy next to him (who has also paid for his right to be there).

              Good on him.

              However, if this was an international flight, how is the hostess supposed to get the cart down the aisle? Can he remain in an obviously uncomfortable position over a longer time frame than a few hours?

              There's also safety concerns I won't go into. I can fully understand the airline then making him pay for a higher class seat, or two 'normal' seats.

              It's not always about discrimination based upon the persons appearance and sometimes plain old size gets in the way. Airplane seats, aisles and safety equipment are designed to cater to a certain range of body type and sometimes they will just not physically work for someone who is too big.

              At the end of the day the airlines are running a business and it is up to them what service they offer, what they charge and any restriction they put in place. It is then up to the consumer to either agree with that or make other arrangements. An airline will make less money by putting in larger seats for overweight passengers, unless they charge more for these seats (and first/business class does this already).

              I have no problems with the obese passenger as a person (and there's never a need for insults), but I would have a problem if I was sitting next to him and I couldn't take advantage of the seat/space that I had paid for. I would have a problem with the airline not supplying me with what I felt I had paid for and this is likely part of the reason that they place restrictions on the size of passengers.

              Airlines could always make a row of wider (more expensive) seats in 'normal' class if they thought it was viable, but would those seats be any less embarrassing for obese people? I'm sure it would not take long for the wider row to be commonly referred to by any number of rather derogatory phrases.

              The "Seven Deadly Sins"

              Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
              Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
              Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)


              • #8

                Thank you, Griff. Excellent story. Having been listed in the obese category with my BMI up to 43 (I'm 5'3" and at my top weight, somewhere around 250 lbs) I know how difficult it is for people who are fat to be accepted.

                At the same time, an airplane is a restricted space commodity by nature, and everyone pays based on the space they take up, including the weight of their luggage. If you fill two seats, you should expect to pay for two seats. The airplane can't expand to accomodate, so it is the people who must do so.

                That said, bravo for your activism. I applaud it.

                Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
                Current weight: 199
                Goal: 145


                • #9


                  As others have said, the airline issue is one of space, weight (of the plane, passengers, and luggage), and safety. That said, your activisim may change the way airlines design cabins and customer service. Keep it up.

                  Obesity doesn't negate expertise. Your posts on cholesterol were absolutely brilliant. The thing that gives your posts credibility is the factual truth of them. Their credibility is enhanced because you are living what you preach.


                  • #10

                    Thanks, Griff. That took courage.

                    I must say that I agree with others about the airline space, but that wasn't really your central point, was it? Just an example.

                    I absolutely agree that everyone is of equal value and should be treated with equal respect, regardless of appearance (be it the result of body composition, race, genetics, disease, or anything else). That said, I admit I have always struggled to understand why some people let themselves be obese...but I have learned over the last few months that such is usually not the case. It's lack of knowledge about how physiology works, not lack of willpower. As Fathead says, a lot of these people aren't fat because they eat too much -- they eat too much because they're fat! What a horrifying, vicious cycle.

                    Anyway. I do think there's a big difference between your credibility and that of the overweight dietician on the other thread. You are giving good advice about something that is working extremely well for you. Sure, you're not to the finish line, but you're running the race. The dietician, OTOH, *appears* to be coaching from the sidelines and giving advice that isn't actually working for her. (Of course, we don't know for sure -- she might have some major stresses in life right now, or she might have just shed 50 lbs! -- but judging by her advice, I think we all doubt that.)

                    It's the difference between taking financial advice from someone of self-made wealth vs. someone up to his eyeballs in debt. The difference between taking horse training advice from a guy whose horses win competitions vs. the guy whose mount is out of control.

                    Anyone who is obviously unable to practice what s/he preaches, or is preaching a lie, sets him/herself up for ridicule. It's nothing to do with appearance, and everything to do with credibility. To put it differently, in what direction is the person's advice moving him? (Or, in the case of an aging expert, what did it do for him in his prime?)

                    That said, your reminder stands. Respect people. Because they ARE people.

                    Thanks again.

                    Nightlife ~ Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm ~ Idaho's Primal Farm!

                    Latest post: Stop Being Stupid


                    • #11

                      Griff, i'm with you on all of this! *big 'fatty' hugs!*

                      I don't see why airlines can't make a small percentage of their seats just a few inches wider. It's silly. They are selling a service--getting people from one destination to another, and there is no reason they shouldn't be expected to be able to do that for most of the population. Yes, it will cost them some money. But i don't think most larger people would be too upset about paying for "deluxe" seating--sure beats the alternative of a whole extra ticket, plus the embarrassment of that telltale empty seat next to you. I've never been on a plane before; do they charge extra for people that need wheelchairs? Those are rather cumbersome.


                      • #12

                        My husband's life is getting smaller as he is getting bigger. He cannot fit in amusement park rides, airline seats, and his last car---a Mini Cooper.

                        It causes him anguish, humiliation and anger.

                        As the number of morbidly obese Americans grows, what are we to do, as individuals and as a society? Make everything bigger? Specialized amusement parks? Supersized airplane seats? Should our society to adjust to this new 'norm'? (These are real questions, not sarcasm.)

                        Clearly, compassion is called for----our people, including our children, are suffering. Suffering from the LIES fed us from the moment we turn on the television, or read mainstream nutrition advice, or follow the advice most of our physicians give us.

                        I think there is an awakening: Michael Pollan's work, the Slow Food movement, movies like FOOD, INC., the interest in traditional diets, the farm-to-table offerings by chefs and restauranteurs all over the country, the school food reform movement, etc. all indicate that we are slowly waking up.

                        Compassion is called for, and public education, and food reform, and subversive economies that are small and local to undo the power of corporations in our food supply. (Not to mention household products and cosmetics!)

                        I think the example of the airline is not a good one in making your point that derision of fat people is not worthy behavior. Because the truth is, if you are too big to fit in one seat, you need to pay for two or not fly as things stand now.

                        Asking what other options there are is a real question. But facts is facts.



                        • #13

                          Sooze, great reply


                          • #14

                            You are tilting at windmills, my friend--but someone has to, or we ALL lose our humanity.


                            • #15

                              I have to add--being fat is about physiology, yes--but it's about more, and I defy anyone, fat or thin, naive or expert, to have all the answers. Why people expect fat people to have the answer to 15, 30, 40, 60 or more years of punishment by wrought wittingly and unwittingly by themselves (yes, by themselves--I readily admit), but also by their family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, government, and business... well, it's beyond me.

                              Imagine how a 19 year old buxom but healthy and attractive girl feels standing in a line at the college bookstore and listening to a couple of gusy "check out" a perfectly attractive and slim girl, saying to each other, "Hot as a friend, but too fat to ----." At 19, being that girl, a little part of my will to fight my own metabolism died. And a little part died every day because of comments such as this.

                              Imagine losing 75 pounds and finding that people you THOUGHT were friends are suddenly far more attentive and friendly now that you are thin--who do you trust now? Who should you have been trusting all along? On the other hand, other friends are distinctly uncomfortable with the new you, and urge you to eat--are jealous of the time you take to exercise--cut down your efforts? Sometimes, these things hit a person from both sides. When one gets to be middle-aged, there is the dreaded "extra skin" problem... There is the expense of new clothes... The pressure of being expected to take care of appearance in ways one is unaccustomed to after a lifetime of being fat (how many formerly fat women have the faintest idea what haircut or makeup or clothing works for them, and suffer derision for their failed efforts?).

                              Consciously or unconsciously, there can be powerful incentives to remain fat--incentives greater than and far more complicated than a damn airplane seat.

                              Now I'm done.