2007/07/03

Eagerly Awaiting "The Plus-sized Society"

Have you heard? Of course you have. It's all over the media. Americans are getting bigger...taller and heavier. From planes and trains, skirts to shirts, many of us are being forced to squeeze into spaces that are, quite frankly, not keeping up size-wise.

Now before I go further...let me state categorically that this is not an anti or pro-fat post. I have no animosity toward heavy individuals nor desire to see anybody change their lives. Quite the contrary, I'm merely observing a trend and anticipating how it might benefit those of us on the smaller side. You see...I'm as light as I've been in a decade, and as little as two years ago I was as heavy as I've ever been. 15 lbs. of weight loss mostly due to changing my eating habits and removing stress from my life. Now you may say that 15 lbs is not a lot, but I'm not a big guy to begin with, and frankly I'm thrilled that I've finally got the snacking under control. I no longer eat everything that's put in front of me. I'm careful and...I'm lucky.

But not so the poor 6' 4" or 300 lb guy who has to squeeze into an modern economy airline seat. And what is United doing for that poor schmuck? NOTHING! Or what about health care? I had an MRI not too long ago, and I thought at the time that a lot of people wouldn't have been able to fit into that machine. Turns out I was right. In fact many hospitals refuse to acquire equipment that can accommodate the plus-sized individual despite the fact that failure to do so is essentially health-care discrimination.

And herein is the point of this little post: I think that it's high time that American companies started dealing with the reality of obesity in America. Sure I'd prefer that we didn't have this problem, but that's not a reason for people to be made miserable when they travel, buy clothes, or seek out health-care. And I'm willing to do my part--selfishly, I'll admit. Would I pay a bit extra for my airline tickets if United gave us all some extra room by removing seats from their planes. You betcha! Would I like to save a little for my insurance company by using the extra-small MRI? Absolutely--keeping in mind that a smaller MRI, with smaller magnets, use less electricity. So maybe I could get a bit of a rate cut?

Does this mean that I'm advocating for a sort of "thin-tax". Maybe, but if I'm getting a benefit then, as with any tax, I think I can deal.

23 Comments:

I hear ya. Got a sis-in-law who is so obese, she refuses to go to the gyno for her annual check-ups because she's "too embarassed" how she looks under the paper gown.

Hey, congrats on the permanent weight-loss, no yo-yo! "Thin Tax" hmmm ... it's a thought, then the "never too rich, never too thin" crowd would be paying even less taxes than they do now & I can't condone that! ~~ D.K.
If what I heard was true, even thin people should be upset at the space they get on airplanes, which has about three more inches than Africans had on the slave ships.

At very least, bulkhead seats should be saved with no extra charge for tall people (says the woman with the 300lb, 6'5" husband of whom you speak).
D.K... That's really unfortunate. I mean, what doctor hasn't "seen it all"?

Guess we'll see if my weight loss is permanent. I suspect not, but my hope is that the change in eating habits is.

Julie, I guess that's the whole point. I'd like a bit more room. I don't mind paying for it, and if encouraging the airlines to deal with larger Americans is the way to achieve it...I'm certainly on board.
Being 6'3", almost everything is a squeeze for me, and is probably the root of my back problems.
15 lbs. is pretty good, I know I'd be happier with less weight on my frame. And I'd almost go along with you on the "thin tax" idea, except for the reasons stated by D.K.
Lew, D.K... In rereading your comments, I realize that perhaps I didn't make myself clear. Through higher prices that would benefit all, I'm proposing a sort of tax on being thin--with the caveat that because we all see a benefit it's not so bad.
I'm not large, but I'm tall, and I have long legs, and find sitting in an airplane rather uncomfortable. I need more leg room in there!
I don't know about you guys,
But I love having someone recline their seat into my general groin area...but maybe that's just me.

Love the swimsuit ad on a "fat" post.
Damn those keywords.
Nvisiblewmn... Amen!

Aaron... In fact, you can't even get out of your row anymore if all the seats in front of you are reclined. It sucks! As for the ads, that's Adsense for you.
I think its tough to say, but with the price of airline tickets I think they are nervy to cram people in that way.

I was at a carnival recently and a woman was told she could not go on a ride with her little girl. It was humiliating, and very sad. But there was no sign, to spare her that. She waited on line and it came as a surprise. I asked why the hell they don't post a restriction so people dont go through that and he just shrugged at me like I was an idiot.

Point is, we don't have to make people feel upset. We don't have to limit travel for people, why not offer choices?

And let people know when a machine or MRI or something cant accommodate them before they go.
Sidebar: Discrimination against fat people is still pretty much accepted in this country, disguised (and rationalized) behind health concerns, which I'm not saying aren't legitimate. Even so, to some people, it's okay to make large people upset, because in some people's minds, fat people are subhuman and it's their own damn fault for being that way.

A sort of random comment, I guess. But I just had to get it out there.
If they can charge an obese person for two airline tickets, then those of us who are thin, should get half price.
Being 136 pounds since I graduated in 81- I don't have that problem. But I have many large friends and I do feel for them. Good post.
Yep, I sat next to Kareem Abdul Jabbar on a flight once and he had one heck of a time with his legs all cramped up under him! He wiggled and moved the entire flight! I think he was in pain!
I flew to London last month and I don't consider myself massive, but I couldn't fit at all
I've lost 15 pounds since March, and in March I was as big as I have ever been. Cut out lots of Sugar. The moral of the story is that I feel better but Diets still suck!

Excuse me, I meant to say lifestyle changes.
Since passing middle age and gaining the great-grandma status, My 5'1" frame has become something of a round-mound-of-sound. My latest MRI wasn't a squeeze but it was a close one. I couldn't help but wonder how my friend Big'un could get an MRI if needed - at 6'7" and almost 300 lbs , very little fat, lots of muscles and shoulders (bone structure) out to there! A BIG human being.It would be impossible for him to fit in the machine.

I used to fly a lot around the world. I was just as short then but lacking the middle age spread (or old age spread). Even so, my rather small size did not spare me from the Flight From Hell aboard Qantas from Hawaii to Sydney - all across the Pacific I sat cramped up with elbows tight against my body and my in-front neighbor's head practically in my lap. Men in the cabin looked as if they were indeed in flight hell, being much larger than I was. And the airline had the nerve to charge THAT much for the flight?
Lynn... You know, I don't find airline tickets to be that outrageous. I don't really pay any more now than I did a decade ago. The scandal is that service has degraded so much.

Your point about the carnival ride is very good though. As with children, any physical restriction should be clearly stated.

Mags... That's very true, and when combined with the fact that this country has such a screwed notion of normalcy, it's no wonder that 80% of people are unhappy with their physique.
Larry... Well they do, but I don't think that it really solves the problem. People are also getting taller and just bigger in general. Also, the problem is not limited to the US. Look at the Danish--tallest people on the planet.

Robert... 136! That was what I weighed when I graduated from college as well, but since then it's 15 lbs. a decade for me.

Suzie-Q... Kareem?! Really? I'm surprised he could even squeeze into a coach seat--it was coach right?
Graeme... International flights are the worst. I feel for you man.

Corky... I don't really diet. The biggest factor that I've discovered is rigidly controlling my portion size. I serve food in the kitchen and don't bring extra to the table. The leftovers immediately go into containers. When I'm in a restaurant, I plan on only eating half of whatever is served, etc...

Worried... I did San Francisco to Sydney once--worst flight of my life. 14 hours of hell.

The MRI think is tough. Most of the machines can't accommodate someone of only slightly larger than average size.
Listen, I'm 5'4" which is far from tall; when the seat in front of me touches MY knees, we have a problem.

Still, we get horribly mixed messages: all fashion models are dangerously thin; yet all restaurants serve obscenely large portions. NOBODY needs to eat a 12 oz piece of meat at one sitting. We've created an obesity epidemic by the way food is presented and packaged; by the overly long work-week with sedentary jobs; then we tell people who are obese that it's their own damn fault.

But the airlines? The way they pack people in like sardines is dangerous, and probably criminally greedy.
Kvatch, you have been tagged. Read about it here
Diva... The huge portions in restaurants really drives me nuts. I have to force myself to eat half of whatever I'm served, and it's worse if I go home to Texas or to Minnesota (home of the in-laws).

Lola... Put a link to my post in your comments. Hope my 7 will suffice. ;-)
This post reminded me of what we see every time there's a protest in middle America. A street full of really huge, overweight people. The trend isn't getting any better here, either.

While I could talk about obese people and my views, I'll let their hearts and circulatory system speak for me. Live and let live, I say, natural selection still works.

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