Friday, April 20, 2007

danger! danger!

Kelly's on a tear (so much so, that she's talking about herself in the third person).

For some reason, I've been staying up late the last couple nights, reading internet news sites and the occasional blog. Tonight, MSNBC offered up an article by Harriet Baskas on the challenge of flying when required to sit next to, in her words, a "seatmate of size." Actually, she was writing a follow-up to an original article, highlighting the particular harshness of comments it received from readers.

I started to read the comments from this article, and by the beginning of the fourth page (of 48 pages, as of now), I was drowning in invective. Because it's late and I'm feeling particularly punchy, I dashed off a too-long response, which I'll include in its entirety below. But before you have the chance to read my rant, you must first see some of the comments that drove me to type angry (which is probably not any better than typing drunk).

Hold on. Here goes.

Rpf5 writes, in part (over the course of three postings),

“… Short of those with medical conditions, I'm getting rather tired of hearing excuses for blatantly obese people. Put down the fork, get your duff off the couch and start moving. … Get over it and get over YOURSELF. Short of medical issues, the rest is just an excuse. … Why do we insist on making allowances and excuses for those with the ‘problem?’ America is becoming dumber AND fatter, because we've allowed it to happen. We've absolved ourselves of all personal responsibility and expect the rest of society to put up with it.”
Kelly's response: Don't be shy, Rpf5. Tell us how you really feel. By the way, are you not tired of the excuses for subtly obese people? Oh, and is America dumber because it's fatter? That must be the case, eh?

Notafan writes,

“… I have noticed over the last 10 years that America just keeps getting fatter and fatter. I have zero sympathy for obese travelers who spill into my seat. I eat healthy, work out regularly and fit easily into a coach airplane seat. … The same thing goes for movies, concerts, sporting events or shows. If you are too fat to fit in one seat then buy two. I paid for my seat. I work hard at staying in shape so that I can fit into my seat. If you chose not to stay fit, and allow yourself to9 [sic] become obese, shame on you. It should not be my problem.”
Kelly's response: You're an observant one, Notafan: I'm sure nobody else has paid attention to the daily news stories that scream about the ever-increasing girth of American asses. Oh, and thanks for thinking that the arbitrary size of any given public seat should dictate whether or not a person can enjoy any sort of entertainment, cultural experiences, or travel. Why didn't I think of that before I decided to live my life like a regular person? Oh, and congratulations on living a life above reproach -- man, that must feel good.

Dw839839 writes (in whole),

“I'm sorry, but if you are too oversized to fit in the seat that you purchased, purchase a larger seat in business class or first class, or find alternate transportation (Amtrtak [sic] has wider seats). I think we make far too many excuses for those who are overweight.”
Kelly's response: That's right, dw939839. All us fat folks can afford to pay 5 - 10 times as much for a first class seat, or can take 15 - 20 times as long to go somewhere (seriously? the train versus a plane?). And when you have the chance, please give me a list of all those excuses that are being made for me. To date, I've only ever heard three (I eat too much, I am inactive, and/or I have a medical condition that causes me to get fat but even then I should figure out how to control it).

Cmpizz writes,

“Being overweight, for 99% of people is a choice they made. Why should the airlines make seats bigger? Then all of us, including those of us who stay fit (and staying fit is not easy either), must pay more to fly. This really doesn't seem fair. … Also, why all the euphamisms [sic]? Seat mate of size? Please. Maybe it will help motivate people to stay in shape if we call it what it is. Fat."

Kelly's response: Cmpizz, you're right! I actively made a decision to be openly mocked and ridiculed for my entire life! Obviously, all fat people are bad and apparently incapable of making a simple, smart choice. And shaming us (a tactic that has never been used before) will surely set us all on a course to thinness. You're right and smart and our savior. All hail Cmpizz!

Vkt7 spits, er, writes (in whole),

“I am so tired of bearing the burdeon [sic] of obese people. Not only are our airline seats taken over by ripples of pudge, but our tax dollars are going to be spent on the healthcare and programs for people that can't just put down the butterfinger. I am outraged that obese people would have the audacity to even allow themselves to "fall" into our seats, but they also seem to hog store aisles in thier [sic] Rascals that they use because they are too big to walk through Target or other stores and I am outraged at an article that I read regarding how airline ticket costs have gone up more because of passenger weight in the last several years. A study was done that said that because of obesity in America, airlines now use more fuel to get to the same destination than they did 15 years ago. (Things such as luggage weight and the increase cost of fuel were taken into consideration in this study.) Guess who gets screwed with fat people being on a pocket book. Lose some weight! Put the Butterfinger down and go for a walk. I just don't understand the lack of pride and then the audacity to make someone else uncomfortable because of your love for Hostess and Taco Bell."
Kelly's response: Wow, Vkt7, which advertising firm do you work for, and how much did you get paid to drop all those names? Well, whatever the case is, you're right. All I eat is Butterfingers, Hostess, and Taco Bell. I don't walk at all. Anyone who uses a scooter does so simply out of laziness (not possibly out of mobility problems and/or pain). By the way, you haven't borne any of MY burden. So, does that mean I can give you some? How about having to listen to misinformed, bigoted cry babies bitch and moan incessantly?

That was just a sampling from the first page and a half. These people are seriously mad at us fat folks. Well, you know what? After a while, this fat woman (that'd be me) gets seriously mad at being stereotyped and falsely accused. Hence, my slightly ineloquent and particularly rambling response:

Holy crap, people. I could only make it through four pages of comments when I stopped. I couldn't take any more of the unbridled venom against fat people.

I'd like to point out a few truths that you might not realize are, in fact, true.

1. It is possible to be simultaneously fat AND healthy. The diet industry doesn't want you to know that because they wouldn't make $50 billion per year (in the U.S. alone) if you did.

2. It's quite possible that you aren't able to accept that fact because it would remove the convenient excuse you have to feel justified in making fun of people (which, coincidentally, is a great way to make yourself feel better).

3. You are not the only person who pays taxes into the system that covers medical issues (we fat people pay in, too).

4. Thin people can be (and many are) unhealthy, too. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they eat well and exercise. Some of the sickest people I know are thin. The difference is that you think they didn't CAUSE their illness, where any time any fat person gets sick at all, it is his/her FAULT.

5. My size is not my fault. Nor is it the "fault" of some medical issue (I have none, thank you very much). I am just a very large person. A dead ringer for my great grandmother (who lived to the ripe old age of 94, by the way). Just because I'm fat doesn't mean that something is wrong with me.

6. For those of you who think that we fat people are being coddled and catered to, wake up and listen to yourselves. We are subjected to blatant bigotry and discrimination -- not to mention outright rudeness -- on a daily basis. Those of us who are happy and successful (and trust me, there are more of us than you could possibly imagine) have had to learn to ignore the slings and arrows, and persevere when the world is telling us how terrible we are. Trust me, nobody has EVER proactively accommodated me on the basis of my size. And I'd appreciate it if you would stop suggesting that more impediments be put in place to eliminate any possibility of accommodation.

7. This list could go on for ages, but it's all pretty pointless. My miniature rant on a little chat board can't begin to make a dent of any noticeable impact when the diet industry has literally spent trillions of dollars in my lifetime brainwashing people to believe that [A] fat is unhealthy, [B] fat is always wrong, [C] fat must always be fixed, [D] fat people are doing it to themselves, [E] genetic or medical causes of fat are rare, and most importantly [F] fat people can't possibly be happy with themselves, healthy, successful, and unconcerned with the lunatic ravings of people who know nothing about them.

So after all that, maybe it's time to start thinking about SOLUTIONS to the public seating issue, instead of just pointing fingers at fat people and screaming that we should lose weight. Bench seating with movable armrests, anyone? If it were so easy to lose weight, trust me, there'd be very few of us fat folks around. We don't like being the object of your loathing any more than you like sitting next to us on a plane.

I learned in my Statistics class that, in any given group, those who are "normal" or "average" make up approximately 65% of the total (below normal is about 20% and above normal is about 15%). As the media so gleefully reminds us every day, two of every three Americans are either overweight or obese. That's 66% of the population. Get used to it, people -- fat is the new normal.
That's all she wrote. This time. Oh, but one bright spot in the comments, on Page 48 just before my tirade. HANG THEM wrote,
"Funny the airlines over the years have made the seats smaller and smaller each 'refiting' [sic] and now encourage others to blame each other for the tight spaces. And like idiots we comply with their blantant attempt of extorting more money out of all of us instead of demanding they service their customers."

Kelly's response: Funny, indeed.

I'm sure there'll be more in the never-ending fight to simply live my life. Good @#(*$& night.

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