Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Now Thin People Are Being Discriminated Against By SouthWest

When SouthWest decided to kick director Kevin Smith off a flight for being too fat, it may have been the worst public relations incident in the history of that airline.  Before the internet and the rise of social media, they would have been able to control the story, but because Smith has such a large twitter following, they were made accountable for the fat hatred.  Removing people from flights or charging them for two seats happens daily, but because most are so embarrassed by the situation and do not have the same social capitol as Smith, such incidents are ignored.  
In an effort to mend its ways, it seems that SouthWest has once again put its foot into the fire.  A young woman was flying stand-by and was seated waiting for take off when apparently a teen arrived who required two seats.  She was asked to relinquish her seat so that the child could fly. Apparently the child's parents had only bought one seat and so to avoid embarrassment to the teen SouthWest asked the woman to de-plane.

When the woman - who did not give her name to the paper for fear of being perceived as insensitive - expressed irritation, airline employees began to "berate" her for complaining, she told the newspaper.
"We know this was awkward and we should have handled it better," said Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis, adding that normally the airline would ask for volunteers to give up their seats. In this case, however, flight attendants may have been rushing to make room for the kid in order to save him from embarrassment.  (source)
How dare this fat hating coward woman, not be allowed to exalt in her thin privilege.  She is after all 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds.  The world was made for people like her to take up space.  We should just ignore that stand by means that you get a seat if there is one available and clearly in this situation, a customer that had purchased a ticket needed it.  Would this woman have been equally irritated if she was asked to vacate her seat for a thin woman?  Somehow I doubt it.  This is about fat hatred and the assumed right of certain bodies to take precedence over others.

The other issue that is not being addressed is the failure of airlines such as SouthWest to build planes with larger seats.  People have increased in size since the average patron of the sixties. and it is time that airlines take this into consideration. This solution however, continues to be unacceptable to airlines because they gain social acceptance from fat shaming and this comes with the extra bonus of charging people for an extra seat. Ever sit next to a tall man with broad shoulders crammed into a seat?  It is not a comfortable experience. Airlines are not concerned with the comfort of their passengers, because if that were the case, these people would be charged for an extra seat as well?

I am not going to celebrate SouthWest for doing the right thing for a change, because they will have yet to rectify the cause of the problem to begin with.   The very fact that the stand-by passengers weight and height were mentioned in the article tells me that a failure to create the right accommodations still leads to fat shaming.  The comments in the linked to article are full of out right fat hatred and this of course is inspired in part by circumstance.  
  • So disgusting when fatty is nearby. I'd leave the plane on my own accord if there was a chance fatty could brush against me.
  • Fatties should not be allowed on planes...I am reminded of a sign I saw spray painted near a beach once "no fat dudes or chicks, and no short d*cks"
  • Lousy mother, very sad... Don't feed your kid junk, make your kid exercise, don't let your kid live in front of the TV just so he won't bug you... And he will not be "plus-sized", which is the politically correct substitute for "fat"...
  • Yep, I totally agree, no sympathy here either for FAT people!!!! I get SO disgusted being anywhere/everywhere seeing FAT poeple EVERYWHERE these days!!!! This country's citizens were never the size they are today. They absolutely make me gag and certainly makes me eat less!!!!

If SouthWest really wants to change its image, it needs to do more than small considerations. SouthWest needs to create accommodations so that people of various sizes can be comfortably seated. The moment your privilege one body over another it will give rise to fat hatred making it that much harder for fat people to make it though the day without harassment of oppression.