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talking back to the fatophobe

Al Lewis, a business columnist for the Denver Post, provides today's dose of fat hatred, discussing the horrors of sitting next to a fat person on an airline.


Here's my letter in response.

Mr Lewis,

You fell for it.

Airlines build their planes with seats and seat pitch that are uncomfortably small for most people, because they want to squeeze more people onto the plane and increase their profits. They rely on the prevalent fat hatred in this country to deflect blame onto fat people.

Americans have grown larger in all dimensions - taller on average than 30 years ago, as well as bigger around. And in the same time, airlines have decreased the width of their seats and the space between seats.

You point out that 2/3 of the people in the US qualify as, to use airline terminology, "customers of size."

I ask you, does it make sense that an entire industry should build accommodations that fit only 1/3 of their customers, and decrease the size of its accommodations while its customers are increasing in size?

I suppose it does make sense if the industry has apologists like you who are ready to put the blame for your discomfort in airplanes somewhere other than where it belongs.

Guess what. Fat people hate sitting in a too-small seat next to a fat-hating person just as much as you dislike sitting next to them. They hate touching you, feeling your body heat, and smelling what you ate just as much as you hate it.

A word of advice. The next time you find yourself seated next to someone you deem too large, be brave and risk their feeling insulted. Go ahead and ask to be re-seated, rather than waiting until you get home and safely doing your insulting in a newspaper column instead. You'll do everyone a favor.

ETA: The Denver Post phoned and asked if they could publish my letter.


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
Nicely said!
Sep. 6th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
You're my hero.
Sep. 6th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I'm glad you wrote (well done!). I'll send a short complaint. If anyone else wants to, he could arguably be cited for violating his organization's ethics policy:

Sep. 6th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
Have I mentioned lately that you rock?
Sep. 6th, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
i didn't go to read the article.

but your letter rocks.
Sep. 6th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Definitely don't bother to read the article.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 6th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Some people's utter fascination with what other people eat is weird to me.
Sep. 6th, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
well said!!
Sep. 6th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
I love how you start by pointing out his gullibility. No one (esp. a know it all columnist) wants to be used by the powers-that-be to justify a further lining of their pockets, while giving less and less to the "little guy". Bravo!
Sep. 6th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
I hope you're right that I gave him something to think about. Since I got a very terse reply rather than a snotty or otherwise substantial one, the way some other people did, I'm choosing to think I did and he's afraid to admit it.
Sep. 6th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
*adding my voice to the cheering throng*
Sep. 6th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
Good letter! The airline seats are way too small for just about everybody. Flying just gets worse and worse. I am considering renting cars and driving in the future, even for trips that would take a couple of days. It's sad there's only rail service between a few cities.
Sep. 7th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
I used to fly on my once or twice yearly trips between Seattle and the CA Bay Area - but goodgoddamn, those seats are insanely tiny. They aren't even making a pretence of trying to give people comfort, or even safety considerations.

So nowdays, I take Amtrak. Yes, it's hellaciously long; but the seats are *huge*, there's plenty of room to get up and wander around, there's plenty of bathrooms (not all of which are too small to legally qualify as a broom closet), and did I mention lots and lots of leg room? Wonderful. :)
Sep. 6th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
Damn straight. Good wrapup.

Sep. 6th, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
Have I told you lately how much you rock?
Sep. 6th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
Perfect response!

I love when people are well-reasoned and thoughtful in response to asshattery :D
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)
Nice to know all the experience paid off. :/ :-)
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
What a wonderful letter. You rock.
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
Brilliant response, firecat. Perfect in tone and content.

You rock.
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
I third or fifteenth everyone who's been saying how much you rock.

May I also link to this post in regards to a discussion within fatshionista?
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
Thank you!

By all means, link away.
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
May one genuflect at thyfeet in honour of thine eloquence?
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
[*blush*] Well if you insist...
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
Kickass. Glad the paper realized it too.
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
Oh well done.

I'm so glad you use your powers for good.
Sep. 7th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
Heh. Thanks.

Sep. 7th, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
Nicely said. Some people really need to be shown their shit in order to train them not to express their shitty attitudes. Just like some pet owners will stick a dog's nose in zir's shit in order to train the dog not to shit in the wrong place.

P.S. - I'd like to see a follow-up post when your letter gets published.
Sep. 7th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
It's very wrong to do that to a dog, but I'll agree that some people don't respond to much else.
Sep. 7th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't do that to a dog either. (That's easy for me to say since I never owned a dog, nor plan to own one.) Some people don't respond to respectful requests and kind hints, so need a clue-by-4. If possible, I prefer to use the clue-by-4 or nose-in-shit method to communicate the hint when other methods don't work.
Sep. 7th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
*appreciative applause from the peanut gallery*
Sep. 7th, 2006 06:11 am (UTC)
Well said! And I'm so glad it'll be published.

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, well done. Thank you for taking the trouble to write.
Sep. 7th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
Well done!
Sep. 8th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
You're my hero. Thank you.
Sep. 8th, 2006 10:20 am (UTC)
Yay! Go you :-)

I've sat next to nice fat people. They're soft. So am I. It's far worse to be stuck next to some non-fat angry, whining entitled person in my view.

Good on you for saying it like it is!

(If I come to the US again I'll fly Qantas).
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

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