Flying! I remember, when I was younger and narrower, the excitement of air travel and the fantasy of sitting next to someone fabulous. I even used to get dressed up!!
Well all that anticipation and enthusiasm turned to dread and anxiety once these hips outgrew the absurdly small 17” wide torture device that is the modern airline seat.
And I’m tall! 5’ 10” in my clogs! Big butt + long legs + economy = PAIN. A really crappy equation when it should be me sitting in a Chanel suit cozying up to Adrian Paul instead.
When I started needing the seat belt extender I was MORTIFIED! Especially because in the tension to board the plane I would forget to ask for the damn extender on my way in and then I’d have to hit the dreaded call button. The only thing worse than asking for a seat belt extender on a plane for this Midwesterner is having to light up the ceiling to do so.
You can purchase your own seat belt extender on Amazon. Did you know that? The embarrassment and fear of flying while fat is so bad you can buy an extender yourself to avoid the shame. I’ve nearly done it before every flight in the last 10 years. But I never go around to it. And I’m glad. I paid for the extender, too! Give me some ginger ale, pretzels (or those Bischoff cookies?? I love those!!) and the damn extender.
The real turning point for me was the dreaded Sun Country flight to Orlando for work. You know who flies to Orlando from Minnesota in the late winter? On Sun Country (once aptly dubbed “the double wide in the sky” by a friend). Families on vacation (well, pre-pandemic anyway). Happy, eager kids with cute backpacks full of iPad’s and snacks. Parents not yet worn down by the exhaustion that only comes with traveling to a hot climate, children in tow. And me. Alone. And flying for work, not fun. Especially NOT FUN seated in the aisle (always the aisle so I can lean out and have at least one arm rest) where the arm rests are solid and don’t go up. I’ve never felt more like a sardine in a can. The dreaded extender digging into the front of me, hips so squished I knew a DVT was imminent. Miserable. My only consolation was that I knew I wouldn’t be the only one miserable on the return flight. Very few leave a vacation to the Most Magical Place On Earth happier than when they left.
My hips were deeply bruised from the “seats” and I was mad. I paid (well, the cheap company paid) just like everyone else and I was damaged by the ridiculous decision of the cost-conscious Sun Country airline designers who place bottom line over my bottom.
I decided I was never going to be embarrassed for taking up space on an airplane. I’m not going to meekly ask for the extender in a whisper. I stand as tall as possible, which can be fairly intimidating at times, and pleasantly ask for what is required because the airline is too cheap to make many of their customers comfortable. I am achingly polite, of course, but I move my statuesque self down that narrow aisle, extender in hand, and if the already seated get bumped and are annoyed, OH WELL.
Their “discomfort” is fat bias, misogynistic and abusive. My husband is 6’ 3” and built like the linebacker he once was. He never apologizes for his size or feels his body is not worthy of taking up space. Even uncomfortably squeezed into an airplane seat he takes what is rightfully his.
I’m going to be the linebacker of my own life.
Take up that space, use the arm rest, smack every last person down that aisle with the hips that I’ve been blessed with. It’s not my fault planes and seats are designed for maximum passengers, not maximum comfort.
I AM THE LINEBACKER!!
I’m almost giddy thinking about a day when some abusive, fat-phobic, asshat asks to move seats because my width is offensive to them. I wish them luck in escaping the window seat unscathed by my response. They’d better hope they get a new seat.