Gaslighting is a kind of psychological manipulation designed to mentally unstick someone from reality. I don’t know if the term is appropriate for the kind of coopting that we see among various industries that thrive on a consumer’s insecurity, but it caught my eye in this post by Olivia over at Skepchick:

However you term it, the fashion industry’s misuse of the term “plus size” is, to me, just as bad as Special K (a breakfast cereal) twisting and corrupting body acceptance imagery to sell a bullshit weight loss product. In short, these people aren’t our friends.


Took a trip, and flew Southwest Airlines.

I was already stressed about this; being aware of SWA’s lousy history with dealing with fat flyers.

SWA’s current policy is (

“Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel in order to ensure the additional seat(s) is available. … The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification to Southwest of a special seating need, and allows us to adequately plan for the number of seats that will be occupied on the aircraft. … Customers of size who prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat(s).”

So we bought the extra seat as part of our reservation. We bought the extra seat according to SWA’s instructions for 2 people traveling/requesting 3 seats:


  1. In the ‘Passengers’ field, indicate the total number of seats needed by selecting that number of adults. (For example, if one Customer of size requires two seats and is traveling with one other adult in his/her party, select ‘3 Adults.’)


  1. Complete the ‘Whos’ Flying?’ name fields for a Customer of size as follows: A Passenger named tom Smith would designate Passenger One as ‘Tom Smith,’ and Passenger Two as ‘Tom XS Smith’.”


Not rocket science. Being the precise fellow that he is, my husband Whaliam followed these instructions to the letter.

When you get to the airport, SWA requests that you:


  1. Domestic U.S. Travel: Customers of size may check in online or at a Self-Service Check-in kiosk to reserve their boarding positions, but they must see a Customer Service Agent to receive the required documents and be eligible for a refund after the flight.

  1. Domestic U.S. and International Travel: Customers of size must obtain a Seat Reserved Document from the Customer Service Agent at the Gate to obtain a Reserved Seat Document and Refund Advice Slip for the additional seats purchased.


Again, not rocket science.

And being the responsible fatty that I am, I followed these instructions to the letter.

And that is where it all went to shit.

Two Customer Service Agents, one of whom was tied up with a couple for as long as I was there, and longer – I don’t know what was going on – it’s not like you have a lot of choices when you are flying SWA. Anyhow, perhaps the busy Agent was smarter than the one I got (doubtful, though, since it took him so long to deal with whatever was going on with the other couple).

I got the other Agent. I tell her I’m flying-while-fat, I need my seat reservation and my paperwork for refund. She stares at me blankly. I reiterate. I am fat. I have (proactively) reserved an extra seat. I need the items which SWA’s website has assured me I will get from the Customer Service Agent.

She asks for my reservation paperwork, which I hand to her. She starts tapping away at her computer keyboard. She then tells me that Whaliam did the reservation “all wrong” – that we cannot be on the same reservation and she will have to totally redo it. WTF? I ask her if she is sure? She says she is. I tell her that I have never heard of such a thing and that the reservations were made in accordance with the website’s instructions. She looks at me like I’m an idiot. I ask her to clarify, in case I ever (am foolish enough to) fly SWA again. She tells me (contradicting the website) that the fatty needs a separate reservation for the fatty-designated seats.

She gives me my reserved seat folder and a new boarding pass (which now, instead of being in the first group, has me in the last group boarding – should I choose to not preboard).

I tell her I need the paperwork for the refund. She stares at me blankly. I reiterate. She tells me she doesn’t know of any paperwork. I tell her that it is SWA’s policy, and the website says she will give me this paperwork. I also tell her I doubt that I am the first fat person who has flown SWA, and I don’t understand why this is all so difficult. She gets on the phone. For a really long time. (Sadly I did not bring my print out of the SWA policy with me to the Agent’s desk.) Finally, another Agent shows up. She reaches in a drawer and pulls out a pad of Refund Advice Slips, tears one off, and gives me one.

I am fit to be tied. I go sit down, literally, shaking with rage, anger, shame, you name it.

And that’s when I realize that the Agent did not give me my original paperwork back. So I go back – and wait in line, because that other Agent is still fiddle-farting with the same couple. I finally get up to the (same) Agent and ask her for my paperwork back. She doesn’t want to give it to me. I explain that I might need it, according to the Refund Advice Slip (which she had just given to me). She still doesn’t want to give it to me. At least this time, I came forearmed with the SWA policy printout and the Refund Advice Slip. So she digs it out of her trash and hands it to me – still wadded up. Nice.

I must admit, though, flying home, we had absolutely no problems. I walk up to the Customer Service Agent, hand her my boarding pass print out, she taps on the computer for a few seconds, and hands me back my reserved seat and preboard packet, and the advice slip. I told her about my experience flying out of SJC, and she blamed it on SWA contracting out jobs rather than using SWA employees at some airports. I thanked her profusely for actually knowing her job.

So while SWA may have gotten their shit together on paper, if you fly SWA while fat, be sure to have a print out of their policies in your fat little hand when you go to the Customer Agent desk because it is a crap shoot as to how you will be treated.



In the for fuck’s sake column goes a study out of Korea.

The researchers took 14,828 adults, ages 30 to 59, some fat and some not, but all metabolically healthy and with no known cardiovascular disease.

The participants underwent a health checkup, including cardiac tomography estimation of coronary artery calcium (atherosclerosis) .

As usual, I only have access to the abstract. But it seems everything is based on this one exam. No follow-up.

They found the fat folks tend to have more plaque build-up in their coronary arteries. However, that build-up remained “subclinical” – i.e. still within “normal” ranges.

So what is the conclusion?

MHO (metabolically healthy obese) had a higher prevalence of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis compared to metabolically healthy normal weight participants, supporting that MHO is not a harmless condition. This association, however, was mediated by metabolic risk factors at levels below those considered abnormal, suggesting that the label of metabolically healthy for obese subjects may be an artifact of the cut-off levels used in the definition of metabolic health.


So because a fat person has a little more (but still within the “normal” range) plaque buildup, this means that all your other numbers showing you are metabolically healthy mean nothing.

In fact, according to these researchers, the real problem is that our current definitions of metabolic health must be too high if fat people are able to achieve those numbers.

Fuck you.

The study was on people living in Korea, so presumably mostly if not all of the participants were Korean.  So the results are pretty much limited to the average person living in Korea.  By the way, South Korea has the lowest obesity rate among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to the findings, South Koreans were less obese than Japanese, but their overweight rate was higher than that of Japanese. (  So an obese person in South Korea is kind of unusual.

This is a pretty specific group of people.  Makes me wonder how the findings translate to others.

There was no follow-up to show that a subclinical level of coronary atherosclerosis in fat people will lead to anything. They can’t even tell if this is a risk for heart disease or stroke.  Much less whether fat people may naturally have these levels without any negative effect (as is the case in other conditions considered to part of the “obesity paradox”).

As if the researchers’ conclusions weren’t biased enough, take a look at an article written based on this study:

What an incredible load of stupid, and blatant fat bigotry.


A regular fat guy on Southwest

I’m a fat guy but not supersized*. The same is true of movie director and podcaster Kevin Smith. On Valentine’s Day a few years ago, Smith was booted off a Southwest Airlines flight because it was full and he hadn’t reserved a second seat. Kevin cried foul, but despite his efforts, Southwest won that media battle. Even so, it (and other negative attention they got for being mean to passengers) might have gotten them to think about how they treat people, because a couple years after that incident they updated their fat passenger policy so that people who need two seats are encouraged to buy the second while reserving their flight, but if they don’t do so and still need an extra seat when they check in, they will get it for free. And based on reports from fatties in the field, including this one, Southwest really has gotten better.

I’m 6’0″, 260 pounds, and fit into a single airplane seat, so none of this should matter to me (except as it affects those I care about). But Kevin Smith also fit into a single seat, and Southwest decided to treat him as if he were committing fatty terrorism anyway. I don’t want to be fucked with the way Smith was.

So when I was making travel plans from San Jose to San Diego (on business), and found out that Southwest was basically the only choice, I got worried. I posted to the Fat Forward group on facebook to see what others’ experiences were, and was told that Southwest is now pretty good toward fat people, and I shouldn’t expect any problems. I took my flights in February, and all went well. One thing that helped was that I bought early-bird check-in, so I was in the first of the regular boarding groups, and was able to snag a nice window seat. It was even maybe a bit more civilized than most boarding experiences because of the way Southwest makes people line up.

The real test will be my next business trip, which will be to Seattle, and on which Tante Terri will be accompanying me. I will keep you guys posted.

*My doorway into fat acceptance was that I am attracted to fat women.

Skepchick and Two Forms of Weight Stigma

I know I’ve been linking to Skepchick a lot. That’s because, when it comes to size acceptance, they are not preaching to the choir as I am, but rather bringing size acceptance to an audience that is less aware of it. Today’s post is about weight stigma conversations, and it’s by Olivia, who is not fat. She categorizes weight stigma in an interesting and new way. I’ve long felt that thin allies were welcome in a conversation on weight stigma (except see below), and I’ve known that thin people were also harmed by weight stigma, but I’ve never formally split this stigma into two categories before, and I’m finding it helpful.

I will say, though, that if there are two kings of weight stigma, and the conversation at hand is about the kind that only fat people experience (fatphobia), then it’s probably not the best idea for a thin person to insert her/his opinion on it, or to steer the discussion to body dissatisfaction.

Quick Link: Depression, Side Effects, and Skepchick

In the interest of strengthening the links between fatties and skeptics, I am once again posting a link to a post on Skepchick. This one is by Elyse, is called Doctors vs Orgasms, and is about a series of discussions with her doctor about medications and their side effects. The reason I’m linking to it is that one of the side effects is weight gain, a possibility considered to horrifying to consider by the doctor, although not by Elyse. The lessons here are (a) anti-fat bias hurts thin people like Elyse as well, and (b) sometimes it’s best to stand up to one’s doctor.

Lots of Fatties

In fatness news, there’s been some talk about how there are now a lot fewer fat children ages 2 to 5, and how wonderful that is. Here’s the study:, and here’s a (mostly) glowing report on it: And, of course, anti-fat warriors have questioned the significance of the decrease:

In this case, I think the anti-fatties are right in that the decline is not important. And the prior increases in fatness are also not important, although the fat haters don’t agree with that. The really interesting outcome of this study to me is that the rate of fatness has been essentially constant for nearly all age groups over the past 10 years. That means that there’s no big fat crisis on the horizon; the “crisis” is here, and it turns out to be no big deal. (By the way, the billions of health care costs due to fatties? Most of that is really due to failed weight-loss attempts, and is therefore caused by hatred of fat rather than fatness itself.) The leveling off of this trend, which dates from just after World War II, means that we’ve already shown that we as a society can deal (however imperfectly) with the current level of fatness.

This post by Paul Campos puts this latest news into perspective:

Personally, I’m not concerned with the fatness rate because, as I said above, we already know that it’s no big deal. Also, keep in mind that many of the stated causes of the fatness trend, such as the green revolution in agriculture, television, and the ever-increasing array of electronic distractions, are for the most part good things that have made lives better.