Man asked to move from emergency exit seat claims he was ‘fat-shamed’


A man was told to move from an emergency seat after he required an extension seat-belt because of his size. But is this fat shaming?

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Geelong man, Darren Beales,  says he felt “fat-shamed” when a Qantas air hostess  insisted he not sit in the exit row seat he had purchased.

Beales  required an extension seatbelt because of his size. Qantas explained to Mr Beales that if a passenger requires an extension seatbelt they are disqualified from sitting in the emergency row.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has guidelines on which passengers are appropriate to be seated in exit rows and help in tan emergency.

"So pretty much everyone was seated on the plane and she's came back up to me and she said, 'well, look, we've got another seat for you,” Bealestold the Geelong Advertiser.

The hostess suggested he could pay for another seat.

“Then she turned around and said: ‘next time you can pay for a second seat for half price’,” he said.

“It was fat-shaming … she was rude.”

Mr Beales said he had to move from his seat in front of everyone on the plane and it was “humiliating.”

Is this fat-shaming?

Body positivity and anti-fat shaming have been gaining momentum in mainstream society for the past decade.

The fat-acceptance movement has been advocating to change anti-fat bias in society.

Fat-shaming researcher and sociologist Professor Deborah Lupton said Mr Beales’ situation is complex.

“There is no doubt that fat people are discriminated against in society,” she said.

“This case is tricky, because he may have thought the reason he wasn’t allowed to sit in the exit row was because of his body size.”

The experience would have made him feel marginalised and vulnerable, she said, but may not amount to fat shaming.

“Those regulations are reasonable - people with kids or are pregnant aren’t allowed to sit there either.”

Professor Lupton believes it is good to start the conversation about fat-shaming and raise awareness about the experiences of fat people.

“He’s made an accusation and that has created media attention. In a way, that is good to give these issues public attention because it is a huge problem.”

“Fat shaming can have a significant effect on people.”

“For those of us who don’t have to live in fat bodies, we need to be aware of our biases and judgements of people. So we need to raise awareness of these issues.”

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