I don't think I could have timed this more perfectly! Since going public with my personal goal of losing 40-50 pounds before my next birthday (see link below), news of actor/director Kevin Smith recently being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for allegedly being too fat has been making headlines across the nation over the past few days.
Southwest stated that their reason for removing Smith from the flight was ultimately for the safety and comfort of their passengers. Smith, who usually purchases two seats when he flies, was reported to have switched to an earlier flight where there was only one seat left. He had actually been seated, but was asked to leave a short time later. While he openly acknowledged that he is overweight, Smith insisted that he didn't pose a safety risk, quipping on Twitter, "What, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?"
A Southwest spokesperson was quoted as saying, "[A] timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement." In other words, Southwest is basically saying that if I was sitting next to a portly gentleman (or lady) on a flight and we were about to crash, I might possibly die - not from the crash, mind you, but because I'd be stuck in my seat due to the sizeable person sitting next to me, unable to make a mad dash for the emergency exit. If you ask me, I'd much rather take my chances with the large person than with some potential terrorist trying to set off a bomb in their shoe.
But along those same lines, exactly how would one know whether or not they fit the general description of someone who might be considered "fat?"
The truth is, we don't know. For many of us, it's difficult enough just to live in a society that is governed by such a thinly veiled double standard. We regularly laud petite supermodels and worship athletes with chiseled muscles, yet, we live such a sedentary lifestyle, sitting lazily in front of the TV, hypnotized by the commercials we see, most of which have something to do with food or eating. In fact, we've gotten so atrociously lazy that we've shortened "Kentucky Fried Chicken" to KFC.
Comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who is generously proportioned, regularly jokes about his size in his comedy routines with the line, "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy." He explains that there are "Five Levels of Fatness," which range from big, healthy, husky, fluffy, and finally, "Damn!" There is actually a sixth level of fatness, but quite frankly, it goes beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say that about a year ago, I was probably somewhere between husky and fluffy, but you can take a look at the photo of the two "fluffy" dudes (Gabriel and I, taken August 2008 in Tempe) and judge for yourself.
Eventually, I came to realize that being fat ... err, I mean fluffy ... isn't all it's cracked up to be - unless of course you happen to be Gabriel Iglesias. For a self-professed "fluffy" guy, he seems genuinely happy being the size that he is, so I have to give him kudos for that. He jokes on his DVD that if he happened to die from overeating, that's how it was meant to be. But for a lot of us, being big isn't necessarily a good thing, especially when size comes with a number of health-related complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure, among others.
At 268 pounds - which is the heaviest I have ever weighed - I was definitely not happy with myself. For one thing, my clothes no longer fit, so I had to buy new, bigger clothes. It was quite a surreal experience for me when I was going through all my old clothes last summer, pulling out numerous pairs of jeans that I used to wear and realizing that I'd probably never be able to wear them again.
It was also quite an experience for me to see one of my old high school teachers late last summer and having him say to me, "Wow, you got big, I almost didn't recognize you."
So am I fat? According to my Body Mass Index and my doctor, I am considered "clinically obese." So do I pose a safety risk the next time I happen to hop on board a commercial flight? Not unless I happen to have eaten a "fully-loaded" Indian taco the previous evening. Heck, even Kevin Smith would classify that as a safety risk. Those of you who have eaten an Indian taco before know what I'm talking about.
Anyway...in the meantime, if any of you out there want to share your weight loss success (or failure) stories with me, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.