Not Sitting Pretty

And here we go again.

Jaelynn Chaney – latest contender for Victim Of The Week and self-styled ‘plus-size travel, fashion and lifestyle’ creator – is demanding that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) must do more to ‘protect’ morbidly obese passengers and even offer them free extra seats.

‘Air travel should be comfortable and accessible for everyone,’ she wrote in an online petition.

But what Jaelynn fails to realize is that everything doesn’t revolve around her.

Indeed, where’s my protection from being suffocated next to someone who spills out the confines of their own seat?

Take this ordeal from a couple of years back.

Picture the scene. Five feet tall and 112lbs. Quietly reading a book and waiting for take-off.

And praying that the seat next to me in 1A is going to remain free. Because I don’t like window seats but, just as I won’t give up my seat to anyone who asks to swap, so I won’t impose on others to change theirs.

Then, it happens. A monsoon of a woman lands next to me. I’m pressed so far against the glass, I can see the dandruff on the head of one of the baggage handlers.

Monsoon Woman is holding the biggest container of Coke I have ever seen. It’s a bucket and threatens to drown me as she tries to manoeuver herself into her seat.

She finishes her Coke and, as we have time before take-off, removes her knitting from a bag that is the size of a small condo.

I try to ignore it. We have a four-hour flight ahead of us. Just me and her in row one.

Her with her knitting. Her elbow threatening to take out my right eye with every stitch. And there are a lot of stitches. One every three seconds. The creation is already huge. Is it a tent? If she’s knitting a sweater for herself, it occurs to me she’s unlikely to finish it in her lifetime.

My breathing gets faster. I suffer from claustrophobia, and the knitting machine is devouring me, one strand of wool at a time. I try to ignore it, but my palms are sweating. Now my forehead is sweating. I can hardly breathe.

‘Please, I have to get out,’ I say, mountaineering over the Everest of flesh. It takes forever because I have no crampons.

Finally, I’m out, and the captain is called. ‘Are you on meds?’ he asks, as I clutch my chest, faint with panic. I look at him blankly. ‘I don’t even know what meds are’ – which at the time I didn’t.

But guess what? According to Jaelynn, to point out any of this out amounts to ‘discrimination’.

In fact, she says, the FAA should provide larger passengers with ‘an extra free seat, or even two or three … depending on their size’.

And who’s going to pay for these ‘free’ extra seats? You are, of course. And I am, through higher fare-rates.

Never mind that America has the worst obesity problem in the world. Nor that being overweight poses serious risks to your health and is a terrible drain on national medical resources. So long as Jaelynn is happy, that’s all that matters. Right?

Now, of course, this is a free country. A free and very fat country. And Jaelynn can demand whatever she likes, no matter how unreasonable.

But let me feel free to serve a sizable helping of reality in return: being overweight does not qualify you for special treatment over others. Just as being healthy weight doesn’t. Isn’t that what equality means?

Yes, a small minority of people suffer weight issues that are entirely out of their control due to medical conditions – and they should receive the necessary support they require.

But the hard truth is, the vast majority of obese people in America – of which there are a staggering 70million – have got there through bad eating habits, a lack of exercise and inadequate self-control.

And if you don’t meet the parameters of a society that is catered to the ‘normal’ majority – are we even allowed to say that word anymore? – then perhaps you’re the one who needs to be more accommodating.

In fact, it would hardly be unreasonable to argue that if someone is so large they infringe into someone else’s paid-for seat then they should be required to buy additional seating.

Otherwise your unassuming neighbor whose flight has just been thrown into discomfort should be the one seeking a refund.

This is all part of a wider cultural shift. Victimhood is now the new royalty. With everyone competing for the crown.

Plus-sized celebrities like model Ashley Graham or singer Lizzo who shriek that their unhealthy bodies must be celebrated are partly to blame. Since when did saying a healthy lifestyle is aspirational become a cancellable offense?

This blatant attempt by so-called ‘influencer’ Jaelynn to change a world that doesn’t run according to her own egotistical standards came just hours before country singer Jessie James Decker took to Instagram to abuse her sizeable sway as a celebrity and lambast United Airlines

Jessie echoed her brother-in-law’s claims that her pregnant and therefore ‘high risk’ sister, Sydney Rae Bass, had been forced to get on her ‘hands and knees’ during a United flight and clean up the popcorn her bratty children had thrown in the aisle. Imagine that! Having to clean up after yourself and your kids.

This is out of control.

No one honestly thinks overweight passengers should be given special privileges that extend to extra freebies. And the same goes for not expecting airline attendants to put up with whatever mess a z-lister’s pregnant sister throws their way.

The problem is, most people are afraid to say so. But I’m leading the backlash.

You can buy your own extra seats – and pick up your popcorn from the floor while you’re at it.