Many plus-size people who travel often know the pains of tiny airplane seats. Instagram model Natalie Hage is also familiar with the extra trouble she must go through to travel on a plane, but when her seatmate decided to take his rudeness to the next level, Hage was not afraid to have an open honest conversation with him about how to treat people.
The NY Daily News reports about the plus-size model’s ordeal aboard an American Airlines flight and how she managed to turn a very upsetting situation into a teaching moment about body shaming. Hage explains that she could not help but notice that the man sitting next to her was texting a friend with some hateful messages directed at her and her size.
The man made jokes about being pressed up against the window due to Hage’s size. He wrote that he was leaving a “neck mark on the window.” The friend at one point wrote, “Hopefully she didn't have any Mexican food.” To which the passenger responded, “I think she ate a Mexican.”
Hage made sure to take pics to show that she was not actually in this man’s way and his hateful exaggerations to his friend were completely unwarranted and hurtful. Hage says, “I'm already such an anxious flier, and this man was straight-up lying about me being in his space. He was using my size as a punching bag, for his amusement. He thought it was funny.”
Though Hage was able to keep calm and quiet throughout the flight, she knew she had to say something after landing. She confronted the man about the hateful messages she witnessed him writing to a friend about her and though he first denies making fun of her - he quickly apologizes after she quotes some of the text messages she saw. He gives the excuse that he had been drinking, but instead of making things better he follows up the apology explaining to Hage how she should not be sitting in the exit row seeing how she would be unable to assist passengers in an emergency due to her size.
It was at that point that Hage realized he wasn’t really remorseful. She says, “I knew at that point he wasn't really sorry. The texts were how he really felt.” She then calmly explains how she is a model, works out 5 times a week and that he should not judge her based on the way her body looks. Hage hopes that the video she was able to take of the confrontation will highlight her message about the harmfulness of body shaming. She says, “It's one thing to verbally tell your story, but I don't think it really hits home for people until they see it on video, especially people who don't understand this type of hatred, bias and prejudice. What came out of this man's mouth was very impactful. I didn't get his face. My point in doing it was to make a recording like a fly on the wall. Here's a little tiny piece of one interaction.”
What do you think about the statement Natalie Hage is making by posting this video publicly?
Do you think the video and her statements send a helpful message to those who may think it’s okay to joke around with friends in this way?