We live in a world where judging people by their appearance is condemned. Yet, if we’re honest, we’ve all at one time or another felt an unwelcome twinge when we find that the woman next to us in a flight or bus is podgy.
In a continent like ours (Africa) being fat/podgy is often related to wealth, health and even beauty. While women in the western world put on girdles to look skinnier women here pad their asses to make them look huge. Historically, the paintings of Peter Paul Ruebens (1577-1640) shows women who are plump and overflowing. Their corpulence showed that they were well-fed, didn’t have to do manual labor, and had leisure time. Being podgy was equated with being rich. The term “ruebenesque” comes from his name.
However, when being podgy and beautiful starts to make people uncomfortable, a solution is needed. Months back, I travelled home using a public transport and it was one of the most uncomfortable rides ever. So uncomfortable that I was gloomy throughout the journey which lasted for 4 hours and if asked why, I might have just sobbed while explaining how squashed I was. Felt like I had been deprived of my right and cheated. Long and short of the gist is, I had to sit next to a Lady who was fat enough to occupy two seats yet paid for one.
The seats in most modes of transportation are designed to squeeze in the maximum number of passengers in the smallest possible space. A good example is buses in Nigeria where a minimum of 4 people are expected to occupy a row not minding their sizes. Even if all four are podgy and it is obviously impossible to fit them in the available space, the conductors will turn a blind eye towards the situation so it is either you manage or let go and drop down.
Now, what’s the best way to handle a situation like this? Asking a person who is affluent in size to pay twice the fare seems like the just thing to do. After all, they are occupying the space of approximately two average humans. If airlines charge a person higher based on how much his/her baggage weighs, why then should humans not be charged based on their size and the space they occupy? Also, for those who feel this just act is unfair; Imagine the cost of a plate of chips in a restaurant is N 500.00, now, you walk into this restaurant to order for two plates of chips because you are hungry, you will have to pay twice the cost of a plate which will be N 1,000.00 right? No one will judge you for being hungry.
On the other hand, tolerance comes to play a role here. Businesses should be accommodating towards everyone, regardless of their size. This can be done by reducing the number of people expected to sit on a row (in buses/taxis) or providing wider seats such that both the slim and fat are comfortable.
Both suggestions are pretty solid if you ask me but I will love to hear your opinion. What do you think, Should the Affluent in Size Pay More?