‘Fat people should fly business class’

There is a delicate issue in the air, literally, and there's no way of broaching the subject other than in a blunt manner so I will:

"Fat people have to stop flying economy on international flights.''

I know it's hurtful, I know it will cause unpleasantness but this issue has to be looked squarely in the eye because, frankly, it's out of control, and in no way is it the fault of the obese.

Australians are unique in the world in that we routinely travel extraordinary distances for international holidays.

As a consequence, millions of long haul Australian flyers now have stories of being seated, for up to 15 hours, next to an unfeasibly large body creeping across the arm rest, like a tide of human lava.

All reasonable Australians can remain stoic and maintain a cheerful demeanour on domestic flights when seated next to a person suffering obesity.

But even the most courageous and self disciplined soul cannot abide for 12 or even 15 hours as they are slowly suffocated by human flesh.

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Before anyone accuses me of insensitivity, discrimination or "fat shaming,'' let me hasten to reassure them that I too am fat, through no fault of my own.

Each time I visit my doctor he directs me to the scales, stabs a stubby index figure at the dial, glares at me accusingly with his rheumy eyes, and says:

"You are a fatty.''

From that point things always escalate into unpleasantness.

Michael Madigan’s doctor is not in the habit of sugar-coating what he says — especially when it comes to obesity. Picture: Thinkstock
Michael Madigan’s doctor is not in the habit of sugar-coating what he says — especially when it comes to obesity. Picture: Thinkstock

I begin by replying, with gentle diplomacy, that the correct word is "obese'' and that, furthermore, given leading authorities including the American Medical Association have officially recognised obesity as a chronic disease he, as an accredited clinician, is obligated to provide me with a cure.

My doctor, an elderly and cantankerous man whose politics I object to, has clearly not bothered staying abreast of global medical advancements.

He yells at me there is no "cure'' other than me ceasing to eat 500 grams steak with giant jacket potatoes and washing them down with litres of beer and buckets of Maggie Beer Burnt Fig Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream.

And I, maintaining admiral restraint, inform him that I am personally acquainted with at least six, peer-reviewed longitudinal studies from tertiary institutions across three continents which prove, conclusively, that obesity is caused not by my consumption of beer, steak and ice cream but by global capital's mass production of refined sugars.

Global capital, I say, should be fought with government-imposed fat taxes which would have the twin benefits of reducing obscene profits margins and returning me to the more svelte figure of my youth.

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And my doctor, sighing, removing his cigar from his mouth and running his fingers through his thinning hair, fixes me with a penetrating stare which he maintains for up to 60 seconds before declaring:

"You great, big, fat, half wit.''

Excess baggage? It’s not my fault, says Michael Madigan. Picture: iStock
Excess baggage? It’s not my fault, says Michael Madigan. Picture: iStock

I rise above it, of course. I am accustomed to this man's micro-aggressions and will not dignify them with a response.

But I do take responsibility for my present obese condition, even if it is no fault of my own.

Given it is clear to me that Australian Governments won't bite the bullet, impose a sugar tax and drag our sugar cane growers before a tribunal to have them charged with creating fat people, it's time for "woke'' Australians such as myself to impose our own personal fat tax.

For this reason, when I fly to Ireland this weekend, I shall fly business class.

I will pay the exorbitant tariff to occupy a larger business class seat as a nod of recognition to my fellow travellers they should not have to lean at a 45 degree angle for 12 hours to accommodate my 105 kilogram frame adjacent to them in an economy seat.

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But I shall also pay this grossly inflated ticket price as an act of personal political protest, signalling my intention to begin fighting back against a system which has abrogated its responsibilities to keep me thin.

I will revert back to the more competitively priced economy seats only when governments meet their obligations to remove 20 kilograms of fat from my body.

I do, sincerely, urge all fatties to join me in this struggle.

Michael Madigan is a columnist with The Courier-Mail