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The Fat Seat

A new roller coaster in Staffordshire features seats that accommodate fat people. That's the good news. The bad news is that, uh, the seats are referred to as the "big boy" seats.

The piece starts out with a really negative tone ("Wow, we're all getting fat - they even need to make roller coaster seats bigger") but ultimately redeems itself with this:

A special seat for the heftier man or woman is probably less humiliating than what happens in American theme parks, where would-be riders sit in a sample chair and try to lock the restraints. If they don't fit, the people are turned away.

Indeed.

The biggest problem with the seating is, apparently, coming up with a good name. Here's an idea: no name. They're just bigger seats, that's all. There's no need to call them "big boy", "the fuller figure", or using another clever phrase that can't use the word "fat". They're bigger, they're here - get used to it.

Fatonomics | Why Aren't We Celebrating?

Jason B July 24th, 2005 | Link | I am 6-5, 250 and would be
I am 6-5, 250 and would be happy to have a bigger seat and could care less if they called it the "bigboy" seat or whatever. As long as it gives me more room I don't care.....
2DayIs4Me July 24th, 2005 | Link | Yeah, but I'm 5'2 and
Yeah, but I'm 5'2 and considerably less than 250, and I'm not sure I'd be particularly thrilled about being put in the "bigboy" seat -- IF I rode theme park thrill rides in the first place, which I don't. BTW, I recently bought a compact car (to replace my boat-of-a-van-which-is-a-gas-hogg for my commuter vehicle). I was worried about fitting into it or needing nonexistent seatbelt extenders, etc., which I shouldn't have been -- it fits me just fine -- but my male friend who is probably closer to your size than mine has a HeckOvA time cramming himself into it in any way, shape or form. I still say this: ergonomic engineers MUST be a lot smarter than I when it comes to designing seating. I think if they stopped using outdated human metrics from the '50s (or '30s), when the population WAS, on average, shorter and smaller than it is today, SURELY seating of ALL kinds could be designed that would better accommodate actual consumers who actually wish to fit comfortably and safely into it today. This should not be a "moral" issue -- or if it is, the moral issue should be, aren't designers of seating "morally" (if not legally) obligated to design it to be safe and usable by actual (not theorietical) people who actually are (not theoretically "might" be) using it TODAY?
paul July 24th, 2005 | Link | I wouldn't want to be in the
I wouldn't want to be in the "big boy" seat, either. That's a segregating, demeaning term that is wholly unnecessary. They're bigger seats - that's all. It's like a restaurant with a "fat only" section. I agree on the design process, 2Day. The only real progress I've heard of in the auto industry (in particular) is designing for pregnant women and, now, seniors. But for some stupid reason the little things like making sure seatbelts are big enough (which, remember, isn't necessary by law) and testing with bigger dummies don't seem to happen. I'd also guess that cost would be sold as the reason it's not done, which is just a smokescreen.
agent_ryan July 24th, 2005 | Link | I remember GM has a "crash
I remember GM has a "crash test dummy" thats apparently is refered to as "irregular size" but they don't use it in the line of tests and what not most of the time.
bonoist July 24th, 2005 | Link | According to the article -
According to the article - more than half of the British population is considered overweight or obese - so why only put ONE large seat per train? Shouldn't at least half of them be larger seats?
nancytoby July 24th, 2005 | Link | Jeez, and here I thought
Jeez, and here I thought calling adult people "boy" or "girl" went out with the Deep South of the 1950s. Shows how much I know. Regarding testing, I believe most airplane restraints and weight limits are planned around a ~170-pound adult frame (adult American male at about the 50th percentile, I believe). I don't feel too safe with that weight limit, do you? Why aren't these tests done with 95% of the population in mind instead of 50 percent?
stef July 24th, 2005 | Link | If there's no official name,
If there's no official name, they'll end up being unofficially called fattie seats. Personally I think "big boy" is less offensive than most of the names I can think of.
Lizzy July 24th, 2005 | Link | "If there's no official
"If there's no official name, they'll end up being unofficially called fattie seats. Personally I think "big boy" is less offensive than most of the names I can think of." What about "larger"? Do they have to make it a demeaning name like "Big Boy"?
nwhiker July 25th, 2005 | Link | Roomie seats? Or Superseats?
Roomie seats? Or Superseats? Along the same vein: Britax, who makes all sorts of seats, makes VERY good carseats for kids. When my non-yet 5 month old hit 20lbs, their was the very only seat on the market to be rear facing -kids should be rear-facing til 12 months at least- for weights over 20lbs: all the other manufacturers went with the 20lbs/1year and there was nothing else on the market. So I do like Britax. When she hit 40lbs at 3.5 and still needed to be in a 5pt harness.... we bought an other Britax that allows for a 5pt harness til 80lbs. She is still, at almost 8, btw, still in that seat since she's abit over 60. Her early quick weight gain curve levelled off... Anyhow. That seat was called the Super Elite. Then they did a slight redesign on the seat and renamed it... The Husky. We have one of those for her now (the old Super Elite had to be trashed when we were rear-ended). I just hatehatehatehate that name. Nothing wrong with the seat, though.
Kaylen July 25th, 2005 | Link | I agree with stef. There
I agree with stef. There were 3 larger seats in the theatre at my old work, and people referred to them as the fatty seats. (The main problem with those seats was actually a lack of publicity. I sat through several uncomfortable meetings until another fat coworker told me about them after I complained how uncomfortable the seats were.)
beckylee July 25th, 2005 | Link | Good Lord! I'm just reading
Good Lord! I'm just reading along, and then BAM! Paul hauls out with "It's like a restaurant with a "fat only" section." Can you even IMAGINE how mortifying that would be? Would they separate you from your thinner friends? Would they serve only lettuce and low-sodium chicken broth? Would the chairs have signs that say, "Fat Asses Only"??? Clearly, although this was theoretical, there has to be some urgency in the SA movement. With how things are going in this diet-frenzied society, and even things which are "size-friendly" being called horrible names like the big boy seat, can a "fat only" section really be that far off? Some day, won't people want the "right" to not have to watch fat people eat? I'm sure I'm overreacting. I was just stunned.
paul July 25th, 2005 | Link | nwhiker: Then they did a
nwhiker: Then they did a slight redesign on the seat and renamed it... The Husky. Ugh. That brings back memories of clothing from my youth: "husky" is the rather crappy term used to describe clothes for fat boys. (Or was... I'm not sure if it still is, frankly.)
meganormal July 25th, 2005 | Link | The seats on theme park
The seats on theme park rides are TINY anyway. Even when I was at my smallest (UK size 10/12) they were too tight on me! Big seats are absolutely necessary (and therefore not really something to get excited about?), but I really do not like the idea of being singled out and told to sit in one, which I'm guessing is what will happen.
meganormal July 25th, 2005 | Link | Sorry, it is *exciting*
Sorry, it is *exciting* because it means comfort for many people, I just mean that it's hard to think of it as a wonderful thing just because it is so necessary and companies are just realising they have to adapt for their market.
nellicat July 26th, 2005 | Link | Oh God, Paul, yes! "Husky"
Oh God, Paul, yes! "Husky" for boys, and . . . shudder. . . "Chubby" for girls. Oh, the LOATHING with which my mother spoke that word when she shopped for my sister's clothes!
asrai July 26th, 2005 | Link | beckylee, or local Outback
beckylee, or local Outback does have a section that they put all the fat people in. It's a very long booth with three tables in front and chairs on the opposite side. And it faces the entire room giving it a feeling of being on stage almost. It's really disturbing and I'm not going back.
beckylee July 26th, 2005 | Link | asrai, man i wish you were
asrai, man i wish you were kidding. thankfully my local Outback does not have such a thing, because WOW do I love their food. of course, I can only afford to go there once in a blue moon, so even if i decided to boycott because of this, they'd miss like $80 a year. LOL and, if i were to allow myself to think too much about this (which i NEVER do, of course ;) i would think that they are total bastards for doing that while they serve those "aussie cheese fries" which probably contain the equivalent of 3 weeks calorie needs for anyone. and if i REALLY thought about it, which i'm not, i would be willing to bet that they think they are doing a GOOD thing by providing seating that fat people can fit in. now, since i haven't thought about this very much and if i did it would make me angry, i'm ending this post.
aces219 July 26th, 2005 | Link | I guess I don't understand
I guess I don't understand what is so bad about having part of a restaurant section be laid out so it can more easily accommodate large parties and larger bodies. Isn't it good to have a choice? When I was a hostess at Chi-Chi's, there were some seats (the bench seats like you have described, and also certain booths) where larger people just fit better. We also tried to sit larger people at tables instead of at booths because they might feel more comfortable, but if someone asked for a booth I certainly accommodated them if possible. As a larger person, I can understand not wanting to sit at a table because you are out in the middle of the floor and you feel like everyone is looking at you. I really do believe that these restaurants want to make their customers happy. They want you to be comfortable so you spend a lot of money. I'm all for fat acceptance, but when we start believing that the world is out to get us, maybe we need to take a step back. I also don't think it's appropriate to get upset with restaurants for serving food that is bad for you when they also offer healthy choices. It's up to you. I think those cheese fries are delicious, but I know they are really bad for me so I won't eat them all the time. A lot of restaurants have tried to do healthier menus (e.g. Ruby Tuesday) and have faced a ton of backlash. In this capitalist environment, I can't blame them for making decisions that maximize their profits. Please note that I am not trying to be a shill for the restaurant industry. They do plenty of evil things, and I wish they would all provide nutritional information (I don't care if it's bad for me, sometimes that's OK, but I still want to know just how bad). I think as a movement we lose our credibility when we start making an issue out of EVERYTHING.
asrai July 27th, 2005 | Link | Would it really be that much
Would it really be that much harder to, at the very least, not put them facing the entire room? Or even better, intersprese them discreetly with the rest of the crowd? Why put us all, not only in our own section, but on display? I'd have been much more comfortable at a table where I wasn't segregated away from the "normal" humans, personally. (Though, given the option, I'd have picked a booth, myself. I don't have problems with them other than that they're a little tall when I step down.)
beckylee July 27th, 2005 | Link | aces, well said and point
aces, well said and point taken. however, I did not intend to crucify them simply for serving unhealthy food. I love the cheese fries too, but again, only eat there very seldom, so it's not a problem. What I do have a problem with, however, is that this particular location that asrai mentioned seems to have made it uncomfortable for people with an obvious "you're sitting here because you're fat" section. I have been to restaurants that provide seating that accomodates everyone (Olive Garden, for instance) while embarrassing no one. It just seems to me that if had the feeling of being on display, it would discourage you from eating the very food they are offering for fear that people would stare. It seems contradictory to me.
aces219 July 27th, 2005 | Link | I still feel like the
I still feel like the primary reason they have that bench seating section is so they can accommodate large parties. If it's set up the way I think it is, tables can be pushed together...it's kind of modular so that party size can vary. It just happens to be that those tables are easily movable so they can also accommodate people of different sizes. I don't really think that was the original intent though. I agree it would be nice to not have them face the entire room, but it seems like if they did that it wouldn't be an efficient use of space. I guess it would be nice if we could get over our self-consciousness and sit wherever without thinking that everyone is staring. That's hard, I know. You know, if you don't want to sit in that section, ask if you can sit somewhere else. I highly doubt they'll say "nope, you're fat, you have to sit here". And if they won't accommodate you, take your money somewhere else.
asrai July 27th, 2005 | Link | I definitely would've either
I definitely would've either asked for a different seat or just left if I'd have realized before I sat down. Especially since they had so many of us squished together in there that I couldn't even get back out without having to ask someone else to get up. I don't really appreciate having a stranger on my lap. It may have been created with large parties in mind, but that's not how they're using it (they use the aisle tables for large parties). And I do think they probably think they're doing us a favor, but it's still pretty disturbing, if not tacky, and I still won't go back there. :) I have thought of writing them a letter, though, just so they know, in case they don't. For me it's not about self-consciousness. I sit at tables just fine, and I've never felt like I'm being watched before. It really is just the layout, lighting, and the fact that every plus-size person in the building (that I could see) was squished into one relatively small space.
Liz July 30th, 2005 | Link | My local Outback also has a
My local Outback also has a section of tables that have a booth on one side and chairs on the other side. In my Outback, the section with the bench and the chairs on the other side is toward the middle of the room and I would not describe it as facing the entire room. I have never noticed who they seat there, but I have noticed plenty of plus-size people (including me) sitting in the regular booths at Outback, so I don't think they are discriminating and seating all the plus-size people in one section. I don't know how they could possibly seat all plus-size people in that one small section anyway, since the number of plus-size people at Outback is always greater than the numbers of tables with a bench on one side and chairs on the other side. Lots of people can't sit in booths and need chairs and I am happy that Outback recognizes that and provides an alternative for those people. My mother-in-law is not large, but she had a stroke and uses a walker and she can't get in and out of a booth. She needs a chair with arms (otherwise she risks falling over because her balance is not good). Some people can't sit in a booth because they are too fat and they need a chair. My husband, who is neither fat nor disabled, simply prefers chairs to booths because he likes to sit close to the table and in a booth he is usually too far away. I, on the other hand, love booths because I find them cozy and since I'm larger than my husband, but not so large that I don't fit, I usually find that I am a comfortable distance from the table in a booth. I think we should congratulate restaurants that offer a variety of seating choices and not assume they are doing so to single out certain people. I also think that if we are not happy with where a restaurant seats us, we should speak up and let them know. I went out last weekend and I didn't like the table I was offered because it was in a dark corner. They told me that if I waited five minutes they'd have another table available (they were very busy that night). I waited and got the table I wanted. No problem -- restaurants want to make their customers happy so they will come back again.
asrai July 30th, 2005 | Link | Just goes to show how these
Just goes to show how these things vary from one site to the next, Liz. Apparently your experience is different than mine. I personally wouldn't have "assumed" they were singling out anybody if they hadn't actually been, pretty obviously, doing so. Whether it was with good or bad intent, I have no idea, but it's good to know it's not a universal thing within the company. You'd think all businesses "want to make their customers happy" so they come back, but from what I've read here, many of us have a story or two of our business being turned away because of our size. I've noticed this happens a lot more where I live now than it did in my hometown, which I find pretty unfortunate since I like the area better in pretty much every other aspect.
jujube August 15th, 2005 | Link | I'm an older college student
I'm an older college student who hates those all-in-one desks that makes each class period very miserable for me trying to fit my size-24 body. There are tables with chairs that are reserved for the larger students, but I refuse to sit behind one. Call it pride, vanity, or what-have-you but I have yet to see any of the larger students use those tables.
strawberry August 17th, 2005 | Link | Jujube - USE the table and
Jujube - USE the table and chair. If no one uses it, they'll probably remove it, sentencing future generations of students to squeeze into those awful little desks. Tables usually have more room on them than those desks anyway. Why not be comfortable instead of miserable? Haven't we all had enough of trying to fit ourselves into things that are too small for us?
bonoist August 17th, 2005 | Link | I had no problem using the
I had no problem using the tables and chairs in my college classes. In fact, most people wanted to use them because the desks are uncomfortable for almost everyone, not just large people.
nwhiker August 17th, 2005 | Link | Gah. Those desks made my
Gah. Those desks made my life miserable in grad school (undergrad in France, no such problems)... not because of fat but because there would be maybe 1, at most, 2 left handed desks in any given classroom... and for whatever reason, my graduate astrophysics program, more than half of us were lefties... we were all unhappy. For that reason alone, I think they should be banned! Us lefties are at least 10% of the population, don't we deserve desks we can write on too? Oh wait... just like us fatties... we should have trained ourselves to use... never mind.
bonoist August 17th, 2005 | Link | nwhiker - I'm a leftie too -
nwhiker - I'm a leftie too - so those desks always caused me much grief in school. That was the major reason I sat at the tables, the second was due to my gut. :-P
jujube August 17th, 2005 | Link | Thanks to everyone's
Thanks to everyone's affirming comments about the ill-fitting desks, I will use the table and chair. I want to learn in comfort, not torture.
2DayIs4Me August 17th, 2005 | Link | Good choice. FWIW, I took a
Good choice. FWIW, I took a full load of college classes last year (in addition to working F/T) and *everyone* refused to sit at those grade-school-style desks. Adults have purses, briefcases, backpacks, laptop computers, etc. Those little grade-school-style desks are completely inappropriate for ALL adult learners these days. The college was in the middle of a remodeling project and after 2-1/2 weeks of ALL students (who were able) either standing throughout the class or sitting on the floor (in protest of inadequate desks), the college decided to order new tables and workstations for ALL classrooms -- No More silly little grade-school desks for ANYONE! BTW, many of the instructors were sympathetic, and adjourned their classes to a local coffeeshop, or to the cafeteria, or someplace that had adequate space for ADULTS to spread out their materials and work comfortably (something that embarrassed college officials, and made them worry about insurance liability, which probably speeded up their decision to order better workspace for students).
thelmarose August 17th, 2005 | Link | You know, jujube, I'll bet
You know, jujube, I'll bet most people in the class wouldn't even realize why you were sitting at the table. It never really dawned on me until fairly recently (when it started happening to me) that people have trouble fitting into booths, desks, etc. And most of the other students are probably too worried about their own bodies and how they "need to lose 10 pounds" to think too much about you, anyway. At least, that's what I was like as a college student.

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