Living the Life of a Person Living with Obesity

Today’s guest post comes from Marty Enokson. Marty is chair of the Canadian Obesity Network’s Public Engagement Initiative. You can find out more about Marty here.


Margo Brodowicz

Okay, so this problem had plagued me for many, many years.

One of my biggest concerns for years was whether or not I could fit into a bathroom on a plane – especially for the incredibly long trips like the one that I am currently on to Copenhagen, Denmark. Seven hours without relieving oneself is an incredibly challenging proposition.

But, it is something I have worried about every single time I have flown.  I have never used the bathroom on a plane because I was always worried about being a spectacle: the overweight guy who couldn’t get into the bathroom. That, or I’d worry if I got in the bathroom I would get stuck. The horror of those images and the ridicule I would have suffered has traumatized and scarred me for a lifetime – so much so that I have never gone to the bathroom on a plane. Ever.  I am now 50 years old.

On a recent flight to Edmonton from Reykjavik – I was in Copenhagen for an event with a focus on changing the conversation around obesity – I was blessed to be seated in the business class section with only one other man. (Business class literally to myself again! So freaking cool. But I digress).

I decided, while it was quiet and given the fact that there was only one other man in business class, to see if I could get into the washroom. If there was ever a time to do it, now would be that time, when there was no one around to see the potential disaster of what could happen.

So, I walked through the curtain and stood in front of the bathroom door. I stared at it, and that bathroom door was staring back at me, scoffing at me, laughing at me, knowing full well that this would not end well for me.  I looked at that door for a very long time. It looked small.  In my mind, I was already convincing myself what the door was telling me.  “You’re too fat, sweetie. You are going to get stuck – go back to your seat and sit your fat ass down.”

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But I was determined… I told my mind to shut up and convinced myself to reach out my hand and un-latch the door… and that is what I did.  I reached my hand out and I opened the door.  I felt my heart racing.  I was overwhelmed with queasiness in my stomach, like I was going to be sick.  I looked at the opening… and damn, it was small.  I was never going to fit through that opening. I let my mind take over again and I was about to close the door and turn away.  But I convinced myself that, if I was going to get stuck, getting stuck with no one watching would be the best thing.  I had to know: could I fit into this bathroom?

I did not turn away… I walked forward and I put my faith in me and…

I walked into that bathroom. I stood in the bathroom on a plane for the first time in my entire life.  I closed the door and stood there.  I was truly overwhelmed with emotion.  I will be honest with you all that I cried a tear, because for years I didn’t think that it would ever happen.

I came out elated and went back to my seat, relieved that my flying life may have considerably changed.  When I walked out of the bathroom, one of the amazing stewardesses, who I didn’t realize had been watching the whole thing, knew exactly the feeling that I was experiencing.  She smiled a smile and I looked at her and said, “I didn’t think I was going to fit.  It’s my first time in a bathroom on a plane, ever.”

She gave me a hug and said it was all good.

For many of you this is not a problem. You are probably thinking “what a loser”… but for those of us who live with obesity each and every single day of our lives, these are the types of struggles we are constantly thinking about and stressing over.

I just wanted to share. Thanks for reading. And by the way, I didn’t actually have to go to the bathroom – I just wanted to see if I could fit.

Marty.