Friday, 12 January 2018

Fatphobia At The Spa

A number of blog readers let me know about an incident at a nail salon where they hung a sign saying “Sorry, but if you are overweight, pedicures will be $45 due to service fees for pedicurists. Thank you!”

I’m not sure if I’m more insulted about “Sorry” (are you, really?) or “Thank you!” (Um, you’re welcome? You sizeist ass). I blogged about this specific incident here, but it’s part of a much larger issue of fatphobia that affects fat people’s every day lives. A “fat tax” is an additional fee that is charged to fat patrons by services like pedicurists, spas, even massage therapists. Sometimes it even goes beyond a tax to complete exclusion. I asked some fat folks to share their stories.

One of the most common forms of exclusion is to simply create an environment that doesn’t accommodate fat people.

MH faced this as a massage therapist: “When I was a new massage therapist, I worked at a spa that did not have tables large enough to accommodate people of all sizes. It was really frustrating for me as well as my clients. When I was able to outfit my own studio, I splurged on the largest/highest weight capacity portable table on the market. It was expensive but worth the relief on my clients’ faces.”

LSK faced this issue from the client side of the table: “I’ve had a few massages here and there and feel like I’m going to fall off of the table because there wasn’t enough room for my arms. I could never relax into the experience because one arm or the other would pop off of the table and I would be laying there embarrassed as all hell and wondering what to do with my arms. Don’t get me started on the teeny-tiny robes!”

And robes aren’t the only thing that people had trouble fitting into; MK was one of many folks who faced this issue at the salon. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not fit into chairs when I go to get my hair done. They almost never had capes to fit me. Last year I went to go get waxed and they expected me to jump on to a table that looked so flimsy I actually laughed out loud while shaking my head.”

AC has had some luck with insisting on what she needs: “I go to Spas as often as I can, and always ask for a robe that will fit me (as I am unapologetically fat). It sometimes takes them a REALLY long time to dig one up. The places where they give you a little scrubs like outfit to wear (mostly Korean style spas) often have to give me the mens one, which is awkward when you are a cis-female trying to use the single sex areas of the spa. The best service I ever had was at the Madonna Inn. They asked my size before I arrived, did not balk at my 3X/24, and had a robe that fit me in the locker for me upon arrival. Really appreciated that.”

Asking for accommodation is definitely an option – but taking your time and energy to remind a place that serves people that people of all sizes exist can be difficult, stressful, and the exact opposite of the relaxing experience that someone might be looking for when they head to the spa.

The responsibility shouldn’t fall on a fat person who is just trying to get the exact same experience other people are already given.

Read the rest of this piece here!

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