Video of confrontation goes viral
Don’t mess with Natalie Hage.
Yesterday, she was on a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles for a modeling shoot when she had the misfortune of being seated next to a man who had no issue with insulting her as they sat mere inches from each other. She happened to see the screen of his phone and discovered that he was sending horribly mean text messages about her to a friend. He was making jokes about her size, and Hage wasn’t having it.
Hage, who was initially upset and hurt by his texts, wasn’t ready to give in to this man’s bullshit and started taking pictures of the messages he was sending. Then she got on Facebook and wrote: “I could fill like 14 balloon animals with the air this old white man next to me is exhaling about having to sit next to a fat person. I think he can read this, too. Eat it, Roger.”
I am going to write a song about high-fives and it is going to star me and Natalie and it is going to be amazing.
She then edited the post to include an image of the texts, adding: “Please feel free to share if something like this has happened to you on a plane or otherwise. I want as many people to know about this kind of bullshit fat people go through just for existing.”
In the photo, you can see that the man’s friend writes, “I hope she didn’t eat any Mexican food,” to which the man replies, “I think she ate a Mexican. I’m leaving a neck print on the window. If the news reports a DFW Airbus A321 leaving a runway without rotating, that would be my flight.”
Fat-shaming is one of those biases that people feel they should be able to indulge in publicly and not get punched in the face for. For a thin person who has nothing else going for them, fat-shaming is one of the last wells they can dip into in order to feel like something about them is worthwhile. And that is clearly what was going on with the man next to Hage, who we learned is named Eric. And we learned that because Hage introduced herself and confronted him on video.
Hage says, “I couldn’t help but notice that, before we took off you were sending really horrible text messages about me to somebody.” Eric The Brave replies, “No, I wasn’t.”
Because that’s the truth about hateful people — they’re cowards. They don’t want an actual confrontation because they know that what they’re doing is cruel. They know that if they were to look another person in the eye and say these things to their face, they would have to acknowledge that they’re mean people. But if they don’t say it — if they text it to like-minded friends, or give someone nasty looks, or huff and puff about it like Eric did, then it doesn’t matter. You’re not supposed to see the text. You can’t articulate a look or a sigh. And if they didn’t say it, then you can’t prove that they are who they want to pretend they aren’t. Except that Hage did see the text. And Hage took pictures. Hage had the receipts.
“I have photos,” she said. “Yes, you were.” She then read some of his texts back to him. Big Bad Eric then got super quiet and, “Ok. I apologize. I was drinking, and I apologize.” He told her he was drinking because he still couldn’t take responsibility for his words.
But Hage refuses to let him off the hook. “Do you normally make fun of fat people? Is that something you like to do?” Eric then tells her all the nice things he did for her during the flight, like pick something off the ground that she dropped and share a table with her. But guess what, Eric? Those basic gestures aren’t going to cut it with Hage.
“You made me feel so uncomfortable to exist in this seat that I didn’t want anything from you.” At this point, Eric got mad because she wasn’t just thanking him and moving on. She’s continuing to confront him about his cruelty, so he decides to go after her, saying, “In fairness,” he says, (which is bullshit from the start because there is nothing fair about what he did) “you probably shouldn’t be sitting in an exit row seat. When they ask you, ‘Are you willing and capable to assist people in getting out of the airplane in an emergency,’ do you honestly think that you are?”
Eric is a humanitarian, y’all. He was just worried about the safety of the other people on the plane in case they crashed. He’s our exit-row hero. What a guy.
Hage responds with, “You know nothing about me based on the size of my body. To have a quip like that back at me after you’ve already apologized is an extra asshole thing for you to do.”
And with that, my high-five song has become a three-act opera.
But Eric disagrees, saying, “No, I don’t think it is.” “You don’t think it is?” asks Hage, “Are you a doctor? Are you a medical professional? I’d like to know where your expertise is coming from.” “That’s none of your business,” says Entitled Eric. “My body is also none of your business, so you have no idea what I can or can’t do with it,” says Hero Hage.
Toward the end of the video, Hage reminds him that she was not in his way during the flight, and, referring back to one of his texts, “you did not leave a neck mark on the window.” And that’s when Eric laughs. He bends over, and laughs.
After that entire conversation, he still didn’t get it. He was still so embarrassed about being called out on his behavior that he decided to insult her again by laughing at one of his cruel jokes. He still needed to make her feel bad to feel better about himself.
We encourage you to watch the entire video, as 642,000 other people have. Hage is an example of the bravery we all need to confront the Erics of the world. They are wrong. We are right. And we need to remind them of that every day.
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