The Fat Tax

August 30, 2010

I linked it yesterday, but I felt that this topic deserved a little bit more discussion – did you all read MoPie’s post Nail Salon Charges $5 Fat Tax on Big Fat Deal? You should probably start there, but the distilled version is this:

Michele Fontville was charged an additional $5 for her manicure at Natural Nails Salon in DeKalb County, GA, because of the alleged extra damage that a fat person inflicts upon the manicure chairs. She questioned owner Kim Tran about the extra charge. Tran explained that it is very expensive to repair broken furniture, with the underlying emphasis on on how fat people cause more damage to the furniture that thin people. She refunded Fontville’s $5, but asked her not to return, as they could not longer serve her.


Well, this story just breaks my heart – there is no real way to get around that. I cannot for one minute fathom how embarrassed and shattered Fontville must have felt upon hearing about her additional charge. As a fat woman, there are sometimes few activities that i can participate in that allow me to feel beautiful and feminine – and undeniably getting an manicure/pedicure is one of those things. It is such a wonderful treat, and may seem insignificant but it is a small act I can do to immediately pick up my spirits. I cannot fathom being told that I am so fat I am going to damage the furniture. I can understand, from the owner’s perspective, that this is a problem and that she is looking for the solution. However, I’m going to go on the record in stating: charging an additional fat tax is not the solution to the problem. Maybe buy sturdier chairs? Maybe be a little stricter in the ways that people utilize the furniture? Let’s think outside of the box, shall we?

What about people who swing around in those chairs with reckless abandon?

What about women whose children climb all over the chairs, marring their surface with the heels of their shoes?

What about the tax that I already feel as though I pay on a daily basis, an emotional tax, just for being a fat person walking around the world?

It is not easy to be fat. You walk around and you notice people’s eyes resting on your arms/stomach/thighs, you notice how you are routinely left out of things, you notice the anxiety that you feel about participating in things that your thinner counterparts never think about: roller coasters, pedi-cabs, having sex with the lights on, ropes courses, climbing ladders, jumping up and down with glee on the second floor of a building, I mean, the list of my weight related anxieties goes on and on.

Yes, I work to love my body regardless of it’s size. Yes, I work to have that opinion of myself matter above all else. But that doesn’t mean that I live in a bubble. It doesn’t mean that I can escape how other people look at me, or the fact that I have to shop in specialty stores when I’m buying back to school clothing. Yes my body weight fluctuates pretty dramatically  – and yes people routinely tell me how great I look when I’m “thin.”

But the fact of the matter is – right now, in this country, if you aren’t thin, you are already paying a tax every time you leave your house. And, also? I’m unlikely to cause undue damage to your manicure chair, I’m pretty good at sitting quietly and making myself small, but thanks for the reminder.