She couldn’t hold back her tears. It was too late, she had already seen more than enough. She quickly turned her head towards the window and tried to comfort herself.
That’s when she heard him. Confused, she lifted her head up and watched him confront her emotional abuser in awe. Unknowingly to her, he couldn’t wait to make his move.
Savannah Phillips was a proud woman. As a working mother, she had a lot to boast about. However, there was one small voice in the back of her mind that told her she would never be good enough.
Every time Savannah flew, she booked a seat which had no one around her. But today, it was a packed plane. Her anxiety started to kick in as she prepared herself for her journey, but nothing could prepare her for this.
As a plus size woman, Savannah had a problem with her weight for most of her life. She endured constant ridicule and stares which really impacted her self-esteem.
Being overweight has been a big problem in America for years. What is more recent however, is the emergence of body shaming, which can lead to all kinds of problems. Something Savannah was about to be reminded of.
Savannah hated planes, especially their tiny seating but as a business woman, she couldn’t avoid the need to travel. So she bit her lip and got on with it.
She also found a way to manage her anxieties by booking isolated seats so that she could spare herself the discomfort of sitting next to somebody who was uncomfortable with her weight.
When Savannah reached the counter of her gate, she double checked with the check-in assistant that the plane was at full capacity. She asked if they could give her an isolated seat. They denied her request. The plane was simply too full.
She desperately pleaded but it was no use. She was asking for the impossible.
Savannah and the rest of the passengers walk out onto the runway to their plane. She already notices passengers trying to discreetly steal sideways glances at her.
She throws her eyes up to the sky. “It will all be over soon”, she thinks. However, a tinge of distress lingered in her subconscious. It was as if she knew something was going to happen.
As Savannah made her way onto the plane, she attempted to suppress her heart from pounding. She held her breath, wildly searching for her seat.
He greeted her with disdain as he rose to let her in to her window seat. As she squeezed past him, he let out a very loud passive-aggressive sigh. Savannah’s world caved. She knew this was just the start.
He was an elderly man sporting bright yellow sunglasses who detested overweight people. He took out his phone and began typing. He was going to let his feelings be known.
He adjusted the settings of his screen by increasing the brightness and text size to as large as possible. He tilted the screen towards Savannah so that she could see exactly what he was doing. Little did he know, the passenger behind him could see as well.
Savannah thought he was trying to grab her attention, so she asked him what he was doing. He said it was to help him see better, but this was a blatant lie. He continued to send a message to his “friend”.
When she was able to make out what he had typed, she couldn’t hold back her tears. She quickly turned her head towards the window, shielding her sorrow. But it was too late, the man behind them saw everything.
Savannah now understood why he made an extra obvious effort to adjust his screen settings. He wanted her to see his message, a message he made no attempt of concealing from her.
Savannah broke down after she read it, “Sitting next to a smelly fatty”. It felt like she was back in school again and the man sitting next to her was the new class bully, but this time she had a saviour by her side.
The old man received a sudden, vigorous tap on his shoulder. As he turned around he heard “I need to speak to you. NOW.” Startled, he rose and followed the young gentleman down the aisle.
Chase Irwin spoke with authority and ordered the old man to switch seats with him. Taken aback by his confrontation, the old man cowardly agreed. Sitting back down, Chase addressed the tearful Savannah. Then he really became a hero to many.
On the plane ride, Savannah and Chase began to talk. Savannah couldn’t contain her gratitude. But all she learned of Chase was his name, profession and that he was a parent too. When they landed, Savannah felt compelled to share their story.
But she couldn’t find Chase on social media. So, she wrote a powerful Facebook post and urged people to share the post until Chase was found. Until finally, Chase replied.
In an interview with local news, Chase mentioned how much he hated discrimination. When he had seen what the elderly man was writing, he had to act on it.
“I said, you are a heartless person,” Chase revealed in the interview. “That girl crying over there, saw your texts”. That certainly kept the old guy quiet. But there is more to the story.
Chase had been paying attention to the situation from the very start. He sensed that a situation would unfold as the elderly man was excessively rude to her.
As soon as he had seen the text, Chase knew he couldn’t let this old man get away with hurting another person so badly. But he had no idea how much of a difference his act of kindness would make.
Thanks to Chase’s kindness and Savannah’s post, they helped raise awareness for the victims of body-shaming. An issue which has now been brought to the forefront of people’s consciousness.
Body shaming is an abhorrent practice that should be stopped.Chase will always remain a true hero in Savannah’s eyes, as well as many others we’re sure!