I was fat shamed on a flight: the guy in the 15C messed with the wrong person

Warning: some rough lLanguage and problems that can cause stress.

For Kate Spencer, the 7am flight to Christchurch was just another low-profile trip.

Known on the Wellington art scene and beyond as Creatif Kate, the poet, photographer and MC settled into her window seat and promptly fell asleep on the short drive from the capital.

But waking up as the plane landed, it was the actions of the man next to her that shook her confidence, but also helped inspire her to write a scathing rebuke to the “15th-century fool.”

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As the other passengers got up and gathered their belongings, their neighbor pointed his phone screen at them with the text in large letters.

“I saw that he texted someone that my flab ran over the center perch. He had written that I had a bigger chin than a Chinese phone book, which is not only disgusting in terms of being fat phobic but also racist, and that my upper lip was as hairy as a… I had to turn away then, I did. I don’t know what to do with myself,” Spencer said things travel. She hasn’t seen what simile he compared her lip to, but she has some ideas.

Kate Spencer is well known in the arts scene in Wellington and beyond.


Kate Spencer is well known in the arts scene in Wellington and beyond.

Shocked and on the verge of tears, the 15th-century man had exited the plane by the time she had calmed down.

Normally an extremely confident person and very comfortable in her own skin, the callous moment shook her to the core.

“It felt like he really enjoyed dealing with my looks and my weight. I was a little dizzy afterwards. I had a friend who picked me up at the airport and when I told him he said loudly, ‘That guy is an ass!’”

For Spencer, it’s not the first instance of fat-shaming she’s suffered. She got it from her own family, exes, and “the world.”

That night she began writing down her thoughts, which led to the poem I’m Glad My Existence Offends You, but admitted it was a “painful” process: “I don’t usually talk about my weight in my poetry .”

“I thought it would be an important poem too, not only for myself but for other fat people and those who don’t pass for the best looking people. For example, I’m freaking gorgeous and his opinion is rubbish, but his opinion, as the poem says, is something I’ve heard all my life and had to grapple with.

To make matters worse, Spencer has been struggling with her weight lately following a series of traumas.

“The guy doesn’t know my underlying health conditions. He doesn’t know what I’ve been through this year. My mom died, I lost a friend to suicide, I’ve had a rough year, and I wasn’t the best at taking care of myself. I also have health issues that make it difficult to lose weight.

“I’m a decent damn person and he’s just an ass. I’m sure he’s kind to his family and friends and incredibly supportive, but I’m an easy target because I don’t fit the prevailing narrative of what people want.”

Kate Spencer aka Creatif Kate is a poet, photographer and MC.

Tracy Sexton/Delivered

Kate Spencer aka Creatif Kate is a poet, photographer and MC.

Spencer finished her poem just an hour before deciding to debut it in front of an audience last week, and the reaction almost brought her to tears.

“It was overwhelming. The other cast members said it was incredible. It felt good, it felt cathartic, and it felt therapeutic.”

While others might think that she should have responded to the man back in the 15th century, she believes a better response is to write down her thoughts and act on them.

“I’ve been thinking about that. One that’s in my style. One that’s on my terms. He may never see it, and that’s okay. Other people like Mr. 15C could see it and other people like me could see it and realize that other people out there don’t give a damn about them.

“I want him to know that his actions have an impact. I’m strong and I can handle it and I can respond to it after processing for weeks, but there are other people who don’t have that power that are really, really harmed by these types of actions.

“It’s a bloody tough road out here, everyone’s struggling. You don’t have to make it harder for people.”

To see the full video of the performance click here, but please note that there is very strong language.

I’m glad my existence offends you

Dear Mr. Douchebag, Candidate for 15C, aisle seat

I’m glad my existence offends you

I, 15D, window seat

See your phone screen how you humiliate me

Text written as big as my ass

hardly included

angled for maximum visibility

– colossal, many-chinned, hairy upper lip –

Your verbal agility is

nothing compared to mine. sit tight

I’m glad my existence offends you

but what was your intention?

If you would investigate your fat phobia

maybe try to understand question

I would be open

admit that I never intended to be THAT SIZE

– I lost 40 kg, but they found me again –

I’m glad my existence offends you

but I must undo my unbelief

knowing how to deal with this ongoing grief

I can sit in this seat

without feeling shame and defeat

that I take my place

Her words laced with vitriol

the shame on your face with the mustache on mine


I embrace who I am

at least I do now – like this flight, it was a journey

i was guilty

comparing myself to fatter women

to say “at least I’m not her size.”

or “I wear it better than her.”

learned behavior from a mother

whose thighs also thundered

limp by tum

whale blubber for some


the scales

they don’t show my worth

so I embody all of me

including my scope

Let’s take a moment

maybe blame others

We are being squeezed by capitalism

profit-hungry corporations

physical forms stacked and stacked

to maximize and minimize comfort

twist as best we can

to avoid touching body parts

I’m glad my existence offends you

I won’t pretend you said anything

is remotely original

I’ve heard it all my life

I probably said it to myself:

Disrespect and rejection of long-term partners

to damaged self-esteem, reflection

Death by a thousand paper cuts

I’m glad my existence offends you

and you won’t bend or break me

I don’t need your approval

your perception of me

I keep a hairy upper lip to challenge beauty norms

I don’t want to and won’t conform

I want to expand the definition

of femininity and femininity

I maintain

my resistance to the regular narrative

means I’m more likely to be judged

of fools

and your hate says far more about you than it does about me

Misogyny with a side dish of occasional racism

will damn you

to a life of

unsatisfactory encounters

clouded by mountains of judgment

to believe cheated

the patriarchal, white supremacist status quo

or simply

apathetic to its deconstruction

either way

I’m glad my existence offends you

I will not defend your assumptions

that my food consumption is the problem

– maybe I’m predisposed to adipose tissue –

or I’m lazy and don’t exercise

that’s right but!

I Second hand to pump iron and train

was strong as f… and could have

a sucker like you in a matter of seconds


you capable piece of shit

I have several chronic and worsening medical conditions


(Also, there is no mythical miracle cure for obesity)

and being fired that way…

Lack of compassion works

You may not find me attractive

but this is a Diversion

Twishness can be in fashion

in your Friendship group

but I surround myself with people

that strengthen me

Shower me with praise

Raise me up with the crazy imagination

that I am a decent person

in this

meat suit

temporary home for my soul

and my goal

should get better

than your peers

Oh, I’m glad my existence offends you

but i wish i had outed you

yelled at the whole plane

although I doubt it would have helped

change a stranger’s mind

so I’ll do the hard yards

and change mine

and stay bigger

than you

in every sense

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