Every day Stephanie Payne has to deal with taunts, and even outright abuse from other commuters.
“I was called a fat cow and told I should have to buy two tickets,” said Stephanie.
According to an anti-discrimination expert “obesity discrimination is now more prevalent than racism.”More stories from Today Tonight
Fat and furious
“I'm fat,” said Stephanie. “In some people's eyes I am fatter than fat, and in the medical profession I am classified as super obese.”
The mother of four regularly cops the sort of bully behaviour you see in schoolyard playgrounds.
For most of her adult life Stephanie's struggled with weight problems. Last year with her youngest children now old enough to go to kind, Stephanie returned to work.
What she didn’t anticipate was the barrage of public transport abuse.
“I got called a beached whale last night in front of my twelve-year-old.”
If Stephanie sees a single spare seat next to someone on public transport, she prefers to stand instead, not wanting to make people uncomfortable.
Last Friday Stephanie’s commute hit a new low, with one commuter telling her she should pay for two seats.
“I felt they had no right to say that to me,” said Stephanie.
But Stephanie gave in, and has been buying two tickets for each day she's travelled to work.
“I bought my two tickets to silence the bullies,” she explained.
Instead of an $11 ticket, she is now paying $22 each day.
But Stephanie is committed to losing weight after a recent visit to the doctor, where she discovered she weighed 243 kilograms.
“I thought I was 175 kilograms. I had no idea I had gotten that fat.”
The 31-year-old underwent lap-band surgery in November, and has started working out with personal trainer Michael Guzz.
According to Michael “Her physical condition wasn't great at all, and obviously with carrying a lot of weight everything is harder.”
Stephanie is now 183kilos, and a size 28.
“There’s still a long way to go, but I am getting there,” she said.
“The general rule of thumb is the fatter you are the more stigma and discrimination and abuse you'll receive,” said Samantha Thomas, an Obesity Expert from Monash University.
“We hear about people being abused on public transport, being spat at on public transport, and it’s becoming more extreme.”
Some overseas airlines charge a ‘fat tax’ for the obese, who are deemed too big to fit comfortably in one seat.
Aussie airlines have instead begun charging extra for the spacious exit row seats.
For Stephanie, the discrimination she faces is not just isolated to public transport.
“It's restaurants where you are looked at, where people think you're going to eat everything in the shop,” she said.
For now though, her main concern is getting fit.
With her grandmother being treated for cancer, Stephanie's aim is to raise money for the cancer council, while adding to her own life.
“I am a fat chick who is trying to make a difference,” she concluded.Links and information
If you'd like to donate to the Cancer Council by supporting Stephanie's plan to lose weight - visit her website.
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