A plus-size model recorded herself confronting a man who she says body-shamed her because of her weight, and she posted the video on Facebook, where it soon went viral, garnering more than 1 million views just this weekend.
"You have no idea who you'll hurt with those kind of things," Natalie Hage, 30, can be heard in the video saying to an unidentified man she sat next to on a recent flight, who she said she witnessed texting offensive comments about her body to one of his friends. "You made me feel so uncomfortable to exist in this seat."
Hage told ABC News that the incident unfolded after she boarded a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles last week and sat in the middle seat of an exit row.
"I noticed immediately that the man to my left at the window was huffing and sighing incredibly loud, like obviously loud and pointed," Hage said in an interview that aired today on "Good Morning America."
She added that she saw him furiously texting and then turning the phone away from her. In an Instagram post, Hage said that when she peeked at his phone, she saw that "not only were the texts about me, but they were really mean and ugly."
She wrote on Instagram that when the person he was texting sent him a message reading, "Hopefully she didn't have any Mexican food," his response was, "I think she ate a Mexican," and that he complained about being smashed up against the wall of the plane, saying she was taking up too much space. Hage added that the encounter "just makes me a mixture of enraged and super sad."
"This is a fat person's daily reality and not just on a plane," she wrote to her more than 100,000 Instagram followers. "You can be completely in your own space, not bothering anyone, and people will still ... try and hurt you."
Hage told ABC News that she felt uncomfortable during the entire flight and that when they landed, she decided to call out the man for his actions.
"The whole three hours to LAX I'm sitting there no arm rest, feet under me, crossed arms, making myself as small as I possibly could because ... at first I was so humiliated," she said. "And then about halfway through the flight is when I started to get really angry."
She said that when the plane landed, she decided to speak up for herself, telling ABC News, "I've had a lifetime of experiences of people getting away with treating me terribly, and this time was enough. This was enough."
Hage said that she "purposely did not film his face," so as not to publicly shame him, and that "he was embarrassed that he got caught."
At first, he denied the hurtful messages, but when pushed, he used the excuse that he had been drinking. "That was really upsetting, and alcohol doesn't give the reason for anybody to act that way at all," Hage said.
She said she hopes to use her following and experiences to let other people who may have been similar situations know that they are not alone and to remind people that "the size of your jeans or how much space you take up is not an indicator of how good of a person you are."
"I spent years and years building a social media platform based on body positivity," Hage added. "It doesn't matter how or why you might be overweight or you might be fat, but you still deserve to be treated like a human being."
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