Please Note: These FAQs are no longer being updated (except that
out-of-date web sites, contact info, and so forth are removed when I am
notified of them - for notification address, see below).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Physical Resources for Big Folks
This document contains information about resources for dealing with
the physical ramifications of being fat. If you don't find what
you're looking for here, try one of the related FAQs (see
question B1 for a complete list).
Updated Oct 00
One option is to use two regular bathroom scales. Put one foot on each
scale and add the weights indicated on each of them. This method may
give you a slightly inaccurate weight. To minimize the inaccuracy, put
the scales as close together as possible.
Another option is to find an accurate outdoor freight scale, and use it
after hours to weigh yourself. You will probably need to bring someone
else along to read the weight, since the display is usually physically
separated from the scales themselves. (One person uses the freight scale
at a local hospital.)
A final option is to use a beam balance scale (the kind of scale in most
doctors' offices). Beam balance scales have a hook on the end of the
beam from which you can hang a counterweight. This hook makes it
possible to weigh a person who weighs more than the scale is marked up
to. Your doctor should have some counterweights for just this purpose.
If they don't, you can kludge it. Weigh a person on the scale (one whose
weight the scale can measure). Then, hang something from the hook (like
a stethoscope). Weigh the same person again. The difference between the
two weights is the amount the stethoscope subtracts. Now, weigh yourself
with the stethoscope on the scale. Add the amount the scale reads to the
amount the stethoscope subtracts, and you have your weight.
Radiance Magazine has a good article on the web about hot weather health
care for fat people ("Don't Sweat It"):
Many fat people get rashes on their thighs, under their breasts, or
under belly folds. Some folks experience discoloration of their thighs
as a result of chafing.
To prevent thigh chafing, you can wear clothing that covers your thighs,
Some women wear bloomers over pantyhose (to prolong the life of the
pantyhose); others wear them under the pantyhose (finding it more
comfortable). One woman wears a man's cotton handkerchief on the
diagonal inside pantyhose or tights, laying it on the crotch before
pulling up the garment. This has the advantage of being easy to change
if it gets soiled.
* split slips (also called petti-pants, culotte slips, bloomers,
* cotton or lycra bicycle shorts (split slips tend to be lighter
than bicycle shorts),
* cotton leggings,
* cotton tricot drawers (underwear with long legs),
* anti-chafe shields (elastic bands that go around the waist,
upper and lower thighs, and have a cotton shield attached to
protect the inner thighs).
Some people apply ointments to the chafing surfaces, such as:
You can use aloe gel at night to soothe chafed skin.
* solid anti-perspirant (with the theory that this both prevents
sweat and lubricates the area).
* powder, especially cornstarch (this doesn't last all day)
* petroleum jelly
* thick moisturizing cream (you can even apply it over
pantyhose): Eucerin (US), Johnson's baby cream
* zinc oxide ointment, or diaper rash ointment that contains
zinc oxide (a layer of cornstarch on top will prevent its
getting on your clothes)
A medical note on thigh irritation from email@example.com:
It is possible [...] to get an infection in the area between the
thighs, known as hidradenitis supportiva. Hidradenitis is an
infection of a type of sweat gland [...] and may appear to look
like a bad boil. This is a serious condition that can become
quite resistant to treatment, extensive in spread, and be
debilitating, so if you should develop this kind of infection,
or think you may have, you must get good medical care for it
There is a support group on line for Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Contact
Embarrassment about the size or skin condition of the inner
thighs must not keep anyone from getting in to see a good doctor
about such problems. If a doctor chalks it up to weight or
suggests weight loss as a cure, find another doctor. It can be
more common in people with large thighs, due to sweat issues in
the area, but it can affect anyone of any size -- and the
treatment usually requires antibiotics and additional measures
to control the spread and recurrence.
To keep skin dry and prevent irritation, some people apply powder after
bathing. The powder absorbs moisture and acts as a dry lubricant,
preventing your skin from rubbing against itself. Try:
Some fat people get rashes where they have folds of skin (e.g., beneath
breasts or stomach). The general rule about skin fold irritations is
that if an irritation itches, it's probably fungal/yeast. If it doesn't
itch, it's probably bacterial. If you're not sure, try treatments for
both and see what works best.
* talcum powder (name brands may be less gritty). However, keep
in mind that talc can be a respiratory irritant and may
contain trace amounts of asbestos and lead. There is research
suggesting long and heavy exposure to talcum powder may be
associated with reproductive organ cancer in women.
* baby powder or cornstarch powder (again, name brands may be
better). Keep in mind that a rash in a moist area may be a
Candida (yeast) infection and yeast like to eat cornstarch.
* anti-bacterial powders (US: Gold Bond Medicated, which has
some talcum powder but not much, Mexsana)
There is an article on the web by a doctor that addresses
yeast/skin infections in fat people.
People deal with rashes in the following ways:
To avoid reinfection, it is helpful to disinfect clothing that touches
the area. You can wash the clothing in hot water and bleach, iron it, or
saturate it with isopropyl alcohol (not denatured alcohol), let dry, and
repeat. (This will not harm elastic, so it is useful for bras.)
* tucking a piece of cotton or linen into the fold. In the U.S.,
Amplestuff (see Other Resources)
sells cotton bra liners.
* using a fan or hair dryer to thoroughly dry the area after
* anti-bacterial soap (US: Dial liquid soap)
* anti-bacterial liquid -- but note that it stings (US:
* white vinegar (not red or cider vinegar) and water--weaker for
the worst rash and stronger as it gets better. After applying,
let the area completely dry and then cover the area with cotton.
* 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
* Betadine Surgical Scrub or another scrub containing povidone
* baby wipes
* anti-fungal (athlete's foot/jock itch/anti-yeast) medicine
containing chlortrimazole or undecylenate (US: Mycil, Lotromin)
* prescription anti-fungal or anti-bacterial medications
(US: Nyastatin, Bactroban)
* prescription anti-perspirants (US: Xerac AC)
* for Candida (yeast) infections, lactobacillus acidopholous
powder (this is the bacterium that turns milk into yogurt). It
is available in capsule form and usually sold in health and
nutrition stores. Open the capsules and sprinkle the powder on
affected areas before bed.
* hydrocortisone cream (US: Cortaid). This may help the
symptoms, but will not cure an infection. And hydrocortisones
are nasty drugs, so probably best not to use them for extended
Socks that are treated to absorb foot sweat and reduce food odor work
The two main things that affect the comfort of big people who are flying
are seatbelt extenders and seat space.
If the seatbelt on an airplane doesn't fit you, you need to use a
seatbelt extender. All airplanes carry them -- flight attendants use
them to demonstrate how to fasten your seatbelt. Airlines win points for
being discreet and polite with seatbelt extenders. If you get a
pre-assigned seat, you may be able to ask the airline or your travel
agent to put an extender on the belt for that seat in advance.
Otherwise, you can ask the flight attendant for one.
If you prefer to bring your own extender. Amplestuff (see Other Resources) sells two styles of
seatbelt extenders that work with most airplane seatbelts (ones with
square or teardrop style fasteners -- note that Southwest and Qantas use
non-standard fasteners). The ones they sell are somewhat longer than the
ones passed out on planes.
Airlines win points for being polite and helpful about trying to save an
empty seat beside a big person, and for telling folks where the roomiest
seats are and trying to seat them there.
A book called Airline Seating Guide lists the measurements of every seat
in every airplane, including which seats have extra leg or hip room.
It's available from Carlson Publishing, PO Box 888, Los Alamitos,
A republished copy of the old Consumer Reports article on airline seat
widths is on grandstyle.com at http://www.grandstyle.com/roomycoa.htm.
Seat size varies from plane to plane (even within the same airline and
model). New planes are likely to have similar-sized seats. But if an
airline uses older planes or a variety of models, there's no predicting
what size the seats will be. Try calling the customer service reps and
asking them about the seat sizes on the plane you'll be flying (you can
find out the type of plane from your travel agent or the airline).
Propellor and turbo-prop planes tend to have narrower seats than jets.
Bulkhead or door seats do not have a row of seats in front of them, so
you get more leg room, and no one will lower their chair into your face.
However, the tray tables fold out of the arm rests and you can't raise
the arm rests.
On a small plane with no physical divider between first class and coach,
the seats directly behind the first class seats tend to have the same
pluses and minuses as bulkhead seats.
Exit row seats sometimes have more leg room.
First class or business class seats tend to be wider with more leg room,
but the arm rests can't be raised. Frequently the arm rests are wide
enough to put drinks and food on.
If you prefer first or business class, you may want to ask about the
possibility of an upgrade. Some airlines will let you upgrade for a
small charge, some will upgrade you for free; some will let you upgrade
if economy class is full. Frequent travelers report that it's easier to
get an upgrade if you wear business clothing.
To get a few extra inches of space, board as soon as possible, and when
you sit down, immediately lift the arm rest. If someone sits next to
you, they generally won't bother to put the arm rest back down, and
you'll both have more room.
To increase your chance of having an empty seat next to you, try the
If you are very large, some airlines require you to buy two seats. Call
ahead so they don't surprise you at the gate. Some airlines will sell
you the second seat for half price. Others will only make you buy the
second seat if the flight is full.
* Travel on middle of the week flights and red-eye (late
night) flights, which are rarely full.
* Ask to be seated in an aisle or window seat toward the back
of the plane (they fill the plane from front to back).
However, note that the seats in the last row usually don't
* If you are traveling with someone, ask for a window and an
aisle in the same row. If someone ends up in the middle, they
will probably be happy to switch with one of you.
* Tell the airline when you make your reservation that you're a
large person and ask to be seated next to an empty seat. (One
person says, "I'm a large person, and while one seat is
plenty, I know I'd be more comfortable, and so would the
person you place next to me, if I could be placed next to an
empty seat instead.")
* Check in early (usually the gate check-in opens an hour before
the flight) and ask to be seated next to an empty seat. You
don't need to explain why you want one. People of all sizes
want to move their seats and asking to be seated next to an
empty seat is a common request.
* Ask if you can buy an empty seat or upgrade.
If you think you may have trouble negotiating the aisles, get on when
pre-boarding is announced. On many planes, you can fold down a seat by
pushing on the back, which can provide extra room for settling yourself
in your chair.
Airplane tray tables get in the way of the stomachs of some fat people.
Try these solutions:
* If you're seated next to an empty seat, use that seat's table.
* Tilt your seat all the way back.
* Balance the tray on a pillow on your lap.
* Bring your own food and avoid using the tray table.
* Ask the person seated beside you if you can put your drink on
The consensus on cars is: there is no consensus on cars. Everyone is
shaped slightly differently, and what one large person loves, another
large person hates. That said, here are some guidelines on buying cars,
followed by a list of makes and models that some big folks have found
work (or don't work) for them.
Test drive everything you can lay your hands on. Avoid preconceptions --
check out all the cars in your price range. Once you find a car you
think you like, try to rent it for a week or so. You learn much more
about a car when you spend some time with it.
When you check out a car, here are some things to think about:
If the fit is almost there, an auto upholstery shop, body shop, or shop
specializing in modifications for special needs (such as Mobility
Systems in Berkeley, Calif.) can move or lower a car seat, add or
take away the seat's padding, install pedal extenders or a smaller
steering wheel, and so on. All U.S. car companies will help pay for
adaptations in new cars for the physically handicapped.
* Can you extend your legs fully? If you have to fold up your
legs too much, you'll get a cramp over long distances.
* Is there enough room for your hips? Do your hips or thighs
touch anything sharp or hard on the sides of the seats or on
the doors? Some bucket seats are too small for big folks to
sit comfortably in.
* Does it feel claustrophobic with two people in the front
seats? Manual cars may have more room between the front
seats, to allow space for the gear shift to move -- but a
large person's thighs may interfere with the gear shift.
* Is there room for your thighs and stomach the steering wheel?
A tilt steering wheel may help.
* Does the the front seat support your back sufficiently? If the
car has adjustable lumbar support, does it fit you?
Many car companies offer seatbelt extenders and some will customize
seatbelts for free. Unfortunately, car seatbelts vary a lot, even within
models -- there is no universal extender. The only way to get the
correct extender for your car is to go to the parts department of your
dealership. Honda owners may be able to sweet-talk a Nissan parts
manager into trying to figure out which is the corresponding part (but
recently people have run into trouble with this--a Nissan Vehicle
Identification Number may be required to order an extender). Nissan and
Honda buy their belts from the same belt makers, but Honda does not
offer seatbelt extenders. (If you do this be very sure you are not
voiding your insurance coverage, your warranty, or you right to sue if
the belt breaks in an accident. You have to get everyone's permission
in writing, and this procedure can cost you a few hundred dollars.)
Here are some web sites which may help anyone trying to get seat belt
-- Elizabeth Fisher is petitioning the US government to change the
current regulations regarding seatbelt extenders. (The current
regulations require seatbelts to fit people up to only 215 pounds!)
If you haven't bought the car yet, get it *in writing* (very
important) that they will provide you with extenders, or replace the
belts for long-enough ones at no charge to you.
Companies reported to be good about seatbelt modifications include:
Companies reported to be bad about seatbelt modifications include:
* Toyota (they measure you and custom-make extenders for free,
but this may take a while; they'll also give them to you
without measuring if you want, but they claim measuring makes
the belts safer). NOTE: one person said that a dealer
told her extenders were not available for one of Toyota's
* Dodge (they offer seatbelt extenders at no extra charge)
* Ford and Mercury supply free extenders upon request (however,
you may need to be persistent. One person reported that a Ford
dealership said seatbelt extenders are no longer available)
* Chevrolet (GM) (seatbelt extenders at no charge)
* Chrysler (seatbelt extenders at no charge)
* Mitsubishi (fed-ex'd seatbelt extenders for free to a customer)
* Mazda (ordered them for a customer free of charge)
* Volkswagen is now offering seat belt extenders for 99 Jetta
and Golf models.
* Saturn is now stocking seatbelt extenders (you may have to pay
$30 or so for them)
* Volvo is reported to supply metal extenders
Note that dealers may be willing to bargain. One person told her local
dealer that she'd buy a Honda from them if they could put longer
seatbelts in the back. They installed new seatbelts at a local
customizing shop for no extra cost.
* Honda does not make seatbelt extenders and may make you buy a
whole new seatbelt.
* Subaru is claimed to be unhelpful about seat belt extensions
and pedal extensions.
- * Hyundai is reported not to provide seat belt extenders. If so,
Kia probably doesn't offer them either.
Other solutions for too-short seatbelts:
Other seatbelt considerations:
* Buy oversized van seatbelts at an auto parts store.
* Have an auto customizer or auto upholsterer modify or replace
* If you know how to bar tack and feel comfortable messing
around with safety equipment, you can modify seatbelts
yourself. You can buy the 2" flat webbing used for seatbelts
at climbing stores for about $1 a foot.
- * J.C. Whitney Auto Accessories (1-312-431-6111 cust.
service 1-312-431-6129 parts and application info) offers
inexpensive (~$20) seatbelt extenders. You have to bolt them
onto the wall or floor of the auto compartment. So you need to
have seatbelts that attach to the car with a bolt (as opposed
to those spring-recoil or automatic slider-thingies a lot of
new small cars have).
* If the seatbelt fits with the seat back, consider pedal
extenders (see the Resources Part 2 FAQ). They cost about
$60-$70 per pedal, are standard (fit most vehicles), and you
can install them yourself. They also allow you to sit farther
back from the wheel, which is recommended when driving cars
with air bags.
* Do you have to fight to pull the belt out far enough?
Automatic seat belts that attach to the doors may be difficult
to maneuver around, but they tend to be on the long side.
* Does the seatbelt rub against your neck or choke you? Some
cars have adjustable seatbelts. Other solutions:
* Fasten the belt, pull it out an inch more, and attach a
safety pin or bulldog clip where the belt retracts.
* Tuck the seatbelt underneath a fanny pack worn around your
* Buy a velcro pocket that you can thread the seatbelt through
so it sits lower on your chest. It's available at auto parts
stores. It's marketed for children, but can be used by
Airbags may be dangerous for people who sit within 10-12 inches
of the steering wheel (measured from the center of the wheel to
the center of the chest) or the passenger side dashboard. This
includes people under 5'3" and many large people. If a person
sits that close, the airbag may cause serious damage because it
The US federal government has issued new guidelines for airbag
on-off switches to be fitted to some vehicles. To obtain the
switch, get a safety brochure and form from the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, a dealership, repair shop, state
motor vehicle office, or other location. The form requests
information on the vehicle and the reason for fitting the
switch. It also contains a section where the consumer
acknowledges the risk of turning off the air bag. The NHTSA will
then send an authorization letter so you can have your air bag
switch installed. They will begin processing these forms until
Dec. 18, but the switches won't be available until after the
first of the year.
Also consider pedal extenders, which may allow you to sit
farther back from the steering wheel. Note that even without
airbags, people who sit close to the steering wheel may be at
greater risk for injury from the steering wheel itself.
REACH, ENTRY, AND EXIT
* Can you reach the steering wheel easily? A tilt steering wheel
may help. You can raise the steering wheel to get in and out,
then pull it down for driving.
* Can you reach the radio, lights, mirrors, glove box, door and
window controls? Can you reach the seat adjustment controls
while you're seated?
* Is the car door low, so it's easy to bump your head when you
get in or out carelessly?
* Can you get out of the car in a narrow parking space?
Four-door cars work better in this situation.
* Can you and your passengers get in and out of the back seat
easily? Four-door cars are easier to get in and out of.
* How far does the car sink when you get into it? If you use a
driveway with a high incline, a lot of sinkage may cause the
car to scrape the ground.
CARS SOME BIG FOLKS LOVE
The makes and models listed are for the U.S. market unless so noted.
Buick: Century '85, Crown Victoria '92, Riviera '84
Camaro Z28, '94
Chevrolet: Caprice Classic, Cavalier (but not the '96 model),
Lumina '93 Malibu '98, S-10 Extended Cab Truck,
Chrysler: Town & Country, LHS (Canada), Le Baron '85
Dodge: 600SE '86, Caravan '94, '97 Sport, Dakota, Durango,
Intrepid '95, '96, Canadian model, and others, Ram '94, Spirit
Ford: Aerostar, Crown Victoria (US) 92, Crown Victoria (Canada),
Econoline Van 1978-1985 E250 series and 150 '87, Escort '97,
Expedition, Explorer '91, Festiva, Ranger '95 and F/250,
Taurus 90, '94, '98, and others, Windstar, F150 '94, '98
Honda: Accord '89, '92, CRX '90, Civic (hatchback, sedan, and
station wagon), Civic Del Sol, Prelude
Infiniti G20 (larger than the J30 and Q45)
Jeep: Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer '85
Mazda: 323 2-door hatchback '91, '94, 626 89, '91, pickup, Protege
Mercedes: 300, ML320 (M class), S-Class
Mercury: Cougar, Grand Marquis (Canada), Marauder, Sable, Tracer '91
Nissan: 300ZX '91, Altima, Bluebird (U.K.), Maxima '95, Quest,
Sentra '89, '91, and others
Oldsmobile: Calais, Cutlass Supreme '89, Delta '79
Plymouth: Acclaim '93, Breeze, Caravan, Voyager '92
Pontiac: Bonneville (Canada), Firefly, Grand Am, Grand Prix '94
Saab 900, '92
Saturn: SL '94, SL-1 (4-door has more headroom than 2-door),
Subaru Legacy L '98
Suzuki Sidekick JX, '90
Toyota: Avalon, Camry '88, 92, 94, 95, 99, Corolla, Previa '92, Sienna
Volkswagen: Campmobile '78, Golf '85, '89, Jetta, Model 412 '72,
Quantum '83, Rabbit
Volvo: 300 series (U.K.), Sedan '82 '95
CARS SOME BIG FOLKS HATE
Chevrolet: Cavalier, vans
Ford: Bronco, Crown Victoria, Explorer, Escort, Neon, T-Bird,
Tempo '93 and others, Taurus '97 and others
Lincoln Town Car, 88
Mazda MPV '91
Mercury: Lynx, Tracer
Nissan: 240SX, Sentra
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (Canada)
Plymouth Reliant Station Wagon, '85
Toyota Corolla '90
Volvo station wagon
There are several theories on why pants wear out prematurely in the
Some possible solutions:
* The fabric rubs against itself.
* The fabric is stretched tightly.
* Perspiration gets into the fabric.
* Skin rubs against the fabric.
* Buy pants with flexible loose material (i.e., sweatpants or
* Buy pants that are generously sized.
* Line the crotch area with cotton to absorb perspiration (a
tailor can do this).
* Wear shiny lycra bicycle shorts under the pants, to minimize
* Wash the pants frequently to remove perspiration.
* Buy inexpensive pants that you don't mind tossing when they
* Buy pants you can patch easily, and don't feel stupid wearing
patched pants. If you have the pants hemmed, save the extra
fabric for patching later. A tailor can patch the pants for
* Wash pants inside out to slow the wearing process.
* Avoid napped and nubby fabrics, which may wear faster.
* Patch the pants on the inside to reinforce them. You can use
iron-on patches for this purpose.
Access First Travel
Phone: (800) 557-2047.
This is a travel agency specializing in travel for people with
disabilities. They publish a newsletter. A poster writes: "I
found no references of course to access for people of size, but
there is mention of inclines, doorway widths and the like. [...]
Maybe someone who has the time and inclination can
call/write/whatever and ask them to include accessibility notes
of interest to fat people."
Phone: 0171 757 2702
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Put 'To Grace' in the subject heading)
Flightbookers has a fat-positive travel agent who goes by the
name "Grace." Her personal web site with travel notes for large
people is at http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Boardwalk/8904/index.html.
Greater Salt Lake Clothing Company
P.O. Box 171422
Salt Lake City, Utah 84117-1422
Sponsors ski and river trips for plus-size women.
Specializes in discount first class and business class airline
Many cruise ships have very small bathrooms and a lot of stairs. A few
ships are wheelchair accessible (standard adult wheelchairs are 26
inches wide). Check for ships that offer elevators, roomy bathrooms,
larger staterooms, seating for large people in the dining room, etc.
You may be able to charter a boat for a day, and hang out with your
friends nude there. Many charter captains and crews are discreet. Check
See also the section on nude beaches and resorts in the Other Resources
for Big Folks FAQ.
If your waist size changes when you sit, consider buying pants that fit
comfortably when you're sitting, and wear suspenders to keep your pants
up when you stand. Suspenders with leather straps and buttonholes stay
on much better than the ones with metal snaps.
Wearing elastic waist pants with loose or stretchy fabric also works for
casual dress purposes.
The first recommendation is to get a very high quality bed frame. No
duh. (See U.S. manufacturers in the Resources FAQ.) Enlist the sales staff
in helping you find a bed that won't break. They should know their
products, and what is best-made and strongest. If they can't help you or
look at you funny, go somewhere else.
There are two kinds of bed frames -- bed frames with legs, and platform
BED FRAMES WITH LEGS
Bed frames with legs usually have legs at the corners, a rectangle of
wood or metal on top of the legs, and slats or springs across the
rectangular frame, on which the mattress rests. Some folks think the
wood is stronger, some folks think the metal is stronger. Some like
antiques (particularly cast iron.) When buying a bed frame, pay
attention to the thickness and weight of the slats and legs, and the
strength of the attachments.
To strengthen a bed frame with legs, you can:
* Add slats to strengthen the frame. If you have a metal frame,
you can attach extra slats with machine screws or weld them
on. One person's suggestion: "Create two or four X's of
plywood that reach from the floor to the bedding foundation.
You cut a notch in each piece so that it slides into each
other to form the X. If you are unsure, visit a local waterbed
store and ask."
* add extra feet
* buy a bed frame with six feet or extra supports underneath,
such as a frame for supporting a waterbed.
- * buy a bed base -- a frame that goes around the entire bed, and
crossmembers with feet that stablize the bed and cross the
outside frame for extra support. One source is: http://www.beachcomber.com/Aladdin/albed.html#linwood.
PLATFORM BED FRAMES
Platforms are usually used with waterbeds or futons, but you can also
put a mattress (or a mattress and box spring, though that may make the
bed very high) on a platform. Waterbed frames are very strong, made to
hold hundreds of gallons of water. Solid wood (or plywood) is stronger
than pressboard (one person reported that after a year of use, her bed
fell through the pressboard platform). A frame with drawers underneath
may be stronger than a regular frame.
If you want a single- or double-bag waterbed, get a bag with lap seams
and not butt seams. (Lap seams are stronger and harder to make "run" if
there is a leak.)
You can also buy a water mattress with several tubes, rather than one
big bag. There is less turbulence in a tube-style waterbed and you don't
push all the water to the sides as you get out. Tube-style waterbeds can
also be filled so one side of the bed is firmer than the other.
You can stiffen the sideboards of a platform bed with metal rails
attached at several points. This will help minimize twisting of the
sideboard as you enter or exit the bed.
Sleep on a pair of twin beds pushed together. There's less dip in the
middle, and less stress on one bed. You can use king-size linen and
blankets to cover the whole bed and add eggshell foam to the section
where the beds meet.
Sleep on mattresses on the floor (if you don't mind getting up off the
Put the whole works -- mattress and box springs -- on the floor. "Pillow
top" mattress sets are especially thick and the bed may not be much
lower than a standard mattress set on a frame. The side rails hold the
mattress on the box spring.
Reasons why a tie might not look right on a large man:
1) Your shirt collar is not wide enough for your neck. Try the
2) The knot in your tie does not cover the whole collar area.
* Move the collar button over 1/4 of an inch. This should not
affect the fit of the shirt, because buttons are placed at the
center of the button hole.
* Buy shirts with expandable collars whose top button is on a
length of fabric mounted on a piece of elastic.
* Use or make a "magic button" or "shirt expander" -- a button
attached to a loop of elastic. Place the elastic around the
collar button, then put the button through the button hole.
(If the elastic stretches too much, gaps or folds may occur.)
Try using a half Windsor or full Windsor knot. Both take up more area
than a traditional American four-in-hand knot. (A full Windsor takes up
the most area and looks more symmetrical. However, it may cause your tie
to be too short.)
Gregor (email@example.com) describes how to tie a full Windsor:
Wrap the tie around your neck, and cross the ends with the
wide side in front; then bring the wide end up and through the
opening formed; wrap around to your right for TWO revolutions,
and finally bring the end up through the loop formed and under
the outer layer of wrap. This differs from the commonly used
Windsor knot in having the second wrap around the knot. This
makes a significantly bulkier knot. You can also get a little
extra width by making sure the end tucked through comes
through straight; holding a finger raised under it as it is
drawn through seems to help. Don't over-tighten the knot; the
looser the better for bulk.You'll probably need to shorten the
narrow end, and may have little of it left when you're though.
I will sometimes paper clip the tiny loose end behind the tie.
3) Your tie is too short to reach your belt. Sometimes this also makes
the tie look funny up at the knot, because you're knotting the tie up
where it's skinnier, so the knot takes up less room.
This one is easy to fix: Buy a long tie (made for tall men).
NOTE: For specific companies, see the "Other Resources for Big Folks" FAQ.
Standard wheelchairs are 22 inches wide. It's not easy to find a wider
one. Here are some suggestions:
* Call your local hospital and asking for the home care
division. The nurses there should know local sources for
larger-sized chair rentals.
* Call the Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy departments of
large nursing homes.
* Several wheelchair catalogs carry large-sized chairs. In the
U.S., SIZEwise Rentals rents wheelchairs. Their parent
company, Wheelchairs of Kansas, sells custom-made wheelchairs.
(See the "Other Resources for Big Folks" FAQ.)
PDG Inc. sells wheelchairs for big and supersize people.
In the U.S., contact their distributor at 888-433-6818. In
Canada, contact their distributor at 800-387-9113 or contact
them directly at 604-323-9220 (Vancouver area). (More
information in the Other Resources FAQ.)
Home Blood Pressure Monitors
The standard size blood pressure cuff should not be used on a person
with an arm bigger around than 14" or so. It will give a falsely high
Options are to use a large size cuff (most doctor's offices have them)
or thigh cuff on the upper arm, use the standard size cuff on the
forearm, or use a wrist cuff.
The most economical monitor is a cuff and stethoscope, available at
medical supply companies. Some home models come with D-ring cuffs that
are easy to put on with one hand, and have the stethescope diaphragm
screwed into the cuff so you don't need a hand to hold the stethescope.
You can buy these with a regular or large cuff. Learning to take your
own blood pressure by stethoscope takes some practice, but once you
learn, you can better gauge the accuracy than with an automatic model.
Wrist monitors are simple and easy to use. They fit wrists up to 8"
around. Omron offers several kinds. They pump and give you a reading
A nurse wrote: "Healthcare professionals will offer varying opinions on
their accuracy....but at least it gives a supersized individual ease and
comfort of keeping tabs on their pressure at home....I would suggest to
anyone using a wrist blood pressure machine to take it when having their
pressure checked at their physician's office, health fair, drug store,
etc., to see if there is any difference in readings."
Open MRI machines
MRI machines are tubes and some big people can't fit into them. Some
"open" MRI machines are available and may be able to accommodate big
folks (as well as folks with claustrophobia).
- There are reported to be two open MRI machiness available in
Hayward, California. Call 1-800-OPEN-MRI.
- Kaiser South San Francisco has an open MRI. (650) 742-2000. They
tend to be overbooked with appointments because they only do them
Open Advanced MRI. (415) 956-2525. 490 Post #323 (@ Post & Mason) (San
Francisco. They also have a facility in Emeryville in the Emery Bay
Public Market Bldg.
There is some overlap in the topics covered by the FAQs. If you don't
find what you're looking for here, try the other FAQs.
The latest version of the following FAQs can be found at:
The following FAQs can be found at:
alt.support.big-folks newsgroup FAQ
soc.support.fat-acceptance newsgroup FAQ
soc.support.fat-acceptance.moderated newsgroup FAQ
Clothing for Big Folks in Canada
Clothing for Big Folks in the U.S. (parts 1 and 2)
Organizations for Big Folks
Online Resources for Big Folks
Other Resources for Big Folks
Publications for Big Folks
Resources for Dealing With the Physical Aspects of Being Fat
The latest versions of following FAQs can be found at the following
Big Folks and Fitness
Big Folks and Health
Big Folks and Sports
Research on Big Folks
You can also find (sometimes slightly older versions of) the above FAQs
(except the plus-size pregnancy FAQs) at the following locations:
(Note: The big-folks FAQ is listed separately at these locations.)
You can also get FAQs from rtfm.mit.edu via anonymous FTP or via the mail
archive server. For information about the mail server, send email to
with the word "help" (without the quotes) in the body of the message.
This document is posted bi-weekly to alt.support.big-folks,
soc.support.fat-acceptance, and soc.support.fat-acceptance.moderated.
Stef Maruch (firstname.lastname@example.org) maintains this FAQ.
These are the people who contributed significant chunks to the FAQ:
Sasha Wood (Sasha.Wood@cs.cmu.edu)
Mary-Anne G. Wolf (email@example.com)
Suggestions for additions/improvements are always welcome.
Send suggestions to Stef Jones
Copyright 1995, 1996 by Stef Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Permission is granted to copy and redistribute this article in its
entirety for non-commercial, educational use only, provided that this
copyright notice is not removed or altered. No portion of this work may
be sold, either by itself or as part of a larger work, without the
express written permission of the author. This restriction covers all
publication media, including electronic media.