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A businessman who fat shamed a woman sat next to him on a plane – and branded her a ‘lump of lard’ online – has been accused of ‘playground bullying’.
Lewis Openshaw complained on social media that a ‘big fat sweaty f with a hairy chin with a minging face’ was sat next to him.
He accused his neighbour of smelling like raw onions in his shocking post.
Lewis had paid extra for a window seat on his flight to Tunisia on Friday but was seemingly dismayed to find the passenger sat next to him.
The 24-year-old security company director posted the abusive status while waiting on the tarmac at Manchester and called the woman a ‘big sweaty fat f with a hairy chin with a minging face’.
Holidaymaker Lewis soon took a picture of the poor lady without her realising and shared it publicly after being egged on by pals who commented on his posts.
Lewis, who had bragged about getting a ‘fresh start’ on his holiday, then went on to claim that his flight was ‘full of j*******s [racial slur] and fatties’.
UK charity Helping Overcome Obesity Problems [HOOP] branded the comments ‘weight stigma’ and warned it could lead to depression, anxiety, self harm and even suicidal thoughts in the intended victims.
Lewis, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, wrote in his first post: "Just my fing luck. I pay extra for a window seat on a row with no one on.
"So sit down now a big fat sweaty f with a hairy chin with a minging face like she’s headbutted a flaky cheese and bean pasty from Greggs and she stinks of raw onions comes and sits next to me. Fright off."
When a friend laughed at the post, Lewis replied: "I’m fing fuming mate. Can’t even put my arm on the arm rest cause of her 6×4 biceps."
Another pal asked him to take a photo of her to share and Lewis replied: "I will when she’s asleep. She’ll t me. She’s a right lump of lard."
Less than an hour later he shared an image of the woman appearing to be sleeping next to him with her hand on face – to the delight of his friends.
Lewis, who uses the name Lewis Opey on social media, said: "Ladies and gentleman, I introduce [to] you the culprit! [Name] the lump of lard."
It is unclear if the name used by Lewis was the actual name of the passenger or not.
When Lewis eventually arrived in Tunisia and shared photographs of his hotel, friends asked him where his ‘bird’ was or if she was ‘eating to build up some energy’.
Dr Stuart Flint is senior research fellow in public health and obesity at Leeds Beckett University and is one of the directors of HOOP.
Dr Flint, who specialises in weight stigma and discrimination and the psychosocial effects of obesity, said: "It is exactly like playground bullying.
"You can see from some of the emojis used [by Lewis and his friends] that it is perceived as quite comical as if it is a joke. Fat jokes are perceived as acceptable.
"In terms of impact [on the victim of the abuse], the first thing I would say is the impact is great.
"[I would say to anyone thinking about posting something online like Lewis did], no matter what the subject, stigma discrimination is not acceptable. It doesn’t have to be just about weight.
"You have to think about the impact on the person. It can be quite vast and very serious. It could impact their mental and physical health but also self-harming and suicidal thoughts.
"You have to think about how you behave and treat different people."
Dr Flint explained that while many people believe that negative comments about weight might inspire people to try to lose weight, studies had proved the opposite.
Dr Flint said: "We know people [after experiencing weight stigma] will then avoid health care or engaging in physical activity or exercise. So it possibly makes it worse.
"We know that weight stigma is very pervasive. People have these types of experiences almost daily across a range of settings.
"They are being reported more in public settings such as on public transports, probably because of social media. It is being highlighted more.
"There needs to be greater restrictions on social media and throughout in terms of weight stigma and discrimination.
"If this was another topic that someone was being stigmatised for or treated the way this lady was treated then there would be repercussions.
"The social media [platform] would have intervened and depending on the topic it might even go further, such as legal or whatever."
Lewis admitted to making the posts but claimed he did not intend them to be public.
When contacted for comment, Lewis became abusive and said: "I hope you get cancer and die."
After being contacted for comment Lewis deleted the the posts.
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