Mother body-shamed on airplane thanks man for intervening

By Matthew Torres

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) -- A social media post crediting a Nashville man for stepping in to comfort a flight passenger who was body-shamed has gained plenty of attention.

Savannah Phillips wrote on Facebook about her experience after being called "a smelly fatty" on board a United flight from Oklahoma to Illinois on Monday.

The mother said she always preferred to sit by herself in flights because she was self-conscious about her weight, and feared others would feel uncomfortable sitting next to her.

A man she described to be in his 60s with yellow sunglasses who claimed to be a comedian sat next right next to her.

Her post stated,"As soon as I got buckled, he sat back down...his phone was maybe 12 inches from my face and he proceeded to text someone that he was sitting next to a "smelly fatty." I don’t even know what the rest of his text said. I turned my head away as fast as I could. I was shocked and it was like confirmation of the negative things I think about myself on a daily basis. Before I knew it, I could feel hot, salty tears coming down my face."

Phillips told Scripps station WTVF in Nashville she began to cry and even prayed for the man. Unbeknownst to her, another passenger sitting in the row behind them across the aisle also happened to see the message on his phone.

"He tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'I need to talk to you'" she recalled. "The guy took his earphones out and turned around and he said, 'We're switching seats right now.'"

Phillips remembered the passenger saying he was not going to put up with what the man said. They eventually switched seats, and an unlikely and pleasant encounter ensued.

"When he sat down he saw me crying and asked why I was crying." Phillips said. "He said to not let it get to me and not to worry about it, and we started making small talk which made me feel better."

She learned the passenger who helped comfort her was Chase Irwin, a father and manager at Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row Nashville on Broadway.

Phillips shared her experience on social media in hopes he would be recognized, and within half an hour, he acknowledged reading the post.

Irwin emphasized to WTVF on the phone that he did not intervene for publicity. He described feeling infuriated once seeing the message from the man's phone after he further said he was going to vomit.

"I was going to wait until the end of the flight to say something but I could not have this guy sit next to her this whole flight and her thinking he's making fun of her," Irwin said. "It really gets to me deep down when I see someone crying, and when I saw her crying it really hit me hard and actually got sick to my stomach."

"I was so blessed and happy he was there," Phillips added. "I hope it sets a good example for others for what they should do in situations like that and to stick up for people when they need help."