"I felt so upset, I burst straight into tears."
South Western Railway has been forced to apologise to a woman after she was fat-shamed.
An inspector had described her as being of “fat build”.
The firm admitted that the word used to describe Natasha Kaur was derogatory after she made a formal complaint following a row over not having a valid ticket.
In a written description, the worker described her as a woman of “fat build” when she could not prove her right to travel.
On February 23, 2021, Ms Kaur had been travelling from her home in Southampton to work in London but had an expired season ticket.
She did not realise her error until she arrived at London Waterloo because the barriers at Southampton Airport Parkway were open.
When her ticket did not work, she asked an attendant for help.
He told Ms Kaur that her ticket had expired three weeks ago.
She then realised her mistake and offered to pay for another ticket.
However, the attendant demanded her details and then sent her a £130 fine.
As soon as she got the fine, Ms Kaur emailed South Western Railway.
She asked if she could appeal it because she considered it unfair she was not allowed to pay the fare at the time.
But the firm sent her a £160 fine and threatened to take her to court.
They also sent her “evidence” and in the inspector’s description, she was described as “about 5ft 6ins tall, fat build, long black hair”.
The firm later apologised but Ms Kaur says the damage is done.
She suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is a hormonal disorder, meaning she finds it difficult to lose weight.
Ms Kaur said: “I felt so upset, I burst straight into tears. I said to my mum ‘How dare someone call me that? You can’t just call someone that’.
“I couldn’t get my head around why someone would say that about me, so I made a complaint.”
Ms Kaur revealed that the comment triggered anxiety, adding:
“It’s really triggered my anxiety.
“I now feel like when I’m on a train everyone is looking at me. The word fat is not acceptable.”
According to studies, fat-shaming can be damaging to overweight people.
Dr Angela Alberga, from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada says “anti-fat bias” actually drives weight gain.
She elaborated: “You actually experience a form of stress. Cortisol spikes, self-control drops and the risk of binge eating increases.”
According to the Daily Mail, a South Western Railway spokesperson said the staff member had been spoken to.
The spokesperson said: “At SWR, we take a zero tolerance approach to derogatory or abusive language of any kind.
“The phrasing used in this statement was unacceptable and not in keeping with our training on the use of respectful language.
“We have already apologised to the customer and would like to do so again today.
“We have investigated this matter fully and taken the appropriate action.”