Please Note: These FAQs are no longer being updated (except that out-of-date web sites, contact info, and so forth are removed when I am notified of them - for notification address, see below).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


SECTION A: FAQs about resources for dealing with the physical aspects of being fat

SECTION B: Information about this FAQ

SECTION A: FAQs about resources for dealing with the physical aspects of being fat

A1) Where can I find scales to weigh a very large person?

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.

A2) What can be done about discomfort in hot, sticky weather?

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, such as:

* split slips (also called petti-pants, culotte slips, bloomers, or pantaloons),
* 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 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.

Some people apply ointments to the chafing surfaces, such as:

* 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)
You can use aloe gel at night to soothe chafed skin.

A medical note on thigh irritation from

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 right away.

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.

There is a support group on line for Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Contact for more information.

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:

* 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)
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.

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:

* 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 bathing
* anti-bacterial soap (US: Dial liquid soap)
* anti-bacterial liquid -- but note that it stings (US: Absorbine Jr.)
* 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 periods.
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.)

Socks that are treated to absorb foot sweat and reduce food odor work surprisingly well.

A3) How can I make traveling on an airplane more comfortable?

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, California, 90720.

A republished copy of the old Consumer Reports article on airline seat widths is on at

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 following:

* 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 recline.
* 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 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.

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 their table.

A4) What models of cars work best for big folks?

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 extenders: -- 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:

* 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 two-door cars.
* 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
Companies reported to be bad about seatbelt modifications include:
* 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.
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.

Other solutions for too-short seatbelts:

* Buy oversized van seatbelts at an auto parts store.
* Have an auto customizer or auto upholsterer modify or replace the seatbelts.
* 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.
Other seatbelt considerations:
* 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 waist.
* 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 adults too.


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 opens explosively. 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.


* 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.


The makes and models listed are for the U.S. market unless so noted.
	BMW 7-series
	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
	Eagle Vision
	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 
	Geo Metro
	Honda: Accord '89, '92, CRX '90, Civic (hatchback, sedan, and
	  station wagon), Civic Del Sol, Prelude
	Infiniti G20 (larger than the J30 and Q45)
	Isuzu Trooper
	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),
	  SL-2, L 
	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


	Chevrolet: Cavalier, vans
	Eagle Talon
	Ford: Bronco, Crown Victoria, Explorer, Escort, Neon, T-Bird,
	  Tempo '93 and others, Taurus '97 and others
	Jeep Cherokee
	Lincoln Town Car, 88
	Mazda MPV '91
	Mercury: Lynx, Tracer
	Mitsubishi Galant
	Nissan: 240SX, Sentra
	Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (Canada)
	Plymouth Reliant Station Wagon, '85
	Pontiac SunBird
	Subaru Outback 
	Toyota Corolla '90
	Volvo station wagon

A5) What can be done about pants prematurely wearing out in the inner thigh?

There are several theories on why pants wear out prematurely in the inner thigh:
* The fabric rubs against itself.
* The fabric is stretched tightly.
* Perspiration gets into the fabric.
* Skin rubs against the fabric.
Some possible solutions:
* Buy pants with flexible loose material (i.e., sweatpants or harem pants).
* 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 friction.
* Wash the pants frequently to remove perspiration.
* Buy inexpensive pants that you don't mind tossing when they wear out.
* 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 you.
* 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.

A6) What about recreation and travel for big folks?


Access First Travel 
	Malden, Mass.
	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: (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

Greater Salt Lake Clothing Company
        P.O. Box 171422
        Salt Lake City, Utah 84117-1422
        Phone: 801-273-8700
        Fax: 801-273-7700
        Sponsors ski and river trips for plus-size women.

Travel Enterprises
	Phone: 800-239-8269 
	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 first, though.

See also the section on nude beaches and resorts in the Other Resources for Big Folks FAQ.

A7) How do I find pants that fit my waist both sitting and standing?

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.

A8) Our bed frames keep breaking, help!!!

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 beds.


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:


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 floor!).

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.

A9) My tie looks funny for some reason.

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 following:

* 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.)
2) The knot in your tie does not cover the whole collar area.

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 ( 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).

A10) Where can I find medical products for large-size people? (wheelchairs, blood pressure cuffs)

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 reading.

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 automatically.

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).

SECTION B: Information about this FAQ

B1) Are there other related FAQs?

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: The latest versions of following FAQs can be found at the following locations:

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 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.

B2) Posting information

This document is posted bi-weekly to,, and

Stef Maruch ( maintains this FAQ.

B3) Contributors

These are the people who contributed significant chunks to the FAQ:
Sasha Wood (
Mary-Anne G. Wolf (

Suggestions for additions/improvements are always welcome.
Send suggestions to Stef Jones (

Copyright 1995, 1996 by Stef Jones (
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.