Woman talking(l+r), Bala ankle weights(c)

Bala/Facebook @itsjasminshim/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘They said my Bottega sardine tote was a weapon’: Traveler says TSA wouldn’t let her bring 1 lb ankle weights because they’re ‘too heavy.’ Viewers say there’s something shady at play

'The only thing I’m guilty of is wanting toned arms.'


Maya Wray


Posted on Mar 19, 2024   Updated on Mar 19, 2024, 9:42 am CDT

Add bala weights to the long list of items prohibited in carry-on luggage by TSA. At least, that’s what one traveler says.

In a viral video, TikToker Jasmin Shim (@itsjasminshim) said she “fought for her life” for half an hour in a security line on her way from Mexico to Toronto—just to prove that the 1-pound Bala weights she carried on without issue on the way to Mexico weren’t, in fact, a lethal weapon.

“My 1-pound mint green Bala ankle weight is considered a weapon,” Shim told over 918,000 viewers of her March 3 video, sharing a picture of the weight in question as a TSA agent pulled it from her suitcase.

Shim said she was told the weight was banned from going in luggage because it was made of lead. She said she found online that Bala weights are manufactured out of stainless steel, but the TSA agent then told her the weights were too heavy.

“My MacBook is heavier than this,” a confused Shim said in her video. “I was honestly like, ‘Show me where it says I can’t bring this in.'”

She said she was presented with a binder detailing the rules of carry-on luggage, but nowhere could she find a section classifying exercise weights as weapons. Luckily, she said she had arrived five hours early for her flight to Toronto and was determined to stay until the matter was resolved, and she could bring the weights with her.

The TSA agent ultimately gave her two choices, she said: Check her bag with the weights inside or throw them out.

“I’m like, ‘I’m not checking my bag for another hundred dollars or throwing out my $80 weights,'” Shim explained.

Eventually, she said she decided to leave, frustrated. “The only thing I’m guilty of is wanting to have toned arms during my trip,” she joked before ending her TikTok. “So if you wanted to bring [Bala weights], don’t.”

Viewers expressed outrage on Shim’s behalf, guessing that her weights were confiscated because the TSA agent wanted to keep them for themself. Others shared stories about items they’d had seized while passing through airport security in Mexico. 

“I was told I couldn’t pass my eyelash glue by Mexico TSA,” @dhmiranda08 revealed. “I squeezed the content in front of her… She wasn’t happy. If I can’t have it neither can you!” 

“They once thru out eye patches I had to wear on the plane because they said it was a liquid,” another viewer lamented.

Other items confiscated in Mexico for their status as weapons reportedly included foam rollers, nail files, plastic forks, and hand-held clothes steamers. Some compared the experience to a game without rules. “Your experience is dependent on the agent you get,” @westcoastromantica claimed.

A few viewers jokingly speculated that the name “Bala,” which translates to “bullet” in Spanish, may have been behind the reason for taking the weights.

@itsjasminshim you win this time airport security. save urself and dont bring your bala weights on your carry on 😭 @Shop Bala Bangles ♬ original sound – Jasmin Shim

Shim’s TikTok may have saved countless other travelers planning on carrying their own Bala products with them on vacation, though it came too late for some. 

“I had this happen to me 2 years ago,” one viewer said. 

“They threw mine out!!!!!!!!! I was SHOCKED,” another wrote. 

“I got stopped for my Bala weights coming back from Mexico City too!” @most_evens shared. “Luckily they didn’t confiscate mine but I did have to show them what they were used for.”

Another air traveler recently went viral after claiming she was detained by TSA for attempting to carry Kinder’s Buttery Steakhouse seasoning, which underwent tests that determined it to be a bomb, in her luggage at Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona. 

The Daily Dot reached out to Shim via Instagram direct message.

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*First Published: Mar 19, 2024, 2:00 pm CDT