Feminism

Understanding And Recognizing Thin Privilege, Being An Ally, And Believing That Everybody Has A Good Body

fat_to_thin___by_mari_msm-d4b9sb2
You walk into the clothing store, and they have your size. Not only do they have your size, but the bigger sizes aren’t even near your size. They are in a totally separate section…and those clothes are more expensive than your clothes. Right there. That is glossed over realization that happens to us all the time, and we don’t even notice.

This isn’t about one body being better or worse than another body—or even feeling pity for those that struggle with their size. It’s about recognizing what the world subconsciously tells us about bigger bodies—and what we deem acceptable to comment on when that body isn’t widely recognized as useful (i.e. skinny, thin, pretty).

There is this unspoken notion that we all start out with a clean slate. We’re born, we grow up, and if some of us get bigger; that’s our “fault.” We have a problem that needs to get fixed because we were lazy from birth blah blah blah blah blah

To set the record straight:
A bigger body does not equal lazy. A fat body does not equal unattractive. A chubby body does not equal useless. A plus-size body does not equal asexual.

And hey, it’s not your fault if you grew up with one view and the mention of thin privilege just made your mind explode. It’s embedded into every single thing we are fed about size and bodies. Even as I kid I remember thinking that the world just doesn’t care about fat bodies, and therefore I will never be loved—no one will ever find me attractive—I should just give up now.

Don’t believe me? Go out. Tell me what you see. How many fat bodies are featured on billboards and magazines in ANY way that isn’t promoting weight loss or a TV show about weight loss. Tell me the name of a fat actress that plays someone other than Mrs. Clause, a Mom, or another de-sexualized character. Name me one movie where there is a fat person as a lead character, and the fact that they are fat doesn’t come up as part of the storyline…as a way to justify their fatness.

Thinpriv

Privilege
Everyone has privilege in someway or another. I am a white, cisgender, feminine-identified woman. I know that when I apply for a loan, no one is going to think twice to consider me. I have privilege. I recognize it, and I recognize that other people are judged because they are not white, cisgender, or feminine. I’m so consciously aware of that fact, that I go out of my way to call everyone “they” or identify them by articles of clothing so I do not assume their gender, race, or identity until told so. It takes awhile to get out of the habit of saying “she” “he” “her” “his” “that asian girl” “the black guy over there” “the girl that looks like a lesbian in the corner”…any and all ways of possibly misrepresenting someone.

It’s hard to remember when you’re taught to say what you see (even if we sometimes don’t recognize that what we say is a product of really misrepresentative language, and what we see is what we want to see…and not someone just trying to be a person) but it’s something I do to make sure I don’t use my privilege negatively.

I bring this up because people tend to get really huffy when the ‘p’ word gets thrown around. Almost as if I’m accusing you of something. It’s not an accusation. We are subconsciously given these tidbits about gender, race, class, size, sexuality, and disability as we grow up…and then we go out into the world act on those advantages or disadvantage that we are told. Then one day, someone tells you about your privilege and you become aware. How are you expected to know about the struggles of other people that don’t have your advantages if you’re never told that your level of comfort is not everyone else’s level of comfort?

22 examples of thin privilege from the good people of Everyday Feminism:
1. You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
2. Your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you (unless you’re being thin-shamed – the opposite of fat-shamed).
3. When you’re at the grocery store, people don’t comment on the food selection in your cart in the name of “trying to be helpful.”
4. Your health insurance rates are not higher than everyone else’s.
5. You can expect to pay reasonable prices for your clothing.
6. You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
7. You can expect to find clothing in the latest styles and colors instead of colorless, shapeless and outdated styles meant to hide your body.
8. You don’t receive suggestions from your friends and family to join Weight Watchers or any other weight-loss program.
9. When you go to the doctor, they don’t suspect diabetes (or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other “weight-related” diagnoses) as the first/most likely diagnosis.
10. You don’t get told, “You have such a pretty/handsome face” (implying: if only you’d lose weight you could be even more attractive).
11. People do not assume that you are lazy, based solely on your size.
12. You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
13. Airlines won’t charge you extra to fly.
14. You are not perceived as looking sloppy or unprofessional based on your size.
15. You can eat what you want, when you want in public and not have others judge you for it or make assumptions about your eating habits.
16. You can walk out of a gas station with a box of doughnuts and not have people yell at you to “Lay off them doughnuts, fatty!” (This actually happened to one of my friends.)
17. People don’t ask your partners what it’s like to have sex with you because of your size.
18. Your body type isn’t sexually fetishized.
19. You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
20. Friends don’t describe you to others using a qualifier (e.g. “He’s kind of heavy, but REALLY nice, though”).
21. The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.
22. You can choose to not be preoccupied with your size and shape because you have other priorities without being judged.

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Counter Arguments
Of course there is going to be someone that is going to debate this post and all of its meaning. Someone is going to say, “Hey! I was made fun of for being thin when I was younger,” or “I worked hard for my body. Why can’t I be proud of it? Why do I have to be aware the struggles of another group of people?” You probably were teased for being too thin. As I was teased for being fat. You probably do work really hard for your body. Probably with the same amount of effort I do. We’re actually not that different. It’s all a matter of evening out the playing field.

There is also the argument of I’m too thin. None of my clothes fit me. Yes, that must be awful. I’m not saying that in any sort of condescension. When you buy clothes, you probably have to get it tailored…which cost money and is super annoying to go find a good one. Ann Taylor just came out with a line of petite clothing because they recognized a hole in the clothing market. You have to get your clothes tailored…I have to pay for more expensive clothes because there is more fabric. We’re like twins!

I’ll end with this
Every body is a good body. Thin, Fat, Whatever. We need to stop making assumptions about other people because of their size and start challenging our privilege.

Also, this is fucking fantastic. If you still don’t understand what I’m talking about, please watch:

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3 thoughts on “Understanding And Recognizing Thin Privilege, Being An Ally, And Believing That Everybody Has A Good Body

  1. It’s a perfectly fine assumption that if you’re fat you are lazy about your health. You eat more calories than you expend and you are plain unhealthy. You can try to tell me that fat doesn’t equal unhealthy but your cholesterol, blood pressure, and an assortment of other tests will prove you wrong. You know why people don’t like being fat? It’s ugly. Do you know why bigger clothing cost more? It takes double the resources. I don’t care if people are fat, their choice but stop complaining about things that are totally within your control to change.

    • That is absolutely not true. Fat people have been around for years…longer that the production of chocolate, fast food, or candy. I identify as fat, I am happy about it, and it’s not ugly. I work in the fashion industry, and making larger clothes actually takes very little extra work. ALSO it is easier to dress larger bodies because there is a natural shape to follow. People who go out of their way to comment on other people’s bodies are ugly, and usually have some internalized fat-phobia. I have excellent vitals. I run every single day, and my body has never changed. Most people can not change their body shape or weight, and there is a high high high percentage of people that gain back that weight after they have lost it. You want to know why? Because people are born with different body types. And for you to spout anything less than that is beyond ignorant. Gosh, you know…when I’m out running marathons, and playing rugby, and working in the fashion industry, and being an activist for people that look like me…you know what I’m not thinking about…people that think I’m lazy. Because I have zero time to think about that because I’m running around. So, go eat your lettuce and be sad. Because I don’t have time for you.

    • To start off, I’d like to ask if you even read the article, Anon. She directly said she worked out–not that she needs to justify/qualify or explain her body or bodies to you. You’re welcome to comment, but let’s look at the basics: the first is that some people naturally HAVE a body they cannot change. I’m not sure being “lazy” is an assumption you or I can make about anyone. Sure, there are lazy fat people and lazy skinny people, but after having someone write an article stipulating that fatness isn’t synonymous with laziness, why would you jump in with such a comment?

      I was 115-120 pounds the first year of college. I ate. I ate a lot. I worked out. I did my thing. Later, I was 155. I ate. I ate a lot. I worked out. Nature did its thing. Why the weight gain if nothing changed? Bodies. They do things. Chemical things. Shape things. Some people I know are “overweight” or fat (depending on how society looks at it) and they run, dance like maniacs and play sports. They work. They write articles like you’re reading. Are they lazy? Some people I know are skinny. They eat shit. They never work out. They have bad cholesterol. But you’re not making fun of them for being “lazy skinny asses” and I think THAT’S the point.

      Beyond laziness, since it’s absolutely ridiculous to debate a person’s use of time or health regime after they stated EXACTLY what they do, it just comes down to science. Sometimes a body is built one way. Sometimes a body is built another. Everyone should stay healthy, eat well and exercise. The point is: stop isolating, berating, judging and condemning bigger bodies.

Want to join the discussion? Luna Luna encourages well-reasoned, thoughtful, useful, civil, constructive, respectful and intellectual dialogue. That said, we're not into name-calling or bullying or character attacks. Violating comments will be deleted. Please read the post thoroughly and try not to make assumptions about the writer's perspective. Let's start talking!

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