Thin Person: Doctor, I have this really bad pain in my (insert area here) I’m pretty worried about it.
Doctor: Eat a burger you’ll feel better.
Thin Person: Um I ate a burger yesterday and it still hurts.
Doctor: Maybe if you took some responsibility for yourself and gained some weight you wouldn’t be in pain.
Thin privilege is being able to walk into Olympic Stadium in an outfit that makes you feel part of the team, instead of being forced to wear the only outfit that fits because Ralph Lauren won’t make the outfit you want to be wearing in your size.
“Before heading to NY for the P&G announcement, I had a photo shoot. We were supposed to wear white button up shirts. The woman’s shirts that were provided were too small in the back and the shoulders. My only option was wearing a man’s shirt. It was very ill fitting and I was feeling pretty self conscious about it. I hate not being able to wear a majority of woman’s clothing. When I got to NY they had a different man’s shirt for me to wear that was much better looking. I rolled the sleeves up and tried to look as feminine as possible. My mother was the only mother there who hadn’t a jacket like the other moms because there wasn’t one provided in her size.” - Sarah Robles, Team USA Olympian
I’d strongly suggest clicking through to read the full article by Sarah Robles. Depressing, but very illuminating.
Thin privilege is being able to claim your identity first, and body second. You are a parent, a worker, an athlete, a model; a fat person is an obese dad, an overweight worker, a BBW date, or a plus-sized model. Our body is always our main identity.
(thanks to fatbodypolitics for the thrust of this post)
Anyone who’s spent a fair amount of time living in a fat body understands that when you’re eating something you become hypervisible. That the people around you will scope what you’re eating and cast judgement on you. Often times you can be served the wrong order in restaurants. And sometimes friends or relatives might even make you special “healthy” plates because they are “concerned” for your health.
And I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by television featuring skinny women who eat copious amounts of junk food and are deemed sexually attractive for it.
Because it’s just thin privilege in action. A fat girl on a television show will be teased and mocked mercilessly for eating large amounts of food or junk food, but if a woman is thin and attractive it distinguishes her as different from the majority of thin and pretty women, women who are portrayed as having birdlike appetites.
Not understanding how it fits into thin privilege? If you are thin, you have the freedom to eat whatever you want without judgement. In fact if you “eat like a fat girl” it’s highly likely that you’ll be deemed as even more attractive.
If you look like Winifred Burkle you will be described as: “A remarkable woman. Particularly the way you can shovel a mountain range of food into your mouth. That is some Olympian feat, that much eating”
If you look like Rory Gilmore, you’ll be able to eat a large amount of junk food and have men tell you that they enjoy the fact that you can eat, or: “half the fun in being with you is the horrified looks on the waiters’ faces.”
But if you look like Lauren Zizes, the food you eat will define you and be used as comedic relief. You’ll be made fun of for eating an entire box of chocolates and other characters will make comments about you wanting your ”damn candy!”
If you’re a fat girl eating a mountain of food, you’re not told you’re remarkable or that it’s charming. You’re told that you have no sense of self control and should be ashamed of yourself. You’re told that you’re a poster child for unhealthy lifestyles. You’re called names and probably told much more traumatizing things than I mentioned here.
I mentioned a long time ago that I think one of the reasons why our culture is paranoid about becoming fat and constantly trying to lose weight or demoralizing fat people is because most of society has unresolved issues with regard to their own sexuality. Humans are desiring of flesh, and the fact that fat people have more flesh which is the object their desire, can be deeply disturbing and a hard concept to grasp.
And the more culture I soak up, the more I think that it’s not just about flesh. Food isn’t just fuel for our bodies. Food can be an experience, a trigger for our memories, and an aphrodisiac. I think food plays a much larger role in human sexuality than we give it credit for.
Too bad it’s only culturally okay for thin people to explore it.
This is really, really sad. I’m sorry people treat you that way fat people. Does anyone have any advice for me on trying to make sure my behavior so that I don’t ever discriminate against fat people, because I’ve only become aware of any real prejudice against them really and I’m concerned I may be contributing to that without realising.
- Don’t use the word “fat” as a synonym for anything negative. Or anything at all. “Fat” is an adjective. It is a body type. In the same way that thin means thin and tall means tall, fat means fat. That being said, a lot of fat people feel shamed and don’t claim the word to describe their bodies, so you should make sure it’s okay with them first.
- Don’t call yourself fat unless you are fat.
- When fat people complain about size-specific problems, this is your cue to listen. Don’t say “but thin people…” because that’s generally someone’s way of saying that fat issues aren’t important, but thin people’s are.
- Know that someone’s body size does NOT determine their character, success, intelligence, or lifestyles.
- Know that fat does not automatically mean unhealthy, but even if it did, it would not be your business to talk to that person about your health, unless they consented you to do so.
When it comes to feminism, I aim to acknowledge intersectionality and the fact that all people have lived experiences, even when they are privileged.
The trouble is, every now and then a thin person comes along and says “but one time someone told me to eat a sandwich and…
Love the last line.