It has been both very cool and very overwhelming to be talking about thin privilege with so many people. This conversation is very important to me, and I want to be as thoughtful and patient as possible as the varying responses roll in. Thanks in advance for remembering that I am simply a human with some complex thoughts on privilege and how it functions for me. I am not fucking anyone over by discussing thin privilege. I am not indicting anyone to feel shame. Let’s be graceful, let’s be honest, and let’s have dialogue. I love you all, except the shit heads, to which I say this:
Here are some exploratory thin privilege related links. Please note that I usually only share links from women or queer identified folks, but today I am deviating from that rule just to be thematic.
If you read none of my other links this week, please check this article out.
” “Being a skinny person is hard, too.”
I get that, and I’m sorry. Having experiences where your body is painfully held up to scrutiny is totally, totally shitty. However, you don’t get to talk about thin shaming like it’s as bad as fat shaming. You just don’t. There are some great articles about thin privilege, so I won’t go into it at length here. I agree that our culture has a narrow scope for what it considers “attractive”, but please keep in mind that being hurt from an ideal is different than being oppressed by it. Oppression involves ubiquitous, pervasive societal subjugation, as opposed to individual moments of pain. Fatphobia is a term I think we’re all familiar with, but I’ve never heard of skinnyphobia, and “skinny bitch” is a world away from “fat bitch” as an insult. Additionally, on a slightly different note, I should mention that feeling fat or uncomfortable with your body is totally different than beingfat. The latter involves being judged by society every day as you walk through life.”
This is a great book (not an article, but you can totally get it as an audiobook if longform text isn’t your thing!) that really got me thinking about just how unfair societal body standards can be for SO many people. One response I got to my thin privilege article was a few people saying “I worked hard for my thin privilege! I earned it!”. NEWS FLASH. Some people can “work hard” and get different physical results. SHOCKING, I know. This book really delves into the hows and whys of that fact.
Skinny people struggle too, because let’s just face it: the kind of body that is deemed “best” in our culture is quite specific and few of us actually measure up. But thin people are totally systemically favored and privileged. Here’s how skinny shaming is not now, and will never be the same as fat shaming.
Melissa Fabello breaks it DOWN and offers about a million extra resources and reading in this article. Love it.
Maybe it’s the punk in me, but I love an unedited blog that doesn’t have the pressure of needing to appear all shiny, acceptable and perfect. This is Thin Privilege is a perfect place to read about thin privilege in action, and how it effects people that don’t have it. It is a moderated discussion blog, so there are many stories and perspectives.
Have a great weekend!
About a month ago, I applied to speak at the Body Love Conference. This is a conference founded by one of my absolute heros, Jes Baker, and I just narrowly missed it last year. I was determined to attend in 2015, and since I’ve been kind of on a role with the whole public speaking thing, I thought I’d just apply to speak at it. Fuck it, I thought. Why not?
I applied to talk about body image and self-esteem and how blogging and social media can both positively and negatively affect how we feel about ourselves. Much to my delight, the proposal was accepted to go on to the next level of applications. The next step was to make a video, essentially explaining what I want to do and why and send it in. Easy. No problem.
The deadline was awhile away, and so I procrastinated. I procrastinated a little and then I procrastinated a lot, for many weeks, to the point where I had to ask myself why the heck I was procrastinating at all. Sure, everyone puts things off now and again, but I’m a go-getter. If I’m really putting something off for a long time, there is a reason aside from general laziness. I know myself.
After one conversation about it with a friend, I realized I was procrastinating because I was uncomfortable.
I was uncomfortable because in the past few months I have been thinking a lot about thin privilege- How I have it, how I benefit from it, how it is inherently EASIER to love a body that certainly isn’t going to be on a billboard but absolutely is considered publicly “acceptable”. The Body Love conference is an incredible thing with fat identified people and fat activists at the helm. I am a body love activist. Super Strength Health believes in health at every single possible size. But I am not fat.
If I know one thing about privilege, it’s that sometimes it makes sense to sit down and listen every once in awhile instead of talking all the damn time. If I know another thing about privilege, it’s that if I am going to talk, I should talk directly about the thing that scares me (my privilege, in this instance) and not something that matters much, much less (blogging and social media.) When I finally did make my video, I said that I only really wanted to speak if I could talk about body image, thin privilege, and positive alliances across body types. Because I have doubts that my proposal will be accepted (I did entirely change my topic at the last minute, which I imagine looks kind of flaky) I wanted to talk a little bit about thin privilege HERE. Because I don’t think I have directly addressed it before, and because that doesn’t feel fair to me.
I benefit from thin privilege every single day.
I have struggled so much to love the body I have. I have starved, I have thrown up and I have over exercised to change my form to something I might feel better about. I have lost 10, 20, 30, 40 pounds in an effort to feel small and light “enough”. I have gone to over a decade of talk therapy, fucked a bunch of people, tried to focus on how strong I can get. All in an effort to feel my body is good enough, and all with thin privilege. It seems paradoxical to me that I have feared my body so viscerally while moving through the world with relative grace and ease BECAUSE of my size (and education level, and skin color, and on and on.)
Of course wanting to physically cut parts of my body away was painful and difficult, and I have ultimate compassion for myself and everyone else who has been at war with their appearance. But for me, I know I must dig deeper. First I had to dig past the shame of my body and into the real reasons behind the shame (you know, the shit that has nothing to do with my appearance.) From there, it seems IMPERATIVE to contextualize myself with the rest of the world. I am privileged as shit. I can’t go on fighting the fight to have positive body image and self esteem without adding a healthy asterisk to my goal.
I AM FIGHTING EVERY DAY TO FEEL LIKE MY BODY IS OKAY*
*with the acknowledgment that my body is perceived as normative and society will likely sanction it whether I like it or not.
Thin privilege is being able to safely assume that people are not judging my food choices.
Thin privilege is fitting into most clothes, easily finding work uniforms and outfits for fun.
Thin privilege is never having people suggest I pay more for the space I take up. (ahem, airplanes.)
Thin privilege is my doctor telling me I look great.
Thin privilege is no one assuming that I am lazy or that I don’t take care of myself.
Thin privilege is fighting the fight to love my body, posting pictures of my form, and getting nothing but accolades.
Thin privilege likely allows me the space to do my work with Super Strength Health, for people to believe my opinions about what foods are healthy.
Thin privilege means I am not bullied because of my body.
These are just a few examples of thin privilege.
Having thin privilege doesn’t make me an asshole, but it does become a thing that I find necessary to be accountable to.
And now, the real question: how can we (not necessarily you and me, but folks with societally sanctioned “normative” bodies) use our privilege in powerful ways that affect real change across the body positive movement and the world? I have some ideas, but certainly not all of the answers. More than anything, I know this is a discussion that HAS to happen within the body love movement, specifically coming from thin people. The time is totally now, and I’m ready to get the ball rolling (or roll with the already-rolling ball if this discussion is happening elsewhere).
What are your thoughts?