I’ve been fat. 198 lbs fat. I couldn’t do up my shoes. Literally. I am thin. 97 lbs thin. I was sent an article recently, on “thin privilege” … and couldn’t help but think that this is just the opposite side of fat-shaming.
Knocking someone down doesn’t make anyone else any taller. It’s not about pulling everyone down to the same level of shame, it’s about lifting up.
And in case, you’re wondering, here are some of the examples of “thin privilege”, and my honest perspective on them:
1. You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
– I am 97 lbs. I AM assumed to be unhealthy, just because of my size.
2. Your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you
– How tiny I am is literally the FIRST comment made about me, every time.
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.”
– Yes people do … and at restaurants well-meaning friends will tell me I don’t eat enough, or the right kinds of foods to gain weight, even though I see a dietician who has worked with me to find a diet that helps me to gain weight in a healthy way.
4. Your health insurance rates are not higher than everyone else’s.
– Yes they are, people can be “too thin” for insurance just as they can be “too fat”
5. You can expect to pay reasonable prices for your clothing.
– In order to have any garment fit me, I can expect to purchase it from a specialty “petite” store, and then take it to an alterationist
6. You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
– As above.
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 You can expect to find clothing in the latest styles and colors instead of colorless, shapeless and outdated styles meant to hide your body.
– Or I’m stuck wearing clothes with cartoon characters on them because adult ones don’t come in my size
8. You don’t receive suggestions from your friends and family to join Weight Watchers or any other
– Nope, I receive well-meaning emails, articles, etc about anorexia and bulimia, and what to eat. (If you know me, you know my idea of toast is frying bread in a pan full of bacon grease)
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.
– Weight-related diagnoses are the first order of business. And I shouldn’t be offended by that. If medically, my weight is likely to cause my symptoms, then I have to take that seriously.
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).
– No, I literally get told “you’d be pretty with a bit more weight on you” … or “If you gained 10 lbs, you’d actually have breasts, and an ass… hehe”
11. People do not assume that you are lazy, based solely on your size.
– That is true, but I AM assumed to be a crack-addict, or suffering from an eating disorder.
12. You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
– That’s a bit of a vague statement … everyone’s a target for comedians, and the super-skinny are right up there.
13. Airlines won’t charge you extra to fly.
– True. But people on the bus/subway will come over and take half my space with their gear, or shove me into a corner without even noticing.
14. You are not perceived as looking sloppy or unprofessional based on your size.
– Actually, over-sized, ill-fitting clothing on a tiny body not only makes me look sloppy and unprofessional, it also means that people often wonder if I suffer from drug addictions.
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.
– So not true. I am assumed to be suffering from an eating disorder. Ordering a salad is a guaranteed eye-roll, and it’s common that I’ll hear my server comment to the other staff about it.
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.)
– True. But I often get people making comments about how sad it is that I’m so shallow all I think about is my weight.
17. People don’t ask your partners what it’s like to have sex with you because of your size.
– Yes they do. “Aren’t you afraid she’s gonna break” is popular. As is “I guess she’s always on top”
18. Your body type isn’t sexually fetishized.
– Um, seriously? What body type is fetishized more than the slim?
19. You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
– Wow, um … nope. Small people of both sexes are considered to have a less “substantial presence” and are passed over for leadership positions by people who are seen as more capable. I’ve literally been told “I think it would be difficult for staff to take someone so petite seriously as the team leader”
20. Friends don’t describe you to others using a qualifier (e.g. “He’s kind of heavy, but REALLY nice, though”).
People who feel the need to describe me with a qualifier are people I don’t need as friends.
21. The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.
– Not as much as before perhaps, but there is still a fairly large group of the media focused on shaming people who are super-slim
22. You can choose to not be preoccupied with your size and shape because you have other priorities, and you won’t be judged.
– There are going to be people who will FIND reasons to judge you. If you weren’t skinny/fat, tall/short, old/young, etc, they’ll find something. If you want to buy into their judgement, that’s your thing.
In the meantime, me and my skinny self is gonna go make some toast.