This is Thin Privilege

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. "But…but…but…!" (or, how not to argue)
  2. "What is thin privilege?"
  3. "Where is the line between skinny and fat?" or "Who has thin privilege?"
  4. “But what about HEALTH?”
  5. “But isn’t there an obesity epidemic?”
  6. "But thin people get shamed, too."
  7. "But what about thin people with eating disorders? Do they have thin privilege?"
  8. "But saying that you hate obesity isn’t the same as saying you hate fat people."
  9. "I’m trying to lose weight. Am I allowed to submit to TITP?"
  10. "What about starving people? Do they have thin privilege?"
  11. "This blog sounds angry sometimes. Don’t you think your cause would be better served if you were more polite?"
  12. "Isn’t this blog encouraging fat people to be victims?"
  13. "Shouldn’t you just tell everyone that they’re beautiful?"
  14. "But I/someone I know/a celebrity lost weight. Doesn’t that mean body size is changeable and hence there’s no such thing as thin privilege?"
  15. "But it’s not like thin privilege/fat discrimination kills people."
  16. "What’s this blog’s position on using the word ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ to refer to fat people?"
  17. "What about thin people who think they’re fat/feel fat? Do they have thin privilege?"
  18. "Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll, you know. Just saying."
  19. "But isn’t being fit/eating right a good thing?"
  20. "But certainly asking people who can’t fit into one plane seat to pay for two is fair. It’s a matter of real estate, safety, and fuel efficiency, isn’t it?"
  21. "But what if I’m just not attracted to fat people? Why should I feel guilty about that? How that is that thin privilege?"
  22. "How can I be a good thin ally?"
  23. "Do you think that losing weight is bad?"
  24. "But doctors say that being fat is bad! They have educations and stuff! How can you argue with them?"
  25. "But isn’t there ‘fat privilege,’ too?"
  26. "Shouldn’t this site be called ‘fat discrimination’ instead of ‘this is thin privilege’?"
  27. "I asked you a legitimate question. Why haven’t you answered it?"
  28. "But isn’t critiquing diet culture shaming people who choose to lose weight?"

"But…but…but…!" (or, how not to argue)

Putting this at the very top, so folks have an easy reference. If you find yourself in the bottom echelons of this chart, please don’t bother us with asks, submissions, and also fuck off already. Don’t expect your ‘arguments’ to be entertained on this blog except to either illustrate a point about trolls and fat hate or to mock you. And yes, we don’t feel the teensiest bit guilty mocking people who don’t even see fat people as humans deserving of a fair argument. Be warned.

from ilovecharts

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"What is thin privilege?"

(If you don’t know what the social justice concept of ‘privilege’ means more generally, then please read this first)

Thin privilege systematically reduces each of us to our dress size, hip measurement, and waist size, then grants favors, opportunities, or simple lack of punishment when the numbers are low enough. 

When you have thin privilege it doesn’t mean that your individual experience of being thin is necessarily positive, or that you haven’t been called names or discriminated against. It also doesn’t mean that every single fat person feels stigma as keenly as another. Some fat people might have grown up with supportive families in supportive environments and never encountered the kinds of fat stigma other people encounter.

Thin privilege is a social phenomenon that exists as a function of fat stigma, and it exists regardless of someone’s personal experience being thin or fat. Fat stigma is real, pervasive, and forceful. It invades entertainment, science, news reporting, advertising, sports, business, family planning (like adoption and fertility treatments and being called an abusive parent by virtue of you or your child being fat), education, dating/love/sex/marriage, fiction, travel, academia…. and on and on and on.

Stigma and privilege exist regardless of whether we, personally, experience them. And though I’m sorry thin people get shit for their weight — that’s wrong, and contemptible — it doesn’t obviate thin privilege or fat stigma.

Further, thin privilege is not about eating disorders. ‘Thin’ is the social state of thinness, the state of being seen and/or physically accepted as not fat. There is no consideration here why someone is fat or not fat.

Thin privilege exists no matter how it’s ‘won,’ no matter whether the thin person wants privilege or not, no matter how much a fat person wishes they had access to those privileges as a result of their own good behavior, character, or health. (artetolife)

The purpose of the blog is to illustrate the privileges (in this case defined as special rights, advantages, or immunities granted to or available only to one person or group of people) that thin people receive in modern society and the discrimination against fat people that results in those privileges. The further purpose being the hope of thin people becoming aware of and acknowledging these privileges, the hope that this will slowly assist in a change of the social hive-mind perceptions of fat people, and finally to provide a place where fat people can discover that they are not alone in the discrimination they experience. (fatanarchy)

Related posts:

Related tags: what is thin privilege, thin privilege

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"Where is the line between skinny and fat?" or "Who has thin privilege?"

Thin privilege exists on a spectrum, and can be experienced contextually. The spectrum part means that though Suzie might be fat, she could have more thin privilege than fatter Georgia, and less thin privilege than thinner Maria. The contextual part means that within certain communities people who would be considered thin in other communities might be subject to some kinds of fat discrimination.

The way to think of it is that if you have access to something now that a fatter you wouldn’t have access to, or if you’re not subject to a form of discrimination a fatter you would be subject to, you probably have thin privilege.

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"But what about HEALTH?"

Let me make it completely clear from the outset that I do not believe ‘health,’ however defined, is a reasonable measure to determine whether or not someone deserves respect, civil rights, and fair treatment. If you have a problem with how health markets apportion your premiums or where your taxes go, then by all means, rage against the system. But do not think for a minute your assholish behavior towards people you imagine use more than their ‘fair share’ is justified.

In fact, I’ll go further and state that in my opinion the modern conception of ‘health’ is bullshit. It’s an ever-changing, largely arbitrary definition that seems to serve a single purpose: to blame modern ills on so-called ‘unhealthy’ people then define so-called ‘unhealthy’ people as unpopular social ‘deviants’ like fat people, poor people, and the disabled. The philosophy of vaunting the modern notion of ‘health’ to some kind of societal/moral imperative is called healthism.

Perhaps there are those of you who ask: What about when someone’s so fat it’s medically unhealthy, shouldn’t you tell them to lose weight, out of friendly/familial concern? - Hell no. Why would your friends be a better witness to your experience than you are? If they are, then don’t you have bigger presumed problems than your weight? Why would they know what’s healthy for you, better than you do? Again, if they do, don’t you have bigger presumed problems than your weight? How in the world could you possibly avoid hearing, in our current cultural climate, that fat people should ‘lose weight for their health’? Treat people with respect. Don’t infantilize or condescend to them. This is Adult Interaction 101, here.

Further, it can’t be said enough: the BMI, the general classification system for fat health oppression, is bullshit.

Finally, please read through the following for the current science related to your ‘But what about teh fattieses HEALTH!’ questions:

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Related tags: health, fat does not equal unhealthy

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"But isn’t there an obesity epidemic?"

No, there isn’t. 

The modest increase of an average of 14 lbs for a USian woman and 16 lbs for a USian man since 1990 is in no reasonable scientific sense an ‘epidemic.’

Especially since that weight gain can be largely attributed to an aging population, smoking cessation, and the long-term metabolic decline of yo-yo dieters

Note also, that we’ve seen this kind of moral panic over schoolchildren and nutrition before, and it was just as misguided then as it is now.

Related tags: obesity epidemic

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"But thin people get shamed, too."

Arguably, thin shaming is related to thin privilege - a kind of lashback effect. Thin, even very thin bodies, are prized and splashed all over TV, movies, and magazines, and it rightfully pisses some people off. People who, instead of directing their anger at a society that privileges thin bodies over fat bodies, direct their anger at thin people.

There are two things to address here. The first is that being told to go eat a sandwich or being forced to take in a baggy pair of pants is not oppression. Privilege is institutional; it doesn’t always resolve to the individual level. Privileged people have problems. They might even experience some of the same problems oppressed people have. But in no way do they experience the oppression of the underprivileged.

Secondly, thin shaming is in no way comparable to what fat people go through. Fat people get food-policed at an entirely different level. There are fat taxes in the name of ‘reducing obesity.’ There are school lunch programs and food-policing in public schools in the name of reducing the population of fat people. Fat children are ritually abused by their parents and doctors, the people they’re supposed to be able to trust before anyone else in the world, forced on diets, sent to fat camps. Fat parents are getting denied custody simply for the size of their bodies, and prospective parents the right to adopt due to the size of their bodies. Fat women are being denied the same access to contraceptive, fertility, and pregnancy services. Fat employees are penalized and all but ordered to starve themselves in order to get the best rate on their employee insurance plan. And don’t even get me started about shopping while fat. Sure, something might be baggy on you, but at least you can still cover yourself. Fat people can’t make too-small clothes bigger.

This blog is one tiny corner of the internet that doesn’t talk about thin people’s problems. Everywhere, all over the place, people are talking about thin hurt feelings. Thin love. Thin hopes and aspirations. Thin success and failure. Everywhere else you’re the lead character in all the stories worth reading or watching. That is thin privilege.

-answer by ArteToLife

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Related tags: thin hurt feelings, what is thin privilege, shopping

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"But what about thin people with eating disorders? Do they have thin privilege?"

We’ve had some difficulty approaching the issue of eating disorders on this blog, since so many people conflate certain eating disorders with certain body types. When we explain that thin privilege exists despite eating-disordered status, we’ve had thin people with EDs take offense. I think it’s important to note that disability is its own underprivileged status, and in this case thin people with EDs are conflating the oppression they feel for lacking able-bodied privilege with a negation of their thin privilege. 

The reason why I’m confident in this assessment is because thin people aren’t the only people that have EDs. Fat people have to deal with EDs, too, and the same kinds of EDs thin people deal with. Fat people with EDs feel both the lack of able-bodied privilege due to their ED as well as fat oppression.

It’s definitely a complex interaction of privileges and oppressive states. But yes, the ‘thin tears’ are generally reserved for folks who want to make TITP about them, who want to claim we’re thin-shaming or that thin oppression is real. As the founder of TITP I would never claim that thin people don’t have real problems and while they lie along the axis of thin privilege they might lack privileges in other areas (for ED sufferers, they suffer stigma for their ED and the side-effects of the illness and issues related to illness). 

(answer by ArteToLife)

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Related tags: eating disorders

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"But saying that you hate obesity isn’t the same as saying you hate fat people."

Newsflash #1: Obesity is defined as being fat, not by having a disease, or any of the conditions for which fatness is a risk factor. You can be fat your whole life and never have a condition that’s even remotely linked with your fatness and still be labeled “obese.” Fatness not a disease (no matter what the AMA says), it’s a variation, a form of human diversity.

Newsflash #2: Human diversity is associated with different risk factors of various conditions. It’s true. Tall people, women, light-skinned people, people whose gene-pool was centered on certain places — all these groups have risk factors for certain groups of conditions. 

Newflash #3: The vast majority of people labeled “obese” by the BMI do not look like the people who are featured (usually headless) in news articles about the “obesity epidemic.” They are people who look like this. (see Kate Harding’s BMI Project for more examples)

Conclusion: There is no “obesity.” There are just fat people, like there are women, or tall people. Tall people are afflicted with tallness in exactly the same way fat people are afflicted with fatness

So yes, saying you “hate obesity” is exactly like saying you hate fat people.

-ArteToLife

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Related tags: fat hate

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"I’m trying to lose weight. Am I allowed to submit to TITP?"

Sure. This blog is about thin privilege and fat discrimination. If you post on those topics and don’t engage in fat shaming or promote a culture that privileges thin people in your post, then your post is relevant. Promoting weight loss for everyone (or extrapolating your experience to others by praising yourself for weight loss, and so on), however, is engaging in a culture that shames fat people and privileges thin people. Those kinds of submissions will not be posted.

-ArteToLife

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Related tags: weight loss

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"What about starving people? Do they have thin privilege?"

1. Not all hungry/starving people are thin. Obviously you don’t know much about poverty and hunger if you believe this. The vast majority of thin people in societies with a fat oppression/thin privileged dynamic aren’t thin because they’re starving. 

2. No one is denying that thin people can have problems — incredibly severe problems that might make whatever privileges they get for being thin have relatively little impact on their lives. That doesn’t mean thin privilege doesn’t exist in certain societies. I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that, as it is a social phenomenon, thin privilege is relative and depends largely on where and amongst who you live. There are also still some places in the world where thinness as such isn’t privileged.

There’s a false dichotomy being set up in this question. Namely, that oppression stops existing when there are other, more pressing problems. If we’re looking at different societal compositions, where food is at a premium and starvation is the main issue, then that society is likely not experiencing institutional fat oppression/thin privilege anyway. Privilege/oppression are man-made institutions that are highly dynamic through time and from place to place. That doesn’t make oppression/privilege in a certain place and time less ‘real,’ because another place and time didn’t experience them.

3. Starving kids are usually starving because they’re oppressed in other ways. Maybe because they lack legal agency and have to submit to abusive parents. Maybe because their family is impoverished. Maybe because their governments are corrupt, or there’s war. There’s something called intersectionality where someone might experience an extreme lack of privilege — in the case of starvation, there could be a myriad number of oppressions there — that interact with thin privilege in a way that greatly reduces the importance of thin privilege in someone’s life compared the the very pressing and urgent oppressions like abuse, lack of legal agency, poverty.

4. Does a fat person suffering a terrible malady or tragedy still have the burden of fat oppression on their shoulders, if they live in a society with a fat oppressive dynamic? Of course they do. Oppressed people don’t get a free pass from their oppression because they are afflicted in other ways. Instead they have to deal with both their affliction and oppression. An afflicted person who lies along certain axes of privilege still has to deal with their affliction, which can be devastating. But they do not, at the same time, have to deal with the oppressions along those axes. A starving thin person will not suddenly have to deal with fat oppression. A starving fat person would have to deal with both. That’s the salient point.

Finally —

Every single person I’ve seen raise this question has been a troll seeking to use this point as the ultimate thin-privilege ‘gotcha.’ I high doubt these folks care at all about starving kids. This is evidenced by them being willing to OBJECTIFY starving children as their ‘gotcha’ point of argument. I highly doubt the concept of ‘thin privilege’ could ever be more offensive than individuals who go around using certain marginalized folks as convenient vehicles of their hatred against other marginalized folks. 

(answer by ArteToLife)

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"This blog sounds angry sometimes. Don’t you think your cause would be better served if you were more polite?"

This blog is not the place for thin people to complain or get validation. Every single fucking time a thin person turns on the television, looks in a magazine or steps out of their fucking house they get validation. This is not a safe space for thin people to come and discuss the horrible “oppression” they receive for being thin. This blog is expressly for the purpose of calling out how thin people, and thus society, oppresses fat people. Not the other way around. I don’t understand why this needs to be repeatedly explained. (fatanarchy)

No. People keep saying this. It isn’t true. This blog exists to point out privilege and oppression. People hate to hear that they have privilege or that they are participating in oppression. It doesn’t matter how nicely you say it, people are going to get really pissed off by it.

I spent some time phone banking for my state’s recent marriage equality initiative. I would get antis on the phone, and I would be all polite and all smiles, and just keep saying (like they taught us to do in the training), “But why shouldn’t I be allowed to marry my fiancee? Why do you feel that way? Why do you feel I shouldn’t have the rights you do?” And they’d just get madder and madder and madder. One or two of them started cursing at me, even though I’d been nothing but polite.

And it is the same everywhere, with every kind of oppression. Everywhere that oppressed people talk about their oppression, privileged people get pissed off. People do not want to hear it. And they will accuse you of being mean and nasty no matter how nicely you say it. Because what they really think is mean and rude is the act of pointing out the oppression. They don’t want to know. Requiring oppressed people to be nice and polite to the people who are oppressing them is unconscionable. It furthers the oppression in and of itself. It says that if we aren’t polite enough by the standards of those who are oppressing us, then we deserve to be oppressed. It says that we must beg and grovel and simper in order to be treated as human beings — and we should just ignore the fact that requiring us to do that is treating us as less than our oppressors.

There is no reason, ever, for us to be nice to our oppressors unless we choose to be. It does not, in general, do us any good. And telling us that we must be nice is an act of oppression. Now, you wanna tone police me again, asshole? (MadGastronomer)

Don’t tone police me, asshole. Also, fuck off. (artetolife)

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"Isn’t this blog encouraging fat people to be victims?"

Fat people are victims: of fat discrimination and oppression. Pretending otherwise isn’t a reflection of reality, and is actually the opposite of what this blog is trying to do. Fat oppression isn’t pretty. Talking about thin privilege isn’t supposed to be comfortable or make people feel good about the world. It hurts to hear that fat people are treated like a lower class of human simply for the size of their bodies, and that thin people are afforded unmerited advantages simply for the size of theirs. But that’s reality. That’s thin privilege.

Further, the inverse is also not true: That ignoring discrimination is taking responsibility for it somehow (since the question necessarily invokes the idea of a ‘culture of victimization’ that encourage people not to take responsbility for their actions, rather to feel victimized and immobilized by their circumstances). How can discrimination and oppression be eradicated if we refuse to talk about it for fear of “encouraging victimization?”

Making people aware of privilege and discrimination doesn’t perpetuate privilege and discrimination. That’s like saying if we ignore the bully, the bully will go away. As anyone who’s gone through grade school knows, ignoring bullies doesn’t make them go away. Holding people accountable for their fuckups isn’t what causes fuckups. Not holding bullies accountable is the problem.

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Related tags: denial

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"Shouldn’t you just tell everyone that they’re beautiful?"

I don’t know if my readership is beautiful. I’m not one of these blanket “You are beautiful!” -issuers, like beauty is a knightship or something. Frankly, I don’t think beauty is a social justice goal that I’m interested in promoting, since the decency and respect I talk about has nothing to do with whether or not we satisfy some society or group or person’s idea of ‘beauty,’ nor should it. That’s kind of the point.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself that you’re beautiful, you might still get garbage thrown on you when you go outside to take a walk, or see commercials about people who are so very happy not to look like you, or be rejected for a date with your crush because of your body size, or be abused by your parents because of your body size, or not be able to adopt because of your body size, or to fly on a single fare, or keep your kids in a custody battle, or get a kidney transplant, or knee surgery, or chemotherapy.

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Related tags: beauty

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"But I/someone I know/a celebrity lost weight. Doesn’t that mean body size is changeable and hence there’s no such thing as thin privilege?"

No. Weight is about 50% - 80% heritable (sources disagree, but here’s a study that shows it to be 77% heritable). Height, for comparison, isn’t 100% heritable (I’ve seen it pegged in the 70% - 80% range but I still need to dig up this source).

Would you suggest that someone who’s too tall get shorter? No? Didn’t think so. You’ve been sold a pack of lies by the healthists and their corporate sponsors, the diet industry. Educate yourself.

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"But it’s not like thin privilege/fat discrimination kills people."

Except, it does. All the time. A few examples are reduced access to health care, and/or respectable healthcare from unbiased professionals who don’t suspend ‘first do no harm’ for their fat patients; fat people are bullied, abused, and driven to suicide by fat hate; the increase in fat shaming and anti-fat propaganda is directly correlated to an increase in restrictive eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; seatbelts and other safety devices aren’t made to accommodate fat people, putting them in danger; EMTs and first responders aren’t often trained to deal with fat people or given the proper equipment, leading to a higher mortality rate for fat people in those situations; stress, which is correlated with a host of illnesses, is more prevalent in communities that face daily discrimination, which the fat community certainly does; fat people are paid less than thinner people, which could mean the difference between affording preventive and catastrophic health care; you get the picture.

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Related tags: bad doctors, first do no harm, fatphobia in medicine

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"What’s this blog’s position on using the word ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ to refer to fat people?"

The word ‘overweight’ begs the question: Over WHAT weight? The word ‘overweight’ assumes there is some right weight for that particular body that is necessarily lower than ‘fat.’ It encodes this idea of “inside every fat person is a skinny person trying to get out.” It also encodes the idea of fatness being a disease or ‘other’ to the body itself, as if the ‘overweight’ person is wearing a fat suit, or is being ridden by millions of bits of adipose aliens (aw, aren’t they cute?). It makes the fat body less human than a nonfat body, or in some way afflicted/broken. It is a negative, stigmatizing word to describe a fat body.

As for the word ‘obese,’ it’s a medicalization of the human body, and the pathologization of a natural state. In short, I abhor it.

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"What about thin people who think they’re fat/feel fat? Do they have thin privilege?"

Fat is not a feeling, dammit.

Thin privilege doesn’t care why you’re thin, or how you feel about it. A thin person who thinks they’re fat:

  • is still never going to be kicked off a plane for ‘not fitting into a seat.’
  • is still going to be under the ‘correct’ BMI to adopt a child, and to consume the vast majority of health services without being required to lose weight, first;
  • is not going to be barred from adopting for having ‘too high’ of a BMI;
  • will still benefit from a system that compensates thin employees at a higher rate;
  • will still be able to get their health insurance rates reduced via employee wellness programs that punish fatness;
  • will still get the advantage in divorce cases where the fatness of a child is being used to challenge custody;
  • will still be able to walk into nearly any mainstream clothing store and buy clothing that fits and flatters at affordable prices;
  • will still live in a world made for them;

and on, and on, I’m sure you get the picture.

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Related tags: fat is not a feeling

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"Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll, you know. Just saying."

People who deny thin privilege and fat discrimination are trolls. Even if they don’t know it. There’s a variety of troll-types: the most common in fat-positive spaces is the concern troll, hiding behind concern for ‘health’ as they spew the same common wisdom mythinformation as the haters, ignore the science like the haters do, demand we change our bodies like the haters do. Get the pattern?

Trolls often hide behind the ‘but I’m entitled to my opinion!’ to say some really fucking heinous shit — like blanket generalizations about how some groups of people don’t deserve dignity, respect, or to be trusted. And when you aren’t willing to engage it, they cry ‘censorship!’ like you’re the Internet Emperor, or something. It’s a derailment tactic. (ArteToLife)

——————

This comes up quite a bit, so I’m going to stop and explain something.

People send stuff in as suggestions, as concerns, as questions, as whatever, and some people are being sincere, but a lot of people who write in with the same thing and the same types of phrasing are being trolls, and go on to get nasty if we respond as if we’re sincere. We’ve been doing this for a while, and we know perfectly well what trolls sound like, and we don’t need any more nastiness in our inbox, because we already get a shitload. So when it sounds like a troll, we respond as if it is. And since most trolls reply to that with the hurt, “But I was just asking/commenting/whatever, why are you sooooo meeeeeeaaaaaan to meeeee?” we respond to that badly, too. And yeah, some of the people who respond that way are not trolls, but, again, we don’t have any way to know, and we don’t want to deal with the shit from trolls, we often just block them at that point, or continue to treat them as trolls. Because what’s the difference, practically speaking, between somebody intentionally trolling, and somebody who means it, but sounds exactly like a troll over several exchanges? They may feel differently, but they have the same effect on us either way.

weasels-king-henry did not respond like a troll, he responded like somebody who realized he hadn’t come across the way he wanted to, and took steps to clarify what he wanted. So while he sounded a bit trolly the first time, he didn’t the second, and I stopped treating him that way.

We get a lot of trolls in our inbox. A whole fucking lot. Some of them are obvious, and some of them are less so. We don’t have the time, the energy, the desire, or the obligation to treat everyone we think is a troll as if they’re sincere. If we did, we would wind up getting exponentially more shit than we do from the fucking tone police.

Tone policing, by the way, is a classic derailment and concern trolling technique. It will always be treated as trolling, because it is. If you don’t want to read us being nasty to people who are nasty to us, then don’t read this blog. Period. There are lots of FA blogs that are much nicer than we are. Go find one of those, and leave us the fuck alone.

Tone policing disadvantaged people is oppressive in and of itself. It places a burden on the disadvantage that is not put on oppressors: that of being “polite” by the standards of the oppressors. And, frankly, there is no way to be polite enough by those standards, because just telling them that the oppression exists is not “polite”. For example, I’m following a conversation going on on my dash, in which a WOC said, simply, that Bioshock: Infinite had too much racist imagery for her, she found it triggering, and she was not going to be able to play it. She didn’t cuss. She didn’t call anyone names. She didn’t say anyone else shouldn’t play it. She said she wasn’t going to. And she has been getting a flood of hate for it for a good 24 hours now. People are insulted that she would say B:I is racist at all. It was rude of her to call any attention to the racist imagery. And they are shitting all over her for it, often in worse terms than any of the mods here use. Because oppressors think that pointing out oppression is rude. Period.

If you send us something, and we respond like you’re a troll, understand that you really did sound exactly the way many of our trolls sound. Don’t be hurt. Just realize that you did not effectively communicate what you meant. Say, “Hey, sorry, that clearly didn’t get across my meaning. Let me try again. I meant $THING.” Because that communicates that you are not a troll, and we are more likely to take you seriously.

And if you send us tone arguments and concern trolling, we are going to block you, or we are going to treat you like you’re treating us: like shit.

Because we are not here to coddle our oppressors, and we are not here to coddle anyone who sounds like our oppressors, either, because we simply can’t tell the difference until you stopsounding like our oppressors. If you act like a troll, if you act like an oppressor, we will treat you with the contempt that deserves. (MadGastronomer)

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Related tags: trolls

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"But isn’t being fit/eating right a good thing?"

Being fit and/or eating ‘right’ isn’t mutually exclusive to being fat. Those who believe that are usually invested in their bodies being not just physically superior, but morally superior to fat bodies. Besides, ‘good’ is incredibly individual. We all have individual dreams, aspirations, goals, backgrounds, traumas, abilities, talents, interests, skills. To say that something is blanket ‘good’ for someone ignores all these things.

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"But certainly asking people who can’t fit into one plane seat to pay for two is fair. It’s a matter of real estate, safety, and fuel efficiency, isn’t it?"

No, no, and no. Bad service, archaic standards that were wrong in the first place, the acceptability of fat discrimination, and ableism are the main reasons fat people are required/requested by some airlines to purchase two seats. Read through this link to get a sense for how airlines can both accommodate fat and thin passengers without putting anyone out.

As for the weight of passengers being a fuel efficiency issue, I doubt this is an actual problem. The industry standard per-passenger weight including luggage is 220 lbs, and for the small fraction of passengers signficantly over that weight there should be enough under that weight to compensate. A few business travelers who have light carry-ons, or at least one family with a small child taking up a seat, would be enough to compensate, fuel-wise. Also note that passenger weight is about 20% of the takeoff weight (which is mostly fuel).

One of the major problems with airlines is that weight standards for seats haven’t been updated to reflect a a population that’s about ~24 lbs heavier on average since 1960. (cite: “Questioning Safety of Heavy Passengers on Planes” - Christine Negroni for The New York Times, May 7, 2012)

Additionally, seat widths, which were calculated too low in the first place, have not increased as hip widths have increased. Additionally, seat pitches have drastically decreased, which accounts in large part for the general discomfort with flying economy.

In 1962, the U.S. government measured the width of the American backside in the seated position. It averaged 14 inches for men and 14.4 inches for women. Forty years later, an Air Force study directed by Robinette showed male and female butts had blown up on average to more than 15 inches.

“The seat is a revenue generator,” Luedeke says. “Normally if you look at a 737 or A320 there are three seats on each side. If you wanted maximum comfort you could do two on each side — and make the seats a lot wider. But with the reduced head count the operational costs don’t work out.”

But the American rear end isn’t really the important statistic here, Robinette says.

Nor are the male hips, which the industry mistakenly used to determine seat width sometime around the 1960s, she says.

“It’s the wrong dimension. The widest part of your body is your shoulders and arms. And that’s much, much bigger than your hips. Several inches wider.” Furthermore, she says, women actually have larger hip width on average than men.

The industry used the male hip as a seat measuring stick “thinking that it would accommodate the women too, but in fact they don’t accommodate the larger women.”

The result: Airline seats are approximately 5 inches too narrow, she says. And that’s for passengers in the 1960s, let alone the supersized U.S. travelers of today.



Pitch is defined as the distance between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat behind. A typical seat pitch in coach measures from 31 to 35 inches, Luedeke says. Southwest’s new pitch configuration moves its rows about an inch closer together, from 32 to 31 inches, according to the airline. In addition, economy seats will move only two inches during recline instead of three, the airline says.
(cite: "Airline squeeze: It’s not you, it’s the seat" - CNN.com, June 1, 2012)

In short, fat people are being blamed for an industry-wide problem. The evidence shows that economy seats aren’t comfortable for even the average person. The acceptability of fat bias and discrimination makes fat people an easy target for the anger of an uncomfortable traveling populace, and the airlines foment that anger and blame by instituting and enforcing ‘passenger of size’ policies, effectively saying, “Yes, some people are too big to fly under one fare, and a thin person’s comfort and safety is compromised by fat passengers.” When the reality is that airlines treat passengers like packages instead of human customers, and have themselves compromised comfort and safety by cramming in more and more people and refusing to update their archaic standards and conventions.

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Related tags: flying while fat

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"But what if I’m just not attracted to fat people? Why should I feel guilty about that? How that is that thin privilege?"

Thin privilege exists on the societal level. When at people (mainly women) are being seen, in aggregate, as less-worthwhile dating and marriage material than thin people, being rejected for daring to be fat is fat discrimination and hence being seen as better dating material by virtue of being this is thin privilege.

Dating while fat generally puts you at a disadvantage in a fatphobic culture, as if the likelihood of being a good partner has something to do with the amount of adipose tissue on one’s body (of course, it doesn’t).

Not to mention that dating sites usually have you state up front in your profile whether you’re fat or not, and there’s an option for people to select if being fat is a ‘deal-breaker’ in a potential partner, and there’s a whole meme about how fat people, usually women, pretend to be thinner on their profiles in order to ‘ensnare’ poor, fatphobic hot dudes.

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Related tags: dating while fat, dating

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"How can I be a good thin ally?"

I’m not sure how to tell a thin ally how to be an ally. Everything’s so personal, and it depends on who you’re with and how comfortable they are with their bodies, whether you’ve come out as size activist to them or not, what your personality is, the context of the conversation, etc.

But maybe a few of the following tips might be useful:

  1. Be cool. Most fat people are used to getting either criticism or embarrassed silence when the weight topic is broached. Be clear that it’s no big deal to you, that body sizes are just descriptors. If the fat person wants to explore that concept further, then be really mindful of not pushing too hard. Fat people are imposed upon by thin people all the time, and it can make us pretty sensitive to it, even when a thin person’s talking body positivity. Let the fat person carry the conversation, and drop it right away if they seem uncomfortable.
  2. Don’t treat any of your fat friends differently than your thin friends. If going shopping, make sure it’s somewhere that accommodates everyone, or in a mall that has stores for them, and don’t always go to their store last. Be mindful of restaurant and movie theater seating. If they need someone to be there for moral support when they go ask to be reseated or to get a chair without arms, that’s great, but don’t be their voice unless you know they want you to speak up for them.
  3. Street harassment: I personally would love a thin ally joining my screams of wrath at someone who harasses me on the street. Tag-teaming verbally abusive strangers is the best, especially since they tend to be cowards that back down when more than one person fights back. But this might not be true for all fat people and in all situations (you never know who’s carrying a weapon), so use your discretion.
  4. If you get a tough question like, “Does this make me look fat?” it’s okay to show your activist colors! Reply with something like, “What’s wrong with being fat?” or “No, not that there’s anything wrong with being fat.” Sometimes it’s the little things that count.
  5. Feel free to get angry and speak up against fat discrimination and fatphobia in the media, fatphobic campaigns in your school/city/state/country, anything that’s bigger than the individual. That’s where I think allies can really shine, as long as you’re always mindful to not speak for fat people, but in support of them.
  6. Being an ally isn’t always easy. Use ‘sorry’ copiously and in a meaningful way if someone gets offended, even if you don’t understand why they’re offended or didn’t intend to offend them. I don’t know any fat activists who would shun a thin ally for saying something ignorant once then apologizing and never doing it again. Fat activists are people too, and we’re angry at thin privilege, not thin people (though we’re definitely angry at ignorant thin privileged people, especially if they’re hateful abusive bigots on top of all that). Our main fight is against fat discrimination and oppression, not with allies who are mindful and careful and in earnest.

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"Do you think that losing weight is bad?"

The human body naturally gains and loses adipose tissue and changes shape as time passes.  Sometimes weight loss is a natural occurrence.

No one here is making a moral judgement about weight-loss. We’re making moral judgements about people who make moral judgments about fat people.

The ultimate point is that weight loss or weight gain, in and of itself is not morally good or bad. Which is why we’re fed up with others treating fat people as though they are “bad” or less than human simply because they don’t lose weight. 

A fat body is not bad. A thin body is not bad. An inbetween body is not bad. No body is “bad”.

Obligating other humans to fit into your idea of morality is bad. Obligating other humans to fit into your aesthetics is bad. Refusing to recognize one’s privilege as a thin person is bad. Recognizing one’s thin privilege and maliciously using it against fat people is bad. Believing that you’re “better” than fat people is bad. Being unable to develop and use critical thinking is bad. Treating fellow human beings as though they are the scum of the earth because they’re fat is bad. (fatanarchy)

——————

This is not the place to talk about weight loss, and it is not appropriate to ask us for permission to lose weight (or want to). We are not the High Holy Arbiters of Fat Acceptance. We can’t tell you it’s ok to lose weight. Lots of FA people think you can do whatever the fuck you want with your body as long as you don’t treat other people like shit, and lots of people think it’s anti-FA to want to lose weight. Our permission is not going to change anyone else’s mind. You don’t get to use our words to try to justify yourself to other FA people, any more than you get to use Your Gay Best Friend saying it’s ok to use the words faggot and dyke to tell me I shouldn’t have a problem with straight people saying those words. Fuck you if you try.

Personally, I just think people should understand that weight loss doesn’t work for the vast majority of people, and that it doesn’t necessarily convey any of the benefits it’s claimed to, even in the event that you’re one of the special few who can pull it off. Which is what I’m always going to tell people who ask me. I don’t give a fuck why you want to lose weight, and I don’t think it has any bearing on whether or not it affects your FA cred.

Please stop asking us whether or not it’s ok for you to lose weight.

Another one we get a lot is “Here’s a link to this thing. What do you think about it?”

If it’s fat hate, it’s bad. If it’s not, whatever.

Again, we are not the High Holy Arbiters of FA. Nor are we Empresses of Fat. Nor anything else. You are all perfectly capable of figuring out for yourselves if something is fatphobic, and further capable of deciding whether or not you like it anyway.

We’ve answered this one before, repeatedly.

This is not actually a fat acceptance blog. It is a fat activism blog, in the sense that it exists to make people aware of thin privilege in the hopes that they will then address it. But we are not here to validate that thing you like, or give you permission to lose weight, or tell you whether or not something is bad. We’re just people, like you, spouting our opinions on the internet. Like you. (MadGastronomer)

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"But doctors say that being fat is bad! They have educations and stuff! How can you argue with them?"

Doctors, like the rest of us, only know what they’ve learned. And despite the ever-increasing weight of science, medical schools are still teaching the conventional wisdom, that fat is bad and fat people should lose weight, even though studies dating back to the 1940s show that weight loss attempts don’t work and are actively bad for most people, and the stream of current studies showing that no, fat isn’t bad.

Many doctors don’t keep up with studies being done currently except through continuing education courses, courses which continue to repeat the accepted wisdom. Doctors and researchers are as prone to stubbornness and a dislike of change as anybody else, and they don’t want to change what they know to be true. Not to mention that a lot of doctors, hospitals and clinics are making a lot of money off weight loss attempts.

On the other hand, there are lots of doctors out there who have kept up with the studies I’m talking about, and have been changing their minds and learning new things. And they’re saying it’s just find to be fat. My doctor has no problem with my fat. Never said a word about it. Because she knows that it has no bearing on my health.

So. Go do some real fucking research. There’s a lot out there that’s challenging the conventional wisdom, and there’s a lot out there that shows how studies that support the conventional wisdom have been badly designed or had their numbers jiggered after the fact to show the result the researcher wanted. Here, my blog has some references upLiving ~400lbs has some stuff up, too. Lots of places do, actually. Use google, or your less-evil-search-engine-of-choice.

Doctors are human, and are prone to human error, which means that they are often dead wrong.. And appeal to authority is a crappy tactic.

And this? This concern-trolling “But your HEALTH?!” whining? This is most definitely thin privilege. (MadGastronomer)

I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in here: Let’s, for argument’s sake, pretend that doctors are the end-all-be-all of everything-there-is-to-know-about-fat-people-ever. Does this also mean that they are the Gods-of-Body-Size-Morality? Or maybe the Gods-of-Healthy-Body-Morality?

Fuck anyone who uses “going to college for 7 years” and the medical community as some kind of moral excuse for it being acceptable to treat fat people like they’re human garbage. (fatanarchy)

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Related tags: health, bad doctors, first do no harm, fatphobia in medicine

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"But isn’t there ‘fat privilege,’ too?"

The concept of fat privilege doesn’t work on several levels. 

1. Privilege is a the flip side of a societal, institutional oppression.

Think of the “War on Obesity,” the “obesity epidemic,” and similar terms. If you search for these on Google/N-grams and look for “War on Thinness” and “underweight epidemic,” you won’t get anywhere near the same hits.  

When I search Google for “underweight epidemic,” 3 of the first 6 articles are either satirical or saying we’re ‘in no danger of experiencing an underweight epidemic!’ The first six articles when searching for “obesity epidemic” are very serious — two are CDC.gov sites, one which is a video, and there are scads of News results. In fact, I should really snap a pic of the news results because, fuck, real life satirizes itself in a moral panic: 

image

You know you’re in a moral panic when a US fiscal crisis is being compared to an ‘epidemic’ whose existence is contradicted only two news results down. 

2. What I think you’re trying to determine are whether there exist somesocietally granted advantages to being fat, not ‘fat privilege.’

The answer to this is basically no.

I think in most medical circles underweight is viewed as not-optimal because it’s more dangerous if you get sick and can’t take nutrition — you don’t have “much padding,” as my ex, a very ‘underweight’ person and his ‘underweight’ sister, used to say. But he was never approached by anyone—family, friends, strangers—and told that his weight was risky health-wise and he should gain weight. (He did decide to try to gain weight when I was with him, and it was grueling. He gained about 15 lbs in four months, then promptly lost it when we were going through a stressful move).

Thin shaming does exist, but most of it is rooted in thin and other privileges. Male privilege, for instance, encourages thin shaming of women because ‘negging’ means they’ve got the upper hand, and it encourages thin shaming of men because of the perception of muscular bulkiness being a more ‘masculine’ trait.

Thin privilege encourages thin shaming because it creates an oppressive dynamic. The oppressed, frustrated with privileged people getting unearned advantages, sometimes vent their frustration by lashing back at the privileged. Some thin people claim that thin-shaming proves thin privilege doesn’t exist, when in fact it does exactly the opposite.

Fat privilege isn’t a thing. Thin people aren’t oppressed by any stretch, and any shaming they get is rooted in thin or other privileges. (artetolife)

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"Shouldn’t this site be called ‘fat discrimination’ instead of ‘this is thin privilege’?"

The reason This is Thin Privilege isn’t a blog about fat discrimination is because most people don’t give a shit about fat discrimination. It doesn’t affect them, so they don’t fucking care. They hear there’s something called ‘fat acceptance,’ feel appalled at the idea that anyone could ‘glorify obesity,’ and that’s their sum total opinion on the matter. Informed by ignorance, ending in ignorance.

Talking about thin privilege stirs up the whole pot. Fat people know we’re discriminated against, so it can get fucking depressing/boring to talk about it all the time, especially amongst ourselves. But talking about thin privilege gets fat people angry. Because it reminds us that the oppression we face is structural. That this isn’t just our individual problems on any particular day. It reminds us how we WOULD be treated if there wasn’t fat oppression, how we DESERVE to be treated in the absence of fat oppression. Talking about thin privilege places how fat and thin people are treated in the sharp contrast it deserves.

There’s something that happens to you when you’re discriminated against fucking constantly. You kind of get used to it. It might sting, it might chill, but it starts getting so that you can’t imagine what it would be like without those stings and chills. Talking about thin privilege reminds the oppressed of their just deserts (in a just society).

From the perspective of the privileged, checking their privilege makes them realize how much they take certain things for granted. That some other people don’t have access to what they assume is every person’s due, and that they never even REALIZED it. Like being born it’s uncomfortable at first, but hell, it’s much better than staying it the womb. Good allies WANT to understand, to learn, to see their reality clearly. -ArteToLife

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"I agree that fat discrimination and thin privilege exists, but I still want to lose weight. Is that okay?"

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"I asked you a legitimate question. Why haven’t you answered it?"

The existence of the Ask box does not mean we are obligated to spend all our time answering the same obtuse, thoughtless questions over and over again.

Just because you came up with a question after reading one or two of our posts does not mean that it is a “thoughtful” or “intelligent” or “legitimate” question. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it many, many, many times. It’s a spasmodic, reflexive response that comes out of the way our society privileges thinness. We hit the privilege spot with a little rubber mallet, and your question jerked out. We’re going to treat it as such.

It’s not special this time because it’s you asking it. It’s not special any time. It’s inane, and even a little bit of reflection should tell you that.

And if you don’t have the time or the ability or the patience to actually read the blog or think about what you’ve read, then don’t bother us with your bullshit.

There are legitimate, thoughtful, intelligent questions that can be asked about the topic. We just see them so damn rarely in comparison to this repetitive garbage. (Sturgeon’s Law, I guess. Still. Does the 90% have to be 90% the same crap recycled? At least come up with some new and inventive crap.)

-MadGastronomer

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"But isn’t critiquing diet culture shaming people who choose to lose weight?"

Critiquing the way fat bodies are framed through before and after photos is not shaming people for the individual choices they make. This is especially true when you factor in that participating in diet culture is supported, condoned and praised by almost every social institution if you are a fat person. You would be hard pressed to find one that didn’t to be honest. Deconstructing the behaviors we participate in by how some bodies are framed as having more worth than others is how we subvert the things that oppress us.

I would also note that I said that all bodies regardless of their size have the same worth. Turning this into a conversation that reinforces the ideals of the system I am critiquing isn’t surprising since with any form of critique to that system those participating are taught to take it as a personal attack against their own choices, I can guarantee you that is not the case. If we are truthfully interested in working against oppression we need to remove ourselves from the systems of oppression we participate in and stop thinking critiques of that system are a personal attack of individual choices.

What a lot of these responses boil down to is people don’t want to be made aware of the systems of oppression they participate in. They want people who are oppressed to stay silent and not speak out against them.

-FatBodyPolitics

^Everything Amanda said. Also:

I’m seeing a lot of people append “-shaming” to activities and characteristics that are highly valued by mainstream culture whenever they see any critique of the social dynamic that conveys the privileges they guard and treasure. And it’s total bullshit.

Critiquing thin privilege is not thin-shaming. The vast majority of those who claim it is prize their thin privilege and will fight to retain it, even at the cost of a system that oppresses, hurts, and kills fat people.

Critiquing sexist beauty standards and objectification is not shaming people who participate in them. The vast majority of those who claim it is prize the rewards conveyed by beauty privilege and don’t want to have to think more deeply about how the beauty culture that grants them privileges might disprivilege others. 

Critiquing diet culture is not shaming dieters. The only people who claim it is are people who want to believe their ‘hard work’ in achieving some level of thin privilege has some kind of real moral value, akin to learning a new skill, producing a work of art, completing a work of charity, earning a degree, etc.

This whole “$PRIVILEGE_X-shaming!” movement is little more than a manifestation of privilege denial. 

And can I just note it’s hilarious and typical of the diet-culture mindset that a dieter made Amanda’s awesome post — about how her fat ‘before’ body is her ‘after’ body — about them, with this dieter wringing their hands over how subverting the power of the before and after photo will divest them of their dieter privilege?

News to dieters: You’ve been lied to. You never had a ‘before’ body, and you don’t have an ‘after’ body. Sorry you’re pissed that some of us aren’t going to buy into the mythology of ‘after’ bodies being magically better than all the fatty ‘befores.’

And I’m not going to shed a single fucking tear over the fact that you can’t see how demanding we preserve your before/after weight loss mythology is inherently oppressive. 

-ArteToLife

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