Thin privilege is judging a fat parent and child for eating junk food when you yourself are eating the very same food!
My daughter (who is chubby like me) recently had her first day of kindergarten, and as a treat I decided to take her to McDonalds. This isn’t something I do often. But I was so happy that my daughter saw school as a positive experience (I was worried because when I was her age, I hated school and would cause trouble just to avoid going to classes) so I decided to sweeten the deal by giving her a treat.
No sooner had we both sat down at a table with our food, that I heard another mother with her child mumble something like, “Ugh. No wonder her daughter is so fat. Just look how they eat!”
Firstly, I have never seen this woman in my life so she has no idea how I eat or whether that is the reason for my (or my daughter’s) weight.
Secondly, it’s none of her freaking business how I feed my child!
Thirdly, she herself was at McDonalds with her child. Pot calling the kettle black, much?!
Fourthly, how dare you insult my child’s appearance (or any child, for that matter!) She is only five years old, for goodness sakes!!
Thankfully, my daughter didn’t hear the nasty comment so her trip to McDonalds was a pleasant one. But it makes me so sad that she is so young, and already people are making judgments about her physical appearance. And you know the saddest part? All the nastiness she has encountered in life has come from adults. None of the kids in her class were mean to her. They just look at her and see a potential playmate; someone they can have fun with and become friends with. Though I’m terrified that, as they get older, they might start listening to their nasty parents’ judgmental comments and start targeting my daughter for her looks. It makes me sick.
I present ye followers with a rare masterpiece, a stunning display of wonder the likes your eyes have never seen! I call it:
How To Fail Reading Comprehension, by Troll.
Such a rare jewel as this must not be passed up, as surely no troll hath ever wandered into social justice waters before and failed to understand, by seeming feat of will, the answer to its honest and innocent questions.
-ATL (who is not surprised)
(the original ask and answer, which features such fantastic creatures as Hypothetical Straw-Fatties, and the elusive Straw-Tally)
RE the person talking about fat people who can't do things like walking up the stairs: I actually was one of the fat people who couldn't walk long distances and go up stairs. I had some medical problems and gained 105 pounds in 1 1/2 years, so my body was having a hard time adjusting. You know what I did? I went to the gym. Still fat, but now I'm stronger and more mobile than I've ever been.
But don’t you know that that can’t be true? That you can’t possibly have gone to the gym and worked out and gotten stronger but not gotten thin? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOUR LIVED EXPERIENCE IS FALSE IF IT CONTRADICTS THESE PEOPLE DEEPLY HELD BELIEFS ABOUT FAT PEOPLE?
If a person weight is making them feel uncomfortable in terms of not being able to perform basic functions like: getting up a staircase, not being able to walk short distance, getting out of a bed or chair. Would TITP agree with weight loss if the person was not trying to be skinny but rather just a healthy fat?
Why do trolls find the need to invent all these hypothetical scenarios?
Are you so afraid of fat people taking up more space than you want them to that you have to play armchair doctor for a bunch of invisible straw-fatties you never met?
Fat people have the right to bodily autonomy. If your hypothetical straw-fatty wants to lose weight, I don’t care. If your hypothetical straw-fatty does not want to lose weight, I don’t care. But what I do care about is the discrimination and hatred your hypothetical straw-fatty gets, not to mention a slew of self-appointed life-coaches to tell that straw-fatty how to live.
I refuse to assign personhood and autonomy based on a number on the scale, and I look askance at anyone who does. Lots of people invoke straw-fatties and other hypotheticals in order to draw fat activists into their control-game, by getting us to “capitulate” to connections between health and fatness, like that somehow invalidates 1) the oppression of fat people, 2) any activism supporting fat people.
But why shouldn’t health and fatness be connected? A fat body is a fat body. Health and fatness are connected like thinness and health are connected. And tallness and health. And where you travel to and your health. But just focusing on one or two factors is not the way to understand the multivariate presentation of a person’s symptoms or general health profile.
The lie that’s currently perpetrated, mostly by diet companies but also by other groups who stand to gain financially or politically from the demonization of fat people, is that fatness is the main indicator of health, that it causes age-related diseases, and that both fatness and those diseases are preventable with some formula of behavior changes.
We’ve known for a long time that behavior changes don’t make the vast majority of stable-weight fat people permanently thin, as would any doctor agree who is worth the paper their degree is printed on. Not only that, but any decent doctor realizes other bodily characteristics can point to greater risk for certain conditions (tallness, for instance).
The reason fat is singled out in these discussions is because of discrimination and stigma fueled by people who want to make a buck off it and those who profit from the privilege of not being fat.
This is all standard stuff. None of this is a surprise, or shouldn’t be, to anyone who’s paid any attention for more than five minutes. Yet the straw-fatty keeps appearing, though the straw-tally, like an eight-foot man with circulation and joint problems, never does. Guess we’ll have to wait until hating tall people is in vogue for that one. Until then, the incredibly small incidence of a person whose body size “makes” it difficult for them to move around (which is rare even then, usually disability precedes that sort of weight gain, or someone could have a medical issue that made them gain dramatically in too short a time for their muscles to keep up) will be used as a sort of bogeyman to perpetuate hatred and misunderstanding of fat people in general.
Why does the straw-fatty keep showing up? Not because the existence of very fat people with mobility issues is relevant, or proves anything (except a troll’s bias against fat people). But because it’s critical to the troll’s hate-maintenance.
The desire to have some kind of armchair criticism of a fat person’s behavior couldn’t be any more evident than in this post. It used to be that trolls claimed that very fat people could become slim people if they walked 30 minutes a day and switched from Coke to water, or something like that. Now the trolls are so desperate for even the smallest shred of validation of their disgust and condescension that they’re posing hypotheticals about very-fats going to smaller-fats.
No hypothetical in the world is a good reason for hating fat people, or for taking some kind of existential solace in feeling better than them.
If they “ate themselves fat” and you hate them, you’re still a bad person. They did nothing to you.*
If they engaged in every stereotypical behavior you associate with a fat person, you still have no right to tell them how to run their lives.
You’re still an asshole by making fun of them.
Their fatness has literally nothing to do with you.*
And yet you persist on making it your business. That can only be if you are somehow invested in being superior to fat people. Which means you’re a shitty person.
Again: however you rationalize it, if fat hatred in any way positively fuels your life experience, you are a shitty person.
Pretending otherwise is not fooling anyone. We all see it. I bet the people in your life see how shitty you are, too. Probably the reason why you have to engage in complicated rationalizations about the behavior of other groups, and straw-hypotheticals — because it’s the only thing keeping you from realizing what a pile of reek you are.
*For shitty people who think bodies should be owned and disposed of by societies, read my existing argument against the “but what about my taxes???!” version of anti-fat panic.
Thank you for this blog. It’s made me meet such wonderful helpful people, provided a space when my personal demons wouldn’t let me alone, given me the warrior attitude to carry on and the strength to say to the world “Fuck you, I’m not starving my fucking disabled arse just to make YOU more comfortable.”
People have issues with my walking aids? That’s their problem. What this blog helped me to realise was that people with attitudes toward my weight deserved to be treated EXACTLY the same way.
Fat shaming in fiction submission.
Name of work: the movie “What’s your number”.
I remember going to watch it. I cannot say I am a fan of that genre but it seemed like a nice silly movie to spend a couple of hours. It wasn’t anything special but it was cute.
The story is about a woman who thinks she has had too many boyfriends in the past and doesn’t want to get more so she tries to get to dating her exes.
The thing that bothered me the most was what gave her the idea to do so. She met one of her exes and, according to her, he “got better”, he even managed to get a wife.
How did he improve? He lost weight. That’s pretty much it. They openly stated that the main character was “too embarrassed” to show up with him in public and that was the reason she learned to cook since apparently all he cared about was different food.
The movie is telling people that fat people are gross and only want food. It’s telling us that being around fat people is shameful. It’s telling us that losing weight improves a person.
To top it off, nobody, as I recall, ever calls anyone out on these statements. Every character in the movie accepts those as truth. It’s disgusting.
Hello! I’m mostly a lurker but I’ve had something happen to me recently that is relevant to this blog.
I don’t remember what the show is called (it’s on TLC if someone wants to find it), but on one episode there was a woman who said that she wanted to be fat because she found that body type beautiful, and the episode was about documenting her weight-gaining journey. I was watching the show with 3 friends who all shared combined feelings of disgust, derision and surprise.
"How could anyone want to be fat? It’s gross!”
"There has to be something wrong with her, she’s gonna make herself die early and become immobile." (and the woman didn’t want to be immobile, she wanted to weigh between 250-300 lbs, IIRC)
One friend even went as far to say that “That woman has some sort of mental disorder. It’s like, reverse-anorexia,” to which the other two had shared a laugh over.
Thin Privilege is thinking that someone has a mental disorder just because they don’t want to look exactly like you.
A girl I was friends with spent a lot of time telling me a diet I was on was bad for me, and then when I dropped the diet, she told me I should have tried harder to stick to it.
Thin privilege is being child-free (to the point where you have admitted that a child would “ruin your life”), yet willing to risk becoming pregnant because you’re too scared to take the Pill in case it makes you fat.
I recently got into a discussion with my best friend over pregnancy and children, and she told me that she never wants to have children and that having a baby would “ruin her life”. Fair enough. Having children isn’t for everyone.
But then she assured me that she wasn’t going to get pregnant anyway, because her husband always “pulls out” before he ejaculates. I told her that isn’t a guarantee that she won’t get pregnant, and she should at least consider a condom or the Pill to decrease the risk of pregnancy. She gave me a horrified look, and said, “Eww! I don’t want to take the Pill. It might make me fat!” I said that weight gain was only a POSSIBLE side-effect and anyway, wouldn’t she rather be fat and happy than thin and (in her words) “ruin her life” with a baby?
She said no, she would rather stay thin and risk pregnancy. Even if it meant “ruining her life”.
This blog helped make me much more aware of my privilege as a thin girl as well as helped me become a better and more understanding friend to most of my best friends who are fat. I used to say especially in my younger days “Oh man it’s so terrible these girls keep telling me to ‘eat a sandwich’ or something so I completely understand” when really that’s not how it is. The occasional remark about appearing willowy is absolutely NOTHING compared to all the stigma of being fat! My best friend was downright degraded and hearing her stories as well as following this blog put a lot of put a lot of perspective out there for me. I’m no longer a naive and hurtful thinsplainer and am very Body+ now. It actually helped me feel better about my own body especially with my recent dramatic weight gain.
Additional fun about those Special K ads: If you put a full bowl of Frosties and a full bowl of Special K next to each other there is exactly one calorie difference. The extra one is in the Special K. I despise that product, makes itself out to be healthy (it isn't), tells you you can't be happy without it (you can) and steals from body-positivity projects to sell its complete bollocks.
Can we talk about the level of bullshit that is the Special K “What will you gain when you lose” campaign? I keep seeing all of these commercials with taglines like “Nourishment - what will you gain when you lose?” “Willpower - what will you gain when you lose?”. Fuck them. Thin privilege is not having a massive ad campaign that focuses on how people with your body type don’t know how to take care of themselves and don’t have any willpower.
Thin Privilege is not having to attend dozens of unnecessary doctor’s appointments and therapy and nutritionist sessions from ages 5-15.
Thin Privilege is not having a teacher make a comment like “I don’t know what size you would wear” to you in front of a full class when getting class shirts.
Thin Privilege is not feeling like you ruined your sisters’ weddings by being fat in their wedding photos.
I’m hoping today can be the last day I hate myself, but that’s only a hope. I wish I could guarantee it to myself. I’ve been fat my entire life. I hit 200 pounds in sixth grade and topped 320 at my high school graduation. This has always been my life. My parents dragged me to appointment after appointment as a child trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me. I played sports, I ate like a normal kid (not kale every day but certainly more healthily than many of my thin peers). I was in kindergarden the first time I learned to lie about the way I was treated. A boy in my class had called me fat and gave me a bat shaped ring as an apology, I told my parents it was because he liked me. I learned young.
I always felt like everything in my life was great, except for my weight. I got a bachelor’s degree in three years and am now living in a big city and climbing up the exceptionally competitive ranks of one of the most difficult careers. And I’m doing it successfully. I like to think of myself as smart, funny and well liked. I’ve spent most of my life having good groups of friends (although never a boy/girlfriend) and being generally happy with most of the other parts of my world.
I used to tell myself that God made me fat because he needed to balance out all the positive in my world. What was wrong with me? My weight has leveled out. It seems like my body naturally occurs at 315-320 pounds. At this weight I can eat whatever I want (although I still eat pretty healthily). I’m not physically hindered by this weight, I face no problems except those of discrimination from others.
The only time I was ever successful at losing weight was when I was being an idiot about it. When I was in college I liked a boy and thought if I was just a little thinner maybe he could like me back. I spent two months on a six hundred a day calorie diet. I lost almost thirty pounds. I accompanied that with being too weak to do my school work, constantly being dizzy and occasional black-outs.
I gave it up because being smart was always more important to me than being pretty and I was going to graduate with nothing less than a near perfect GPA. I started eating “normally”, lots of salads and hard-boiled eggs, some cereal and pasta and slowly climbed back up to my body’s “natural state” of 315 and have been there ever since.
I don’t buy clothes. I wear the same three or four t-shirts and just wear them out and slowly replace them. The reason is dumb. I have the money. I’m always so sure that I’m on the brink of weight loss and that I’ll be irritated I just spent money on “fat clothes” when I won’t be able to wear them anymore. Reading your blog was the first time I ever thought it was possible for me to just accept who I am. I’m constantly turning over new leaves thinking if maybe I start having salads with no dressing or maybe if I walk five miles a day instead of three, maybe that will make the difference but nothing ever has. And then I get frustrated with the lack of results and then I stop walking and I stop caring about eating well. And then I hate myself more.
I’m not sure if there’s a point to my story just yet but it’s felt cathartic to write it. The problem is that I think I’m still going to wake up tomorrow saying it’s the first day of my real life. I’ll look deep at my vision board and at a pile of egg whites and think I’m going to win this day. And then I won’t. Reading this blog has gotten me one step closer to letting go of that and one day I hope to conquer this obsession with becoming thin. Because if I’m thin, I can be valuable to society. If I’m thin I can show my parents I’m not a fuck-up. If I’m thin I won’t be gawked at. If I’m thin I can date and not feel guilty about the idea of someone loving me when I am hideous. If I’m thin I won’t hate seeing myself in photos. If I’m thin I can stop hating myself.
Thin Privilege is not having to feel this way. But maybe that can just become People Privilege. That’s my hope.
As for today, I just spent $200 on clothes in my size. Fuck waiting for “better days”.
okay wait if supporting this blog means i hate thin people as the trolls are suggesting, does acknowledging male privilege mean i hate men? does acknowledging racism mean i hate white people? this is a disturbing contingency i wasn't aware of. it seems i subconsciously hate myself and my husband. and... "skinny-shaming?" i guess i should have realized i was "oppressed" last time i was told to eat a cheeseburger. it was at least as bad as a holocaust. (some WEAK trolling today, smh...)
Yeah, didn’t you know that? Clearly you haven’t been listening to the MRAs and white supremacists.
"if you are white, you still benefit from racism. That’s what privilege means."
NOBODY benefits from racism. Racism is a poison that hurts everyone involved. And just because someone is white doesn’t mean they automatically have “privilege”, nor do all people of color automatically have a harder life than white people. To imply as such is ignorant, offensive to both white and colored people, and blatantly false.
submitted by: MikeHawk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’m just going to leave this here as a reminder to us all of how absolutely determined bigoted privileged people are to deny both their bigotry and their privilege. “NOBODY benefits from racism.” Uh-huh. Also “colored people”.