This is Thin Privilege

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A note on the submission from the size 6/8 person who believes they’re fat-oppressed

(the original submission is here. I’m posting this separately for those who were understandably offended by the post and might not see the my edit)

My two cents: Yes, thin privilege and fat oppression exist along a spectrum. No, it is not a linear spectrum. It’s more like a step function — for non-mathies that means there are these discrete boundaries that, if crossed, suddenly make the amount of oppression you’re likely to face significantly greater.

An example here would be the many fertility clinics who will not do IVF on a person over BMI 33. That’s a hard-and-fast boundary point, over which someone by definition is more oppressed than someone under it. Many adoption agencies rely on BMI limits. There are BMI limits in some health care deliverance schemes, like the NHS. Sometimes those limits are more arbitrary and not in writing, like someone who loses custody of their children because a judge decided they ‘looked’ too fat, or a flight attendant who gets to decide whether you fit in a plane seat or not, or an employer going with the thinner applicant or paying you less than a thinner person for the same work.

What you’re experiencing is not fat oppression or discrimination. It’s fatphobia. You’re not actually being prevented from doing anything because you’re fat. Fatphobia is the “thinner-is-always-the-winner” and “fattest-is-always-the-loser” mentality. You’re experiencing anxiety based on fatphobia, and others are taking out their fatphobia by body-policing the fattest person in the room which happens to be you. 

While it’s important to note that thin privilege lies on a spectrum, it’s *critical* that smaller fats (or thin people who are the fattest in a group of fatphobic people, as in the submission) do not appropriate the much more virulent, institutionalized, and sometimes codified fat oppression received by fatter people.

Being oppressed is not a game we can all play. For those who are affected in a very significant way by fat oppression, this isn’t something we can slip in or out by virtue of getting less fatphobic friends or saying fuck you to fatphobic family members. For fat people, this is our lives.



  1. killer-titz reblogged this from lovingmyselfishard
  2. atheologist said: I had some concerns about some of what was said in that submission, too. Specifically, I wondered about perception vs. reality regarding the perceived looks of disgusted la person wearing a bikini at a size 6/8 might receive.