This is Thin Privilege

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The difference between men’s and women’s sizing, and men’s and women’s actual average sizes (US)




Here is some data from FastStats (CDC):


Text from the graphic: 

Measured average height, weight, and waist circumference for adults ages 20 years and over

  • Men: 
    Height (inches): 69.3
    Weight (pounds): 195.5
    Waist circumference (inches): 39.7
  • Women: 
    Height (inches): 63.8
    Weight (pounds): 166.2
    Waist circumference (inches): 37.5

Now, for the American Apparel size chart for women:


And for unisex/men:


(You would expect an inch or so of wiggle room or so for comfort built into the measurements.)

So, going by waist circumference alone, AA barely accommodates the mean-sized US woman over 20 years old in their 2XL. 

Further, if you look at the data you’ll see that the 5th percentile (the smallest 5 percent) of women has a waist circumference of 28.3 inches and below. Exactly half of the American Apparel sizes for women are at or below a 28 inch waist size. 

Just to stress — half of American Apparel’s women’s sizes are made to fit only 5% of women. 

The stats are a bit better for men, but they’re by no means good. The average man in AA sizing is something like a XL/2XL, not a medium (again, that’s going by waist size). 

You can rail against what size Americans should be and so on, but your normative argument does not make the positive evidence of discrimination go away. 


NB: I think AA is generally marketed to a younger crowd. So for those who aren’t happy that I’m including all those “fat old people” in the calculation, note that the mean waist measurement for women between 20 - 29 years old is 35.5 inches — barely squeezing into an American Apparel XL, and the mean waist measurement for men between 20 - 29 years old is 36.4 inches, at the bottom end of an American Apparel XL.

Except you have fat people that are so big they’re 2-3 times as big as the smaller girls, and they falsely inflate the average. If you averaged the weight of a girl that’s 100 lbs with one that’s 300 lbs, it gives you the false impression that being around 200 lbs is the norm.

You could say exactly the reverse, and be just as accurate: There are women who are barely a third the size of larger women, and they falsely deflate the average. You’re norming thinness and assuming that fatness is the outlier. And it’s a median, not a mean. You suck at statistics. You’re full of shit.

And you’re still saying that fat people don’t deserve clothes. So fuck you.

The responder is right in that there is a ‘tail’ on the distribution of weights in the US at the higher end rather than the lower end. Height, on the other hand, is much more like a normal distribution (no longer tails on either side of the median). It’s true that in the case of outliers the mean can over(under)-state the middle value. And since businesses are (presumably) catering to the largest number of people, there are likely more people who are thinner than the average would tend to suggest in the presence of a long tail on the high end of the distribution (funny how you never hear this mentioned by the obesity panic folks, though :) ). 

However, I’m not sure what kind of distribution waist circumference follows, since it’s a function of body shape, height, and weight. It would be interesting to see that data.

However #2: There aren’t that many very fat people on the high end that it’s likely to kill even a basic average. It might be that the average waist circumference is somewhat lower, maybe a couple of inches. But that still wouldn’t make much of a difference in the analysis (which is why those particular details were omitted). You’re talking the difference between half a company’s product line catering to 5% or maybe something like 15%, not the difference between 35% and 50%. 

What’s more interesting: In view of evidence that strongly suggests discrimination, why does the discrimination exist? I was talking this over with my husband (also a budding economist) and we thought that it likely had to do with the well-known reason that companies which try to be “fashionable” are selling to a specific crowd that’s thin, young, and has a fuckton of money to burn. They’re serving a niche, a very lucrative and comfortable niche. 

Basically the world of fashion breaks down into: “Fashionable clothes for thin, young-looking, and wealthy people” and “serviceable clothes for everyone else.” The “serviceable” category breaks further down, where clothes are cheaper and poorer quality, where sales are made up in volume. 

Then you have “fat clothes” which, as you might suspect, don’t really fit in either category since you might have fat people who are young-looking and have money to burn but can’t fit into that American Apparel Couture Brand Knockoff they want to buy. So they spend more money for something similar and usually poorer quality, sold by one of a dozen-or-two plus size stores that cater to that group. Also, note that fat people without money to burn are basically just fucked. 

So, what’s the point of this? The point is that if fashion wasn’t biased towards thin people with lots of money, there would be a more reasonable distribution of clothing options that fits a more reasonable distribution of actual sizes. There is discrimination, clearly; High fashion associates itself with extreme thinness. There is no denying that. Scores of designers have gone on record to say in various ways that they don’t want to design for those awful fat people because it will lower their profile as designers. And high-end trickles down to department store fashion, which doesn’t reflect as severe a bias, but reflects the bias nonetheless (if no one is designing the kinds of nice clothes the store wants to feature, then that demographic simply will not be served). 

However #3: I do think this is slowly changing in favor of plus fashion, though it’s been a rocky road. There have been a few articles about this recently (Google is your friend). It remains very unclear whether high fashion will ever unpin itself from the extremely thin frame, and it’s also unclear whether the flame-fanning of the obesity panic will make otherwise-interested designers shy away from “glorifying obesity.” Time will tell.


(Sorry this is so long but I think it’s important)
I never noticed the lack of representation for bigger girls in music until now. And it’s annoying. I have never seen a chubby girl in a music video. Not even in the background.

Not only is it annoying, but it’s unrealistic. The average music video usually involves a party of some sort. At no party in real life would everyone have the same body type. Im probably not the first person to say this and maybe it’s petty/stupid but I feel I have to say it.

Why is it that the only desirable girl in a music video has to be stick thin? Isn’t it possible that a guy could have a crush on/be chasing after a girl who’s not exactly societies version of “hot.” I wouldn’t say I’m huge but I’m definitely on the chubbier side.

It’s almost like no one would even consider that a guy would be singing about a girl whose bigger. The point is that when the people who make these music videos do this, it’s like they’re saying you can’t be desirable and also chubby/fat/etc.

I’m in no way trying to insult skinny people. Skinny is beautiful and just because a guy finds skinny girls attractive doesn’t mean they’re a dick. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that fat can be just as beautiful and it’s also possible for a technically hot guy to find a bigger girl attractive and I just wish pop culture would address/represent that a little bit more.

Free/Cheap Clothing

As a thin person but fat-positivism ally I just realized another privilege of mine I haven’t found on any lists so far: Thin privilege is rarely having to buy new clothes because you fit into old ones of relatives and friends they have grown out of. Plus, easily finding clothes that fit at give-away shops, flea markets and secondhand shops. I try and compensate them in some manner or other even if they don’t want/accept money. I was also thinking of accompanying others to events with a variety of sizes but I’m reluctant to ask as I’m not sure how they’ll feel about it. 

Thin privilege is, apparently, going home after 2 years of absence and not hearing “OMG you got so fat, what is wrong with you?!” from your fat mother, before anything else is said. 

I went to my home town after 2 years of not being able to travel. And apparently my fatness is more important than the fact I am home after so long. 

This so called fatness is me regaining my normal size after having lost half of myself due to anorexia. It means fuck all to my mom that I am fit now, that I am strong and healthy; all that matters is that I don’t fit in cute clothes from mainstream shops. 

Thin privilege is your family and your home being a safe zone, not a battlefield. 

[Potential tw for discussion of medical issues/reproductive health.]

I submitted my story about a year ago, shortly after it happened. At the time I was focusing on different issues. As time as gone on, I’ve seen different sides of thin privilege/fatphobia. 

A brief recap is that I had undiagnosed PCOS for an unknown amount of time. Several years at least, because I had an ovarian cyst that grew so large it was squishing my other organs. It was pushing out against my ribs. When it was removed, I lost 26 pounds. It had been fluid filled and benign, just a fluke of a cyst that never ruptured and grew to immense sizes. It would have been easily stopped sooner if I’d ever been tested. I had many symptoms, including abnormal hair growth patterns. Not all of the mistakes in my case were fat related. I was only told that PCOS causes heavier periods, and my periods were always extremely light and their irregularity was blamed on my weight. 

Basically, my diagnosis went “feel a lot of pain suddenly, wait a few weeks, go to the campus doctor, get sent to the ER, get an abdominal ultrasound, get a prescription and a scheduled date for surgery.” I really did. I only had one appointment before the procedure happened less than a month later, and it was to explain what the surgery would be like. If the cyst had ruptured inside of me, or if it had twisted the ovary it was growing off, cutting off the blood flow and letting it rot, I could have died. As it is, I have a very small scar. 

During the 5 months I was actively dealing with this, from first discovering the discomfort through the post-op recovery, I lost about 65 pounds. Obviously, a good portion of that was the cyst. The rest was pure stress coupled with the fact that the heavy painkillers I was on before and after surgery killed my appetite. There was a dramatic change in my body, and I was showered with compliments. I was told by awkward but well meaning people that “at least” I was losing weight through this. My first submission about this dwelt on my anger at my poor medical care (FOR YEARS) and how uncomfortable I was with people complimenting me for what pain, apathy, and stress had done. I did not feel like I was getting more attractive, I was sick and I felt sick. 

Fast forward a year, and I’m at the weight I would have been before the weight loss if the cyst hadn’t been there. However, my body is much different. I have a waist where I was just sausage-bloated with over 10 liters of fluid. My breasts have grown now that my hormones are more stable (I got on a hormonal birth control post-op). I still have a belly, and kind of a saggy one from getting all stretched out by the cyst, but it’s thick and flatter instead of very, very round. I weigh as much as I did before, but I look much less fat. The cyst took up a lot of room. I was wearing a 26/28 before and now at the same weight I wear a 20/22. And even though I still experience fatphobia often, I can say that I’ve gained an amount of thin privilege. All of a sudden I’m “curvy”. Suddenly I’m fat, but in a more accepted kind of way. When I’m wearing clothes so that people can’t see how saggy my belly is and how many stretch marks I have, I’ve become the kind of fat person that people think of when they think of fat people who deserve to exist. “Bigger” people. 

I’ve also made a lot of new friends this past year. I don’t know whether or not these two things are related; I can’t help feeling that it is. I know friends who never knew me as the unacceptably shaped fatty, and all of a sudden I’m on the right side of this line they draw in the sand. “These fats are acceptable, but these aren’t.” It’s constantly a surprise to me. They’ll talk about fat people in front of me (not often, but it’s happened) and then be shocked when I interject with my hurt feelings because they thought it was obvious that they meant people much, much fatter than me. Even though I’m the same weight. 

Now it’s all about my silhouette. I’m fat, but at least the fat falls where they think it should. I’m still shaped like a person in their eyes. 

Thin Privilege is not having to worry about finding new places to shop after moving.

I hate the clothes is mass stores. Target, Wal-Mart. They all make me feel and look so frumpy even though I’m on the lower end of the plus-size scale. I carry all my weight in my hips and legs, so my jeans range from size 14-18 (on bad bloated days) and I get so crazy self conscious that I tend to leave most stores empty handed and cry in my car. I just moved to Florida and I’m surrounded by malls with shiny stores and pretty clothes that will never look as good on me as the mannequin.

Thin Privilege is not leaving a store in near tears because you were so relieved to find a Torrid (ONLY plus-sized BEAUTIFUL clothing. Look them up!) in a nearby area. My boyfriend probably thinks I’m crazy after that but I don’t care. I hate feeling like I should hide the tags on my clothes because God forbid someone know the size I wear. I can’t handle that happening.

Thin Privilege and dresses

This weekend I decided to purchase a new maxi dress from the AX Paris curve range. I have a couple of different prints already and I like the fit and quality, however there are a few things that have really upset me.

1. The curve range is severely limited compared to the straight size range (however I acknowledge that its great this brand even does a plus size range compared to other brands that were established as straight size brands). AX Paris release approx 2 to 3 prints per year of the dress I like in the curve range, there are at least 10 in the straight size range at this time.

2. None of these particular dresses in the curve range are available on the brand website, they can only be found on selected 3rd party supplier websites. A thin person can go to one place to find the full collection, however a larger person has to shop around and hope they find the style in the suppliers they are able to find.

3. The cost for the thin person is lower. The dress I bought here is £42.00 plus shipping. The same dress on the brand website is currently on sale for £19.99 and the usual full price is £35.00. So my sister (who is straight sized) decided she liked it too and bought the dress for £22.01 less than me (so she could have bought two for roughly the same price as me buying one). I understand the concept of more fabric = higher cost. However this only makes sense if you only compare the biggest sizes to the smallest. Without taking into account the sale, a UK 16 pays £12 more (being forced to buy from the 3rd party supplier) that the UK 14 (able to buy from the brand website) when there’s only a 3ins difference in those two sizes. If fabric were really the issue wouldn’t each size pay incrementally more?

The same is true of the rose print version Curve Range £45.00 Straight Size £30.00. 

I realise these are different websites and actually the size 12 and 14 are also available from the 3rd party supplier at the inflated cost but the thin person at least has the option for the lower price. Another supplier that stocks a print from the curve range also charges £42.00. Again these are not available on the brand website.

Thin privilege is having a wider choice in one easily accessible place for a lower cost

There is a friend of mine that upsets me greatly every time we talk, because she always has to make weight an issue. She´s a cosplayer and was talking about other cosplayers that annoyed her. She talked about two incidents, one was about a group of girls standing around bookstore, which I fastly shrugged off. When talking about the other incident she started to change her language. How? She started out with describing their bodies, telling me in great detail how fat they were and that their clothes were to slutty for people with that much weight on their bones. She got on with how those two girls were kissing and more fatphobia and slutshaming followed. She was annoyed of those two because they dared to share affection and being dressed a little less, while being fat. 

I got deeply offended by that and asked her, why their bodies did matter in that case and she said she would start any description with how a person looks. I pointed out that she did not say anything about the bodies of the group of girls she talked about before. She hastily replied “Well yeah, they were thin!”. 

She ended her defense with “I was raised that way”. I told her, that she should maybe question the way she was educated. That ended the conversation. She also always tries to defend herself by saying that she dated bigger women in the past (I don´t know if she´s still dating the girl she was before), but at the same time she says that she would not date a women to big. 

I don´t really know how to deal with this anymore. I like her, but what she says makes me sick. 

Thin privilege is buying clothes without getting laughed at.

I went shopping at the new forever21 store in my city. It’s a really big store (3 floors). About ½ floor were plus size clothes, what is very much compared to other stores. I spent quite a long time there and every once in a while some thin women came along not realizing that they were plus size section.

Instead of just leaving they started to laugh and giggle about the “ridiculous big fatty clothes” well knowing that I (and other customers as well) could hear them.

In one hour this happened at least four times. Not all of these people were laughing, but they made disgusted faces at least.

TW: Rape, slut-shaming, fatphobia

A 19 year-old girl was raped last weekend on a nightclub here in Buenos Aires.

She happens to be fat so, besides the misogynists that justify the abuse on alcohol and clothes, there’s also fatphobic people that claim she should feel "thankful" because she was raped, especially by a “blonde man with blue eyes” (according to her description, though 3 more men joined that man to rape her after a while) and that she has "nothing to complain about".

(The following links are in Spanish.)

Link 1 (Twitter screencaps):

Link 2 (Facebook page that defends the nightclub, lead by a woman that identifies herself as president and founder of “Lucky Star”, Madonna’s Fan Club in Argentina):

Link 3 (more abused and raped girls in that club came out to speak):

Link 4 (they’re at least 12 different girls):

Thin privilege is not having anyone tell you that you should feel “thankful” for being raped (or being called a liar) because of your weight.

Thin privilege is being able to go for your goals. I went into a massive sporting goods store because I’ve wanted to get into running for as long as I can remember and decided to finally go for my (very long term) goal of running a marathon. I couldn’t find any running equipment that even came close to my size. I couldn’t even find a sports bra. I’ve had this issue with everyday clothing before, but with the rampant fat shaming everywhere, I was really surprised I couldn’t even find anything intended to convince me to slim down.

Thin privilege is getting to act hurt because your fat friend gets upset in a clothing store because nothing fits them, and that makes the thin friend feel bad, because they can fit into all these clothes easily and buy a ton of cute tops for half price, while the fat friend gets to walk out the store empty-handed and with tears in their eyes. Then they complain to the fat friend that they hurt their feelings because the fat friend “killed their vibe” and “made them feel like they should feel guilty for being thin”. The fat friend (which is obviously me) was so shocked and angry that they could not say anything else but “IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU”. But the thin friend still held onto their right to feel hurt because fatty got so angry and fed up for not fitting into any clothes in said shop.

I love my friend dearly but I am genuinely horrified how little they seem to understand about something that is basically my life. They ended up playing it all down by saying why do I care so much, they’re just clothes! It’s just boring fashion! After buying A TON of cute things in the same store that had nothing for me. And I am still really upset that they tried to make it all about them, and I couldn’t bring myself to really say anything about that.