This is Thin Privilege

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Thin privilege is being able to go on the rides at Cedar Point.

I went with my partner and some of her family to Cedar Point yesterday. 2/3 of the rides we wanted to go on, I had to sit out because the seats were too small in one or more dimensions (I’m also pretty tall with long legs). Of the ones where I fit in, all but one involved being crushed in a painful or uncomfortable way, often partially impeding my breathing. It is pretty good that they have “tester” seats at the entrance to the line of many of the rides so you can check and see whether you will fit, but also telling - they probably wouldn’t have them out front if there wasn’t a popular need for them. In fact, while I was waiting for the people I was with, I would often see several other people try out the tester seat within a few minutes and find that it was too small. I don’t expect that they will ever change this, because having more than one standardized size of seat would cost just a bit of extra money (which, let’s not fool ourselves, is entirely what this is about) but the fact that it won’t change doesn’t make it RIGHT. I had fun on the rides I could get into, despite being crushed, but I decided that I won’t be going back, because the experience was one of being excluded at every turn, and I don’t usually volunteer for that.

For all these folks that are tone-policing your responses: 

What people intenddoesn’t matter here, when they make comments that they think are innocuous. We live in a context where people use any number of health concerns to beat fat people up over their weight without ever thinking about the circumstances around their lives. Fat becomes the one thing that defines you, because that’s the thing that people keep bringing up around you. Of course fat people are touchy about it, and they have no obligation to be polite over what someone meant- there’s only so much judgmental bullshit any one person can take. 

If you don’t like how fat people react, maybe do something about the bullshit in society that’s driven them to act that way, instead of blaming them for reacting the way human beings do under pressure.

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.

I’m curious and I’d like to get your opinion on it, but if it’s not relevant to you or you don’t have any feelings about it, no big deal. I was wondering how you feel about Rob McElhenney’s rapid weight gain (and later, weight loss at an equally rapid and likely unhealthy pace), how he himself addressed it in such a negative light on Its Always Sunny, and if you think the fat-shaming is justified or ok if he’s the one making such inflammatory jokes and references about weight? Like do you think he’s allowed to fat-shame himself for the sake of comedy? Thanks.


Mod response:

I have never seen It’s Always Sunny, and don’t know who Rob McElhenny is. His rapid weight gain and loss might be due to any number of things. The gain may have been caused by a health problem, and the loss by treating that problem, and indeed that’s a fairly likely scenario. But I would not care to guess what his actual health status is, now is it my business.

Fat-shaming is never, ever justified, even when one employs it against oneself. Any fat shaming implies that fat is always a bad thing to be, and saying to others that fat is a bad thing to be has the effect of fat-shaming them, too, no matter how it’s intended to be directed.

Fat-shaming is not good comedy. Good comedy punches up, not down, and shaming or insulting a disprivileged group is always punching down. When you laugh at punching-down, you are participating in oppression (and we all participate in oppression sometimes, our own or someone else’s, voluntarily or not; all we can do is try to avoid it as much as possible, and the first step to doing that is to be aware of how it happens).


Questions I Wish I Could Ask My Boss

1) How come you always make a big deal of me using the elevator, even though we’re on the third floor of the building?

2) How come you make comments about what I eat and when I eat?

3) Why do you think it’s a good idea to ‘inspect’ my lunch whenever I order out to eat?

4) Why did you reduce my performance review marks based on my ‘indifference’ to how I look? In the thirteen months since I got this job, my weight has never ever hindered my work in any way. 

5) Why should my weight be part of my appraisal at all? Why isn’t it enough to be judged on how well I perform on the job and all the ideas I’ve brought in so far?

6) Why do you think it’s appropriate to email me links on the latest fad diets during the day?

7) Why did you think that drawing up a contract for me losing weight was a good idea? And worse, saying that you were going to email it to the head of Human Resources to be part of my employee profile?

8) Why aren’t any of the other young women on our floor - all of whom are at a ‘socially acceptable’ weight - being treated like this? How come it’s okay for them to use the elevator, and eat what they like and be judged on their job performance and not have their personal appearance being brought into it at all?

Oh, wait.  I think I know the answer.

The Rules for Being Fat


#1. Never be seen eating in public.

#2. If you must eat, make sure it is uber-healthy yet tasteless. Never eat anything that is fattening, sweet, or tasty in any way.

#3. Exercise daily to the point of vomiting. This cannot be fun exercise like dancing or skating (who wants to see that!). It must be boring and miserable.

#4. Never be seen exercising in public; you must only exercise in your own home. We don’t want even the possibility of seeing a little fat jiggle. If you break this rule, we reserve the right to call you names and throw trash at you.

#5. You must be on a diet at all times. Preferably, you must be paying for it in some way. We need you to keep supporting the 104+ (Canada & the US) billion dollar diet industry. Yes, we know that you will only gain the weight back plus more. That is part of our plan!

#6. Take diet pills. They may give you a stroke or damage your heart, but you will lose 2-5% of your weight as long as you eat right and exercise as well. Of course, you will gain it back the minute you stop taking the drug.

#7. If a diet does not work, go have your stomach amputated or squeezed (weight loss surgery). You might die of complications. You will be 4x more likely to kill yourself than the rest of the population. If you don’t die, you will most likely have long-term complications and nutritional deficiencies that will reduce your quality of life significantly. You also have an excellent chance of becoming an alcoholic. Oh, and 80% of you will regain the weight.

#8. All your attention, your money, and your focus must be on the fruitless task of losing weight at all times. Nothing else matters. You should never have a life until you succeed at that, no matter that 95% of you will fail and that those who succeed where likely thin folks losing some weight they had gained.

#9. Wear dark, shapeless clothing for which you must pay outrageously. No bright colors or stylishness of any kind.

#10. Never wear anything that lets your flesh be seen. No sleeveless shirts, no shorts, and definitely NO BATHING SUITS!

#11. Never be seen having a good time with friends in public. We want to believe you are sitting home miserable. We certainly do not want to see you laugh.

#12. Never imagine that someone could want you romantically. Love is not for the likes of you. If you do get into a relationship and they happen to be abusive, suck it up and be happy someone bothers to interact with you in any way.

#13. If you break rule #12 and end up in a relationship, never show affection in public. This is especially true if your SO is fat.

#14. If you have children, they must eat perfectly. If they are fat also, we may come take them away.

#15. If you are a fat woman and you get raped, be glad for the attention.

#16. Work daily to blend into the shadows. Never remind us that you are there. We don’t want to see you.

#17. Never expect to have friends. If you do have friends and are female, accept that they might keep you around to make them look good. If you are male, make them laugh, fatty.

#18. Either be very quiet or jolly. Never, ever let us see you angry or upset. Take how we treat you and stuff it.

#19. Never pursue a higher education. If you break this rule and do, don’t you dare complain about accommodations. So what if you class does not have a desk that fits you?

#20. Never pursue a professional career. We don’t want to see the likes of you in our courtrooms or our offices. You won’t be able to find fashionable professional clothes anyway.

#21. Never complain when you are denied a job because of your looks.

#22. If we deign to employ you, never expect to receive the same pay as your coworkers; just be happy that we gave you a job.

#23. Never expect to get a promotion. We could not reward a fat person for anything.

#24. Go to the doctor often. The doctor will tell you that anything wrong with you could be fixed by losing weight. Never complain or speak up in response. Pay your money, hang your head in shame and get out.

#25. Never tell a thin person that thin shaming and fat oppression are different. Never point out that thin shaming is part of the hatred of fat. Never note that thin shaming is calling people names while fat oppression leads to lack of health care options, lack of job options and lack of acceptance in society.

#26. Never tell feminists or diversity advocates that fat belongs as a protected condition. You should not be protected, because you could change it if you really wanted to, fatty.

#27. Never be an academic that focuses on fat studies. We won’t publish your work, even if it is rigorous and well-written. We will keep you from tenure-track jobs. If you do land one of those, we just might deny you tenure.

#28. Never succeed at anything. If you do, we will point out that it doesn’t really count since you are still fat.

#29. Never stand up, stand out or speak up in any way. This would be glorifying obesity. We can’t have that.

#30. Whatever you do, NEVER become a fat activist and point out that society treats fat people unfairly. How dare you question our abuse and oppression of you!

A great tongue-in-cheek list by Lonie. 

My roommate has some really awful habits that are affecting her health. Like drinking almost exclusively pop, smoking, overeating, and being very sedentary. Am I being phobic if her life style disgusts me?

Asked by




Yes like mind your fucking business how bored are you? Instead of focusing on your roomate do a sudoku or something jeeze.

This message is dedicated to every concern troll ever.

"do a sudoku or something" 



Disgusted by someone you know rapidly killing him/herself? You’re clearly just a bored asshole.

"rapidly killing him/herself"

Please, let us know where you got that degree in Armchairology. Apparently you can diagnose from the comfort of your chair, never having met someone, nor even knowing anything about them except a single sentence typed by a nosy concern troll. That’s quite the feat.

Or maybe you’re pissed because, like the OP, you don’t want to be called out for your loud opinions about other people’s bodies, behaviors, and business. You just want to keep indirectly wishing death upon all fat people based on a set of convenient obfuscations about their health, behavior, and morality.

How about instead of looting other people’s spirits you focus on yourself. I bet that scares you. The idea of having to focus on your sorry self instead of project your insecurities elsewhere, that is.

Newsflash: fat people aren’t objects for you to desecrate so that you can get through your day. 


Thin privilege is not having your body compared to pollution.

My coworker dislikes another lady that works here. I admit I dislike her as well, but my coworker started in on her body, how she was wearing skintight clothes and ‘letting everything hang out.’ She actually said it was unattractive, which is such stung me since that is a state of mind I’m trying to get out of for my own body. Usually I try not to respond, to show her that I’m not participating but today I tried to call her out, telling her that women are told too much what they should and shouldn’t wear, to show her the hypocrisy of saying a thin woman can wear what she wants, but a fat woman should cover up. She tried to counter by saying she wasn’t telling her that, just me. Know that she would also be considered fat but of course she wears clothes she thinks is appropriate for fat people to wear.

And, as I said above, she compared having to see this lady dressed like that to air pollution. I am vehemently against smoking because of the lack of choice people who breathe in the secondhand smoke have, but a fat person in a public space isn’t hurting anyone.

I’m not proud of not speaking up much before, but I will try to not let so much get by me now.

"My health is none of your business" = "I'm unhealthy and I know it, I don't like the way i look, but I'm too lazy to work out and too voracious to stop eating too much".

Asked by

Actually, it just means “my health is none of your business.”

Stop telling me what to eat. Stop assuming you know what/how much I eat in the first place. Stop invading my physical bubble with your disgusted looks and ‘concern.’ If you want to see me as a pariah and ignore me, fine. I would rather be banned from your kind of society than be a part of it. Just leave me out of your thoughts, your angst, your plans, your fervent writings. 

I will always be suspicious of people who don’t want me to have bodily autonomy, and especially don’t want me to lay verbal or legal claim to my body. I suspect that if they truly believed I owned my body and that my body wasn’t their business,  they’d realize the amount of energy they spend denigrating me and people like me is a reflection on their bad character, not on mine.


For fuck’s sake, or, The Knee Pain Thing

So whatever, I’m too busy for this shit, but I just wanted to note that 

1) yes, having better muscular support can help alleviate knee pain and can even help prevent SOME joint problems caused by gravity + time, but that goes for everyone, not just fat people.

2) yes, fat people with poor muscular development, all else equal, have more downward pressure on their joints than thinner people with poor muscular development. However, this still does not make long-term weight loss possible for the vast majority of fat people, hence does not make a prescription of such REASONABLE for the vast majority of fat peopleOn its face, increasing muscle mass to support your joints, if you are ABLE to do so, is a more accessible option to most fat people.

3) TROLLS, YOU GENERALLY SUCK AT READING COMPREHENSION. It’s not just a criticism. It’s a fact. And it’s likely on purpose. You read what you want to. You are blind to subtlety when it doesn’t suit your cause, because the game of trolling doesn’t admit points for actual fallacies promoted by websites like TITP, only perceived fallacies within the trolling community itself. You don’t get “points” from us, just from each other. 

4) Fellow SJWs and allies, beware of getting into a hairsplitting war. It’s usually a diversionary tactic from the discussion at hand and has little to do with actual clarification of reasonable criticism. People who follow the trolls and who aren’t really trolls yourself, think hard about why trolls troll and why blogs like TITP do what we do. Then ask yourself, What’s the difference? What goal does each cause serve? I can tell you the trolls are doing it mainly for entertainment. They like to try to break things. That’s how they get their kick. Do you think that’s what TITP is trying to do? If not, why the fuck are you listening to the trolls instead of trying to understand what we’re saying? Understanding something that seems foreign to you is challenging, admittedly. But it will make you a more knowledgable person after the fact. Bowing to conformist pseudo-scientific hate-messages dressed in faux concern will not.