This is Thin Privilege

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When I was 6 years old I was obsessed with gymnasts. I wanted to learn how to move my body like they could. My mom, when she finally noticed my obsession wasn’t going away, did some asking around and found a local studio that had a gymnastics class for children. Unfortunately it wasn’t cheap, and we were poor. But she saved up for months, I don’t know where she found the money, but she did, God bless her. When we finally went to sign up I entered the gym and it was like angels were singing. I saw the other little girls and a couple of boys working on their moves and I felt like my heart would burst with happiness. I was going to be HERE! I was going to learn this! 

The instructor came up to us and talked to my mom, I didn’t hear much of what what was going on, my senses were too focused on the other kids. But all too soon my mom grabbed me and said “Come on, we’re leaving!”. I said “Why?” and she wouldn’t answer, she just said again “come on”. 

Finally out in the car I saw my mom loose her cool and slam her hands against the steering wheel. ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘maybe the fee was higher than we thought’.

I asked her what was wrong. And she looked at me, she was on the verge of tears, and said “He says you can’t join”. 

My throat tightened and I managed to croak out “Why?”.

"He says you’re too fat", she said, and looked away from me and I think she was starting to cry. After a few minutes and some deep breaths my mom jammed her keys in the ignition and started the car. “Fuck him!" she said, as she sped out of the parking lot.

I was shocked, my mom never said that word, at least not around me. And I knew that it must be serious.

As she drove home we sat in silence. I remember trying to think of what to say, but not understanding what it was about me being fat that made me unacceptable to be with those kids in the class, to not be allowed to do what they were doing. 

But I was too fat, that’s what he told her. And soon, at that tender age of six, I began my first diet and my decent into self loathing, body hate, and depression.

That was the first time I was told I couldn’t do something because I was too fat. But it was far from the last time. The same type of scenario would repeat itself over and over again in my life. I was told I was too fat when I wanted to join the softball team, and when I wanted to learn to ice skate, and when I wanted to join various other sports and physical events. 

Until finally, in my early teens, I just stopped asking. By that time I had been told that so many times that I knew the answer and there was no need to ask. I was too fat.

My desire to learn sports became my complete and utter hate for it. By the time I got into high school I loathed all things sports related. I hated the athletes and what they were allowed to do. I hated the worship of athleticism in my school and couldn’t stand to look at the jocks. It was all around me and a constant reminder of something I wanted so badly for so many years, but a world I was constantly shut out of, the door slammed in my face. 

But now, years later, there are these fantastic amazing people that I’m learning about. These Fathletes. Fat athletes.

And seeing what their bodies can do, things I can only dream of. I cry and die a little inside and wonder how much different things might have been for me, if just once instead of being told “no you can’t”, instead being told “yes, you can”.  

Fat, fitness and fairness

This blog reminded me of an etiquette issue. I am a thin person who loves intense exercise. I’m also fairly social about it; I love to invite my friends to join me for super-hardcore workouts. However, I feel unsure about asking my fat (their words, not mine) friends to join me. I’d love for them to come, but I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to get them to lose weight. I know lots of people of all weights who are in better shape than me! On the other hand, NOT asking them also seems rude because it seems like unfairly assuming that they wouldn’t be interested. Basically what I’m asking is: is there a polite way to invite my heavier friends to join my social workout sessions? I’ve thought about sending a group email to everyone I know. Thanks!

Mod response: I would probably just write an honest emails from the beginning. “Dear friends, You all know that I love intense exercise and super-hardcore workouts. You all know that working out is a really social thing for me and I just really wanted to extend an invitation to all my friends, of all shapes and sizes (Lord knows some of you can kick my ass on the treadmill) to come work out with me!”

Or, something like that. :)  -Fatanarchy

Just because you “worked hard for it” doesn’t mean you deserve your privilege.

A few fallacies are at work here:

1. Hard work = societal rewards. Not always. Go outside and spend a summer counting the blades of grass in your lawn. That’s hard work, and will take a long time. When you’re done, tell everyone about it and see how well you’re received. The only reason you get societal rewards for “being/getting fit” is because of thin privilege and fat oppression. If thin privilege/fat oppression didn’t exist, no one would fucking care how much weight you lost, except perhaps other weight-loss enthusiasts.

2. Every fat person can be just like your superior self if they “work hard enough.” Not 95% of them. Most thin fitness enthusiasts who tie their sense of self worth to being thin were never fat. Most of the rest who were fat weren’t that fat to begin with. The rest base their entire lives on staying thin, sacrificing every other major endeavor in the name of thinness. The reason 95% of dieters don’t keep weight off in the long term isn’t because you’re objectively superior to that 95%, or that you’re “doing it right.” It isn’t because fat people are inferior lazy slobs so of course 95% of them are going to fail. It’s because diets don’t work, and nobody knows how to make a naturally fat person into a naturally thin person.

3. The social dynamic of oppression/privilege can ever be just. It can’t. I have yet to see a reasonable example of the justness of an oppressive scheme that is based on proper premises. For example, ‘criminals should be shunned’ is not an argument in favor of oppression/privilege because crime is a failure of social cooperation. It does not apply to when groups are oppressed for genetic characteristics or self-behaviors; groups that haven’t, in effect, “defected” from a cooperative scheme and hence, it can be argued, deserve punishment.


Who are you to say what life style is better? Who are you to say that a doctor is wrong? They went to medical school for eight years. What did you do?

Asked by

Who on this blog is saying that one lifestyle is better than another? The only lifestyle change This Is Thin Privilege is advocating is the one where self-righteous smart-asses stop assuming that doctors who went to medical school (for *gasp* eight years!) are all-knowing gods and that the fat people who have lived in their fat bodies for decades don’t know shit about what is best for that body or the person who lives in it. To put it another way, the lifestyle this blog advocates is a lifestyle of dignity, respect, advocacy and inclusiveness of fat people. That lifestyle has nothing to do with a body, thin or fat. It has to do with a mindset. Who am I/are we to say that is “better”? We say. Because our bodies belong to us. Not to you, not to our doctors, not to society.

Who am I to say that a doctor is wrong?

Me. It’s my fucking body.

And what did I do (presumably you mean "What did you do to earn the right to say that you know better than a doctor who went to medical school for eight years’)?  I lived every single day in my own fat body for longer than you’ve been alive and certainly longer than anyone went to medical school. That’s what I did and continue to do every single day. Thanks for asking.


Also, because apparently this is broken record day, READ THE FUCKING FAQ, YOU TROLL.

-MadGastronomer, the FAQ Pixie

Have you heard about Downsize Fitness? What are your thoughts on it? Personally, on the one hand I'd love to go to a gym without being looked at like my fat is contagious but on the other hand it seems like they're really into the idea of people losing weight as a sign of being fit and healthy which I really dislike.

Asked by

I’m not a fan. From their "About Us" page on their website:

Downsize Fitness is modeled after hit TV show,”The Biggest Loser,” yet it is structured to be more realistic, both from a financial and time perspective. Every Downsize Fitness member works with a trainer every time they come to the gym. The trainer not only takes them through their workouts, but also holds them accountable for their diet. 

Anything modeled after the torture and humiliation of fat people — aka, the Biggest Loser — is no kind of positive environment. It’s capitalizing on the pain and suffering and public shaming fat people, even if it’s just a marketing ploy.

Also, their “success stories" are weight loss stories, a page of (triggering!) before and after photos.

A place like that should not be patronized. When and if a gym comes along that treats it thin and fat patrons equally, and that actively discourages body shaming, I’ll support it. Most of the “fat people gyms” I’ve seen make their money off selling some form of weight loss and are no better than predatory diet companies.


Thin privilege is claiming that getting or being “fit and healthy!” means getting or being thin.

The most ignorant of objections I’ve seen to the concept of thin privilege is of the variety, “But what’s wrong with wanting to be fit and healthy?” 

Fit =/= thin. Fat people can be fit, and thin people can be out of shape.

Healthy =/= thin. Fat people can be healthy, and thin people can be unhealthy.

It’s really not that hard to understand, folks. If you persist in your objections based on grounds of ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ then you’re being willfully ignorant, most likely in order to pretend that you’ve earned your privilege and that it makes you superior to fat people.

I understand: the pursuit of thin privilege is a forceful dynamic in our culture with many incentives and rewards, and it can completely take over all other goals. It can (and does) become the entire/primary focus of many people’s lives. To have it challenged really pisses off those who’ve invested so much time and energy in pretending that they’ve earned their privileged position by virtue of their thinness. Even some people who say they are against fat discrimination get their hackles raised when you suggest that thin privilege can NEVER be earned, nor are thin people EVER superior to fat people for ANY reason, full stop. 


I’m 5’2” and 235 pounds, classified as “obese.” I only consume 1200 calories a day and I workout 4 days a week. My weight remains at 235 because I have hypothyroidism. Fat =/= Unhealthy habits. Fat =/= Lazy. Fat =/= Overeating. But every time I ever explain to people that I have a thyroid problem, they just roll their eyes and say, “That’s what everyone claims.” They never stop to think that so many people claim that because so many people actually have it! THIN PRIVILEGE.


Interesting article

Not sure if you’ve seen this, but it’s an interesting article on why society might value thin bodies more. It also talks about doctors’ bias against fat people.

(mod note: REALLY good article. Worth the read. I’m especially grateful you pointed this article out because visually normalizing fat bodies is one of the most powerful ways we can not only change social and media perceptions of people of size, but (I think) more importantly, it’s key to fat people learning to accept their own bodies and stop the cycle of self hate within their own lives. The profound impact of programming people’s brains by showing them only one size, type and shape of the human body and inundating them with images of that one body a hundred times a day can’t be emphasized enough. It is pure and simple brainwashing. (Thus why thinspo is so pervasive and damaging- they are perfect examples of mentally reinforcing one body type by inundating their own minds with images of it and then comparing that ingrained mental image to what they see in the mirror. That is, in fact, precisely why they do it. -fatanarchy)

Thin Privilege is having people question your ability to do your job because you aren’t thin.

I had been having fights with people because I watch “Dance Moms” one of the first things out of her mouth was “I wouldn’t let her teach you, how can she if she doesn’t look like she could dance herself?” She’s saying this and the kids almost always win top awards and dance beautifully.



Thin privilege is not being constantly told your size and appearance is a medical issue that needs to be avoided and treated, while you are at work. Not being pressured to join WW and singled out among all your coworkers as diseased and defective. Not being part of a fucking survey to cure the world of people like you.


Thin privilege is not being constantly told your size and appearance is a medical issue that needs to be avoided and treated, while you are at work. Not being pressured to join WW and singled out among all your coworkers as diseased and defective. Not being part of a fucking survey to cure the world of people like you.

(via fatbabedesigns-deactivated20140)

Let me make something perfectly clear.


Even if it’s just for the sake of my sanity.

The “argument” against fat people is that they “choose” to be fat and therefore deserve to be treated like shit.

I don’t give a fuck if someone chooses to be fat or not, that doesn’t give anyone entitlement to treat them like shit.

You automatically lose that argument. So the “choosing” isn’t relevant.

Fat people deserve common decency and respect just like every other human being.


No exceptions.

Thin privilege

is when you’re organizing a Sierra Club hike and, as two cute, slim twentysomething hippie chicks, you suggest I (5’8” and 205 pounds) “stay in the back of the group and go easy.”

Unfortunately they didn’t know that I am a former wildland firefighter. Bottom line: I led the freakin’ hike (which really ticked off the skinny young doctor who was hitting on the cute skinny hippie chicks all the way up the trail).