This is Thin Privilege

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Here are two for the moms

[tw: eating disorders]

1) I had surgery while pregnant and was given several days worth of antibiotics. My digestion was destroyed and food went right through me. In less than a week I lost 15lbs. I was 30 weeks pregnant which is when my baby was supposed to be rapidly gaining. Both my midwife and surgeon said it wasn’t a problem because I had so much extra weight anyway. Ignore the 6 bowel movements a day, I was fat and it’s always acceptable to lose lots of weight very quickly, even when pregnant.

2) Despite my best efforts, postpatum depression has crept in under the radar. Despite being in the fat acceptance community since 2005, I still struggle with hating myself. And after months of hardly eating, to the point I was having chest pains and dizzy spells, I still didn’t see anything wrong with it. I had energy, I wasn’t sullen, just overwhelmed with motherhood and financial problems. Then one day I wondered about the side effects of anorexia and if “they” (thin anorexics) experience the same symptoms as me. Then I saw almost all of the same exact signs and symptoms that I have, the things I’ve been doing for months and never even knew it. I didn’t believe anything was wrong with starving myself because I’m fat. As pounds came off, I was actually happy, despite all the harm it was doing. I’m supposed to be making milk for my baby, I’m supposed to be running around and enjoying my children, but all I could think about was the food I wasn’t eating and having to take more pills to force my body to make milk. And then I would get so hungry, and so emotional, I’d binge. I couldn’t have anorexia, I’m incredibly fat. If I were to have an eating disorder, it would be overeating, right? The binging, that was really my problem! No, I had somehow developed anorexia and didn’t even realize it, I didn’t even know how much I need help. A lot of my problem is that I refuse to ask for help, I don’t deserve help, I don’t deserve to eat food.

Thin privilege is having both medical professionals and yourself inherently understanding that you deserve to eat food and that sudden dramatic weight loss is a bad thing. Thin privilege is not having your baby’s life and wellbeing put at risk because of bias.

Thin privilege is being able to buy confectionery and other sweet things at the supermarket and knowing that the cashier won’t take it from your bag when you’re not looking.

This has happened to me three times this year whenever I go to a certain supermarket in town and meet the same cashier.  The last time it happened, I made sure I checked my bags before I left and then marched right back in, demanding why I’ve always been defrauded by her.  And she gave me the most astonished look, and said that I shouldn’t be eating such things and that she’s ‘saving my life.’ 

Like, she didn’t think that what she was doing was theft or illegal in any way.  In her mind, she was saving the fat girl from the dangers of a few bars of chocolate.  And I’m completely sure that she does it to other fat people that shop there too.  I’d stop going to that place but it’s the only local supermarket in town that sells the type of rice that I like eating.

I work at a bakery, and yesterday my boss pointed to a customer and said “unfortunately I just sold that fat lady a cheesecake. She shouldn’t be buying that” (indicating she would have rather a thin person bought her product, as if they are more entitled to shopping at her bakery). Then she went into all the reasons that person must be overweight: eating habits, thyroid problems, etc.

Thin privilege is being considered a more valuable customer, as well as not having your body and health analyzed every time you buy something. 

Celebrity quote (Jennifer Lawrence)/Thin Privilege Is…

Thin Privilege is a picture of Jennifer Lawrence quoted as saying “I’m considered a fat actress. I eat like a caveman. I’ll be the only actress that doesn’t have anorexia rumors! I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I’m invincible. I don’t want little girls to be like, “Oh, I want to look like Katniss [from the Hunger Games], I’m going to skip dinner!” being re-posted all over Facebook by my skinny friends.

Here’s the thing. If I said I wanted to look like Katniss, I would bet money on the fact that a few people would tell me to eat less/skip dinner sometimes. She is not fat and I am tired of her being pushed to the body acceptance forefront when she is, in fact, an ideal hourglass shape. Also, the “I eat like a caveman” part really stuck with me because of the recent discussion here about thin girls saying they love candy/food getting very different responses than fat girls who say the same thing. Here, her supposed eating habits are celebrated; if a regular fat person said they ate like a caveman (even in the same light-hearted  tone), they would be opening themselves up to criticism. That is because she does have thin privilege. 

I just realized that whenever people ask me why I’m vegan/vegetarian (I used to be full vegan but I eat eggs now), very often they also ask if it’s for health reasons, without waiting for my answer.  At first I barely noticed it; then I was like “huh that’s weird people keep asking if it’s for health reasons and nobody ever asks if it’s for animal rights;” now I’m beginning to think people are assuming it’s for health reasons because why else would I be a fat vegetarian? Or they think fat people only make food decisions based on losing weight and not like, ethical concerns or anything.  

I also am not sure how to respond, if this really is because people are trying to reconcile the existence of fat non-dairy vegetarians—I’ve been saying that no, it’s for ethical reasons, but now that I’m realizing this is probably a microaggression I kind of want to point that out without actually being like “NOT ALL VEGANS/VEGETARIANS ARE TINY OK AND FAT PEOPLE CAN BE HEALTHY!” Just because often this question is coming from people I’m meeting for the first time, who are well-meaning and completely unaware of how offensive/prejudiced that question is.  It’s also tricky because I feel like I have to counter fat stereotypes in addition to vegan stereotypes (vegans are militant, judgmental extremists, etc). 

Have any other fat vegans/vegetarians had that experience?  Am I being paranoid? Or is this just another instance where “health reasons” is code for “to lose weight?”  And if you’ve had that experience, how do you handle it? Do you try to draw attention to that assumption? Do you let it go?  Are you incredibly frustrated about people acting like fat vegans/vegetarians don’t exist and want to vent? This happened to me last weekend and now that I’m realizing there’s a pattern this (and how I’m not supposed to exist in general) is bothering me.

Thin privilege is when my sister said to me that someone being mean to a 17 year old girl when she doesn’t play a sport very well is as bad if not worse than being told not to eat again. 
I reminded her that even if the girl never played the sport again, it would still be better than never eating again, seeing as you would die. (That’s not to say I think what the person who was mean was correct in their comments. I thought they were rude and wrong.)
Her response? “Yeah but not playing sports could lead to obesity which could lead to death or other health issues!”
I just wanted to tell her that a) we are talking one sport here, not all sports, b) stopping playing sports may or may not cause weight gain, but refusing to eat will certainly cause death c) weight gain is not bad in and of itself, and d) Is “obesity” or pretty much any other health concern it “causes” really worse than death? (I put cause in quotations for obvious reasons).

She didn’t understand how damaging such a statement could be because she has never been fat a day in her life. She has always eaten whatever she wants. She now eats “healthy” because she’s a vegetarian who likes to cook lots of dishes, but it wasn’t always so. I, on the other hand, was not so lucky with the genetics.

Now I love my sister, but her ignorance on the experiences of being fat angers me more than I can express. For example, she can’t understand why I find it very annoying and am not flattered when men call me pretty. According to her I need to be nicer about it and say “thank you” or something, because the men are trying to be nice. She doesn’t understand that when I was fat, the same men that call me pretty now were horrible towards me and would never be “nice”. Sorry, they’re not “nice”. And I will not be all thankful for someone pointing out a trait of mine that I don’t care much about. Where were all of these nice men when I was fat? (I’m not even going to get into why I find such “compliments” mysoginistic and devious in nature, and how a lot of times my sister doesn’t notice that the compliments are more geared towards her and then just bounced on me to get her attention. Example of something someone says to her: “Oh, you’re so pretty! And your sister, too!”)

Having the luxury to be unaware of fat phobia and fat discrimination is thin privilege.

Thin privilege is getting to eat at your favorite restaurant without seeing posters pitted against you. (Fat discrimination tw, body policing tw)

The other day I was at Nando’s, my absolute favorite place to eat. I had not been to this particular location before. While my family and I were waiting for our food to come, I was looking around the room from my seat. One thing I saw was a poster that said: “If you’re shaped like an apple or pear, eat apples and pears.”

Oh, of course. How dare fat people want to eat anything besides fruit and vegetables and ‘safe’ food? I mean, why wouldn’t we? We all should want to lose weight, after all, right?

Thin privilege is being able to eat a salad in public without everyone assuming you’re on a diet and judging what’s in your salad. Thin privilege is being able to eat junk food in public without everyone assuming you’re unhealthy, undisciplined, and unaware of your body. Thin privilege is being able to think that ”eat a cheeseburger!” is equivalent to the day in and day out pressure and abuse fat people get every day. Thin privilege is having people more likely to be concerned about your weight, rather than disgusted. Thin privilege is not having to go through a pre-built layer of stereotypes with each new person you meet.

Doctors rarely ask me what my diet is like before telling me to change it. Sometimes it’s a pamphlet with some patronizing “go, slow, no” chart on it, and sometimes it’s an eyeroll accompanied by something to the effect of “you know how to eat less”. Often it’s just a featureless assertion that I should lose weight. When I do get to describe my diet and exercise habits, they are either OBVS inadequate and I’m told I need to do x more exercise (after my habits being classified as a “moderate to high activity level” when I described them over the phone, before anyone saw how fat I was), or they just assume I must be lying, and insert their own assumptions.

Thin privilege is not feeling obliged to explain or excuse your food choices when eating in public or in company.

After reading over 400 pages of this blog in the past 2-3 weeks, I examined my behavior a lot more closely (for example, even in my head, I was using “fat” (though neutrally, but still) as a first descriptor of people. I would look out the car window and register “man walking dog”, “fat woman at bus stop”, “girl on bike” -  it’s messed up) and I decided never again to make excuses for what I did and didn’t eat. I used to do this with people who had never given me the impression that they were food policing me or anyone. I would meet a friend for dinner, and, when deciding to get dessert, feel the need to say “just this once”, for example.

After reading a lot here, I understood that food-policing yourself in front of others makes them feel judged. If you judge yourself in front of them, they conclude you monitor and judge their eating, too (among other things). Plus, it ruins the enjoyment for everyone. I felt like I had grasped that concept well and was going to “turn things around” for myself. 

Today I was at a café with a lady I had met through work. She asked if I wanted something to eat (she was treating me). I said “oh, yes, great” and then, as if remote-controlled, I added “I didn’t have time to have breakfast today”. As if I need an excuse or a “good reason” to eat something. I thought I was “over” this kind of internalized food-shaming, but apparently, it’s a lot harder to shake than to read this blog and say “I’ll NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! GO ME!”

Thank you to the mods and all of the submitters for helping me gain more awareness (and knowledge. I read a lot of the studies and I feel like I’ve been lied to and made miserable all my life for no reason other than someone else’s idea of aesthetic pleasure). I didn’t even realize how little I liked myself for so long. This is a long road, because fat hate and internalized messaging seem to be everywhere, but I’m so glad I found this blog! You’re truly fighting the good fight. <3 Thank you!

Thin privilege is having the potentially dangerous side effects of a new medication takes seriously.

I recently started a new antidepressant, and had mentioned to my partner’s mother that I have had practically no appetite since starting it.  I’ve been trying my best to remember to eat, but I just don’t feel hungry, and I have a hard time keeping things down.  She is usually a very nice and open-minded person, so I was shocked, appalled, and kind of hurt when she responded with “Oh, but that’s a good thing!”

Thin privilege is when you’d do everything possible to have your children be thin before they’re even born. My boyfriend and I got into a huge argument last night because he wanted to tell his newly pregnant cousin to eat a lot while she’s pregnant so that the baby wouldn’t be fat. This is based on a single article we read months ago that suggested that mothers who don’t eat enough while pregnant set their kids up for obesity, and that eating too much during pregnancy might then do the opposite and set them up to be thin (further research shows that it doesn’t). Anything to avoid being fat, right…?

Let’s just start with the fact that I have some privilege at being a small fat at 5’ 3”  and 178 pounds. I recognize that I have it. Some don’t. I hang out with a small group of friends and a girl was talking about ordering chocolate on amazon. She ordered two pounds of cholocate. two freaking pounds! a guy from our group said how are you going to put that away and then she said mockingly im a whole lotta woman! and laughed. she then included the next sentence that left me flabbergasted : Nah, not really, I just wanted to say something fat.