This is Thin Privilege

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Thin privilege in simple gestures

I have a friend that likes to pick up all of the girls in a swinging hug before he leaves. He went through all of the girls and I just figured that he was going to give me a regular hug. Instead, he wrapped his arms around me and scooped me into the air like I weighed nothing. Obviously, I was caught off guard and, as a heavy person, was not used to being lifted in the air. When I asked him about it later, he laughed it off, not realizing that he had made me feel more normal and accepted in those ten seconds than most people in my entire life. 

Thin privilege is being able to have the ignorance that comes with not being treated differently because of your size.

I wonder..

TW: eating disorders

I wonder what it’s like to be able to have friends without having to remain silent about people criticizing and saying harmful things about my body, because I’m fat.

I wonder what it’s like to stand up for fat people, and not be told it’s in my best interest to instead stay silent and ignore the haters, even though I know they’ll continue to hate and hurt other fat people.

I wonder what it’s like to have people back you up for standing up for yourself and other fat people instead of shaming you for not hating fat people like they do.

I wonder when I’ll finally be able to have the kinds of friends others seem to have, friends who help them, friends who don’t tell them they need to stop being a white knight, friends who understand that fat acceptance is an important issue.

I wonder if there will ever be a day when I don’t feel guilty for speaking out and derailing conversations because someone said something fatphobic. A day when I won’t be called passive-aggressive for backing down after having hate hurled at me for the crime of standing up for myself and others who are bullied for being fat.

I wonder if there will ever be a day when I don’t live in fear: in fear of someone making fun of me because I’m fat, in fear that someone might hurt the fat people I care about, in fear that the hatred myself and other fat people have to put up with could get worse.

I've been arguing for the last little while with a FB friend about body image/fat doesn't mean unhealthy/etc. She is saying extremely fatphobic things. It's frustrating, because this is someone who (until know) has been a very thoughtful and intelligent person who I liked. And it's obvious now that she's not going to change her mind anytime soon. Is it worth it to keep trying, or should I just let it go and move on? Thanks.

Asked by

Personally — I think the decision whether to remain friends with this person and take on their education regarding fat issues (including myth-busting fatness and health) and the inevitable conversation about healthism, is entirely up to you. It’s no small task, to be sure.

In my personal experience, I’ve found the vast majority of people who care about me know when to stop grinding their axes. But there is the occasional person who won’t listen and/or will continue to thrust forward their backward thinking about size and health like they’re getting paid to regurgitate anti-fat propaganda.

And here’s something I’ve noticed: most of the people who just won’t let the matter drop have been or currently are in some way invested in healthism or the inferiority of fatness. They tend to be former fat people, currently dieting fat people, or self-loathing fat people; naturally thin people who believe all fat people must be engaging in certain ‘bad’ behaviors because if they can eat a whole pizza and not gain weight, then fat people must be eating two whole pizzas (these thin folks tend not to know many fat people intimately, and generally don’t have much imagination); fitspo-ish folks who believe that thin privilege is earned and therefore the discrimination fat folks face is deserved.

If you’re willing to put up with being the friend that educates a fatphobe, that’s totally up to whether you think this person is worth it, and whether there’s some hope they might eventually respond positively to what you’re saying.

I generally don’t find these kinds of interactions worthwhile. I engaged in them a lot when I was first coming into fat acceptance, both in RL and online, and it proved to be more frustrating than anything else. I found out that my real friends stuck with me after I gained weight, and my superficial friends dropped away. It sucks, and I’m still mourning some of those lost friendships, but I’ve also made a shit-ton new friends who ‘get’ fat acceptance and who value the entire package that is ‘me,’ inside and out. And cultivating those kinds of friendships is much more rewarding, IMHO. 

(I don’t know if you’re fat or not, of course, but even if you’re a thin ally you obviously wouldn’t want to put up with a fatphobe unless you think they’ll eventually come around)

Maybe other TITP readers might have their own suggestions/advice. And I’m sorry you’ve peeled off your friend’s mask and found a fatphobe underneath, as it were. It’s even more shocking from someone who seems otherwise ‘with-it.’ It’s like when I encounter folks who believe in freedom of everything, except, oddly, freedom to be whatever size you are. I get this little mental jolt, like sucking on a brain-sourball. Brrrrr.


Thin Privilege Isn’t Having People Invalidate Your Reality at Every Turn

[tw: suicidal thoughts, eating disorders]

Thin privilege is going to your form tutor for help when you have spent the past year starving yourself during the week and throwing up on weekends to make up for your parents cooking actual meals and not having her grab your wrist, give it a squeeze and say that the thickness of your wrists doesn’t match your story and that you have nothing to worry about.

Fatphobia is your (ex) best friend talking on Facebook about how all obese people are gross to look at and must have eating disorders which cause them to eat all the time, after you have spent your entire school life protecting her and defending her from people, including teachers, spreading rumors that she is “obviously” anorexic because of her size.

Fatphobia is when you tell your (new) best friend’s boyfriend that you don’t like how he used the word “fat” to describe unscrupulous bankers (i.e. as an insult), he proceeds to belittle you and insult you all evening as you try to politely explain your position despite knowing that fatphobia is a massive trigger for your mental illness, and he hounds you over it all evening until you are so upset that you can barely function for the next few days and seriously contemplate suicide for the first time in a few months.

Fatphobia is your mother following you upstairs after you left the room upset after watching a “comedy” after a character screamed at another “I smell fat people… You are an obese destitute!  Obese destitute!” to tell you that fat stigma doesn’t actually exist.

Thin privilege is not having your friends act like you’re dead to them since you gained weight.

…worse than dead, even, since they never honored or grieved you, and are in fact rather embarrassed to have ever thought you valuable or sexy or awesome despite all the good you’ve achieved in your life and the lives of others since then.

Thin privilege is…

…being insulted for being “too skinny” and not having to worry about the friends you go to in order to seek comfort saying, “Well, maybe you should put on a few pounds…”

Seriously. I get that thin people are sometimes told that they’re “too skinny,” but almost ANY. TIME. I’ve gotten called a “fatty,” a “cow,” or anything else, there are inevitably the “friends” who tell me that, well, come to think of it, maybe I should lose weight… It’s got to the point in highschool where I refused to talk to ANYONE about the bullying because I couldn’t handle being insulted for a second time, and by someone I trusted.

Thin privilege is never being denied entry to public transport due to your body type.

Thin privilege is being able to read a book, watch a film, and see a TV series that has people of your weight as main characters.

Thin privilege is being able to assume everyone has your body type unless specified otherwise.

Thin privilege is not cringing when you hear the words “uniform” or “free shirts” because you know they won’t have one in your size.

Thin privilege is being able to go swimming without people overtly ridiculing you due to your body type.

Thin privilege is never having your body be automatically associated with sexual deviancy.

Thin privilege is seeing characters in fiction whose body type is not their defining characteristic.

Thin privilege is not having others see you being hurt as humorous due to your body size.

Thin privilege is not having others assume you’re sickly.

Thin privilege is not seeing advertisements telling people to avoid anything possible to stop their body looking anything like yours.

Thin privilege is seeing your body type depicted as sexy without it being niche fetish material, or being accused of “promoting unhealthy lifestyles”.

Thin privilege is not having people act like your partner is being charitable or making a sacrifice by dating you.

Thin privilege is being able to go to a restaurant, café or other eatery without being overtly ridiculed due to your body type.

Thin privilege is not having clothes stores charge you extra due to your body type.

Thin privilege is being able to call yourself fat without anybody thinking anything of it.

Thin privilege is not having you liking your body being seen as something bad.

Thin privilege is not having strangers believe your medical history is public domain.

Thin privilege is being able to talk about fat-shaming and having your opinion valued more than those who actually experience it.

Thin privilege is having people be likely to believe you are disabled, as opposed to “just being lazy” or assuming the disability has to be caused by your body type.

Thin privilege is not having people disbelieve you’ve been sexually harassed because they think no one would ever sexualise your body type.

Thin privilege is being able to have impromptu clothes shopping, purely for leisure.

Thin privilege is not having all your successes ignored because “fat” is synonymous with “unsuccessful”.

Thin privilege is not being accused of abusing your child due to your, or their, body type.

Thin privilege is, if you are another minority, having that minority’s equal rights groups include members of your body type.

Thin privilege is not being fired from your job due to your body type. And if you are, thin privilege is having it be recognised as illegal.

Thin privilege is not having people grab your body parts and telling you to “lose all that”.

Thin privilege is having long-lost friends be interested in your life, as opposed to whether you have or haven’t lost weight since they last saw you.

(submitted by modsquare)

(blog author’s note: there are a couple points in here I find problematic. I just wanted to point out that you can have your children taken away from you if they are too thin, that very thin people are often seen as sickly, and that body/body type should be ‘body size’ in all cases. However, I still thought the submission made a lot of fantastic points and wanted to publish it)