This is Thin Privilege

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Thin privilege is going to an allergist and being told to lose weight. I am a small fat, a size 18, about 215 pounds, 5’6”. I have an hour glass figure, so i still have a relatively small waist. I’ve always had allergy issues my entire life. Sinus infections, colds, etc. all year long. About two years ago, i started getting intense sinus infections every four weeks or so. I went to an immediate care facility and they suggested i get allergy tested. I go to this doctor and he does a blood test. The blood test comes back negative. He’s explaining to me the results, and *politely* tells me losing weight would help my breathing problems….. so I go to another allergist who actually does a skin test, and lo and behold, i’m allergic to everything under the sun. He gives me a treatment plan, and never once even mentions that i should lose weight. most people wouldn’t consider me fat, even though i am ‘overweight.’ 

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.

I joined the high school drama club because they did not have enough women in the cast to perform the play they had selected. A friend in the drama club suggested I come into the group to play the role of an attractive psychiatrist. I agreed that I would check the drama club out, and decide from there. To be clear, I had been in another play (and a few since this happened), and had been praised for my performance, so I’m not a terrible actress.

I enjoyed the club, so I did join. I was so excited to final get a role so exciting and different from the characters I get cast as.

My hopes were crushed when the director of the play decided that I wasn’t pretty enough to play the role. The director stated that the other woman in the group (a thin, conventionally attractive woman) could play multiple roles (despite the need for both characters to interact with each other), and that she would be fine. She then cast me as the mother, who had only two lines shouted from backstage; I’m guessing I was given this out of pity.

Thin privilege is being seen as a desirable woman, and being allowed to let your hard work and talent speak for itself.

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.

An (Angry) Update, of sorts

Triggering warning: eating disorders, shitty doctors, weight talk

Roughly a year ago I submitted this post talking about my experiences of having an eating disorder as a fat person, specifically as a fat, japanese, young girl.

At the time of writing the post, the reality of the physical damage I’d done to my body was dragging me into a pretty dark depression. It is something that has taken - and is a process, and far from a completed one - me a long time to come to terms with: that this is the body I have now, that it will never function the way it maybe could have, had I not damaged it with starvation. The aches and pains and creaking bones that break far too easily, I often find it ironic that people will claim their hatred of fat people to be a concern for their “health”, when my path to thinness made me far more sick - horribly, painfully, irreversibly sick - than being fat ever did. 

But, I want to put all that aside, because that’s not the reason I’m submitting this.

I’m submitting this because yesterday I went to the doctors office. I saw a temp doctor because my regular doctor is away on vacation.

I was there to express concerns that I may be developing arthritis in my knees (I already have osteoporosis) because they have been causing me increasing pain over the last 6 months or so.

He asked there have been any significant changes to my health or body recently.

I said yes, I have gained 20lbs in the last 9 months.

He told me that perhaps that was the cause of my knee trouble. That perhaps I needed to exercise more and “lay off the cake”. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

This is a doctor with my entire medical file set out in front of him.

This is a doctor who has easy access to read about the eating disorder that literally almost killed me.

This is a doctor who decided to ignore all that because hey, maybe I’m a bit chubby for an asian girl my height.

(I’m 5’3” and 125lbs, by the way. Easily a “healthy weight” in the eyes of doctors).

This is a doctor who decided to tell someone who a few years ago literally tried to starve themselves to death that maybe I should eat less. Because gaining 20lbs could never be a good thing. Gaining 20lbs is obviously a bad thing. Gaining weight, unless you are unacceptably (read: unattractively) thin, is never a good thing.

I am clinging to my anger over this as a way to avoid spiraling back into the disordered behaviour that destroyed my teens. I am furious. I am raging.

And this incident with the doctor is not the first time. Everybody who knows me knows I had an eating disorder. Everybody who has known me since my teens has likely seen the extent of my eating disorder. And yet, the sly comments still come. The hints that perhaps I’ve gained too much weight now, that maybe I need to lose some again. Healthily of course. So healthily. Because aiming to lose weight is something anyone can ever do healthily.

It’s been a year and nothing has changed, in that respect. People don’t want you to be unattractively thin and will praise you from escaping that because you are “so much healthier now”, but the moment you begin to cross the line from “acceptably thin” into “a bit fat” again, suddenly they no longer care for your health. They no longer care that you are so much better off chubby than you are thin. They only care that you no longer look a way that appeals to them, and that’s a bad thing.

When I was 85lbs and I wanted another slice of cake I was praised for it.

Now I’m 125lbs and I want another slice of cake, I’m asked if I really “need” it.

This link, this right here (tw: dieting):

I love Bob’s Burgers and I always thought the show seemed pretty accepting of different body shapes, types, and sizes. But then their official blog shared this kind of “What’s on Your Desk” mini-interview with the show’s Post Production Supervisor and the very first thing on the list is a bottle of fat burning pills. And according to the accompanying quote he takes these multiple times a day because he used to be fat, and now he’s terrified of becoming fat again. I feel so sad and angry reading that. I’m sad because I know it’s true that people are so afraid of their own bodies that they think about that fear every day. And I’m angry because of the suggestion that fat bodies are something to avoid and fear.

This is what thin privilege does to people, this is what I see friends and family struggle with on a daily basis, except not all of them manage to become “acceptable” aka thin. It’s upsetting to see this message on a blog I go to for fun behind the scenes looks at a show I love. And in general.

[tw: eating disorder, depression, doctors, fat shaming]

A few weeks ago I went to my psychiatrist to get my medication refilled. They commented on my recent weight loss, stating that it was “good”. I told them that it was not good, as I had been starving myself due to being severely depressed the past month. He then said, and I quote, “That’s good. As long as you loose the weight.”

I think being fat is an earned disadvantage and that being thin confers no privilege on an individual. Much like felons have the earned disadvantage of being viewed poorly and with suspicion by society due to their past decisions. Non-felons do not have privilege over felons. The way felons are viewed is deserved.

You guys are like criminals talking about the “privilege” that non-criminals enjoy.

On a case by case basis a felon might redeem themselves in the eyes of those they know, and prove through their personality and ethic that they have shunned their old ways and are intent on improving themselves, but to fault society for viewing felons in a bad light is in error. In the same way a fat person might show that they really do eat a healthy amount and exercise enough and yet can’t seem to lose weight but are making an effort, thus redeeming themselves in the eyes of those around them, but when seeing a random fat person it is not wrong to judge them a social delinquents or deviants.

To the point, as a general rule I think it is correct to admonish and castigate fat-ness as being an indicator that a person makes unhealthy lifestyle choices which harm themselves and larger society, and that obesity should be discouraged and fought. I believe your premise, that thin people enjoy some unearned advantage that fat people do not, is false. The truth is fat people are at an earned disadvantage and thin people are just treated normally.

What say you guys?


Moderator response:

Are you actually comparing fat people to criminals, and being fat as a behavior along the lines of committing a crime that necessitates redemption?

Proof in point that the War on Fatness is a moral panic (or really, a moral crusade) and has nothing whatsoever to do with concern over a person’s health. 

Thanks for stating the case of the anti-fat moral crusaders so clearly. I mean, us fat folks suspected that y’all just thought we were inferior, evil, ignorant, etc all along, but it’s great to get such straight-up confirmation without concern-based smoke-blowing.

Note that’s unnecessary for me to argue with you point-by-point if I reject your premise, i.e., that fatness is immoral or in anyway comparable to committing a crime. I don’t, ergo, fuck you and your disgusting worldview.


(TW sexual harassment)

Thin privilege is not being regularly sexually harassed throughout adolescence.

At my middle school, it was socially acceptable by students and staff alike for the school bullies to “scoop” the DMAB fat kids. In other words, you sneak up behind the person, cup their boob in your hand, and flick it up so it bounces and jiggles, to the amusement of everyone but your victim.

I was one of those victims; my breasts have always been the part of my body I’m the most insecure about, and I only recently realised that this era of terror contributed to that enormously - especially given my boundaries and gender identity today.

It was sexual harassment, and it could be done in front of staff and faculty without any recourse. I’m sure it still goes on at that godforsaken school today.

Thin privilege is being able to go to an amusement park and know that you’ll fit on every ride.

I live close to Six Flags and like to ride roller coasters. However, due to being a size 22, the bars don’t come down enough for me to be cleared to ride. What’s even worse, is that unlike other parks I’ve been to, there’s only one coaster that has a test seat. So I’m tempting chance every time I get in line.

I fit on the tamer coasters that don’t have much more than ups and downs, but it’s a tight fit. I’ve actually lost 30 pounds since last summer and I had to walk of shame off of a coaster.

Just a test seat for the rides would be enough- at other parks they make it look like a photo op place too so it doesn’t seem like it’s the fat person test seat specifically.


TW: eating disorders, fat shaming kids

Avoid the comments there’s a lot of fat shaming there.

Adults are so convinced fat shaming benefits kids and makes them healthy now, I’ve had to show them an image of a child with Anorexia for them to realize the damage they’re causing. How bad does this have to get before people realize fat shaming children destroys childhoods, and can end lives? I just don’t understand adults demanding their right to hurt children, this is what the obesity hysteria has wrought. How many children must suffer until things change?

I also want to state despite Huffpo’s attempts to appear supporting body positivity, their allowing of hate towards fat people in the comments of their articles show they care only about being popular, no matter how unethical they have to be.