I don’t care what kind of relationship you have/had with your gender or body or food/exercise, IF you are thin or straight sized, you move through the world systematically advantaged in relation to your weight.
If not, there wouldn’t be a huge chunk of society so hell bent on pursuing a dangerously narrow view of “health and wellness” thinly veiled cover for the diet industry that continues to push body dissatisfaction and starvation diets created by white cisgender men. There wouldn’t be famous and semi famous celebrities selling “tummy tea” and inundating their followers with blatant #dietculture.
I sometimes come across claims against the existence of thin privilege often among eating disorder survivors on Instagram in the #BodyPositive movement. They either claim that thin privilege does not exist, or they go as far as to use “thin stigma” or “skinny shaming” as a “whataboutism”.
Generally I find they are following & engaging with mostly white cisgender women who have popularized themselves through a political involvement with #bodypositivity through eating disorder recovery. These women, often no larger than a size 14, making a living off of their online e-course in “self love and body trust!” advertising on IG with posts of heart hands atop a lightly stretch marked stomach. This in and of itself is thin privilege (& super problematic white feminism) at work people! Rarely do actual fat activists, writers, and/or fat eating disorder recovery professionals end up making anywhere near the money these white women make.
Thin privilege is upheld systemically through diet culture and fatphobia, and the narrow view of diet and exercise as the only determinants of health. It is upheld in the Modern Western society that pretty blatantly values bodies on their appearance, productivity, and ability, and this is manifested in the treatment and displacement of fat people in the United States.
Thin privilege doesn’t care if you have an eating disorder, it doesn’t care if you are dissatisfied with your body, it doesn’t care if you don’t “feel thin.”
Thin privilege is not being able to engage in discourse online and know that you won’t be subjected to direct threats, violent language, and other harassment based on your body size.
Thin privilege is not experiencing completely unsolicited advice on weight loss, dieting and exercise.
Thin privilege is having your eating disorder taken seriously when seeking treatment, and receiving immediate care.
Thin privilege is not having to be subjected to nonconsensual medically unsafe diets (lol all of them) diets as a child by your parents or caregivers.
Thin privilege is not seeing your size be constantly turned into a joke in film and television and through stigmatizing characters.
Thin privilege is going out to eat and not having your food choices and perceived health openly judged and/or criticized.
Thin privilege is being able to get gender affirming top-surgery, without being told you must first lose weight.
Thin privilege is going to the doctor, and having your symptoms taken seriously and be properly diagnosed and treatment, not have your symptoms explained by your weight and told to lose weight, diet and exercise.
Thin privilege is knowing that, if you need to wear a costume, uniform, or say a a matching outfit for a wedding party, you will be able to easily find one in your size and not have to ask for “accommodations”.
Thin privilege is not having to pay for extra seats on the airplane because of discriminatory airline policies, or go through hoops to get reimbursed by the ones who do.
Thin privilege is so many more things, but for now if you are looking to dig deeper into more of the meat of fat activism, body positivity, body politics and social justice, check out the resources below.
I also recently wrote a somewhat brief overview of the history of fat activism for a class assignment, that introduces some of the key events, key activists and scholars throughout the decades, as well as highlights current fat activists calling out the co-opting of the body positivity movement of which will probably post here on the blog once the course ends.
Articles & Videos with Transcripts