And of course the privilege I am speaking of, is Thin Privilege. Edited to add: Anji from Shut up, Sit down, has also blogged about Thin Privilege, and you can find her post here I have to say, I agree with everything she says, and she does a far better job of getting her point across than I do!
Thin Privilege, is, in my opinion, one of the worst forms of privilege. None of them are ok, at all. But thin privilege is a little harder to discern, a little more insidious, a little harder to fight. I’m happy to be told I’m wrong- I don’t want to play the ‘X oppression is worse than Y oppression card’ here, or deny the damage done to individuals and groups by other forms of privilege.
It’s just that Thin Privilege is so unbelievably socially acceptable, that even the government are in on the act. We don’t as a society accept racism, or sexism or homophobia. We, have, in fact got laws against them. There is however, no law that protects fat people from discrimination. There is no law that says I can sue my employer because my colleagues regularly and routinely interrogate my choices of lunch, and berate me for ‘not being good’. I am 25 years old, and the people in my office tell me I am not being ‘good’ because I ate a fricking sandwich.
I can take action if they disparage my heritage. I can take action if they disparage my gender. I can take action if they disparage my sexuality. I am protected in law, at least from those things. I can do nothing when they disparage my weight, and make jokes about fat people, or comment on how lazy and stupid a fat person must be, and comment that they couldn’t possibly care about themselves. There is no law to protect me from this. I have to accept their hideous and cruel behavior, because somehow, the fact that my body type is not an accepted norm means it is ok to ridicule, bully and mistreat me.
And when I complain, they tell me that it is because they are trying to ‘help’ me, and that their actions are for my own good.
I know, I am not the only fat person who experiences this. I know from speaking to other people, both online and offline that this is common. There seems to be this notion, this idea that thin = good and fat = bad. Some of the comments I have seen on this blog have borne this out. No matter how liberal or progressive, or devoted to equality someone is, it appears, that there is nothing that stops a thin person from exerting their privilege over a fat person, and reminding them that thin= good and fat = bad.
This is my last post in my guest blogging stint here on The F Word. I want to use it to remind you all of this- when you check your racial privilege, or your gender privilege or your class privilege or your able privilege, please check your weight privilege too. Are you about to trot out something about ‘obesity is a drain on resources’ or another one of those well know fallacies about weight?
Are you about to comment that someone should eat more fruit or exercise more or restrain themselves more, in order to comply with your image of a bodily ideal? Before you do that, think, for a second about what it is to live in a body that society hates. Think for a second, about what it is like to walk into a room, and have every single person in that room assume that are lazy, stupid, unwashed, unattractive and that you have no confidence or self esteem. Think what it is to be told daily, everywhere you look, and by people you speak to, that you would be better, could be better, indeed, that you SHOULD be better- if only you tried harder.
And when you think that, and take that second, check your Thin Privilege, and remind yourself that EVERY BODY is a person, and as such, has a value and a worth that extends far beyond their physical appearance.