I stumbled across an article earlier today and it struck a chord – not just because I’ve struggled with keeping my weight down my whole life, as many of us have – because it’s talking about something so simple and so pervasive. It is a matter that I’ve seen come up a lot in the past couple of years in regard to things like “plus-sized” models and “curvier” actresses and such but not often addressing quite so bluntly the harsh side of it in such detail.
NOTE: We ALL completely get the need for being fit or healthy and in-shape for a good, long life. To say otherwise is being foolish, argumentative or possibly both. But, unless you are entering obese weight territory or crossing a certain BMI (Body Mass Index) for your build, you can live a perfectly decent life being on the heavier side and male or female, you can have a perfectly full life in ALL regards. You don’t need to be muscularly thin or such – but often are made to feel as if you do, even those who don’t qualify as “fat”.
All that keeps us from getting over this is a pervading socio-cultural mind-set that comes out in what the article terms as “thin privilege”. Now maybe this is pushing the concept a bit too far, but I suppose it puts it in a light that’s harder to ignore or brush under the carpet of “you’re blowing this out of proportion”.
For those of you who brave the battle of the bulge, you will find much familiar here – for those of you that have always been thin and healthy, read and try and imagine yourself on the other side of these simple gestures from your life that seemingly don’t matter and imagine living with that in your mind all the time.
Examples of Thin Privilege (as listed in that article):
- You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
- Your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you (unless you’re being thin-shamed – the equally idiotic and pointless opposite of fat-shamed).
- When you’re at the grocery store, people don’t comment on the food selection in your cart in the name of “trying to be helpful.”
- Your health insurance rates are not higher than everyone elses.
- You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
- You can expect to find clothing in the latest styles and colors instead of colorless, shapeless and outdated styles meant to hide your body.
- You don’t receive suggestions from your friends and family to join Weight Watchers or any other weight-loss program.
- When you go to the doctor, they don’t suspect diabetes (or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other “weight-related” diagnoses) as the first/most likely diagnosis.
- You don’t get told, “You have such a pretty/handsome face” (implying: if only you’d lose weight you could be even more attractive).
- People do not assume that you are lazy, based solely on your size.
- You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
- You are not perceived as looking sloppy or unprofessional based on your size.
- You can eat what you want, when you want in public and not have others judge you for it or make assumptions about your eating habits.
- You can walk out of a gas station with a box of doughnuts and not have people yell at you to “Lay off them doughnuts, fatty!” (This actually happened to one of my friends.)
- People don’t ask your partners what it’s like to have sex with you because of your size.
- Your body type isn’t sexually fetishized.
- You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
- Friends don’t describe you to others using a qualifier (e.g. “He’s kind of heavy, but REALLY nice, though”).
- The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.
- You can choose to not be preoccupied with your size and shape because you have other priorities without being judged.
Now after reading that, some other thoughts came to mind and I’ve listed them here, if you think of any, feel free to note them in the comments:
- You will not be accused of having emotional troubles because of your size.
- You never really have to speak up for acceptance of your body type, not really.
- You can be certain that if you ever need medical/legal help, your size won’t go against you by default.
- People won’t ask you why you don’t change your body type. Not those with half a brain anyway.
- You can be sure that people aren’t embarrassed to be out with you in public/social settings.
- You are NOT identified primarily by the size of your body.
- You can walk anywhere with your significant other and not have people double-take or stare or assume there’s something strange in your pairing or that you “must be loaded”.
- You could go months without having to talk about or even think about your body.
- You don’t have to be afraid that any time you talk to friends or family, they WILL mention your size in some manner or suggest diets and programs repeatedly.
- You can pick up a book or magazine, switch on the TV or watch a movie and be absolutely sure that bodies like yours are not being made fun of, shown as gross or symbolising greed, laziness, ignorance or something similar.
- People feel comfortable imagining you in sexual circumstances without some preconceived notion embedded by society making them disgusted by the idea.
- You won’t have to add to your fears when looking to be hired the fact that your size may reduce your chances.
- Your masculinity or femininity will NOT be questioned or challenged because of your size.
- You never have to sit quietly and listen while people talk about how they are keeping from being your size while you are sitting right there.
- You won’t be made to feel even smaller inside when you are trying to get healthier by those around you who don’t understand and make clever comments and advisories while under the impression they are being helpful.
(I’ve cut out a point regarding airlines seats which applies only to those severely over-weight, but those are people that should for their own sake not be THAT huge because they are literally killing themselves.)