Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Dear Thin Person,
There is absolutely nothing you can say to me that will make me agree with you when you
say that thin privilege is NOT a thing. It sure is. But I get it. I get the difficulty of agreeing
with me, especially because you are thin yourself and your body is considered “mainstream”
and socially acceptable. Your immediate reaction to me saying that there is thin privilege is to feel attacked when, in reality, it is less about you being thin but more about making it known to you that current beauty standards are on a level that is actually oppressive to people who have marginalised bodies.
Thin privilege means that when people look at you for the first time, they will not assume you
are sick or lead an unhealthy lifestyle. They look at you and they accept your appearance.
You are a, what the Germans would call, Selbstverständlichkeit — you just belong. They
already assume that you must be healthy, that you're eating good food and working out.
From one look only, you tick their checklist of what is deemed acceptable in our society and they go on about their business. It's quite a different thing with me. When they look at me, my round belly, my jiggly arms, my rotund behind, my thunder thighs and my double chin... These are the things going through their minds: "She is lazy, eats junk food, drinks soda all the time. She is a couch potato. She must have diabetes or a heart disease. She is ugly so she does not have a partner; no one will tap that and I think she is dumb." It would be alright to think all those things about me because I am no thought police and, frankly, could not give a toot about what you thought about me, but most people cannot help but comment overtly or through microaggressions about my body.
Us, fat folks, we see the thought process that is going on your mind when you stare at us.
We know that something will be coming sooner or later because it is, like, you feel entitled to comment about our bodies and keeping your thoughts to yourself is not possible. It has to spill over.
So, that is where we get comments online, in person, etc. such as these: "Stop eating fries, you fat fuck. You are unfuckable. Get off the sofa, you heifer. You lack discipline and self-control. Fat people stink; fat people are a drain on our healthcare system. I bet you cannot walk for 5 seconds without being winded. You will die by the time you are 50."— All comments I have personally heard and read about me at some point in my life and I am only 35. The sad part is that I have endured such statements from both strangers and family. My Filipino family is very anchored in their belief that only thin is beautiful and dieting is just a normal part of a woman’s life-cycle.
So let me break it down for you. Thin privilege means you can easily buy clothes off the rack at normal prices, and you see yourself represented not only in the fashion industry but in all aspects of daily life. Thin privilege means you do not have to deal with the terrifying prospect of flying, knowing the seat belt might not close. Thin privilege is never knowing how it is to be shamed whilst minding your own business during lunch time at a cafe because eating a panini is “fattening and you should not be getting any fatter, should you?” or because eating a salad is “a bit too late for that, hun, isn’t it eh?”
Thin privilege is not having to feel like you need to cover your shopping trolley because you
know how people have commented on the food you had bought at the grocery store before.
People, as in complete strangers. Thin privilege is not being asked at an entry level law job whether you are capable of climbing stairs or whether you have diabetes because “our insurers will need to know if this job is a risk to your health”...after climbing two flights of stairs to get to this very same interview.
Thin privilege is not being dismissed by your doctor who has decided from the moment you
walked in and the moment he looked at you that ALL your ailments are caused by your
weight. Thin privilege means having a better chance at getting proper and thorough medical
Thin privilege means you can walk into a Burger King or McDonalds without having to feel
ashamed because you know people are looking at you and judging you for what they perceive are your bad eating habits. Meanwhile, a thin person like you eating a giant burger on TikTok is considered...cute, living life, yolo-ing.
Thin privilege is not being told all the time by your Filipino aunties about their latest weight
loss craze. It means you are rarely greeted with “tumaba ka ata” (you have gotten fat) at
family functions. It means you are not being told that you will not find a suitable partner if
your stomach protrudes more than your breasts. Thin privilege is not hearing snide comments from thin friends or acquaintances about how they think sex must be like with you, how you must need a bigger bed with your partner and how you must not be able to do most positions, c’est domage!
Thin privilege...is friends not having to describe you to others using a qualifier: “She
is...curvy but she is really pretty and has a nice character." Thin privilege is not being told over and over again to just lose the weight and stop complaining. Thin privilege is not about feeling thin. Thin privilege does not mean you had a hard time whilst dealing with anorexia. Thin privilege does not mean you cannot be body shamed.
Understand this, thin person, when a fat person calls you out on your thin privilege or
discusses thin privilege, let them speak about their lived experiences without centering
yourself. Your body is not being described as an epidemic. Your body is not being deemed as comic relief. Your body is not being sexually fetishised. When we, fat folks, speak, listen and learn because thin privilege can also mean having the choice to learn and advocate for the more marginalised bodies out there without getting even half the flack that fat liberation
activists are getting out there.
Thank you for reading this.
A fat person.