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Thin privilege

by HALEY MILLAN Editor-in-chief 

Women across the country are held to certain social standards thanks to the media. Because of this, there is room for discrimination amongst body types, resulting in “thin privilege”. In short, thin privilege is the rights or advantages of a certain group of people.

Blogs such as have made it their duty to bring awareness to this problem in hopes that fat shaming will eventually disappear, and those considered fat know that they are not alone.

Though thin privilege may sound as though it is bashing on those who are thin, the blogs assures that they do not. Being thin in this case refers to the “social state of thinness”, where a person’s weight is deemed acceptable by society.

Thin privilege is further explained by the owner of the This is Thin Privilege blog: “When you have thin privilege it doesn’t mean that your individual experience of being thin is necessarily positive, or that you haven’t been called names or discriminated against. It also doesn’t mean that every single fat person feels stigma as keenly as another. Some fat people might have grown up with supportive families in supportive environments and never encountered the kinds of fat stigma other people encounter.”

The blog uses the name “thin privilege” instead of “fat discrimination” because the bloggers believe not enough people care about fat people. Thin privilege attracts more readers, thus bringing in more awareness.

Anyone can face thin privilege; there is no select size of a person that starts and ends the social acceptance. This is because someone will always be bigger than the next person, resulting in the smaller one receiving some sort of privilege.

The blog lists a number of problems that fat people go through. Some examples listed in the blog are:

  1. Getting kicked off a plane for ‘not fitting into a seat.’

  2. Being barred from adopting for having ‘too high’ of a BMI

  3. Not benefiting from a system that compensates thin employees at a higher rate

  4. Not being able to get their health insurance rates reduced via employee wellness programs that punish fatness

  5. Not getting the advantage in divorce cases where the fatness of a child is being used to challenge custody

  6. Not being able to walk into nearly any mainstream clothing store and buy clothing that fits and flatters at affordable prices

Senior Colleen Gernt says, “I think it’s sad that there are so many problems with obesity in our country and that girls are bullied because of it daily. I think the site does a good job, too, because they refer to the privileges of skinny people instead of discriminating [thin people]. If they discriminated against the skinny people, then it would be a giant never-ending circle of bullying.”

The blog goes into detail on how to avoid hurtful or offending comments. This includes holding back the “there’s an obesity epidemic” and “being fat is unhealthy” comments. Because, as the blogger points out, if a thin person has heard these dilemmas, there is a high chance a fat person has, too. Also, it is just rude.

Another interesting point on the blog is that they use the word “fat” instead of obese or overweight. Though fat is a more negative word, overweight is not used by the blogger; the reason being, if there is a size deemed overweight, it means that there is a specified correct weight.

The owner of “This is Thin Privilege” admits that at times she may sound angry on the blog, but many bloggers a part of the movement agree that no matter how polite they may be, people will still be offended by what they say. To put simply, they believe that people do not like to hear that they have any sort of privilege.

A frequently asked question on this topic is, “Isn’t this blog encouraging fat people to be victims?” The bloggers again come together to defend themselves, saying thin privilege is there and there is no denying it. Their goal is to bring awareness to the problem, and if they were instead to ignore it and get rid of the blog, the problems would still be there. They relate it to ignoring the bully and expecting him to go away.

“Though I agree with the idea that fat people definitely are bullied by the media, I do think this site is condescending. How could a person want to shine a positive light on a certain group of people by speaking negatively about another? I understand that they try to use privileges, but they seem to shift the blame on thin people instead of the media who makes thin people acceptable,” says senior Alexandra Palmer.

There are tips given by the blog in order to be a “thin ally”. The tips given include: be cool and act as though differentiating weights do not bother you, do not treat fat people differently than thin people, speak up against fat discrimination, and say sorry in a meaningful way if you offend your friend.

“I get that we should be aware of thin privilege, but I don’t think it’s enough to stop these problems. If anything, it’s just starting more tension between thinner and bigger people. The bloggers should try and take steps to do something regarding the media, where the problem starts,” says an anonymous student.

Blogger ArteToLife says to those who point out thin shaming exists, “This blog is one tiny corner of the internet that doesn’t talk about thin people’s problems. Everywhere, all over the place, people are talking about thin hurt feelings. Thin love. Thin hopes and aspirations. Thin success and failure. Everywhere else you’re the lead character in all the stories worth reading or watching. That is thin privilege.”

Whether you are in favor of the blog or against the way they are going about this problem, it is important to know that there is a problem between different sizes of people. Now that there is awareness on thin privilege, people can take steps to change the way they view others, regardless of what society considers acceptable.

How do you feel about this blog? Do you believe thin privilege exists?

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