I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but could never find the right words. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this post about "thin privilege" that seems to hit the proverbial nail right on the head.
For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm definitely a plus-size woman. Call it curvy, BBW, big, fat, thick... whatever. I'm not thin. I struggled with my weight for years. I was taught that I would never be pretty or worthy of love unless I was thin. People (who supposedly cared about me) went out of their way to make me feel bad about how I looked to motivate me into losing weight so I'd finally be good enough. The irony, of course, was that the worse I felt, the less I cared about losing weight. (Something to consider if you think fat-shaming is an effective motivational tool.)
Then, a few years ago, I came to this realization that, while losing weight might be good for my health, that was no reason for me to see myself as inferior to my thin friends. I am just as "worthy" of love as my skinny peers, and I made a decision that I was done feeling like anything less.
But I don't subscribe to the idea that being confident in myself requires me to tear down my size-zero-sisters. Every woman, no matter her size, shape, height, color, etc, should feel beautiful.
Still, I remember the first time I heard a thin woman take exception to a "body-positive" message, I was confused. Didn't they understand that "real women have curves" isn't intended as an insult towards them, but as empowerment towards plus-size women? Don't they realize that we need that empowerment because we're all trying to overcome a feeling of being something less?
It occurs to me that maybe they don't. If a woman has always been thin, she has no idea what it's like to have been made fun of in school, or turned down for dates, or unable to buy clothes that fit. She has no concept of how it feels to be discriminated against because of her size. Phrases like "skinny bitch," or "eat a sandwich," might sound harsh, but they are actually used to express envy. "Thunder thighs," and "beached whale," on the other hand, are absolute insults. People are generally not envious of bigger women.
No one questions why a woman is thin. If someone is too thin, people immediately (and genuinely) worry about her health. Overweight women are labeled as lazy and gross and shoved to the side. Ever notice how plus-size clothing is shoved into a corner, in the back of the department? That's not a coincidence. Fat is something we're taught to equate with shame. Being thin should make you proud.
I'll never think body-shaming in any form is OK. No one should be made to feel bad about herself. But if you're wondering how there could possibly be such a thing as "thin privilege," there it is. It's found in not having to excuse your appearance, or find "flattering" outfits (since you're already beautiful). It's not having to worry that your blind date will get up and leave when he sees you, or worrying that you can fit into the bridesmaid dress your friend chooses.
The privilege is in always knowing that you were good enough, and not needing empowerment in the first place.