Thin Privilege And Its Place In The Body Positivity Movement

Thin Privilege And Its Place In The Body Positivity Movement

Advocating doesn’t end with conventionality.

Let’s play a game. Go to the store and look through the magazine section. Pick a magazine with a woman on the front cover. What does she look like? Is she beautiful? What is she wearing? Is she thin?

In the past decade, a movement was sparked; one calling for body positivity. This movement has been praised by people of an unconventional shape or those considered to be overweight as a source of empowerment and normalizing different body types. It has also been criticized for glamourizing certain body types and lifestyles perceived to be unhealthy.

The body positivity movement has grown quickly, especially in the past few years and especially through the use of social media. This movement is massive and largely encompassing of all body types, meaning sometimes things can get a little grey, and messy. That being said, here we go:

Thin people retain a certain amount of privilege because of their body type. Obviously, other intersections need to be taken into account (race, class, gender, etc.), but for the sake of discussion and education, people who are thin have privilege. Now, Cait, what does this mean? How much privilege really comes with being thin? And why are you shaming me for my body type?

Wonderful questions! First of all, let’s get this out of the way: I am not shaming you for your body type. I am not shaming anyone for their body type. I am simply explaining that people who are thin maintain privilege based on that. Having that privilege does not make you a bad person, or make it your fault. It simply means that it’s something you should be aware of when discussing your experiences within the body positivity movement.

A simple google search of the world privilege will yield this definition: “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted to available only to a particular person or group of people.” This concept, in the case of this article, will be discussed in regard to thinness. Encompassed in this privilege are little things that probably don’t think twice about. For example, you are probably able to buy your clothing locally and at a reasonable price, and you can probably eat whatever you want in public without others judging you for it.

I’ve seen and heard many discussions where people who are fat are describing their experiences and someone who is thin chimes in to empathize with stories about how they were bullied and told to “eat a sandwich.” While it is not okay to make fun of someone for their body, this comment is much different than a fat person being told to “lose some weight.” Why the double standard, you may ask? Because fatphobia is wildly present in our society and many others. And moreover, it is systematic.

Fat people experience extreme discrimination across many different facets. Studies have shown that fat people are less likely to get hired, less likely to get married, make less money per year, etc. The difference is vastly institutionalized and even more so, heavily ingrained in our language. People who are fat are constantly dehumanized and played for laughs, even by those close to them.

According to Deborah Rhode: “in multiple surveys, close to 90 percent of obese individuals reported humiliating comments from friends, family, or coworkers.” Because there is such a systematic and pervasive bias towards fat people, the insults geared towards body weight take on a different meaning than when directed at thin individuals.

With fatphobia ingrained in everyday conversation and “comedy,” and the prevalent discrimination fat people face in our society, the body positivity movement is more than just a feel-good revolution. This movement also stands as a social movement, created to challenge preconceived notions, problematic behavior, and alter the idea of what it means to be beautiful.

Now, what does this have to do with thin people? Until recent years, plus-sized individuals have received little to no representation celebrating their body or even normalizing their body type, while thin people have had this luxury for many years. Skinny shaming isn’t as problematic because it does not affect one’s employment or the way in which people view them (i.e. lazy). If people who are thin want to feel good about their body, they can look at basically any magazine cover, or on any televised advertisement.

I’m not insinuating that people who are thin do not also struggle with being comfortable in their skin. I’m simply stating that people’s biases towards fat people run much deeper and there are many struggles that come with it that aren’t discussed. Thinness has a definite place in the body positivity movement, as long as there is an acknowledgment of the privilege that comes with it.

Everyone exists in a physical entity, and as such, we have to find some sort of comfort in it. And certain institutions make this harder for certain body types than others. This movement is encompassing of all body types. So celebrate your body, and be body positive, as long as you’re cognizant of the root of the problem.

Love yourself, but be mindful; ensure you’re not actively or unconsciously taking safe spaces and conversations away from the stories and experiences of those who have been hurt by systematic and casual fatphobia. Advocating doesn’t end with conventionality. Be aware, listen, and inform.

Cover Image Credit: Luella Rockerfella

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Having a Bad Day? Read This.

One bad day means many more good days.

We've all had bad days. Then sometimes, "bad" isn't even the word that covers the day. Some days we'd rather use words like terrible, or horrible. Some days we're angry, while other days we're upset. Either way, on a bad day it could seem like the world is crashing down. We could just wait until the full day is over, but who has time for that? Welcome to my list of things to do when you're having a bad day!

1. Write your thoughts on paper and throw it in the trash

Writing helps you release your feelings and negative energy. What better way to end the process then to throw it in the trash?

2. Vent to your parents

Because no one know you better then mom or dad.

3. Facetime your best friend

If you can't hang out then facetime is best face-to-face contact you can get. It's much better seeing someone than just hearing their voice.

4. Listen to music

Either put it on full blast, or listen quietly through headphones. This is an old trick guaranteed to work.

5. Workout

Working out really does clear your mind, while releasing negative energy from your body. Give it a try.

6. Spend time with animals

It's proven that time with animals helps relieve stress. I mean, have you seen how cute they are?

7. Spend time in nature

Nature has many benefits. One of the benefits would be how calm nature can be. Use the fresh air to relax your soul.

8. Go to church

This may not be for everyone. However, if you do hold religious beliefs then church could be one of the best places to find peace.

9. Pamper yourself

This could mean getting your nails done, or spending a day with your beloved netflix. Whatever it is, make sure you're doing something you love. You deserve time for yourself.

10. Clean

Sometimes organizing your room, changing sheets, or even doing dishes could lift a person up. Having clean surroundings equals a clean mind set.

11. Take a hot shower or jump in a hot bath

Not only are you getting clean, you're also going to feel much more refreshed afterwards. A shower or a bath is the perfect place to clear your mind. Maybe add a bathbomb or soothing music into the mix.

12. Set goals for the next week

This could give you a sense of organization, while being productive. Setting goals and then reaching them make you feel empowered. Try it and then keep up the good work.

13. Write down what your thankful for

Remember that it's only a bad day. One bad day means they're are plenty of good ones. Instead of throwing this list away, this time hang it up.

14. Get Creative

Creativity creates happiness and self expression.

15. Use your bad day as motivation

On a bad day you may feel terrible, but that feeling won't last forever. Do what you can in preparation to make the next day the best day yet. Nobody has time for two bad days.

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To The Person Up To Bat When Life Throws Out A Curve Ball

Take every experience as a learning experience and apply that to future endeavors.

We all have experienced those times where something goes wrong especially a way in which we could never have imagined. I am the first to support someone when something goes wrong in his or her life that makes him or her upset and feel hopeless.

It is always easy for me to say "everything happens for a reason" to my friends, but I can never make myself believe that.

How are others suppose to believe me when I do not even believe myself?

The pressures of being involved, finding an internship or job for the summer, and having social responsibilities pile on top of each other. If one thing goes wrong...everything seems to come crashing down.

This year has been A YEAR, for me at least. It is hard to recover from constant shut down, but when you have such a supportive group of friends everything gets easier with time.

Sometimes I wonder why me? What am I doing wrong? What about me is not good enough? I have realized, doing that to myself hurts me so much more.

Everything does happen for a reason, and no, nothing about you is wrong. People make mistakes, do not get positions they were extremely excited about, are hurt by people they care about, but none of this is a reason to be upset.

Everything that you may deem horrible now will seem minuscule in the end when something comes along that you may not have been able to do if you received that position or ended up with that person.

For my birthday, my sorority big gave me the "path of life" ring from Alex and Ani. Trust me I was in tears when she told me why she gave me that ring for specific reasons. I have been shut down so many times this year I thought nothing good could ever happen to me again.

When I received that ring, it gave me hope. Hope that something good was to come. Hope that truly everything does happen for a reason. Indeed, good came and it finally clicked that everything does happen for a reason. After being turned down from a sorority position I have wanted since I was a potential new member (PNM) here at the University of South Carolina, I received an internship that with the other position I would not have been able to accept due to the time conflict.

I was appointed a position in my sorority after being turned away from a few, and I have met people I would not have been able to meet if I limited myself to the people I met freshmen year.

No, not everything works out in your favor. You have to push the bad things to the side and celebrate the good things. If you too have had A YEAR, trust me, everything gets better with time.

You can take a day or two to yourself, but forget about the bad and think about everything good that has come your way. Smile. This can apply to anything in life, so take the advice and apply it to what you wish.

Be happy with who and what you have in life because those who truly care will be by your side no matter what. No one gets everything he or she wants, but what you do get in life is what you are meant to have. Take every experience as a learning experience and apply that to future endeavors.

Cover Image Credit: Leanna Yevak

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