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.
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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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An Open Letter To The Judgmental People In My Hometown

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value.
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Dear judgemental, simple minded people from my hometown,

I am sorry that I have never met your level of perfection.

Coming from a small town, everyone settles to the norm of the people around them. Unlike you all, I have always been a little bit different.

I've never understood why everyone always seems to feel the need to talk down to the next person. People love to gossip about a situation as long as the situation has nothing to do with them. For every move I made, someone was always there to bring out the negativity in the situation. You all are always sweeping around somebody else's doorstep when I know your doorstep is not clean. Maybe it is time to buy a new broom. I know that I cannot please everybody and that I will also not be liked by everybody. However, I deserve respect just as the next person.

SEE ALSO: Forgiving Someone Who Didn't Ask For It

I hope for the sake of the future generations of our small town, you all can learn to be more accepting to change.

I hope that no one judges your children like some of you all have judged me. I hope that the people that you love and care about are welcomed and accepted for who they are.

If we put as much time into being better people or helping others like you put into judging others, the world would be a much better place.

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value. Pebbles are perfectly round. I'd much rather be a diamond, one in a million, than a pebble that fits in.

Sincerely,

The one whose every move you criticize

Cover Image Credit: Haley Williamson

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The University of Alabama Has Tim Tebow On Their Bad Side And Here's Why

Why would you want to be on someone's bad side?

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Whether I know you personally or just happen to watch you on television or read something about you, if you have wronged me or mine, there is no coming back. Last week, Tim Tebow crossed the line, and I'm calling him out for it.

Alabama and football are synonymous. Gameday is sacred here, and when you look in the stands before kickoff, it's a wall of crimson that greets you. Recently, come halftime, some of the stands are not overflowing the way they once were, and Coach Nick Saban stated in a recent press conference his disappointment in the student section during the past several home football games held in Bryant-Denny. Saban said, "There's got to be a spirit that makes it special to play here because that's what makes it special to be here." His heart is in the right place, and Saban has standing. He is one of us. However, Tim Tebow felt he needed to chime in, as his opinion mattered, and he overstepped into the crimson territory.

Tebow didn't just side with Saban, he went on to insult the Crimson Tide by saying how "entitled" Alabama fans are, and that's where it started to get ugly. The SEC sportscaster said "Listen, as a student, you've done nothing to win all these titles, OK? You spend a little bit of your daddy's money to show up at a game and to go to school there. You say you're the best fans in college football. Well, you need to show up."

While some might recognize Tebow as a former NFL player, or recognize him as the pretty face of the SEC Network, or even know him as the less than suitable replacement for Neil Patrick Harris on Disney's Christmas Day Parade, I'm sorry to say, Tim Tebow, you are a washed up Heisman winner and National Championship Quarterback from almost a decade ago. Alabama students are diehard fans, but you can't hate a student body for leaving when they already know the outcome. We might expect the titles and the championships, just like the university expects the best from its students, we expect the best from our team, and we love them for it.

So Mr. Tebow, when you really think about it, if it wasn't for our "daddy's" money pouring into the university in the first place, there wouldn't be a stepping stone for our incredible football team. The football program generates a lot of money for the university, but so do the students. The student body isn't acting entitled, we are just being human because we are frustrated with the opposing teams, and we become bored out of our minds. I'm sorry if I don't want to stay for the second half of the game baking in the sweltering hot upper bowl at noon when the score is 50-0. It is unrealistic.

There are so many reasons why Alabama students don't want to stay for the entire game, but probably the most significant is most teams in the SEC stink. Yes, I said it, because it is true. Growing up in an area and in a family who has roots in the BIG TEN, I can see the difference. While all the teams aren't the best up North, at least there is some competition on a weekly basis. Every single game this season at Alabama has been a blowout, which is great because we all want a winning team. However, the best part of football games is being on the edge of your seat and not knowing who is going to win. Lafayette wasn't cutting it, neither was Arkansas. Look at games like Penn State versus Ohio State. The score was so close, it made fans want to stay. Trust me, I want to stay. I love football, but a mercy is a mercy, and who wants to stay for a bloodbath?

Remember Tebow, Saban is one of us, so he can comment. You are not. Mr. Tebow, you are not a member of the Crimson Tide. You could have been a part of our Family, but you chose to wear Florida's jersey over Alabama's, so until you are one of us, keep your snide, insulting, and condescending comments to yourself. Roll Tide!

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