Friday, 3 September 2010

Another unnecessary dichotomy - Thin Privilege

Thin Privilege is something I struggle to write about because I've got it in spades, and always have had.  I can see how much harder it is for my friends and relations who don't.  They are often treated in a way that seems to come from no other place than their size.  Fatshionista's thin privilege list is a good reminder/eye-opener if this is something you haven't thought about in a while or at all.

The only time I get more than a sense of how privileged I am to be thin is when I'm pregnant.  When I'm pregnant I can tick a lot of the boxes on Fatshionista's list.  People don't necessarily cut you much slack because you are pregnant (which is somehow more acceptable than being larger than a size 12, but still just a little bit vulgar, really).  But I digress.

The thing about Thin Privilege is that as privileges go it's not all that awesome. For many of the bullet points on thin privilege lists, which I don't dispute at all, there is a correlating disadvantage for the thin.  Maia chronicled one such incident last week, which I found particularly odd because now that I think about it I would have considered Michelle A'Court to be more in the Thin Club than out of it.

The Thin versus Not Thin dichotomy is yet another false division that just sets women against each other.  We need to fight, together, against a culture which judges us on our physical appearance, whether that appearance is one that conforms or not.  I think we can do that in a way that recognises that different women (and indeed men) face different issues as a result of the judgyness manifesting in different ways.  At heart though it's all the same judgyness - one based on saying what you look like, the space you take up in the world and how you decorate it, is more important than what you do, say or think.


Anonymous said...

I got Graves disease a few years ago and lost loads of weight as a result.
To my astonishment even people I didn't know congratulated me like it was an impressive and important accomplishment. I became dangerously thin before it was diagnosed and still I was praised - hell I could have died.
There is nothing I have ever actually striven for and achieved that has brought me anywhere near the amount of accolades, even from my nearest and dearest.

Truly disturbing.

ideologicallyimpure said...

@Anonymous at 4.48: I highly recommend Sweet Machine's post on that very point at Shapely Prose.

Julie said...

Anon I had a similar experience when I lost heaps of weight after the birth of my first child. I lost the weight because I was unwell, but I got "compliments" (that's how they were meant) such as "gosh you don't look like you just had a baby" and "you can't possibly be a mother." Disturbing is the right word. Both that people would effectively compliment me for being in an unhealthy state, and also that not looking like a mother is a good thing, and finally the assumptions about what is a motherly body shape. Argh!

(And a gentle reminder to please sign your comments in some way, with an initial or pseudonym or name, in future, thx)