This is the second post in a 2 part series on thin privilege. We are looking at thin privilege from two different perspectives — from a thin perspective, and a fat perspective. If you missed last week’s blogpost click here to read.
A fat womxn’s view on thin privilege
What do you get frustrated by the most about thin privilege?
I think the most annoying part is that many people think it doesn’t exist. It’s very clear to me that this society was built around and for thin people. Even things like desk chairs! With the current climate around this pandemic, I had to go searching for a new desk chair for home. I needed to be more comfortable now that I’m working from home. Many of the desk chairs I looked at only went up to a certain weight. It is hard to find an affordable desk chair that will allow for people that weigh over, like, 250 pounds.
[I get frustrated] when people look at large bodies and automatically assume it’s because we’re lazy. When people look at us and think that we’re not working out. That we’re all diabetic, have high cholesterol, etc. I don’t have any of that! I have multiple sclerosis. That has nothing to do with my size.
Thin folks can walk into literally any store and find their size. I cannot. I pretty much exclusively shop at plus size stores, which don’t have the same style offering as “normal styles”. Brands that claim to be inclusive to all sizes usually aren’t. There are some brands that claim exclusivity but only go up to a size 22 or 24.
Tell us about the moment you realized that thin privilege existed.
I think I’ve kind of always known, there just hasn’t been a commonly used word for it. I’ve noticed from a young age that larger people have to go to specialty stores to buy clothing. Plus size models can only be up to a certain size. It was apparent through the media as well. The only women your size on TV/movies are the funny fat friend, the sad story, the person who did a diet and lost a bunch of weight and now she finds herself worthy of love. *insert eyeroll here*
Tell us a story when you felt that you were clearly treated differently versus a thin person.
Restaurants: Going to a restaurant and they assume I want a table and not a booth (they assume I can’t fit in it). I actually prefer a booth and in most places fit just fine.
Customer service: Sometimes when I walk into Sephora or Ulta, I won’t be approached by a salesperson. They assume I can’t afford what they will want to sell you. People assume that fat people are not clean and don’t have money.
Health care: At doctor’s offices, the doctors will tell me that my pain will be relieved if I lose weight, always. They’ll ignore my symptoms and I typically won’t get a proper diagnosis. Pregnancy can be tough as well. When we get pregnant, we’re told that we’re considered “high risk” because of our weight. It’s just assumed that we’ll get gestational diabetes.
Jobs: Getting jobs can also be hindered by your weight. You can be seen as lazy and some places won’t hire you because they think you’ll need a lot of medical care. They, of course, will never tell it to your face.
What do you wish thin people knew? How do you want things to change?
1. Be supportive of your fat friends. When you’re wanting to go out, think of your fat friends. Will they be comfortable, will they be able to participate?
2. Don’t suggest going to an amusement park if your fat friends cannot go on the rides. They don’t want to be standing there holding your stuff.
3. Ask your fat friends what they want to do…you’d be surprised. Some of us like hiking, we love going out dancing, we love getting dressed up and feeling pretty. We enjoy all the same things. Some things we just need to do a little differently.
4. Use the word: Fat. It’s not a bad word. It’s descriptive. Stop using it like it’s a hate word.
5. Don’t assume that a fat person doesn’t eat salad or veggies. I love salad! I love hitting up salad bars.
6. Finally, refrain from saying, “I don’t see you as fat, you’re beautiful.” I’m both. I can be fat and beautiful and dance, and play music, and sing, and workout, and be active, and go on a hike, and go to a trampoline park!
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