What’s thin privilege and does it really exist?

What’s thin privilege and does it really exist?

While you’ve probably heard of white privilege, a term acknowledging unearned advantages of skin colour that often people who have it aren’t aware of, but now there’s a debate on Twitter about the term ‘thin privilege’.

So is it a thing or not?

What does thin privilege mean?

Just like any kind of privilege, such as having white skin or being a man, it means that a slim person’s life isn’t made more difficult by their weight (or skin colour or gender).

The body positive movement may be growing but we’re still bombarded by images and attitudes about what a ‘normal’ or acceptable size is. There’s a real lack of representation in the media, in film and on TV, of people of all different sizes, and those roles that do exist for larger actors are usually centred around their weight (either trying to lose it or the butt of the joke about it).

If you’ve been naturally slim your whole life, you might not have ever really considered what the benefits are.

What kind of sizeism do people experience?

If you’re slim, your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you, but often larger people find that that’s the case for them, and other people probably don’t make snap assumptions about your health based on how you look. When you sit down on a plane, you probably don’t feel self-conscious about what the person next to you thinks and you can most likely find your size quite easily in any clothing shop. You probably feel comfortable enough to eat in public without the fear of being shamed for it. You probably aren’t stereotypically judged for being lazy, greedy or lacking willpower (even though you might be one or all of those things, despite being slim).

There are many instances where being slim, or just in the realms of what’s considered a ‘normal’ size, just doesn’t have these sorts of disadvantages.

What if you don’t feel that thin?

Not all slim or averaged sized people are happy with their bodies though, so they don’t necessarily feel slim or that being the size they are has any advantage over being bigger.

Owner of underwear brand The Lingerie Addict sparked the conversation on Twitter when she posted that you don’t have to feel thin to have thin privilege.

And many people jumped in to agree.

Harrington goes on to point out that thin privilege doesn’t mean people don’t suffer as a result of other factors.

Why do some people disagree?

Of course, this being the internet, not every agrees that thin privilege is a thing.  Some argue that if you have “control over” something, it’s not a privilege, as opposed to the colour of your skin or how much money your family have.

This ignores the many possible factors that result in people having different body types though, and ironically, some of the tweets in response to the hashtag on Twitter are fat shaming – which proves the point entirely.

While some have an issue with the term because it doesn’t take eating disorders or people who have been shamed because they’re deemed ‘too thin’ into account. Other people are using the term ‘non-standard’ sizes instead.

It’s important to say that the thin privilege concept isn’t about shaming slim people or blaming them for anything, it’s just about recognising that society makes life easier for people who are deemed to be ‘of an acceptable weight’ compared to those who aren’t, whether you work hard to look a certain way or not.

- Press Association

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