Friday, September 30, 2016

Thin Privilege, spare me.

September 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Fat Acceptance, Featured

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of mamaV and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the contributors of WeAreTheRealDeal. Please direct all bashing, frustration and/or hatred directly towards the author –AFTER you read our new, improved comments policy.

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The slender girl in our culture, is not the healthy antithesis of the pathological fat woman, but is in fact her sister –  the kinship forged by the emotional attitudes that find expressions through the body but remain otherwise mute, unknown, and unexamined. – Kim Cherin, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney Martin

challengeI took the past few weeks to ponder, read your comments, do some research, and attempt to cool down after Jelly Gate. The cool down part didn’t work.

After much thought and consideration, I am hereby calling bullshit on the Fat Acceptance (FA) created term “Thin Privilege.” All due respect to Linda Bacon and all, but please, there are so many holes in this argument.

Before you freak, I am not saying thin privilege does not exist.

Repeat, thin privilege exists and it is unfair.


I am calling B.S on the FA movement to hang their asses on it, holding it up as a “see, we told you so, show some compassion for us” part of in their mission.

Here’s why;

1) You do not need thin privilege to make your case.

In fact, it only serves to distance those who are on board with your cause (namely many of the thin individuals that read this blog).

2) Stand up for yourself!

When you do, you may be surprised by all the thin women that line up behind you in support.  Get out there and hold your head up high. Flip the bird to the dude on the street that calls you fat (BTW this is the same knob that calls me a bitch at work because I am a confident woman). Tell the group of women whispering behind your back to pound sand. Trust me, they’ll be ashamed as hell…and if not? Screw em – their problem.

3) Believe in the notion that entire world does not think you are a loser.

The media paints a daunting picture of the fat person day in and day out, so I understand its hard not to think EVERYONE is glaring at you, totally appalled by your fatness.

In Lessons-from-the-Fat-o-sphere, by Kate Harding you’ll find the chapter titled, Get over yourself! They Really, Really Aren’t Looking At You, along with this quote;

“Other people aren’t looking at you all the time. They are too caught up in their own crap – probably worried that everyone is looking at them”

4) Teaching the concept of “Thin Privilege” to children is detrimental.

Thin Privilege completely flies in the face of instilling positive body image to ALL kids, and I believe this approach would actually be quite damaging to the psyche of children on both sides of the fence. Fat Discrimination is a much more appropriate and sensible direction for our children learn about because it does not point the finger directly at any individual person.

5) Compassion towards those with anorexia is non-existent.

Where do the 25 million eating disordered individuals fit into this mix? I recognize that many people with eating disorders are not thin (some bulimics, EDNOS, etc), but what about the ones who are underweight due to dangerous eating habits and those who are anorexics? Pushing for them to recognize their thin privilege is literally deadly.

6) And finally, if you take away anything from this post let it be this – stop taking LIFE for granted – TODAY.

If being fat is your biggest problem in life, my friend ,YOU are incredibility privileged.

-mV

Comments

342 Responses to “Thin Privilege, spare me.”
  1. Gayle says:

    As someone who was raised in a fat family (before it was any kind of issue in the ’60s and ’70s), heavy-set is normal to me. On the flip side I am middle-aged and bulimic, thin all my life and just slightly overweight but pretty much okay. My ED is not a thin thing it’s a depression thing.

    Thin privilege, nah. Beauty privilege is another story.

  2. You can check out my thin ideal rant on my fb page. It got some criticism and Ive had to further research the FA mvmt, the thin ideal, HAES, and I still am agreeing with you on many points. So check out if interested.

    http://www.facebook.com/AVoiceinRecovery?ref=nf#/note.php?note_id=115168207594

  3. Ellen says:

    Interesting vlog and I appreciate what you are saying.

    However, In graduate school in a diversity course, the professor initiated a discussion during the very first class about prejudices within each of us. And he stood in front of the class and said when he boards a plane and finds a seat, he hopes the “fat” person coming down the aisle won’t be seated next to him. How on earth did a person in that position have the audacity to say that standing in front of a heavy person in our class? Because for some reason, this society has given itself permission to denigrate those who are overweight.

    In my experience the need to compare one with the other doesn’t help. I frequently read/hear a similar argument about which is worse type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Each side struggles. I appreciate your comments that agree with my philosophy – why not simply acknowledge one another’s pain and empower one another to do the best each can do. It is also important to support and acknowledge the prejudices that exist and try to do what we can to not perpetuate them further.

    The whole focus on body image is terribly exaggerated in our society – even the presumed mindset. I found it particularly disgraceful when Dr. Judith Beck, a psychologist and a famous psychologist’s, daughter wrote the book “The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person”. I addressed this with a comment on her blog which was either removed or never accepted. Why not train your brain to think like a healthy person? How can a psychologist of her stature perpetuate the myth that being thin =being healthy or thinking like a thin person is ideal?

  4. Candice says:

    This is a hard one for me since I was basically raised to believe that thin privilege is what one should strive for in life. I was constantly pushed to diet and exercise as a kid because otherwise I would grow up to be a fat woman (not adult, specifically woman) who would be looked down upon, would not find someone to marry her, would have a hard time getting a job, etc.

    It took me a LONG time to even consider the idea that thin people have problems, too, b/c the privilege of being thin seemed to far outweigh (no pun intended) anything else in one’s life that was bad.

    I think the work all of us do now will be incredibly helpful to the next generation of men and women dealing with these issues. It’s all about equality and acceptance.

  5. krismcn says:

    HAHahahahaha! I laugh so as not to cry. Kudos, mamaV, this is such a perfect example of STILL NOT GETTING IT.

    My favorite part is the thin woman lecturing the fatties on Activism: UR NOT DOIN IT RITE. The irony, it burns!

    • mamaV says:

      @krismsn Are you aware that Linda Bacon, one of the most admired fat acceptance activists is a thin woman? Why is it ok for her to lecture on this topic? Perhaps it is because you agree with her?

      I don’t understand this desire to separate ourselves.

      Kate Harding herself is often accused of being “not fat enough” at 5’2, size 16/18 and clinically obese (this info is stated in the intro of her Fatosphere book). Yet she carries on thank goodness.

      What are the requirements to be on your side, and be an activist for fat discrimination?
      -mV

      • Joy says:

        MamaV – The only requirement is that you understand that, even if you don’t feel privileged, being thin in our culture means that you do get treated better in general. People don’t avoid sitting next to you on airplanes; they don’t judge or comment about every food choice you make in public; you don’t worry about breaking chairs or other furniture; you don’t get harassed by people on the street about your weight; your doctor doesn’t suggest weightloss surgery or other forms of weight loss despite the fact that you are perfectly healthy.

        Many fat people do have other types of privilege, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that people do treat them differently. None of this changes the body image issues that thin or average sized women have.

        And I don’t have to be fat to understand that. I’m actually pretty average sized.

      • krismcn says:

        You want to be a fat ally? How about not rolling your eyes (a la “Thin Privilege, spare me.’) when your readers ask you to recognize your privilege.

        My problem is not that you are thin and talking about thin privilege per se, my problem is with a thin woman lecturing the FA community about how the concept of thin privilege is bullshit. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that your arguments are based on misconceptions. Please read CL’s post downthread, she does a fantastic job of laying out where you are getting it wrong. More importantly, she lays out how a real understanding of thin privilege would unite us:

        “This system of oppression does not only hurt very fat people — it also makes the rest of the population defensive and fearful of losing their privilege, and that is something that hurts you, and me, and all thin people.”

  6. jlnli says:

    I’m a bit baffled as to what these five points, are supposed to prove – they don’t really have anything to do with weight privilege.

    Weight privilege is simple: I’m thin, so (for example) when I go to work and someone has stolen my chair, I can borrow a chair from the conference room. My co-worker who is heavy and has a specially-ordered wider chair cannot. That’s undeniable. In a broader “ticking the boxes” sense, she probably has more privilege than I do, but that doesn’t negate the fact that for this one thing, I come out on top.

    And it certainly has nothing to do with teaching children or sympathizing with people with eating disorders. Those are completely separate issues.

  7. LND says:

    This really gave me something to think about, and I agree that you have to have difficult discussions to get anywhere.

    I especially liked the idea that we need to consider the other side of the spectrum. The quest for thin privilege can be devastating regardless of the number on the scale.

    Keep blogging Mama V.

  8. Saktii says:

    I agree with the first poster who mentions that “beauty privilege” deserves more attention than does “thin privilege”.

  9. Diana says:

    So I have been on both sides of this, I think. Growing up I was heavy, to much for my age. And I was made fun of and all that. I played softball and ended up quiting because I couldn’t “keep up” with the other girls. I hated everything about me because I was overweight. I saw how people looked at me with disgust and was jealous of the other girls who could wear cute clothes. When I was 12 my parents divorced and I lost my sister. This put my into depression and and that comes with it. I saw this movie where a girl was bulimic. And that actually triggered everything for me. I went to the bathroom-and so forth. Within the first year after that I decided to diet. I dropped all the extra weight on me, which was close to 100 lbs., within 10 months. Everyone loved me and made me feel wonderful, the same ones who made me feel bad. I loved it and it made me feel wanted. however, it all continued and I thought that if i lost more weight people whould love me even more and i would finally love myself because I was what everyone wanted. I was eating 350 calories a day and still throwing up. I went down to 103 lbs at 5’10. I am now 19. Still battling all this everyday. The depression is worse and now people tell me i look horrid. That I am too thin. I was just trying to fit whatever everyone wanted and now it is out of control.

    • Tori says:

      This is a perfect example of how thin privilege works to cause EDs! If being thin wasn’t such a great thing, then why is this so common in our culture. People aren’t starving themselves for fun. They understand perfectly well that thin people are preferred over fat people in our world. And that is a big reason why you shouldn’t be dismissing thin privilege. If you care about women with EDs then you must come to understand the role that thin privilege plays in our culture.

      Also, you can’t have it both ways. Either you think thin privilege is something the FA people made up in order to make thin women feel bad, or you believe that it’s real. But this post is contradictory, and you can’t have it both ways.

      • Tori says:

        This comment was not aimed at you, Dianne, but at MamaV. 🙂

      • Diana says:

        Ok. 🙂 I am just trying to understand everything going on here. The opinions go back and forth so quickly. I have thought about becoming a regular contributer here, but i am not sure i have much to offer. But thank you for understanding what i am trying to say!

  10. greenbunny78 says:

    I always get the impression that people who cry “thin privilege” do so out of jealousy and anger at themselves. I am not saying that there is no such thing- but I can assure you, that when I had “thin privilege” I did not feel privileged in the slightest. There is nothing privileged in thinking you don’t deserve to eat because you want to disappear because you are not good enough, nothing you do will ever be enough. I absolutely HATE HATE HATE the pictures you see of people who are morbidly obese wearing shirts that say “I beat anorexia” I get the irony- but its just not funny. Because they are to ends of the same pole- both hating themselves, if with totally different results. Who the fuck cares if society loves the anorexic? Do we realize how messed up that is? I don’t believe on hating on fat people because they are fat. But it pisses me off just as much to hear fat people hate on anyone BELOW a certain size. Sour grapes much? I have been on BOTH ends of the spectrum, and neither made me happy. At neither was I healthy. Now that I have accepted my body and stopped warring with it- and stopped trying to compare myself to everyone around me- I am happier, and healthier, than I have ever been in my whole life. (fairly) Free from food obsession. Its just fuel for what I like to do- or something I REALLY enjoy to eat- but my life does not revolve around it- and I no longer think about it all the time.

    Maybe I was privileged when I was anorexic- but I gotta tell ya, it didn’t feel that way. It was a lonely existence, and it makes me sad that anyone was ever jealous of it.

    • Nikki says:

      I don’t think girls with EDs are privileged. I acknowledge their struggle, and I also acknowledge that I don’t comprehend that experience. I’ve read books about it, I’ve had friends who are eating disordered, I watched the documentary “Thin,” and I still can’t understand that experience, because it isn’t MY experience. I will say here and now, I DON’T GET IT.

      So it’s very disturbing to me to hear mamaV in her video log saying dismissively, “Yeah, I ‘get’ privilege.” I don’t think anyone can ever really “get” privilege unless they are the person being discriminated against. I think it’s the height of arrogance to assume that you “get” someone’s experience, when you yourself have never had that experience.

      To tell fat people, “Just brush off the discrimination you have faced over the course of your lifetime and let’s come together to fight as one,” you can’t DO that. You don’t go and forget the very reason you are fighting for equality in the first place.

      As an aside, it is ignorant thinking such as mamaV’s that caused the Black Power movement to pick up so much steam in the 50s and 60s. Black people were sick of white people telling them to “let go of the past” and “get over it,” so they decided to build their own neighborhoods, and run their own schools. I can’t say that I think self-segregation was positive longterm, but I can understand why black people were inspired to shun white people from their revolution, because after awhile it gets really tiring trying to explain to people how they are being so offensive, when it should be so obvious.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t think anyone is saying that thin privilege and an eating disorder is the same thing. I’ve been anorexic too. I’ve also been incredibly overweight. I’m somewhere in between now.

      You’re right, having an e.d. is absolutely NOT a privilege. It is a disease.

      The idea if privilege is not about one person having privilege. Yes, it effects people on a personal level, but privilege is a societal thing. Our society privileges certain groups over others. Our society privileges thin people over heavy people – regardless of e.d. status. There’s a lot of evidence for this. A lot of it. Also, you can just turn on the tv and see that it’s true. The same way that society privileges white people, or heterosexual people, etc.

      Thinness has value to our society. It’s part of the societal pressure that triggers e.d.’s in some. Obviously it’s not the only cause of eating disorders, and it doesn’t play into the reasons that everyone develops an eating disorder, but it does (and must) enter into the discussion. I know that – in just moving about in the world – the thinner that I am (until I look noticeably sick), the nicer people in general are to me. That doesn’t mean that my eating disorder isn’t still robbing my life away and makes me miserable. For me, it does make it a bit harder to give up because there is that privilege. But, it my no means means that eating disorders don’t cause very genuine suffering.

    • Tori says:

      Doesn’t it ever occur to you that thin privilege is what causes girls to starve themselves? Why did you want to be so thin? Because our culture values thin women more than fat women? Bingo! Thin privilege at work.

      • Nats says:

        Sorry of me to jump in but are you trying ot say that I starve myself because I simply what the prileges that go with being thin??? I really really do hope not!

      • Sarah says:

        Tori,

        Yes. Of course that’s occurred to me. It’s occurred to me as a PIECE of the puzzle. To say “thin privilege is what causes girls to starve themselves” is REALLY simplistic, however. Yes, it may be one of the reasons for some, or it may bolster e.d. behavior in some (and keep in mind that not *all* eating disorders are marked by a desire for thinness). Yes, it is an important piece of the puzzle.

        But to say thin privilege CAUSES eating disorders is I think where a lot of the the stereotypes about e.d. people being shallow come from. Because they are also more than that. So, yes, eating disorders can be about thin privilege. AND they can be about personality. AND they can be about trauma or life experiences. AND they can be about biology. AND they can be about family environment. AND they can be about genetics. AND they can be about one’s belief system. AND they can be about difficulties with emotion regulation. On, and on, and on. And my guess is that the combination

        So, is thin privilege important to consider when thinking about e..d.’s? Of course. Is it the only or the primary causal factor? I don’t think we can make that claim. Maybe for some, maybe not for others. I think generalizing is problematic.

        You ask me, “Why did you want to be so thin? Because our culture values thin women more than fat women?”

        Yes, of course. Of course this played into my thinking. And of course it still does. And, yes, that makes recovery a bit more challenging. But, is it the main reason behind my e.d.? Is it the motivating force? No way.

        I don’t deny that thin privilege exists. I just don’t think we can or should reduce eating disorders to being about privilege only or primarily. At least, not on a general level.

      • Tori says:

        Nats,

        I’m just saying that women with EDs grew up in our culture. They internalized the idea that fat is bad and thin is good. They understand that if you want to be admired and accepted, you have to be thin. And this most definitely contributes to EDs.

    • OK, I am also a former anorexic, but…are you serious? You honestly think that because having an ED is a horrible experience for the sufferer that somehow means that society doesn’t actually favor thin people? I’m sorry, but even in the worse depths of my starvation-addled years the logic fail here would have been obvious.

      Having systemic privilege does not mean that life is a bed of roses. I’m white. Even if I’m poor, even if I was disabled, even if I got very fat, even if I got very sick…whatever happens, I still have white privilege. Even if I personally hated my life in every concievable way that wouldn’t mean I didn’t have white privilege. This is not a “well I feel happy and important” issue, this is about the way societies are structured, who they favor and who they do not favor. So no, even if you’re anorexic and miserable that does not change the fact that if you’re thin you have thin privilege.

      So do I, by the way. Again, no amount of subjective unhappiness changes that fact.

  11. julie says:

    I find that people are much nicer, friendlier, more likely to speak and smile with me at size 8 than I was at size 18. I’m no longer invisible, and I don’t make people uncomfortable. I haven’t changed my behavior, just my size.

    • jl3wis says:

      THIS:
      I find that people are much nicer, friendlier, more likely to speak and smile with me at size 8 than I was at size 18

      ..is the same thing I experienced as well which threw me into a spiral of calorie counting/over-exercise/body image issues after my 20’s.

      • Zenoodle says:

        I find that people are much nicer, friendlier, more likely to speak and smile with me at size 8 than I was at size 18.

        –Which I guess is a classic example of how the system of thin privilege hurts thin people too … I have been in recovery from an ED for about 3-4 years now. I have never been much over ‘thin to average’ sized, and I’ve been tiny (and ill) too. So I have no idea what it’s like to be fat and be discriminated against for that, and after much thinking, reading, and more thinking, it clicked for me what thin privilege was. It means, for example, that I don’t have to worry about getting tutting looks as I just go about my business trying to get a seat on a bus, or get ignored for jobs prospects because of bigoted judgements about my size, and many more examples besides.

        Realising this was initially really hard because I had been really wedded to my fear of being or becoming fat, which was at its greatest height in the worst time of my anorexia and bulimia… BUT it still remains that no matter what other hurts and privileges I have, or have had in the past, I have always had thin privilege! Recognising that doesn’t negate the horrible nature of my ED experience at all… what I don’t understand about the post above and several of the comments below it is that there seems to be this idea that thin privilege can’t exist because we all get body-image pressures’… I also really don’t get the patronising tone that is dripping off this blog post, especially if we are meant to believe MamaV when she talks about wanting to promote positive body images.

        Plus, I’d like to add that I have never felt more at home, more valued, or more supported, in any online communities than those which promote fat/size acceptance. Because a central tenet of FA is that hating on, or discriminating against any person because of their size–whatever it is–is not ok. E.g. I have seen commenters on SP called out multiple times for thin-bashing–in fact I am pretty sure this is one of the things that helped the idea of thin privilege click for me. This kind of post, on the other hand, I am sure would have played into making me even more worried and miserable about my body and my ED/ED recovery process had I read it before I got to welcoming, equalitarian sites related to the FA community (eg SP, Fat Nutritionist, F Word, etc)… In fact I used to read stuff like this all the time on websites/in newspapers/in magazines, and the idea that thin privilege should have ‘bullshit’ called on it, expressed in the many forms that MSM can muster to get this message out, contributed to my problems.

        SO, I would like to call bullshit on calling bullshit on thin privilege. I can’t see how you can have a decent stance on body acceptance without understanding what it (and other privileges) mean…

    • Sarah says:

      YES. This has been my experience too.

  12. B says:

    MamaV,

    I’m a sometimes reader who, I think, straddles both sides of the debate. I read a lot of FA and feminist blogs, have some sort of grasp on the concept of privilege and why it’s important, don’t equate fat with unhealthy but struggle with a bit of recent weight gain BUT also think that the way it’s presented is often quite divisive. In essence, I’m flawed, and I like reading workout tips just as much as I high-five fat activists.

    I think the frustration you and many others on the site are feeling about the conversation about privilege, and specifically thin privilege, is due to the fact that the basic criticism of We Are the Real Deal has gotten tied up in a pretty complex sidebar conversation.

    As I see it, there are two main criticisms of the site, and they’ve both gotten a bit derailed by the focus on thin privilege – partially because that’s also an important issue to the critics.

    1. This site aspires to be representative of the “collective you.” From what I can tell, although it’s not explicitly stated, “you” is limited to a U.S. readership. Even so, that’s quite a diverse group, and I think it’s ok if you continue to admit this is a work in progress – and will always be. The issue of privilege plays in here, because your privileges directly influence your worldview, so you may not be as representative of your readership as you think you are. Again, this is ok, but it’s good to be aware of this, and at least try to engage issues of importance to people with different experiences. But if your engagement is a shrug to these readers – well, then you’ve patronized them and lost them.

    2. A segment of this blog’s readership believes that a blog focused on “cultivating self esteem and positive body image for girls and women” cannot also give weight loss advice. The very concept of positive body image cannot and should not be tied to a desire to change yourself, but rather embrace your individuality. Otherwise, you’re saying, love yourself…and omg there’s this great side-effect – you’ll lose weight.

    I know that you have weight loss and fitness bloggers on this site, and I personally enjoy a chunk of content that they post on their own sites. I think a good solution to the second issue is to ask them to create content specific for the goal of this site, which is complimentary to but not the same as the goal of their sites. All your voices have value, but the content put on WATRD should be created specifically for this audience…which is and should be more diverse than the audiences on the niche sites run by each individual.

    • living400lbs says:

      B, I think you raise some good points. That said, if this site is to be “more diverse” that the individual sites, why rule out certain topics?

      • B says:

        I don’t believe we should rule out topics. But we also can’t conflate positive body image and weight loss. They’re related topics but not the same.

      • mamaV says:

        @living400lbs totally agreed, I don’t want to go down the road of ruling out anything.

        I already have potential contributors who are starting to screen themselves because they are worried how the FA group or HAES group will react. This is sad to me, and that is not what I want this place to be.

        I understand the contradiction some see with one site talking about weight loss/dieting, and in the next breath FA and/or HAES, but if you understand that is the premise of this forum….doesn’t that make it easier to handle? Or just tick people off more? Isn’t it kind of fun to read the opinions of others?

        As heated as this place gets, I always enjoy reading comments, and I end up really thinking about differing opinions —isn’t that what life is about?

        mV

        PS Love your blog!

  13. living400lbs says:

    “Thin privilege” is jargon, same as “multi-threading” and “debt snowball”. Within a particular community, it’s a valuable term, like “self-reinforcing spiral” or “compound interest”. Outside the community, it doesn’t help.

    I note that Linda Bacon specifically stated that her thin privilege paper “may not be a good intro essay for others” because it was aimed at people who already have a grounding in fat politics.

  14. Nikki says:

    You acknowledge that being thin is a privilege. So is being white, able-bodied, or currently employed.

    Let’s take your statement and fill in the blank with each type of privilege.

    “If being black is your biggest problem in life, my friend ,YOU are incredibility (sic) privileged.”

    “If being differently abled is your biggest problem in life, my friend ,YOU are incredibility (sic) privileged.”

    “If being unemployed is your biggest problem in life, my friend ,YOU are incredibility (sic) privileged.”

    How is it even possible that you don’t see how offensive your comment is to fat people?

    Fat people receive worse medical care, are discriminated against in hiring, and are often paid less than thinner women (http://www.feministing.com/archives/003275.html). These facts are not in the fat peoples’ heads. They are real.

  15. cggirl says:

    Mmmm interesting post. As I said on your “apology to Jelly” post, my main thing always just that – with my thinking flawed as it is – it is emotionally difficult for me to extend the self acceptance of someone I think of as “conventionally pretty” to myself sometimes, because I think “oh yeah well they really ARE pretty and thin, so if they ever thought they were fat/ugly/whatever, it was all in their heads, but in MY case maybe it’s just true!”. Ha. So it is helpful for me when you include some different women here too, which I see you’re doing, and that’s great. (But intellectually I know we probably all have those negative thoughts sometimes, period.)

    I don’t know much about all this privilege terminology, but it doesn’t bother me either. I always thought “thin privilege” (or “beauty privilege”) is like “white privilege” – it’s just the fact that as a white girl certain negative things that happen to minorities do not happen to me. Or something like that.

    I never thought it was something to teach children. When I was little I was taught about racism, in a way that was understandable to me, in a way that made me see how silly and wrong it is. Nobody said anything about white privilege! THAT could put an idea in my head that we should all strive to be whiter or something. Just like – at least if I understand you correctly mamaV – teaching kids about “thin privilege” might just make them want to be thin.

    I will say that whatever the term means, I don’t really find it relevant most of the time. Because, as you say, that’s just how it is – some assholes just act like that. I also think, without trying to say which is worse and which is better or anything like that, that in some ways it’s also nice to be fatter. For instance, if I were thin, it might be more difficult for me to deal with aging (or having kids, if I ever do). I wonder if being somewhat fat already, and not the “ideal”, will make that easier. Sorta like, it forced me to learn to like myself with “imperfections” earlier in life, if that makes any sense. And perhaps it makes me more secure that my husband is attracted to me at a variety of sizes and shapes, because he’s been with me and been attracted to me a bit heavier, a bit smaller, never really thin or anything… So I guess maybe BECAUSE I’m not thin, I don’t have as much of a fear of losing my figure. Not that I would recommend someone purposely not be thin because of that, and not that I’m purposely this way – I think it’s just how I’m built, with big boobs and a big butt, haha. But you see where I’m going with this – that there are different ways of looking at things.

    You know what else this made me think of? It’s like I have “brain privilege”. Because I happen to be smart in fields that most people aren’t, or fields that are harder to fake being smart at, at least in my experience. I’m good at math and physics and computer science. And I find politics and history impossibly hard. And people always say “you’re such a genius” but they don’t say that about themselves when they have an amazing grasp of some complicated issue of world politics that I have no clue about. Somehow my type of smarts are more appreciated, or more obvious, than some of my friends’ types of smarts. Anyway I don’t know what that has to so with anything except to say that lots of things can be analyzed as “privilege” and the only reason I like looking at things like that is precisely to see how each of us may be privileged in one way, and not in another, and therefore we needn’t be envious of whatever it is we are fantasizing about.

    And I, for one, feel like I have learned a lot from seeing thin women’s body image issues. Because that shows me that there is no magic size at which I will be happy. It shows me that it’s not about the size at all.

    My mother to this day will say things like “I wouldn’t mind being anorexic for a little while”. And I think she’s only half kidding. I had a close friend who was (probably still is) anorexic, so I don’t find this funny at all. It always makes me remember with horror how when we were younger and she lost weight, we all congratulated her, because we thought that’s what supportive friends do.

    And coming back to privilege – because my mom believes so strongly that women do better in life if they are beautiful (and thin), she pushed her daughters so hard on this issue, and she doesn’t even realize it. And it had nothing but negative effect. I’m so glad, and rather proud, I got over that and learned to like myself as I am. I’m not perfect about it, nobody is, but damn I’m so much better at it now.

    Whew. Sorry for the long post…

    • jl3wis says:

      For instance, if I were thin, it might be more difficult for me to deal with aging (or having kids, if I ever do). I wonder if being somewhat fat already, and not the “ideal”, will make that easier. Sorta like, it forced me to learn to like myself with “imperfections” earlier in life, if that makes any sense. And perhaps it makes me more secure that my husband is attracted to me at a variety of sizes and shapes, because he’s been with me and been attracted to me a bit heavier, a bit smaller, never really thin or anything…

      See, this is how I feel as well, I have ALWAYS been overweight my whole life up until about 28, after the birth of my Son. Sure, I got my fair share of being picked on and harassed. I tend to block a lot of negative out so I can’t really recount any one particular incident ATM.

      My Husband and I got together when I was very heavy and he NEVER said a word when I got up to 300 pounds pregnant with my Son. When I lost about 70-120 pounds (give or take pregnancy weight) that’s when I started to notice all the positive compliments (except I think Hubby would have preferred I hadn’t lost so much), range of clothes to choose from (given finances) and I know you guys prolly don’t care but I was getting waaay more male attention than I used to (b/c I always got attention, even when heavy, but when thinner it was much more aggressive-which can be kinda scary- and a lot of different types of Men, not just a certain type) and I’m the kind that LIKES to be wolf-whistled at, I still don’t know why.

      But it seems like before the COMPLETE body obsession, it was just a bit easier, less mentally, emotionally and PHYSICALLY tiring. Do I, personally IMO, want to go back to being over 250 pounds @ 5’8? No. Will I stop watching my caloric intake and exercise levels any time soon? Prolly not. But that’s mainly b/c I see the difference in treatment from society, what my poor morbidly obese Mother with a slew of health prollems has to go through and b/c I don’t want my Daughter to be picked on for having a fat Mom. It’s bad enough that I wonder what they’ll say/do to her b/c of her Type1 Diabetes.

      I do miss my boobies, though.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi cggirl: Thank you for this statement, I think this is one of the core realities I am attempting to expose here.

      it is emotionally difficult for me to extend the self acceptance of someone I think of as “conventionally pretty” to myself sometimes, because I think “oh yeah well they really ARE pretty and thin, so if they ever thought they were fat/ugly/whatever, it was all in their heads, but in MY case maybe it’s just true!”. Ha. So it is helpful for me when you include some different women here too, which I see you’re doing, and that’s great. (But intellectually I know we probably all have those negative thoughts sometimes, period.)

      I say expose because it is kind of an ugly, mean spirited thought to have —but we are all guilty of it. There is always someone prettier, thinnner, whatever.

      IF we can get this reality out in the air, admit it, accept it — it would go a long way toward “both” sides accepting one another.
      -mV

  16. CL says:

    Oh god where to begin.

    I think you are confusing “talking about thin privilege” with “being mean to me,” since in your video you complain that some people are “trying to beat people up” by telling them to recognize their privilege.

    Asking someone to recognize their own privilege is not “beating them up.” You don’t need to feel marginalized or offended when people talk about privileges that you have because they are talking about a system of oppression that you happen to benefit from — nobody in their right mind thinks it’s “your fault” that you benefit from white and thin privilege. Calling someone privileged in certain ways is NOT an insult or a statement that they haven’t faced any disadvantages in life.

    The concept of thin privilege also makes you angry because you believe anyone who brings it up believes you don’t have it “as bad as we have it” (from your video). In some specific ways, thin people truly don’t have it “as bad” as fat people (when they fly on airplanes or shop for clothes, for example) because of thin privilege… but that doesn’t mean your life isn’t very hard for all sorts of unrelated reasons. And nobody is saying that your life isn’t hard. Pointing out systematic disadvantages that affect part of the population is not the same thing as saying “Your life cannot possibly be as bad as mine because you are thin.”

    I am average-sized (size 8/10) and I find it very empowering and important to think about thin privilege even though I have a privileged body type. It doesn’t make me feel offended or marginalized… rather it helps me to understand and combat my fears of getting fat, the times I wish I were smaller, and the times I might unfairly judge someone who weighs more than I do. I have never felt “beaten up” by these discussions because nobody is beating me up!

    People have been beating you up on this blog, but not because you are thin and white and have privilege. They have been beating you have marginalized certain perspectives and written a very nasty post about a commenter… and because you have been talking about concept of privilege in a way that is ignorant of what it even means. People who have demanded that you “recognize your own privilege” are asking you to do some work in analyzing how systems of oppression have blinded you to certain things — and maybe they haven’t been very nice about it — but nobody is beating you up for having privileges in the first place.

    One thing that makes this post even more ridiculous is that from what I know about you, it seems like you have suffered because of thin privilege. You had an eating disorder, and you were desperate to be thin. i don’t want to put words in your mouth or define your experience for you, so I don’t know if your eating disorder was partly due to your knowledge that being very thin comes with benefits, while fat people are seen as gross, gluttonous, unattractive, and unworthy… but I know that some people develop eating disorders because they can’t bear the thought of being on the wrong side of thin privilege. This system of oppression does not only hurt very fat people — it also makes the rest of the population defensive and fearful of losing their privilege, and that is something that hurts you, and me, and all thin people.

  17. B says:

    CL – So well put! Along these lines, I don’t think anyone would be off base in saying that the women Courtney Martin describes in her book are victims of the system of thin privilege.

    MamaV – I would like to add, since you mention Courtney Martin’s book, that you might like to see how Feministing dealt with their own controversy over privilege. As en editor, Courtney co-signed the post.

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/008997.html

    While the post is focused on race privielege, I think this quote sums up perfectly what is missing on this site:

    “However, in order to move forward…we need to look hard at where we stand and how it relates to those around us (and in our case, to those who read us or are influenced by us).”

  18. B says:

    Yikes – excuse the typos!

  19. Juniper says:

    I think what MamaV is trying to say is, yes thin privilege exists, but that doesn’t mean that people who are thin don’t have their own problems and internal struggles the same as anyone else regardless.

    Bottom line, we all have problems and not one of us is qualified to say to another “My life sucks more than yours” or “Because you have privileges that I don’t your life is automatically better than mine”. This isn’t a pissing contest over who has more or different privileges than anyone else.

    What it IS about is putting differences aside and while we acknowledge that we all have different lives which include different privileges and different backgrounds we all have the same goal, giving the next generation a more informed and clearer view of positive self body image.

    Fighting with one another about who has it worse doesn’t accomplish this.

    • Synna says:

      I think you need to read CL’s post above.

      This is not about fighting with each other over who has it worse. Its about recognising that some body types are in fact privileged by society. And understanding that just as patriarchy hurts men, thin privilege also hurts thinner women/men.

  20. Diana says:

    Guys, she is not trying to say that its no bid deal and move on. She is just explaining that everyone has problems. Pain, hurt, anger, depression, and hoplessness affects everyone, it does not discriminate. These feelings do not care who you are or what you look like. That we need to not be so foolish as to think only heavy people have problems. I was 11 at over 200 lbs., i know what it is like, but i am now at 105 lbs, and not really any happier. I suffer from depression and pain even though i am smaller than i was. We need to realize that everyone at some point and time feels bad about themeselves and others will always judge you, no matter how you look.

  21. FatNSassy says:

    I am unimpressed with her argument. I am not really sure what the point is. I have hung around the size acceptance movement for decades. I RARELY hear talk about thin privilege. Maybe the point was made in someone’s book somewhere, but it is certainly not something mainstream SA spends much time harping on. In fact, most of the time it is brought up by thin people themselves. Furthermore, when fat people ask for sensitivity in conversation, it is usually to avoid obvious insults. That has nothing to do with guilting people and everything to do with asking for the same basic courtesies afforded everyone else. If YOU don’t want unsolicited advice about your diet, wardrobe, spending habits, love life, life sytle choices, then don’t stick you nose where it doesn’t belong. Just because it is social acceptable to invade a fat person’s personal boundaries does not mean it is morally correct. If someone is minding their own business I really could care less what alleged “privileges” they may have. I am too busy living my own life to even notice.

    As a cultural diversity instructor, I am very familiar with the concept of white privilege. I wonder if this is not part of what she really objects to, but doesn’t want to stick her neck out that far. So she goes the more politically correct route of attacking thin privilege and hopes we read between the lines?

    Maybe I am wrong, but this just feels like a straw man argument to me. She won’t be the person I love to hate because I simply don’t feel her arguments are legitimate enough to make an impact. I do agree with her on one thing though. Everyone should stand up for themselves. Much abuse does stop, power dynamics do change once you refuse to take the BS anymore. But there is a huge price to be paid. Society rewards those who follow the rules. Fat people make it easier on themselves when they self-depreciate, diet in public, smile away the insults. You will really ruffle feathers when you decide enough is enough. But you will also be part of making things better for those who come after you. Do you want to be an agent of change or one of the herd?

  22. 700stories says:

    Hi, I’d appreciate it if you checked out my take on thin privilege. Personal response to you at the end: http://700stories.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/thin-privilege/

  23. Sarah says:

    I’m an eating disordered person, and my weight has ranged from underweight to very overweight, perhaps even obese at my highest weight (I didn’t know what it was). I’m now thin, but healthy weight, thanks to my nutritionist.

    When I first had a therapist recognize thin privlege as something legitimate and active in the world, it did NOT put my life in danger. Quite the contrary, I finally felt UNDERSTOOD. Because at that point, I had been thin, I had been fat, and everything in between. At the time I was on the bigger end of a healthy weight range. I was really struggling with all of people who were saying “Oh, it’s not about weight, it’s about confidence!” Or, “If you just love yourself, others around you will too!” Or, “It’s not about you, it’s about the way society discriminates against anyone who isn’t thin!”

    I mean, sure. I knew that it wasn’t about ME per se. I know that it was about society’s skewed viewpoint. It actually felt extremely condescending that people – often thin people – were trying to explain to me that society was prejudiced. I got it. I knew first hand. And it still meant that, on a day to day basis, as someone bordering on overweight, people were not as friendly to me, people were much quicker to write me off, I had to constantly worry in public places (like on the bus) how much roomy my body was taking up, I couldn’t shop in some of the same stores that my thinner friends could, etc., etc.

    And I thought there was something wrong with ME because I couldn’t just acknowledge the fact that society was discriminatory and move on. The day that a therapist was willing to acknowledge that thin privilege has concrete, everyday impacts on people was the day that I felt like someone was finally listening, rather than just trying to convince me to love myself in spite of society, as if I was operating in a vacuum.

  24. KM says:

    It seems that you think that admitting your own privilege would be to admit that you are a bad person or that your life is easy. That isn’t what privilege is. I am surprised that you still think this.

    When the FA movement uses the term “thin privilege,” they are not saying “all thin people have easy lives and our lives are oh sooooo hard.” I grew up very thin, I’m still very thin, and my life was harder because I was so thin.

    HOWEVER – that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go around minimizing the hardship of fat people just because I experienced hardship too. This isn’t the Oppression Olympics, MamaV. I am a hardcore FA acceptance activist. I don’t interpret the term ‘thin privilege’ to mean that my life is easy. What I interpret it to mean is that I have certain benefits in life because I am thin, and that sometimes the hardships that fat people experience are not obvious to me because I don’t experience them itself. What it means is that because I have thin privilege, I should take care to listen to those who have different experiences than my own and try to watch for how my own biases affect my interpretation of their experiences.

    Seriously, MamaV? Why do you get so pissed off about having to admit your own privilege? Can you write a post belittling black people for saying that our society is racist, next, and tell them to buck up, quit whining and flip people off for discriminating against them?

    WE GET IT. You’ve experienced hardship. Now will you recognize that others have experienced hardships different than your own, without trying to say that those hardships are all the same in the end? Is it that hard to recognize?

  25. Geosomin says:

    “Get over yourself! They Really, Really Aren’t Looking At You”

    I couldn’t agree more. It took me ages to figure that out…and when I did it changed everything…

  26. Sharon says:

    There are several eloquent posts here that express my opinion, so I will restrict myself to what I think summarizes the misunderstanding: You don’t have to FEEL privileged to BE privileged.

  27. clairemysko says:

    I will echo what others have said about how recognizing thin privilege is not the same as denying that thin people have problems. And asking someone to think about the ways in which thin privilege comes into play in their lives is not the same as bashing them or “beating them up.”

    I would argue that it’s not the recognition of thin privilege that’s deadly for anorexics. It’s their mistaken belief that thinness=happiness and fulfillment. Eating disorders are complex issues with complex roots, but certainly a drive for thinness is part of the picture. And that drive is often fueled by the notion that a smaller body will solve deep insecurities and issues. Will thinness afford you the privilege to shop in more stores? Yes. Will it get you positive attention in certain situations? Probably. Will it guarantee that you are healthy, confident and feel good about yourself? Absolutely not.

    If you acknowledge that thin privilege exists and it is unfair, how can there be a danger in exposing that truth, just as it’s important to expose other injustices in the world?

  28. MamaV, I think it’s frankly astonishing that you’re quoting Kate and Marianne to back up your dismissal of thin privilege. Did you read the book that quote came from?

    • clairemysko says:

      I think Courtney Martin’s book is misrepresented in your video, too. Yes, she absolutely does make a strong case for how thin, conventionally attractive girls can have it rough in our culture, but nowhere does she dismiss the concept of thin privilege or imply that discussions about thin privilege lead to “us vs. them” thinking. That’s something YOU believe (and I disagree with you on that point)–it’s not at all what these authors are saying.

    • Zenoodle says:

      I don’t think she can have done anything more than a quick skim, based on the post… If it was more than a skim, it comes off like a willful misunderstanding and/or misrepresentation to me.

  29. Nats says:

    For crying out loud people!!!

    Ok, here is me, admitting my own privilege:

    Yes I am thin, yes I was also larger when I was younger, being thin caused me alot of pain and hurt! I was raped and I was beaten continuiously! So there is my privilege that I gained from being thin! So sorry of me to forget how prilvieged I actually am!!!!!!!!!

    So, as I am Thin, does this mean I cannot have an opinion on what body issues are out there for thin and fat people alike? The fat that I have met more nice fat people in my life than I infact have thin and have spoken to alot of them about their weight issues and my own.

    Thin people, yes would possibly get preference over fat people in alot of ways, this I know to be true and yes I also know this is completely wrong of people to judge someone simply because of their weight.
    I understand the anger that is coming from people about this, hell even I am angry (if im allowed to be at my current weight) but this problem that society has is a huge ass problem that people aren’t going to change over night, this needs to be done slowly and with alot of thought behind it so all the work done does just doesn’t disappear. And us sitting here arguing if someone is or isn’t privileged really is not going to get us anywhere is it!

    I understand that I cannot possibly understand what it is like to be fat, because I have never been what you would call that (took me years to get the strength to write that or say it out loud), BUT also some people canNOT possibly sit there and say I had thin privilege when they clearly have no IDEA what it is to be thin and have a life based on it!!!!

    Ready for the backlash………………

    • Sarah says:

      I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that pain and abuse when you were younger. I hope that you can see that there is NOTHING that you did to cause it. I was sexual abused/assaulted as well, except that each time it happened to me, I was noticeably overweight. At the time, I blamed it on being fat. It’s no wonder I developed anorexia. But, what happened to us, WAS NOT because of our body size, nor anything else about us. It was not our fault, and it was not the fault of our bodies. The only people who are guilty are the perpetrators.

      What’s interesting about your comment about more nice fat people than nice thin people is that “the nice fat person” is a societal archetype of sorts. As someone who’s ranged from being underweight to being obese, I can tell you that overall people are much nicer to you right off the bat if you are thin (I’m talking mostly strangers, just daily interactions). If you are heavy, you have to win the over with your personality. I’ve heard many heavy people talk about the pressure to be nice, because that it is the only way that people will be nice to you. Because, based purely on appearance, fat people largely range from societally invisible to societally looked down upon. That has certainly been my experience.

      The thing about privilege is that it is a societal construct. It is no single person’s fault that they have societal privilege. I, for example, have white privilege. It’s not my fault for being white; it’s not my fault for the fact that society prefers whiteness. It’s not about fault, it’s about acknowledging society structures. Our society values thinness.

      One thing you might consider: I’m assuming that you are a woman. Therefore, in regard to sex, you are part of an underprivileged group. We still live in a patriarchy, and there is absolutely male privilege. Underprivileged groups often have violence committed against them (and them tells them that they are to blame for it). If the violence committed against you has to do with anything about society, my guess would be that it has to do with the societal epidemic of violence against women, and it acts separately from privilege based on body size.

      • Nats says:

        Ok, I get your point and I do agree with the fact that none of this is about fault. I also have the white privilege, but its not my fault I am white or the fact society sees me being different because of it.

        Also, I have met alot more nice fat people than I have thin, you may have had a different experiences, but in my life, larger people have been nicer to me than thinner people!

        Regarding the violence, violence against anybody can be for any reason including being fat or thin! I read an article in a local paper the other day about a man beating a woman because she was no longer what he married. When they married they were both large, she then lost weight because she was unhappy, he didnt like it and he then beat her! So I am simply saying that things can happen for any reason.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree that different factors play into the perpetuation of violence on an individual level. We live in a society that makes violence against women “acceptable.” Or, at the very least, it normalizes it – we live in a culture of violence against women. So, that societal ideology makes women more likely to be the victims of violence. And then, the idea that he would beat her for losing weight. I mean, I wonder how our societal values about weight played into that. I can see, frankly, why it would be threatening if two people married who were heavier, and then one lost weight.

        And, of course, there are plenty of exceptions to every “rule.”

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        This point about fat people having to be nice brings up a part of thin privilege that is often neglected. I have a tendency to be aloof and, in certain contexts, can come off as downright unfriendly. I’m not trying to be, but I have a lot of issues with many social conventions, get impatient easily when I’m focused on a project, and naturally just sort of tend to not be tuned in to other people’s responses to me. But no matter how unpleasant or unfriendly I’m being, people still people flock to me and want to be around me. A friend of mine once told me that if I behaved the way I often (unintentionally) do, but I didn’t look like I do, people would hate me. And this is a function of privilege. I can afford to not give a fuck about how I’m interacting with people, because they will continue to value me and respect me simply because I unintentionally look like their ideal. I can be icy at the bar and still have guys hitting on me. And having the luxury of not having to make nice all the time, and the additional luxury of not even having to be aware of it, is a huge function of privilege.

  30. Katy says:

    It just doesn’t wash to dismiss thin privilege by saying that “thin people have internal issues and problems as well”. The point is that fat people have all that internal stuff too AND the external discrimination. As much as I try to have a positive self image, every day I pick up a newspaper and find out that I am personally responsible for the collapse of the National Health Service, or go into work and have to listen to a slim colleague moaning about how “fat” they are, and realise that looking like me would be just about the worst thing that could ever happen to them… And it’s NOT ‘just in my head’.. it’s real.

  31. Nats says:

    Katy,

    I understand what you are saying, Yes fat people have internal stuff and external discrimination. But so DO thin people!

    EVERYONE is discriminated against, absolutely everyone, fat, thin, tall, short, black white its all the same. People face it everyday for different reasons (this isn’t directed at you Katy but everyone).

    I will be honest though, the thought of me putting on weight FREAKS ME OUT! not because of actually getting fat but because of losing control of something that I have controlled since I remember.

    It seems that people discriminate against things they dont understand, they cant get their head round it. Which is there problem but we get the backlash and made to feel crap about it. THIS HAPPENS DAILY TO PRACTICALLY EVERYONE, so I really dont see what difference it makes if your fat or thin, people will be judgemental regardless of either!

    • Synna says:

      The privilege aspect is not about how YOU yourself feel about yourself inside, its how your external appearance is given preference or more favourable treatment than others.

      I’m sorry you have been hurt, but I don’t think you were hurt because you were thin/fat/blonde/white/insert characteristic here, you were hurt because the person(s) that hurt you decided that their satisfaction was more important than your humanity.

      Thin privilege is acknowledging that on the body size dimension, smaller bodies are viewed more favourably by society. You (in the global sense) can go clothes shopping at most stores. You don’t have to think about whether a chair can support you, let alone if you can fit between its ridged arms. Or that you will be judged unfavourably by an employer because of your size.

      Really, I could go on and on, but thats not going to change anything unless people get past the idea that just because your life is not perfect doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from some privileges. That’s intersectionality.

    • Sarah says:

      I’d be careful of equalizing experiences like this. I’m sorry, but as a white person, I do not know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on race in the way that my friends of color do. That is not to say I don’t know what it’s like not to be discriminated against. Of course I do. But, that’s because of my gender and because I have been treated differentially based on my size.

      People like to think that we live in this colorblind society. You know, “It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or yellow or red or blue or green or purple!” But, the fact of the matter is, we DON’T live in a colorblind society. We don’t. Just as we don’t live in a gender-blind society, or a sexual orientation-blind society, or a size blind society.

      Privilege works on the level of society. obviously, because of that, it has impact on individual lives and thoughts, but is primarily about groups and systems operating in society. It is about what our society values. Our society values thinness (and whiteness, and maleness, and heterosexuality, etc.). Discrimination and oppression operate from a larger base than that of the individual.

      Like, I said, this, of course, affects individual lives because it has ramifications for how someone is treated as they move through the world. But someone who is part of a societally under-valued group will feel those affects more consistently and will feel them based on their under-valued identification in a way that someone in a privileged group will not.

      What if someone were to write a post saying there is no such thing as white privilege – that race plays no factor in how people are treated? Would you agree with that too?

      • Nats says:

        I think there is such a thing as White privilege the same I know know there is thin privilege, maybe I am not making myself clear here, I am just saying that everyone goes through discrimination daily, regardless of what it is about, people are discriminated against FACT. I am not saying they are all on the same level and that they are all equal at all, I am saying that it happens that it!

  32. Nats says:

    As I have said in previous posts, I am fully aware of the fact that thin people have privileges that fat people do not simply because they are thin! I am not trying to say that this is not true, my main point is that people can NOT say to me that I cannot have an opinion on body image issues because I am thin! thats like saying I cannot have an opinion on the discrimination that happens between people who are black/white, simply because I am white, does that mean I cannot have an opinion on it???

    Sorry but I simply do not understand why people cannot have an opinion on something simply because they are not something that is involved in said opinion, and I am sure that I would be slated on here (and rightly so) if I said you cannot possible comment on what its like to be thin if you are not thin yourself?? Am I making sense or no?

    Im not having a go at anyone, at all, I just dont understand where this is all coming from.

    • Nikki says:

      my main point is that people can NOT say to me that I cannot have an opinion on body image issues because I am thin!

      >>Please cut and paste where one person has said you are not allowed to have/express an opinion on body image… I certainly haven’t said that and I haven’t read anyone else say that either.

    • CL says:

      Who told you that you can’t have an opinion on body image issues because you are thin?

    • B says:

      Where on this blog has someone told you that you can’t have an opinion on body image issues because you’re thin?

      I get that it happens in the world — it often seems like conversation is a series of one-ups-manships. But I haven’t seen that here?

    • Sarah says:

      Let’s be careful not to jump on one person! My guess is she understands want people want “proof.” Also, she said that she’s not having a go at anyone . . . maybe she’s referring to the fact that MamaV said in her video that people would jump on her because she’s thin . . .

      • B says:

        Sarah – You’re right. I know that I personally jumped on this comment, because the idea that commenters don’t respect the opinions and experiences of thin people is one perpetuated by mamaV — and mamaV alone. To support her opinions, she’s creating a false divide on the issue.

        If it matters, I would be considered thin by some who write here (and likely fat by others), although I think of myself as average. And I certainly don’t feel like anyone is silencing me because I’m a size 10-12.

      • Nats says:

        Sarah,

        Thank you.

        Guys, I dont really understand why im now being a target but never mind. As Sarah got from from my posts, I was referring to what mamaV said and I think mamaV should keep going and I agree that she nor anyone else should be told they cannot have an opinion about it. Thats all!

        I will however refrain from commenting as much as I have as I tend to go off on one, and as I said in a previous post I wasn’t having a go at ANYONE. But I wil apologise to anyone who felt that I was having a go at them.

  33. Nats says:

    Also, I KNOW why I was hurt and why things happened to me, and I have to make it clear that being THIN was a MAIN reason for it all happening.

    That being said, I have seen thin girls flaunting themselves because they love the fact they are thin and would hate more than anything to be fat. I have heard them say cruel horrible things to and about people who are bigger than they are, and all I think when this happens is that some day, they will be the subject of someones hateful comments and they will know how much that can hurt and scar people.

    I wish society could move past this, I really do, fat, thin,tall short is irrelevant to me, and possibly to alot of people on here, we just need to make this feeling more common, make people understand how we do BUT I do not appreciate the fact that people do not values opinions from people who are thin if its about fat people nor to I appreciate the fact that people will not value a comment from a Fat person about someone who is thin.

    Its all rubbish and people are all allowed their own opinions wether people agree with them or not.

    • Sarah says:

      I wish society could move past it too. Believe me. I wish that everyday. And I hope that society will. I think that the point that people are trying to make in comments is that we’re not there yet.

      Even though weight may not matter to us personally in regard to how we treat people, it does matter to society.

      I value opinions that come from everyone. I think that makes for the most productive conversation. I may not agree with everyone’s opinions – regardless of body size – but I value them all and I think everyone has a right to express them. If I came across otherwise, I apologize.

      I, too, am thin, so it would be pretty hypocritical of me to think that thin people don’t have a right to comment here!

  34. Nats says:

    Why is it that it seems people do not fully understand that eating disorder’s are a disease? I get the feeling that because I am thin (ed related or not) that my opinion is not valid. But I am thin, I am anorexic, most of my life has been taken from me by the voice in my head telling me that I need to stop eating. Anorexia is an illness, its not something I want, its not something I want praise for, Im SICK, and because I am SICK I am thin, yes possibly I have had privileges for that reason but I didnt want them, I didnt ask for them and I would rather be healthy and not have this “thin privilege” than I would be the way I am now and have this illness

    • Sarah says:

      I get it. I have the disease too. Privilege happens whether we want it to or not. I wish that I didn’t have white privilege, because the fact that I have it means that we live in a society that treats people differently based on race. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice in these matters. I wish I didn’t have thin privilege because, like you, I’m thin because I have an e.d. I wish that wasn’t rewarded. But, again, it’s there, it’s society, and it happens.

      The best that we can do, I think, to combat privilege that we don’t want is talk about it openly and honestly and try to avoid acting on it when we can (though that’s not always possible).

      • Nats says:

        The way I see it is, Society has embraced the privileges rather than rejected them like they should have been.

        We ALL need to fight a different aspect of privilege every day, so why do we not fight together for things to change?

    • B says:

      Nats – the only person I’ve seen divide the commenters here in any substantial way on this issue is mamaV. I don’t think that recognizing thin privilege in any way negates what you’re saying about ED at all.

      • Nats says:

        B,

        Sorry hun but you will have to bear with me here, I am not the smartest tool in the tool box, I dont understand what you mean by what you wrote above. Im not being sarcastic I am asking a serious question, I get the first bit and understand it perfectly. Its the second bit, could you elaborate for me hun?

        Thanks

        Nats

      • B says:

        All I meant to say was that the issues you deal with from an ED perspective are just as worthwhile of discussion as the one we’ve had over thin privilege. And I’m sorry if you’re being made to feel otherwise.

    • Tori says:

      I don’t think that anyone is trying to deny that EDs are diseases. But they are also reflections of the thin privilege in our culture. Why do so many women want so desperately to be thin? Because this is what we value, and what gets you referential treatment in our culture. And that’s thin privilege in a nutshell.
      You do not have to deny the power of EDs in order to affirm that thin privilege exists. And you do not have to deny that thin privilege exists in order to affirm the devastation that EDs wreak on many people every day. These are not mutually exclusive, and nobody is trying to say they are.

  35. Nats says:

    Sarah, I think you and I seem to come from the same place, we seem to be saying the same things only in a different way.

    We both know that privilege is there but it should NOT be.

    We both want the privilege we have to stop because to us it shouldnt be there.

    And because we agree we have managed to take up a page on comments xx

    • Sarah says:

      Haha. Yeah. I should probably just write my own blog entry about this!

      • Nats says:

        Ha ha maybe you should! I would have a nosy at it!

        Anyway, enough for me right now, I will no doubt be back later.

        I dont mean to seem like I am having a dig at any one person but it just frustrates me is all. so Sorry if I have made any single person feel like I am having a go at them.

        bye for now

  36. mamaV says:

    Thank you all for listening to Nats, and for being respectful of her comments.

    The divide that started this was the Jelly comment, of which very few commenters took the time to state she was wrong in what she said.

    I am pointing this out because this exclusion has been mentioned to me privately from many readers that are too scared to post their thoughts. Keep in mind there are thousands of people reading this blog….yet there are only a handful of commenters participating. With that said, let’s take the time to clear this up. Here is the specific comment from Jelly needs all of your feedback;

    “Why would anyone listen to people who “fit the mold” talking about body image issues??? So you sometimes worry about not being cute or thin enough–whoop dee-doo.”

    If you can place yourself in Nat’s shoes, or in the shoes of any woman who fits the mold, can you see how demeaning this is or no?

    Do you agree with this? Is this fair? If you are overweight, do you feel like the opinions, advice, stories shared here are not relevant to you if they are written by a thin woman who “fits the mold?

    I sincerely hope not…however I don’t want any of you to sugar coat it, please be as honest as possible and if you do feel like opinions of the thin on body image is a joke — say it, because there is no other way for us to work through this.

    Thanks!
    mV

    • Nats says:

      “Why would anyone listen to people who “fit the mold” talking about body image issues??? So you sometimes worry about not being cute or thin enough–whoop dee-doo.”

      I am sitting here now wondering if I in fact “fit the mold” if Jelly means this as a thin person fits the mold then I guess I do fit it.

      All I can say to this without going crazy ranting and anger issues:

      So you sometimes worry about not being cute or thin enough–whoop dee-doo.” SOMETIMES????? Try all the time, try every single minute of every single day! Try living a life where every single piece of food that you can see around you makes you feel like a razor is cutting you all over.
      Cute? I wouldnt class myself as cute and quite frankly couldnt give a damn if I am or not! I am a size 6 (uk) size 2 (US) so me sitting here saying all this is probably making some think “bla bla bla” couldnt care less!!! I think about my weight all day every day and my life has been consumed by it, its killing me, its put me in hospital!! So do NOT make these issues sound small and pointless!!! They are not! These issues KILL PEOPLE, these issues take daughters, sons, aunts, uncles etc AWAY from their families and you make it sound like its no big deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Joy says:

      MamaV, you need to stop assuming that everyone telling you that you still don’t get it agrees uncritically with what Jelly said.

      The whole point here is that thin privilege hurts everyone. It hurts fat people who are treated as though they have less value than those who are thinner. It hurts thin people (women) who hurt their bodies in order to gain or maintain a certain status in society afforded to those who are thin. Acknowledging that thin people are treated better in our culture doesn’t deny or disparage any other struggles or lacks of privilege in other areas. It doesn’t deny or take away sympathy from people struggling with EDs. You just come off as extremely defensive.

    • Marlie says:

      It is frustrating to post here, because I feel like you don’t listen. Someone said something wrong(and I saw several people point that out), it hurt your feelings and you can’t move on.

      Jelly’s comment is why you cannot acknowledge thin privilege. The concept first came to you in the midst of that conversation, and you cannot separate it from her comment that made you feel like you shouldn’t matter.

      This is why you feel the need to re-open a discussion when the blog had moved on.

      As so many have said, acknowledging privilege does not make you, as an individual, any less valid. Your feelings and opinions still matter, and your voice is important. You asked what you are supposed to do with the knowledge of privilege. Honestly, for most people I think the answer is not much. There is no need to lose sleep over the privileges we have or don’t have, but we should try to be more aware of the preconceived ideas we have based on societal preferences/privileges. I think even the most enlightened person will have immediate impressions of people based partially upon society dictates. Working to break that habit will bring us all closer to ending privilege.

      We would not teach our children about privilege. We would teach them that it doesn’t matter what sex, race, size, sexual-orientation, etc, you are; that everyone is valid, wonderful, and equal, and show that we mean it through example. I think that some schools pay lip-service to non-discrimination and then take actions that negate that stance. Parents do the same.

      That is actually a lot one can do with knowlegdge privilege, and a difficult task. It is hard to change things that are automatic, something we do without thinking.

      However, as a poster on this blog, you and your colleagues have to do a bit more. It is common when people are writing about themselves, to generalize in an attempt to include everyone and draw them in. That is fine on a personal blog, where everyone knows that they are reading about you and your point of view. In a blog like this, with many different voices, when you generalize you can alienate people who do not share your opinion or background. If you(collective you) want to prevent this, you will need to stop generalizing and speak exclusively from your point of view, without “we all know this” or “we all do that”. You can also take the stance that since you are writing the piece it’s obviously from your point of view and not meant to include everyone. This isn’t very nice, but since you are going to “tell it like it is”, I would rather you say that, than have to read even one more, “…but Jelly was mean to me” post.

      Also, I welcome all opinions, but if you(again, collective you) are not an authority on your subject matter, then I have to take what you say with a grain of salt. I think others do the same. I suppose in a way, that would make your opinion less valid, but only in the same way that I could not entirely believe an unproven theory. It’s interesting, but poorly or not fully researched.

      • Tori says:

        Jelly’s comment is why you cannot acknowledge thin privilege. The concept first came to you in the midst of that conversation, and you cannot separate it from her comment that made you feel like you shouldn’t matter.

        This is really insightful. And I really don’t think that was what Jelly was saying, but so what if it was? Even if some people use the concept of white privilege as a bludgeon to beat others over the head and silence them, that doesn’t mean white privilege doesn’t exist. It’s just that these people are misusing the concept. And instead of rejecting it outright, the appropriate response is to point out that white privilege does not entail that white people shouldn’t have a voice. But it does entail that they examine their privilege and listen and not presume to speak for non-whites.

    • Orodemniades says:

      mamaV said:The divide that started this was the Jelly comment, of which very few commenters took the time to state she was wrong in what she said.

      I think you are more offended by how she said what she said instead of her actual criticism. Honestly, I think the majority of readers haven’t stated that she was wrong because they don’t think what she said was wrong.

      If you are overweight, do you feel like the opinions, advice, stories shared here are not relevant to you if they are written by a thin woman who “fits the mold?

      Well, no, for the most part, they aren’t relevant to me. I’m fat and prefer to get talking about these issues on other sites precisely because I feel that the overarching theme of WatRd is exclusionary of non-white, non-hetero, non-middle class, non-wanting to be thin people.

      In other words, when I come here, it is like being in a microcosm of American society, in which everything I am is not acceptable.

      • Orodemniades says:

        Damn, it’s hard for me to read what I just wrote. Makes me sad.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi Orodemniades: Nice to see you here, I always read and think about what you have to say.

        This whole thing makes me sad too (although I don’t probably show it enough). Above you state in bold that the majority of readers haven’t stated that Jelly was wrong “because they don’t think what she said was wrong.”

        Take out the part about diversity for a minute, set that aside.

        Focus ONLY on the part about thin women not being taken seriously when it comes to weight/body image discussions and/or advocacy — particularly to an overweight audience.

        If this is what you are saying, that most of the commenters here, when truth be told, would agree that thin women don’t have this “right?” or they are not “worthy?”

        THAT is the core of this entire discussion.

        Let’s take that scenario on step further, into the future per se;

        Let’s pretend for a moment that you felt WATRD was a place you trusted and respected, a place that you felt was open to all cultures, races, sexualities, etc (which it is BTW, we just haven’t built that trust yet)…BUT only thin individuals were bloggers here. Truth be told — would you be able to even engage in a discussion about weight? Would you take seriously the concerns and/or advice of those thin bloggers?

        I realize I am calling you out here, so if you don’t feel comfortable answering, no worries! Anyone can answer this, but this again is the CORE our issue.

        If we can not get through this CORE, this forum, this blog will never work. It will not be able to thrive and it will certainly not be a route to real change.
        mV

      • Orodemniades says:

        I’m sorry, I don’t know how to reply to your (mamaV’s) comment directly as there is no ‘reply’ link beneath your comment.

        Take out the part about diversity for a minute, set that aside.

        er, my comment about diversity, I think you mean?

        Focus ONLY on the part about thin women not being taken seriously when it comes to weight/body image discussions and/or advocacy — particularly to an overweight audience.

        If this is what you are saying, that most of the commenters here, when truth be told, would agree that thin women don’t have this “right?” or they are not “worthy?”

        THAT is the core of this entire discussion.

        Oh that’s bullshit. Of course thin women have the right to discuss body issues – AS IT AFFECTS THEM They can’t, however, talk about body issues of the fat if they are not fat!!!. I mean, that’s like me talking about how cancer affects me when I’ve never had it, or me talking about what it’s like to be a caregiver to an ill parent when my parent’s never been ill, or what how difficult it is to be disabled in a abled world. To some degree I can empathize, but ultimately, I don’t have a damned clue and quite frankly would be talking out of my ass if I assumed otherwise.

        Let’s pretend for a moment that you felt WATRD was a place you trusted and respected, a place that you felt was open to all cultures, races, sexualities, etc (which it is BTW, we just haven’t built that trust yet)…BUT only thin individuals were bloggers here. Truth be told — would you be able to even engage in a discussion about weight? Would you take seriously the concerns and/or advice of those thin bloggers?

        You do realize that there only thin bloggers here, right? Judging by your piccies alone none of you appear to be over a size 12 (and I’m being generous with that number)…so no matter how fat you may feel, the truth is that none of you actually are fat.

        To answer your question, no, I don’t read this blog. The only reason I came back was through a post another blogger made. Do I take the concerns of thin women seriously – sure. It’s just that the concerns of fat and thin women are frequently very different, as evidenced by some of the comments in this very blog post.

        I really don’t know what else to say.

      • Orodemniades says:

        I need to clarify what I said: They can’t, however, talk about body issues of the fat if they are not fat!!!.

        To be blunt, you, as thin women, will likely never fear having to fit into a seat at a restaurant, or wonder if you’re going to have to buy another seat on the plane when you get to the airport, or if they’re going to put into a seat – in front of other passengers – to see if you fit. You’re not going to have to worry about whether or not you’re going to be allowed to adopt a child, or get fertility treatment, or get an x-ray, or get medication you don’t need because a nurse couldn’t be bothered or didn’t have a blood pressure cuff that fit your arm.

        ,In other words, I would never presume to write a blog about eating disorders because I’ve never had one, so I’m wondering why you feel you can talk about the issues of fat women (and men, for that matter), if you’ve never been fat? Feeling is hardly the same a being.

      • mamaV says:

        @Orodemniades You are making many assumptions about the contributors and guest bloggers here in regards to size, shape, and situation. In the past month alone, we have had the following bloggers featured here — all of whom are currently struggling with obesity or have struggled in the past;

        http://fitwoman.com (Marsha Hudnall, RN with 35+ years experience running a HAES based center)
        http://kimwrites.com (Kim Brittingham, an self described, anti-diet radical, and author who is overweight)
        http://joymanning.com (Joy Manning, Philadelphia Magazine Food Critic with an unbelievably difficult childhood experience, her ED starting in PRESCHOOL)
        http://roniseweigh (Veronica Noone, a regular contributor who is a diet believer and KNOWS what it is to live fat).
        Looking into the next few weeks, you will see even more interesting and amazing women here.

        Oh that’s bullshit. Of course thin women have the right to discuss body issues – AS IT AFFECTS THEM They can’t, however, talk about body issues of the fat if they are not fat!!!.

        Understood. And this is the divide we have, we will always have, and we will never, ever break if we stay so emotionally attached to ourselves.

        Women are the greatest at coming together and pushing change, but until we put ourselves and our own issues aside and stop making dividing statements (myself included) here we will sit.

        mV

      • Orodemniades says:

        mamaV: I guess you skipped over this part of my last response, where I said To answer your question, no, I don’t read this blog. The only reason I came back was through a post another blogger made.

        And, since none of the posters you mentioned are in your about page, I, as any one else who’s only a very occasional visitor to this site, will most properly assume that only those people in your about page are the bloggers. You might want to consider adding the links/photos of your guest bloggers to either a sidebar or to that about page.

  37. Nats says:

    B,

    Thanks for clearing that up babes, means alot! and thank you for your comment xx

  38. .C. says:

    Hey everyone,
    Nats let me know that this debate was going on and I wanted to jump in.

    I am EDNOS, in recovery now for a couple of months, and also a self-injurer. I see that this post is really getting people fired up and I think that maybe the problem is the word. What if we didn’t call it “thin PRIVILEGE”? I am not sure exactly what word to use, but it seems like there are some up sides, but mostly down sides, for both fat and thin people to the way that they are each treated because of their weight. Just call it what it is – prejudice and discrimination. People may treat someone more nicely because they are slender, but that same person could be called a ‘skinny bitch’ later. Likewise someone may insult a fat person, but that fat person may receive special treatment because they are fat. I am not going to say what is right and wrong, just that the needs and merits of each individual should be considered, and should not be based on weight.

    Conclusion: not thin privilege, weight discrimination.

    Best,
    .C.

    • Synna says:

      Weight discrimination is part of thin privilege. There is a whole lot more that goes into it, which you will discover if you have read the eloquent posts by those like CL and others on this site who have explained it over and over.

      • .C. says:

        I’ve read a good deal of this. I am trying to say that no, weight discrimination is not a part of it – it’s all of it. When a thin person is “privileged”, it is usually just a different way of saying a fat person is being discriminated against. Why don’t you tell me what you mean by “a whole lot more to it”? It seems like I am being more inclusive than you are with this, but perhaps I am mistaken. I’d love you to explain though.

        Best,
        .C.

      • Nats says:

        First Off!!!

        WHY are you all trying to score points?? Seems to me that you all read the post, to find something wrong with it and then bash out a post of you own!

        talking down to another person who contributed to this post, simply because its not being agreed with?! And also, it seems like people are coming on here together to pull together to make others feel either abd about what they wrote or feel worried about their post!

        Jesus, no wonder people are scared to post here! Its like if they do then someone might just treat them like crap or basically tell them what they are talking about it shit, so WHAT if it is? Explain to people the flaws in their argument sure, but do not sit there and make someone feel small just to make yourself feel good people!!

      • Marlie says:

        I don’t think it’s a matter of “scoring” points, but in order to have a good discussion one person might make a point, and then another will counterpoint.

        I think a lot of people feel like they are having to repeat themselves, because this topic has been discussed before and recently. So while it may be “talking down” to someone to assume that they have not read the other posts, Synna was fairly polite when she suggested .C. read the posts. And .C. responded rightly as someone who has read the posts, but has a different viewpoint.

        I think there are examples of what you are talking about other places on the blog, but this is not a good one.

        Also, perhaps I am being harsh, but if you don’t care enough about the subject matter to brave the possible response, then that is on you. Don’t bring up blog-lurking, behind-the-scenes emailers in some attempt to make people feel bad.

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        Nats,

        This has been an ongoing discussion here on this blog. You might check out the posts that led up to this in order to have a clearer understanding of the context.

      • Nats says:

        Also, perhaps I am being harsh, but if you don’t care enough about the subject matter to brave the possible response, then that is on you. Don’t bring up blog-lurking, behind-the-scenes emailers in some attempt to make people feel bad.

        Marlie,

        Ok fair point on what you said at the beginning of your post! I read you loud and clear.

        BUT

        What you just said above is a classic example of not reading the posts! I was referring to a comment made in another post when I said about bloggers who will not post! That being said I did say it for a reason, can you not see how daunting it would be for someone who is worried about posting on here? If I am wrong please say so, but when I first read this blog I sure as hell did not want to comment but now I am in a different place.

        I accept that when someone posts, there can be disagreements, there can be people who agree, that happens that will always happen I am not nieve to think that everyone is going to agree

      • mamaV says:

        May I suggest that if you are tired of this discussion, please excuse yourself from it, rather than shutting down new individuals that are asking questions.

        Yes, going over your points is tiring….but they are your points, not the worldview, that is why we are here.

        Synna has explained her view.
        Rachel from WY has explained her view.
        I have explained my view.
        Many others have explained theirs.
        Now, let’s allow others to form their own view.

      • Marlie says:

        I haven’t read all the posts, and I haven’t told anyone else to read all the post. I’ve made a comment about not feeling like I’m being heard in a different post, but I think that’s the furthest I’ve gone.

        I read MamaV’s comment about the non-commentors and yours just above. I can see how it can be daunting to post, and have felt that way on other blogs or forums, but that is an internal issue. Perhaps it’s because those other blogs and forums I was reading were a lot more hostile than this one, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for anyone not able to handle what is typically just a small amount of snark. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few examples of harsher language or tones(including Jelly’s comment), but I don’t really see/read a lot of that. It’s fine for people to choose not to post, or not to enter into a heated discussion, but I really don’t know what telling me they are too scared to do so is supposed to accomplish.

        Really, I was bothered when MamaV first posted about it, but decided not to comment. When I read your comment, it annoyed me enough to say something, but I probably should have replied to the initial comment rather than this one. It’s great that you are compassionate, I’m just not in this area, and you were sort of caught in the middle.

    • B says:

      C – I hear what you’re saying. The language itself is divisive and is likely turning off all sorts of people. But I would counter that we use the term privilege, because it’s an established concept used by activists beyond this forum. I don’t think it’s our place as allies or contributors to the overall discussion to change the terminology because it ruffles feathers here.

      In a way, you can think of privilege as the flip side of discrimination. Discrimination refers to the negative of a person of a certain group. People who are privileged are on the other side of this equation. They systemically benefit by having advantages not available to the discriminated group of people. Just as you aren’t to blame for being discriminated against, nor did you do anything to cause or earn the privilege.

      But by no means do these systemic factors mean that one group will have an overall lower or higher quality of life, or be without issues.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi B: Thank you for your patience and understanding.

        Your explanation of the two sides of the coin we are discussing here makes sense….but I do see what C. is getting at because it is exactly what I am trying to get at.

        Are you able to understand why a thin individual who has struggled with body image issues their entire life, come close to death because of it, may take offense to being called “thin privileged?”

        The best way I can explain it is — thin privilege is a death sentence for some. You have to have experienced an ED to “get it,” just as you have to be obese or overweight to “get” the depths of why thin privilege matters.

        Does this make sense to you?
        mV

        • Um…I am a recovered anorexic. I do not agree with your point of view as laid out here. Please do not presume to speak for all people with EDs.

          I think the problem here is that you’re not getting the concept of how privilege works, or what it means when someone calls you out on your privilege. This is in fact the core of this disagreement. You are the one who is not getting it. Maybe doing some reading about white privilege would help? Because there’s been a lot more written about that, and the same principles apply.

          You said…

          “Hi cggirl: Thank you for this statement, I think this is one of the core realities I am attempting to expose here.

          it is emotionally difficult for me to extend the self acceptance of someone I think of as “conventionally pretty” to myself sometimes, because I think “oh yeah well they really ARE pretty and thin, so if they ever thought they were fat/ugly/whatever, it was all in their heads, but in MY case maybe it’s just true!”. Ha. So it is helpful for me when you include some different women here too, which I see you’re doing, and that’s great. (But intellectually I know we probably all have those negative thoughts sometimes, period.)

          I say expose because it is kind of an ugly, mean spirited thought to have —but we are all guilty of it. There is always someone prettier, thinnner, whatever.”

          And this is a perfect illustration of not getting it. The commenter you quote is not saying what you think she is. You seem to be interpreting her as saying that it’s hard for her to extend acceptance to thin people, but that’s not what she said. What she said is that it’s hard for her to accept HERSELF, even though she’s onboard with the self acceptance idea for other (thinner, prettier) people. I’m seriously baffled as to how you can have misread that. And that’s really the problem here – you keep arguing against a position that no one is actually taking, so the conversation goes nowhere.

      • sarcasticmuppet says:

        MamaV

        I can’t believe someone as concerned about EDs as you are isn’t as appalled by Thin Privilege as the people you so casually dismiss. Thin Privilege and weight discrimination hurt Thin and Fat alike. It sets up a false idol of health and beauty. It’s a BIG contributor to the disordered eating, dangerous medical quackery, and self-hate that way too many people (women) today face, including those who suffer from EDs.

        Jelly was mean to you, I get it. Take your own advice and flip the bird to those who say you can’t contribute. I understand you felt dismissed, but really, you’re just turning around and doing the exact same thing with Jellygate and this post by dismissing their valid concerns. Which makes people around you (me) just want to *actually* dismiss you for your complete *lack* of contribution.

      • B says:

        mamaV,
        Are you able to understand why a thin individual who has struggled with body image issues their entire life, come close to death because of it, may take offense to being called “thin privileged?” !

        Not in this context. I understand why people reacted that way initially, but once it was explained that the word privilege is being used and defined in a very specific way, then there’s no reason for offense.

        For instance, I was abused and had an unhappy childhood in many ways. Yet I realize that my white, thin, able-bodied privilege means that society treats me differently than people without those advantages. In no way does acknowledging that take away from what I suffered as a child.

        The best way I can explain it is — thin privilege is a death sentence for some. You have to have experienced an ED to “get it,” just as you have to be obese or overweight to “get” the depths of why thin privilege matters. !

        Again, I disagree here. Mainly, because I’m not obese or overweight by conventional measures, but I get why thin privilege matters. But also because these two things aren’t directly comparable. From my understanding of what you and others have said, ED is a disease. Thin privilege is not – it’s part of a social system. I can be empathetic to what others have suffered from a disease, but you’re right, I don’t “get it” unless I’ve been in that position. But I think that we can view and analyze social systems that affect us all.

        To take it one step further, though, getting the concept of thin privilege is not the same as experiencing life as a fat person. So if you say that, just as I don’t get what life is like with an ED, I don’t get what life is like as fat in this country, well…that’s true. I can’t speak for people in either camp, but I can be an ally to both.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi again B: This weekend I was cutting the grass, an activity that for some reason helps me think things through, and I thought of this that I wanted to share;

        One of the main reasons for my total disconnect with all of you on this is that I came into this blog from a perspective that I can not, should not, expect anyone to understand. And for that I am sorry because I don’t want to make light of anyone’s thoughts and feelings in anyway whatsoever. I know I have done this, and that was not my intention.

        If you don’t mind, I’d like to attempt to paint a picture of what the past three years of blogging on my personal blog has been about. When I say I have spent the last 3 years blogging and building a community of teens and young women with eating disorders, I am not being honest.

        I should be saying – I have spent the last 3 years blogging about death. There has been five of my mamaV community members who have died –I am talking teenagers, young, smart, wonderful young women just gone.

        First there was Leah, a sweetheart of a girl, that was just finally “getting it.” She was coming out of the fog, realizing what life was about, and using every single ounce of her energy to beat her damn ED. We start our friendship through the blog, and one day I am talking to her, just like you and I are now, and the next day I get a personal email from her best friend telling me she is dead. I can remember perfectly, I was driving home from a business meeting in Chicago, and I stopped to check email. I was not in anyway prepared for what had happened.

        It was then that I realized what I had gotten myself into.

        This was no idol chit chat. This was life and death. I poured my heart and soul into the blog from that day forward, and I spent hour upon hour trying to coach these girls out of their mindset (with a great deal of success I might add).

        Then I got involved with parents, probably too involved, one day last year having hour long Skype calls with a mom sitting at the bedside of her 17 year old bulimic daughter who suffered a heart attack and eventually needed to be taken off life support.

        There are no words for this kind of pain.

        I was not prepared for the mindset of many of the individuals here, and I was not ready to listen to “Thin Privilege.” All of it just seemed unbelievably selfish, trite, and meaningless.
        Of course Thin Privilege exists.
        Of course I am privy too it.
        Of course it is not fair —-but from the place I came from it is still just too much to take seriously as a core factor in this body image struggle we all face.

        I sat dumbfounded wondering “Is this what FA is sitting around talking about? Are they not aware they are missing out on their life? How can they not see the gift they have in being fat and healthy?!!”

        But I know that is not fair. I am the one that has to shift my mind out of that death zone, and into reality. We can’t live our day to day life down where I was fearing for life, its just not healthy, or reasonable, or productive.

        So what I am trying to say is that I shouldn’t have expected everyone to get where the fire in my belly is coming from and I should have known I was going to get beat into the sand.

        But hindsight is 20/20 right? Ok, I think that is all for the moment!
        Thanks for listening 😉
        mV

      • Forestroad says:

        MamaV-
        This is the best explanation I have seen you give for your comments.
        I think what it speaks to is intersectionality–how hard it is to unpack when different privileges intersect. I think one way to look at the way you see fat people as privileged for being fat is maybe to see that more as “health privilege”. They (may or may not) have the privilege of being able-bodied and free from the life-threatening condition of ED. So here, “thin privilege” intersects with “health privilege”, where someone might experience benefits from being thin but not from being healthy, and vice versa. Just like they may have white privilege but not wealth privilege. Having one kind of privilege is not mutually exclusive to suffering from some other kind of discrimination.
        I can understand why hearing about thin privilege would be especially jarring for you at first. Also I can better understand why people here prefer the term “beauty privilege”, because being “too thin” shuts you out from some of the benefits of thin privilege as much as being being fat does. However, it doesn’t shut you out from all of them (fitting in plane seats, having to pay more for clothes) even as it makes you susceptible to other kinds of horrible discrimination. So, I think thin privilege is still a useful term at least in some contexts.

  39. Rachel_in_WY says:

    I don’t have the time or energy to read through all the comments here, so I may be repeating what’s already been said. My apologies to those whom I may be speaking over.

    This post makes it crystal clear that you, mamaV, still don’t get it. The concept of privilege is a systemic one. Many of us have already explained this. Our culture, and our society as a whole, values people who are thin over those who are fat. This means that the way you’re perceived, your likelihood of getting a job, your chances of being rented to, etc. are all impacted by your size. The result is people who are thinner being socially and economically privileged over those who are fatter. If a similarly qualified thin person and fat person are competing for a job, for example, the interviewer will often feel a strong preference for the thin person and (generally subconsciously) view the fat applicant as lazy or as having poor hygiene, regardless of the individual facts. The same person making a business or academic presentation in a fat suit is judged far more harshly by the same audience than when they present as their thin self. And this characterizes every social interaction a person has, so that the cumulative effect is substantial. It’s not as simple as the fat person saying fuck you to people who smirk at her. This is like responding to the research that found that resumes that were sent to potential employers with white-sounding names had a much higher chance of making it into the “interview” pile than identical ones with black-sounding names by suggesting that the black applicants tell potential employers to go fuck off. When there is built-in systemic bias, individuals can’t just sort of choose to rise above it. And suggesting that they do is patronizing and shows that you’re not paying attention.

    Additionally, claiming that thin privilege exists does not pit thin women against fat women. I am thin, and I am privileged by it. I can acknowledge that and be aware of it on a daily basis without feeling enmity for those who are less privileged in this way. And being aware of my privilege makes me a good ally to those who are not privileged. Denying it makes me a part of the problem.

    It seems to me that the reason why you feel the need to reject thin privilege (which is the only sense I can make of the title of this post) is that if you acknowledge the existence of it, it will mean that “your girls” are privileged and don’t deserve our empathy and concern. But that’s also a misunderstanding, although I can see why it seems that way. Just because, generally speaking, being thin puts you at an advantage in our culture, this doesn’t mean that each and every thin person is living in a world full of rainbows and unicorns. No doubt those with EDs suffer greatly. And nobody here is trying to deny that by insisting that thin privilege exists. Imagine if a person argued to you that white privilege doesn’t exist in our country because a black artist has a better chance of succeeding in the world of rap music. You would say “sure, in that niche a black person has a better chance of success, but generally speaking, blacks are still at a considerable disadvantage economically and socially in our society.” In other words, the hardships that a white artist will face in trying to break into the rap world does not eradicate the fact that white people as a group are privileged. It just doesn’t. So I don’t think you have to feel as if embracing the concept of thin privilege means abandoning women with EDs or denying their hardships. Because it really doesn’t. In fact, acknowledging the depth of the problem in our culture will hopefully lead us all to be more understanding of and empathetic to those who suffer from EDs. But I also don’t think you can address the issues of body image and our cultural standard of beauty without acknowledging the role thin privilege plays in our culture. And it would be hypocritical to try. So once again, you (mamaV) have to decide whether you’re reaching out to a broader audience, or are only concerned with women with EDs. If your concern is only those with EDs, then thin privilege may not be that big of a deal for you. But if you wish to be inclusive, as your header image suggests, then you need to listen and acknowledge the power of thin privilege in our culture.

    • meganmae says:

      10 points to Rachel in WY.

      As a fat person and someone who had an eating disorder, I’d like to just say that discovering the concept of thin privilege has helped me. Understanding how thin privilege works–and that the privileges that come with being thin should be afforded to all people, regardless of weight–has helped me embrace a more healthy attitude towards food and other women and my body, three things that were all formerly at dangerous odds.

      I’m a graduate student working on a certificate of advanced study in rhetoric and composition, and I have to say that mamaV’s behavior regarding this issue is remarkably typical. Whenever my fellow students encounter privilege for the first time–usually white privilege, but not always–they always fight really, really hard to undermine their own privilege by pointing out that they aren’t privileged because their family was poor! or whatever. Which is not to say that there isn’t class privilege, but often, people who are new to the idea really can’t stand the thought that there are ways that they get unearned advantage in life that other people don’t.

      The good news is that most of those students snap the hell out of it after a month or two. Maybe there’s hope for mamaV and everyone else on this blog who continues to Not Get It? I can only hope so.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Rachel: Thanks for your patience on my responses here! OK, here goes, to your point;

      Additionally, claiming that thin privilege exists does not pit thin women against fat women. I am thin, and I am privileged by it. I can acknowledge that and be aware of it on a daily basis without feeling enmity for those who are less privileged in this way. And being aware of my privilege

      Thin privilege exists. I am thin privileged. I am not denying it nor have I ever denied it —that’s just silly. You and I both know that, we live it right?

      My point is that I don’t believe that calling thin privilege out is a smart “strategy” for FA (and it does need to be a strategy in order to get the average person on board–or to even listen).

      (AND — truth be told….deep inside I do believe there is this ingrained bone of contention between the fat and thin….its just natural because of our society. This means thin women like us may be taken seriously 99.99% of the time when talking about FA. But that teeny, tiny percent is there that divides us. And it will always divide us — and on days when it blows like with the Jelly saga, all the ugliness is out in full force (on both sides, myself included). We all run to our side of the fence and it is natural to start defending your side because we are all hurt! The solution? Hopefully this forum for discussion where we get real on this crap).

      Back to my point – here’s a story that may help articulate my point regarding thin privilege not being a good strategy– after the Jelly blowout, I went away for the weekend with my kids, husband and parents. I told my parents what the debate was about, and I explained thin privilege (in the exact words Sweet Machine posted them). I did not give them any indication on where I stood on the topic (my parents are used to all this body image talk, and lately I have been educating them on FA, what I learned from meeting Kate H, etc). They looked at me with blank stares and said in unison “Are you kidding?” Now my parents are very compassionate individuals, my kids even joke good ole’ Grandpa about his rather large tummy :), but they were totally dumbfounded (now stay with me here for a sec and lets not go off on the “of course, they are in denial” path).

      This launched into a major convo about it, and at the end of the day I concluded this — when speaking to the “average” person, you and I need to really, really be aware of the level at which we articulate our views, because for most people this not only goes right over their heads, it seems nuts. This is why a focus on “fat discrimination” will go a hell of a long way towards change. When using the words “fat discrimination,” we’ve immediately got a vast majority of people on the FA side….or at least one hell of a lot more.

      Bottomline — the term thin privilege is a divider. The term fat discrimination is an icebreaker, and a move towards change.

      • B says:

        You know, I’m going to cut mamaV some slack and agree with this point. With the general public, privilege is a very divisive term. And I think, although it may be taboo to say so, that a person’s political party here in the U.S. will also have quite a strong influence on how these terms are receieved.

        Using concepts like privilege in a movement for social change is going to be a bad strategy — because as we’ve seen here, it’s not a term well-understood by most people. There have been many intelligent, thoughtful commenters here who are hearing the term for the first time, or simply can’t get past their associations with the term. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used in the FA community, or discussed on body image forums such as these — but rather that the effectiveness of the terminology on a wider platform is limited at best, if not damaging to the cause.

        And, if you’re a person that subscribes to the belief that all Americans have equal opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (see: my entire family), using terminology like privilege is going to shut down conversation right off the bat.

        That said, I do feel that this site is an appropriate forum for concepts such as privilege. I hope that we’re all open to learning about new concepts, even if we have knee-jerk reactions against them.

      • chaelaking says:

        But why is it divisive? Isn’t privilege just the flip side of discrimination? If there’s some systemic force in place to prevent one group from getting the jobs and education and respect, then isn’t it obvious that those jobs and educational opportunities and respect go to someone else? If white Americans agree that racial minorities are often discriminated against, who do they think benefits from that discrimination? Of course this doesn’t mean that whites knowingly or intentionally benefit from white privilege. But isn’t it obvious that if things are being withheld from one group, the other group is benefiting?

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        mamaV,

        A couple of things here. I guess your point about thin privilege only applying to using it as a strategy wasn’t at all clear from the OP. The “spare me” line came off as pretty condescending and denialish. But OK, let’s say we’re only talking strategy. It may be the case that pointing out thin privilege is not a great strategy for FA activists. But I think that acknowledging our thin privilege is a necessary condition for allies. It often feels like people in the privileged group want to acknowledge discrimination without also owning the benefits they get by virtue of that discrimination. But owning this fact doesn’t make us bad people – we didn’t set up this system which benefits us! And beyond that, it doesn’t really matter whether we acknowledge it or not – it’s a measurable fact about the world.

        However, I do think that the way in which we discuss it is very important, and we do need to be sensitive about how we introduce and explain it. So I agree that you’re on to something here. I’ve been hanging around the fatosphere for some time, and I personally have never seen anyone verbally assaulting another commenter with thin privilege. This doesn’t mean it never happens, of course, but it doesn’t seem to be terribly common. But even if it did happen, I don’t see that as a reason to throw out this very useful concept. Instead, we should gently try to correct those who are using it as a bludgeon, and refuse to use it that way ourselves. And this goes for the concepts of male and white and able-bodied and straight and cis privilege as well. But I agree that we should be sensitive when introducing the concept, and explain it in simple terms. There’s a plethora of evidence of this privileging that we can appeal to as well.

        As for the possibility that people can grasp the concept… I’ve been teaching college level courses that deal with these issues for a number of years now, and I’ve honestly never come across anyone who couldn’t grasp the concept, given a little bit of time and explanations and examples. And trust me, my students aren’t some kind of geniuses. Some of the courses in which I teach this stuff are freshman and sophomore courses, and these students are not women’s studies or gender studies majors. For many of them this is new. And many of them do feel defensive when first hearing about privilege, and feel that their status as privileged people makes them bad, or unworthy or something. But this is easily dispelled by discussing how they were born into a preexisting system that they did not choose. And I think this kind of frank and patient discussion is the antidote to the problems you’ve identified, rather than completely shying away from discussing how a hierarchical society privileges some at the expense of others.

        And this discussion can be valuable to those who are hurt by the privileging as well. We should discuss this with women with EDs, because it’s not their fault that they have internalized these ideas about the value of being thin. It’s not their fault that they (often) equate control of their bodies with moral goodness or personal worthiness. They have been (implicitly) taught this from birth, and it’s NORMAL to internalize the messages of your culture. So I don’t think the idea that discussing thin privilege hurts thin people is a good reason to chuck it either. Heck, I spent years as a child and teen resenting my appearance, because I wrongfully associated it with the fact that I was molested as a child. Does this mean I should deny the existence of beauty privilege? No. I am privileged by accidentally conforming to the beauty standard. Did that cause my abuse? No. I can condemn the behavior of my abusers while still feeling OK about myself, not assessing my worth based on my appearance, and condemning our cultural values which do construct me as worthwhile only because of my looks.

        Of course this is all complicated shit and takes a lot of time to sort out. But I think clear sight and a calm and thoughtful approach will lead us to see that we can’t acknowledge discrimination and oppression without also acknowledging the flip side, that being privileged does not make us bad people or mean we should shut up, and that being sensitive to this is the starting point for all advocacy.

  40. stacia says:

    This idea about teaching kids about thin privilege is absurd. You don’t have to teach your kids about thin privilege – your culture is doing it for you, right now, as we speak. And this is what puts our daughters at danger for developing EDs. Kids absorb the values of their culture. They’re exposed to media and other kids and the conversations of adults. They know from a very early age that fat is bad and thin is good. Hence the brutal teasing at school. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we teach kids about thin privilege. The idea is that we teach kids that what they learn from their culture about fat and thin people is false – that thin people aren’t more valuable or hard-working or smart. But if you’re in denial about thin privilege you can’t raise kids who will reject the cultural bullshit all around them.

  41. chaelaking says:

    I would suggest that mamaV (and all the contributors, perhaps) watch some of the footage of various journalists putting on the fat suit and living a day in it, and their reflections on how totally differently they were treated when in the fat suit. In fact, I would be really interested to see mamaV spend a day in the fat suit – where nobody knows who she really is and that she’s involved in this experiment of wearing the suit. I think this eye-rolling is simply a matter of missing the point, and perhaps some first-hand experience would help to open her mind and give her that “aha” moment.

  42. Meg'n says:

    “Spare me?” Really? And you want us to believe that you’re not dismissing thin privilege? Beyond that, this is talking down, and shows that your arrogance and smugness haven’t been impacted by “Jellygate” in the least.

  43. Veronica says:

    MamaV – I read & reread your post many times. I understand your point, but don’t understand what it is you were trying to accomplish.

    Yes, the jelly-gate post got out of hand & there was a flurry of emotions unleashed by everyone. Time and again it seemed people wanted some validation that you understood the unacceptability of your comments.

    I’ve followed this blog since, and still feel an underlying problem with your attitude. I can see your passion & desire to help people, specifically young women with ED’s. But it feels as though you prefer to ‘force’ a bond with the commenters that take the time to post here. And I don’t know how successful that will be for you.

    For me, it is difficult returning to this blog because I see the value slipping away. You know, I have white privilege, thin privilege, beauty privilege, money privilege and probably many other privileges I’m not even aware of. I want to interact with people, to learn from them, possibly have them learn from me. To gain a connection that wouldn’t have been possible without this phenomenon we call blogging.

    For the most part, this blog has been helpful in gaining those connections with others. And I get your point. It is hard as a thinner women of privilege to be heard by many women here that are of larger size than I am. Sometimes they react too quickly & don’t hear me. Sometimes their views are too narrow and they can’t see my point. Sometimes it feels to me that they don’t want to engage in conversations with others that do not share their views or struggles.

    However, I feel your post did more harm than good. You are a women of smaller size, and when you speak, whether it is your intention or not, people here view your statement as ‘thin viewpoints’. And your view points couldn’t be further from mine in any way.

    Don’t misunderstand me, the six point above have tremendous merit. But the tone in which they come across, coupled with what you said in the video, do not show your care, concern or love for women that have suffered with issues that you & I have NEVER HAD TO DEAL WITH.

    “I took the past few weeks to ponder, read your comments, do some research, and attempt to cool down after Jelly Gate. The cool down part didn’t work.”

    It speaks volumes that your attempt to cool down didn’t work. While doing all your pondering, reading & research, did you take any time to just think about why people with negative views responded to you in the manner in which they did? Or did you just knee-jerk react the same way they did?

    I thought Jelly-Gate was excellent because it got so many pople talking, and through those conversations, I thought many people tried to see the perspectives of those that held different views from their own. That was a beautiful thing.

    I would hope you would take the time to comment on my comment here. There is a lot of good that ‘could’ come from this blog, but we all must remain open – teachable- empathetic. While we do not all struggle with the same issues, we are all struggling. We need to learn to find a way to struggle together, to bring greater power from collective efforts and be support for one another.

    I await your response…

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Veronica: Thank you for your comments, I have always enjoyed reading what you have to say here. I will start with what I have learned from the commenters thus far;

      1) I have thin privilege.
      2) I have had it my entire life, and I recognize the distinct advantages that come along with being thin.
      3) I will not ever pretend to understand what it is to be obese.
      4) I have total compassion for overweight individuals, many of whom are my friends and family.

      Here is what I would like others to understand about me:
      1) This is not about me.
      2) I do this for my daughter.
      2) I do this for my 4th grade Girl Scout Troop.
      3) I do this for the hundreds of girls and young women I speak with daily through mamaV.
      5) I defended the honor of my morbidly obese dear friend as she was ridiculed and hurt — and then I watched her take her last breaths in hospice when she was only 50 years old.
      6) I have blogged about body image and eating disorders since 2006, and I learn something new every day.
      7) I am not afraid to ask questions, to be told I am ignorant, or to be shunned, because this is bigger than that.

      On to your point, you asked;

      It speaks volumes that your attempt to cool down didn’t work. While doing all your pondering, reading & research, did you take any time to just think about why people with negative views responded to you in the manner in which they did? Or did you just knee-jerk react the same way they did?

      Veronica, I can not tell you how much time I have spent thinking about what every single commenter has said here. I care about this topic so much it hurts sometimes, and my responses are so far from knee-jerk I promise you. I figure you care very much about these topics as well or you would not be here either.

      I have never, ever had so many people telling me what I should do, how I should do it, when I should do it, and how very stupid I am — which is very telling don’t you think? How far do you think the FA movement is going to get with this type of attitude?

      I predict they will not get one step beyond their own circle of friends unless they face the brutal reality of what I am trying to express here. In order to successfully end fat discrimination, FA needs to accept people, welcome them, no matter how much they have been personally hurt, so they encourage more individuals to join their cause.

      The response here tells me that I am up against a group of individuals who are extremely hurt, very passionate, and want to be understood. It also tells me that many come from “walled garden” blogs where they are not challenged, instead only joined by others so they can cheer each other on in their convictions. I find this scary and close minded. I sit here shaking my head in disbelief just as all of you do. There is so much selective hearing is going on –if an individual chooses what they want to hear from my comments, my videos, Jelly’s statements, all of it — where is the learning?

      Further, specifically on this post — I feel this group wants to wipe their hands clean and say “didn’t we discuss this to death?? Will ya shut it already!”

      One thing you will notice about my videos and my posts is that I am not afraid to be me. My style is my style. I am blunt and I say it like I feel it, and I will never be a phony. Why is that wrong? Why should I change? I think it would be scary for me to change…because then I would be trying to please people, or make myself popular…which is not the goal here. I know its hard to stomach, and I know it gets people fired up, but that is not why I do it. I do it because I NEED to. I do it to evoke thought, hopefully see some change and understanding (myself included).

      If people are looking for hugs and kisses, read some of the other contributors here and/or stay safe within the walled garden FA blogs.

      But – if you want to challenge yourself any peer into what the rest of the world thinks — don’t shout to me “YOU DONT GET IT!” — instead have the guts to read my posts/videos, get as pissed off as you want — but then at the end of the day, please take a moment and try to see if there is perhaps an ounce of truth in what I am attempting to share.

      Because, I can tell all of you — I have learned a great deal already, you have shifted my mind set, you have made me think outside of my box, and for that I do thank you.

      Sincere thanks,
      mV

      Sincerely,
      mV

      • Marlie says:

        I think I am hearing everything you are saying, but I am choosing to only respond to certain things.

        It also tells me that many come from “walled garden” blogs where they are not challenged, instead only joined by others so they can cheer each other on in their convictions. I find this scary and close minded.

        I think this comment is unfair to everyone. Anyone, at any size, trying to learn to love themselves and not put off life until certain goals are reached, might choose to avoid “triggering” blogs that halt that thinking. I was reading a post on a different blog, where a woman wanted to send her sister recovering from an ED non-triggering books. It is lovely to spare a struggling person from items that will make it more difficult for them to change their views of themselves. Many FA blogs have intermingled political commentary and personal accomplishments, so that they provide that safe haven. You have said before that WATRD is not a safe place, and that is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t seem right to apply negative connotations to places that are.

        Further, specifically on this post — I feel this group wants to wipe their hands clean and say “didn’t we discuss this to death??…

        I have said things along these lines. It is not that I don’t care what people or what you think, it’s that I don’t see any new ideas being presented. If we are agreeing to disagree, that is fine, because while this is an important topic, it is not the beginning or end of the body image discussion, and I think it will come up organically again. Like others, I don’t understand what is accomplished by forcing it now.

        I have never, ever had so many people telling me what I should do, how I should do it, when I should do it, and how very stupid I am — which is very telling don’t you think?

        I can only speak for myself, but in general I like this blog, and I think it could become a great space for the meeting of minds. Because it began as your idea, your baby, you are the personification of the blog. It may be unfair, but for me, more so than your contributors, when you say things that I disagree with or even find offensive, it is not just you, it is entire blog, despite any disclaimers. When I tell you what to do, or how to do it; it is not you specifically that I am telling. I don’t really mind what you as an individual do or say. But I would like the blog that I have invested myself in to become better, so I give you, as a representative of the blog, my opinions on how that could happen.

        Also, I do not know you’re entire background, but I have read some of your personal blog. Personal blogs, in general, no matter how heavily trafficked, have a bit of the “walled garden” aspect to them. I would guess that you are taking more criticism now, because you are in a place where less people agree with you. Also, sometimes you say things that don’t quite nurture what, I thought, the purpose of the blog is. Since the stated purpose of the blog is great, I think people feel the need to point out when anyone veers from it, including, and really, especially you.

        Finally, I think that people are saying”YOU DON’T GET IT” because in your post you seem to be refuting arguments that were never made.

        I can understand your feeling the need to make points 3 and 5 of your post, although I disagree with 5, and think that a lot of people are already trying to learn 3. Points 2 and 6 are good advice for everyone, so I am going to disregard the implication of including them here, in your list of advice for fat FA supporters(I think your list excludes thin FA supporters). But I don’t see how the other two apply to the majority(if any) of the comments posted.

        The entire FA movement is not based on thin privilege, nor contingent upon it. No one said that it was. A discussion of Thin Privilege was brought front and center by the blog, so that’s what we were talking about in proper staying-on-topic fashion.

        I address teaching or not teach children about privilege in a comment above

        • mamaV says:

          Hi Marlie: Thank you for your thoughts, I really appreciate your sincerity, and the fact that you took the time to comment here. Here is my feedback;

          I think this comment is unfair to everyone. Anyone, at any size, trying to learn to love themselves and not put off life until certain goals are reached, might choose to avoid “triggering” blogs that halt that thinking.

          I agree with you, we all need “safe” places, and I am glad there are walled gardens for FA individuals to share, be who they are, and have a true break from discrimination. Not everyone is ready to step out, and see what else is out there (nor do I judge them for not wanting to).

          However, am I safe to assume that the individuals who have landed here are looking to step outside that safe zone, and see what the other side of the world is saying? This has to be very difficult on many levels –I give you all a lot of credit for engaging in this dialogue.

          On the triggering topic, I have always taken the stance that “life is a trigger.” From an ED perspective, triggering is a major theme while going through inpatient and outpatient therapy, so my stance goes against that healing philosophy. I have had many, many debates on this topic as well (even going as far as posting Trigger Warnings for a while on mamaV). But I found that didn’t feel right to me. I felt like I was ignoring reality, and that is not the message I wanted to send to the girls on my blog (the community is quite young on mamavision 40% 12-18/40% 19-29/10% over). My goal is to help them get through it, and facing reality is part of that. It is their personal responsibility to decide when they are ready to read a blog such as mamaV, and part of healing from an ED is taking personal responsibility for your health- both mental and physical.

          The most interesting part about this is that I have had many girls who railed against me on this…and then came back later to say “thank you.” This was something that was so rewarding to me because I am human, I don’t know if what I am saying, or doing is right, or wrong, or nuts — but I say it anyway because this is what this forum is for right?

          And one thing I promise to all of you, and this is important because it goes to trust– if I change my POV on something, I will admit it — immediately. I will admit where I feel was wrong, ask for forgiveness, and lay it out there for all to see (you are all probably saying “yeah right, how about now woman???!!!) To date, there is only one thing that I have done on this blog that I regret — and that is not making clear my “Barbie” statements were sarcastic, and you all saw the apology post was immediate (I know, I know many said it was B.S., and I can’t worry about that). Other than that, this is my story and I am sticking to it no matter how nuts you all think I am! (Just think about how fun it will be when I have to come crawling back a few months or years from now and admit you were right!!). Hey, it could happen. 🙂

          On the question of drugging this stuff up again, you said: It is not that I don’t care what people or what you think, it’s that I don’t see any new ideas being presented.

          Although you say there are no new ideas being presented, further down in your commentary you gave great feedback on points 1-6…weren’t those new ideas to you? They were to me because as I said it took me a while to ponder them and articulate what I wanted to say. Bottomline is that during the last saga over this, I decided it was best to silence myself, and let everyone state their viewpoint. I sat back and listened, I “did my research” as many of you told me to do — and I feel like now that I came back– still in disagreement — that ticks everyone off.

          One important point I will sneak in here since you mentioned the FA scene is political and at time focused on personal accomplishments — I am not looking to further my education beyond the Bachelor degree I hold, I am sure as hell not politically correct, and I am not striving to be a scholar/author in any way shape or form. I think many here were expecting this from me, and got disappointed. I also think you can’t quite get over the shock of how I operate, which will likely take time to grow on you if you choose to stick around.

          I am just a mom, living my life with my kids, husband, and aging parents. I do this because it makes me feel like I am doing something that matters. When debates go up to a certain intellectual level (as they have in the past), you lose me. The brain power it takes for me to process what you are trying to say, and then articulate back what I feel is just not something I am interested in doing….so I guess that is a long way of saying some of you may need to dumb it down.

          It may be unfair, but for me, more so than your contributors, when you say things that I disagree with or even find offensive, it is not just you, it is entire blog, despite any disclaimers. When I tell you what to do, or how to do it; it is not you specifically that I am telling.

          I understand. This is logical, and it is an issue I have thought a great deal about. Here’s my problem — I can’t cooperate for the sake of making things how everyone wants them or expects them to be. I think we have done a good job sending the message “this is an experiment so lets see where it goes,” (at least I hope so?)

          My biggest concern on this is my contributors. I realize what I say reflects on them, so I always tell them to say what they think. You may have noticed Claire disagrees with me and she is very passionate about it — I think that is great, I completely respect her –plus this forum is different, you don’t really see contributors on the same blog disagreeing with each other anywhere else in the blogosphere do you? To me its interesting, but I am not sure everyone sees it that way!

          I can understand your feeling the need to make points 3 and 5 of your post, although I disagree with 5, and think that a lot of people are already trying to learn 3.

          I would like to speak to point #3 which is focused on the notion that “other people aren’t looking at you all the time. They are too caught up in their own crap – probably worried that everyone is looking at them”

          Another, more direct way to say this is “I don’t care what people think about me.” When I say this, people generally react and think it is crude to state this matter of fact — but is it? If yes, why? Are we socialized to not take this stance?

          Ahieving this in life is called freedom. Absolute and total freedom, but it is hard to achieve and hard to maintain — I hope you strive for it because all the time spent fretting about what others think could be poured into finding “you,” sharing yourself with others, being the best person you can be.

          Try this– in a given week, write down the number of times you catch yourself being worried about what someone thinks about you. It will probably shock you. It becomes this crazy habit, a part of normalcy that is so damaging. Here is a quote I have on my refrigerator, I read it when I come home after a long day of being pounded on this blog (kidding) and it gives me some comfort;

          “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
          — Ralph Waldo Emerson

          • Diana says:

            thank you for the quote and thank you for saying what you did so clearly and bluntly. I appreciate the straight-forwardness of it. I respect you for it, as well.

          • thegirlfrommarz says:

            mamaV – I appreciate your response to Marlie and don’t have the time to go into all of it, but I wanted to pick up your last point, about trying not to care what people think of you.

            I think you’re right that it’s healthy to try to worry less about whether people are judging you. The quote from Lessons from the Fatosphere also makes the point that most often you are worried about nothing and most people are focussed on their own issues, not thinking about you. I agree with all of that.

            However, the reason Thin Privilege comes up in this discussion is that it’s not as simple as deciding you don’t care what people think of you. There is a clear cultural disapproval of being fat. Fat people aren’t being paranoid when they think that their fat is being judged negatively by society – every day they are bombarded by messages that tell them that fat is ugly, shameful and wrong, and thin is happy, healthy and beautiful. They turn on the news in the morning and are warned about the “obesity epidemic” and its deleterious effects on the economy. They watch television and see the fat character played for laughs. And they are told every day, in thousands of subtle ways, that the only reason they aren’t thin is because they are lazy and gluttonous and bad.

            People as individuals probably aren’t looking at and judging you. It’s not worth getting anxious and upset on the off-chance that the person you passed on the street is thinking “what a big fat loser”, as chances are he/she is simply on his/her way somewhere and thinking about something totally different.

            However, it would be simplistic to deny that while a person (singular) probably isn’t judging you, people (plural) certainly are. Every time someone thinner than you laments that they are “so fat”; every time someone you know holds forth on why fat people should just eat less and exercise more and then they’d be thin; every time the doctor ignores what you’re telling them and tells you to lose weight, even if you’ve come in about an ear infection; every time the news illustrates stories about weight with headless pictures of very fat people as though this is representative of the obesity epidemic (the majority of people who are clinically obese are much smaller than that – not to say that it’s okay to judge people who are very fat; they have the same right to be treated with respect and dignity as anyone else) or blames the “obesity epidemic” for everything from climate change to lack of affordable healthcare; every time a celebrity magazine glamorises a celeb’s “new body” after weightloss and demonises them if they put on weight… that’s judgement from society about being fat. It’s not like the people you know or meet are all thinking “Lose some weight, fatass”, but (a) some of them probably are (and some of them are the kind of people who would shout insults out of the car window at a passerby, just because he or she happens to be fat), and (b) probably most of them agree, even if they wouldn’t say it around you, that those other fat people (you know, the fat people who aren’t people they know personally) are lazy and have no self discipline and don’t deserve to feel good about themselves until they lose some weight. Not having to deal with those negative assumptions and a cultural narrative of shaming for your body is a privilege of being thin. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the same awful pressure to make your body fit the single mold that our society tells us is okay (big boobs, hourglass waist, curvy but thin) or that being thin means that life is all wine and roses. It just means that there are some issues that you will not have to deal with which a fat person will have to deal with, and which you probably won’t understand fully and may not even know about (many examples have been given in the thread above). So if fat people are telling you that it really *is* an issue, listen to them. Some people have a chip on their shoulder and are angry with the world, but I don’t think that’s the case here. People are reasonably and rationally telling you that you’re not seeing thin privilege in action because you’re (entirely unconsciously!) benefiting from it. It’s like being immersed in water – until you bring your head up from underwater, you don’t see what’s all around you, it’s just normal to you. Until you listen to what people are telling you about thin privilege, reserve judgement and interrogate the world to see if what they’re saying is true, it can be really hard to see privilege in action as it applies to you. But the key point is to listen and assume good faith on the part of the people telling you that it’s a problem. Jelly clearly wasn’t acting in good faith, but the vast majority of commenters here have been and they deserve to have you consider the points they’ve made.

          • mamaV says:

            Howdy — just a quick note to say time got away from me today, so I will respond asap …..Rachel in WY first on the list!

            BTW — you guys may want to check out the post I just launched called The Audacity of Cope. I have a feeling you will all have a lot to say on that one as well (I didn’t write it!!)

            Have a good night all!
            mV

          • Veronica says:

            MamaV – why is it you are unable to write posts like this:

            “”The message I am having a hard time getting through (yes, I know I probably shoot myself in the foot with my attitude and style) is that I understand privilege, I am privy to it, I have never denied it, I would never deny it — its just silly to do so, and I would debate the reality of it as strong as you do above when confronted with a person in denial.

            I am objecting to the following:

            1) FA individuals on WARTD are appearing to deny the feelings of others, and this I can not allow nor agree with. We have gone around and around with this, and most if not all have explained this is not their intention. I get that and I trust they are genuine. But that is how a thin individual is made to feel, so at a minimum I would like us to get to a point that FA can say “I respect how you feel, I don’t understand it, but I respect it.” (then STOP there, don’t get into the “BUT its worse for me discussion”)

            2) FA individuals refusing to take thin women and their body issues seriously. My prodding has finally led some to admit they can not and will not listen to or take advice on body image issues from a thin woman. The rebuttal is that if you are thin, you can not possibly understand what it is to be obese. Agreed 100%. There is no denying this.

            But can we not find some similarities? In the spirit of attempting to come together, can we keep this door open?

            I can and I will. Will you? I can accept advice and/or listen to an obese woman give me advice about body image, acceptance, confidence, etc. It’s because I don’t see her as some polar opposite, this sounds really dorky, but she is my sister and friend.

            When I met with Kate Harding, I was very surprised to hear how her advice, feelings, and perspective with fat acceptance was identical to my advice, feelings, and perspective with eating disordered women. I am talking IDENTICAL. This really made me pause. Actually, it completely freaked me out. I didn’t expect this.

            I am not talking “kind of” relating, it was total relating, Kate using the EXACT same words I do to evoke self confidence. There is something bigger here.

            It is this that keeps tap, tap tapping me on the shoulder to pay attention. I assure you this is a major stumbling block we need to get through on WARTD, and I believe if we do, we could do amazing things.

            3) FA should not use TP as a strategy. When I think about FA attempting to sway the average person to their cause, I envision a total nightmare situation of TP coming up as a topic, and FA losing all the momentum they have gained. In the thin world, the words you use matter — and TP is distinctly different than “Fat Discrimination.” Trust me on this one, leave TP alone, discuss it in your circles, and instead bring out the Fat Discrimination card to gain allies.

            I am talking big picture here – for example, if we say an ultimate goal is to have laws against fat discrimination in every state. The words fat discrimination hits hard with the average person, they don’t want it, they don’t want to be a part of it or be accused of being a part of it. But bring in TP, and you have now made it personal. You have now pointed the finger at them (intentional or not)…and its game over.

            On this last point, I think this is where my advocacy comes in. FA needs the average person on their side and thin people have the ability to relate to them in a way the obese can not. If I scold a person for making fun of a fat person, it is a lot different than a fat person scolding someone. It’s just the way it is…..and we are all working to change it.

            Thank you for caring about this!””

            Personally, (and I am open to the fact that I may be wrong about this) the manner in which you wrote this original post was poor form.

            Several people have suggested you take more time with your writing. From this comment I found on Sarah’s site: http://sayhealth.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/thoughts-on-privilege-of-the-thin-sort-and-beyond/#comments

            I can see that you are able to speak in an articulate & caring manner.

            If your passion for saving young girls lives is real, you should try to reflect that in your posts before you’re bombarded with anger. Just a thought…

          • Marlie says:

            I just don’t understand why it upsets people so much to have thin privilege.

            I’m not upset about any of the privileges I have. They’re just there. I live my life, try to be good to people and remember that they’re living a different life than mine. Isn’t that what all of you do? Why do you act as though this concept takes something from you?

            As to FA using it as an argument, I don’t think that is done. I read several FA blogs, and I have never read about thin privilege as much as I have here.

          • Anna says:

            Here’s the thing – and I’m aware this isn’t going to be popular – I do feel that unlike the other stuff which I have in my life where privelege is attached (whiteness, middle-classness, Britishness etc.) which I only got by a question of luck, I did make myself thin (well, I’m not really properly thin yet, just not overweight any more – BMI ~24).

            I corrected years of bad eating habits taught to me by my obese parents and learned self-control and proper eating habits which lead to my losing weight.

            Also, although being overweight is obviously not in itself a moral decision, I do attribute my weight loss mostly to making a moral decision – going vegan.

            So I’m saying all this blurs the topic for me. Did I deserve the years of bullying I got at school because I was overweight? – no. But am I going to see it as an unearned privilege because somebody I know comments on my weight loss in a positive way and says I’m looking good? – no, I’m not; I worked hard for this.

            The problem with the word privilege is that it does immediately conjure up the idea of something which is just given to you. If one thinks of the most privileged person in the world it might be Paris Hilton – who did not earn most of her money (because she’s an heiress) and earned her fame through sleeping with a guy on and taping it (not what I’d call “hard work”).

            I think I would have less of a problem with the term “privilege” being attached to, what I consider as my “achievement”, if I believed the stuff some people in the FA community like to say about “You only lost weight because you have one of the 5% of bodies that can lose weight” because then it would be much more down to luck. However, I think the logic behind saying that is entirely specious and my body is no different from *most* other people’s bodies.

            I suppose I was lucky in that I found a way to lose weight that worked for me – because even when my willpower is low and I don’t care gaining weight anymore, I can remind myself that if I eat that milk chocolate or cheese I will be funding the veal industry and find the strength to resist it. But this “luckiness” at finding something that works doesn’t mean it’s taken no effort – I still had to give up eating all animal products (which are in so many things) and pick healthy foods and exercise a little bit (because if I sat on my arse all day eating vegan cheesecake I doubt I would have lost a pound).

            And furthermore – and this could just be because I’ve only gone from very overweight (BMI 29.9) to the top of normal weight (~24), rather than morbidly obese to super skinny – I haven’t really noticed much of a difference in my treatment since losing weight. It’s true that I was treated horribly at school with people picking on my weight all the time, but that all stopped once I left school. Before losing the weight, I hadn’t had anyone even mention my weight since I left school, let alone say anything negative about it. Now, I occasionally get a nice comment from a friend or relative along the lines of “Ooh, have you lost weight?” which makes me feel good but I hardly see this as a really massive privelege.

            And now looking back at the negative treatment I suffered through, part of me thinks that they just wanted to pick on me and used my weight as a way to get to me. You know, when you get into an argument with someone and you really want to hurt them – you look for the thing which will upset them the most or any physical “flaw” you can draw attention to.

            And I think the preaching of “thin privilege” can also be problematic because it can lead some people to attribute all positive or negative treatment to privilege – “You got a job? – It’s only because you’re skinny and I’m not”, “Somebody threw something at me in the street – It’s because I’m fat” etc. Whilst this might be true a lot of the time, if you go out looking to ascribe things to prejudice, you will find prejudice everywhere you look, even where it’s not true. Like on Monday, I was walking back from the place where I volunteer giving free legal advice and some yobbo kids decided to do that thing where they pretend they are going to cycle into you on their bikes and then swerve at the last second – if I had been fat and spending a lot of time on FA blogs I would have said they were doing it because I was fat, but being of normal weight I know that they were just morons who were looking for entertainment. So I think people need to remember that some people are just jerks and would be a jerk to you whatever your weight.

            So, yeah, long rambly post but in conclusion – I don’t think “thin privilege” is such a clear cut thing. It exists, to a certain extent, but I wouldn’t like to say it’s exactly equivalent to be privileged in terms of being born into a wealthy family or being privately educated.

          • Orodemniades says:

            Anna, o dear lord, please tell me you are not saying that all fat people are fat because they “eat wrong”. That’s like saying all black people love watermelon and fried chicken or that all Asians own corner stores.

            I mean, c’mon, that’s ridiculous.

            I really hate it when people talk about their diets and eating plans. Always comes across as pretentious and ‘holier than thou’ (or is it ‘healthier than thou?! Ha!), and honestly, you’re no exception.

            Oh, and by the way, I think you need to take a serious look at the BMI Project. http://kateharding.net/bmi-illustrated/

            And yes, it is exactly like being born into a wealthy family or being privately educated (and I speak as one who’s been to both public (in the American sense) and private schools.

          • Anna says:

            Orodemniades,

            A) I’ve already seen the BMI project. I know it was meant to prove how stupid the BMI system is, but I think it fails massively in doing so as I was able to guess most peoples’ BMIs within a couple of points from looking at them. Yes, BMI is rather simplistic and not massively scientific, but as a crude blunt basic instrument it serves a purpose (although I think waist-height ratio is generally considered a much, much better indicator in terms of health).

            I only mentioned my BMI to clarify that out I’d gone from being almost obese (a pound or two away) from being a few pounds away from being overweight, so if there were to be any difference in treatment it might not kick in at those weights as I’ve spent my whole life up until now in the overweight category and so obviously my experiences are going to be different than someone with, say, a BMI of 45 or 17.

            B) Please point me to the part of my comment where I said “all fat people are fat because they eat wrong” – because I think you actually just made that up on your own.

            I said *I* ate wrong – I had chocolate 3 times a day – minimum, frequent midnight snack feasts, a packet or two of crisp/potato chips, mounds of cheese and I was constantly going hypoglycemic from it all and as a consequence I was overweight. My parents had raised me to think that this was normal and to use food to alter my feelings. I had a little bit of a revelation after doing some reading on compulsive eating – I realised I thought about food all the time except when eating and when eating I’d eat as quick as I could so I could get a little “high” from it.

            Although, I honestly do think most overweight people probably are “eating wrong” and so are a hell of a lot of skinny people. The human body wasn’t built to live in a world where food is available whenever you want it so consequently a lot of us have a rather fucked up relationship with food. And also if you look at the food which makes up the “Standard American Diet” nowadays – well, a lot of it I don’t think should even be called food.

            I recognise there are some people with thyroid issues etc. that makes losing weight more difficult and gaining it much easier, but the studies I’ve read seem to suggest that this is about 2% of overweight people and the rest are just “eating wrong”. I know I blamed my “bad metabolism” and genes until I realised just what shite I had been eating.

            What I said was that I don’t think my body is any different from *most* people’s. There is this mad, unscientific belief in the FA community that calories have nothing to do with weight gain or loss and that if you manage to keep weight off for a long time you have a weird body and are a “freak of nature” – I totally don’t buy this as a concept. It’s just hard to lose weight and even harder to keep it off as it requires constant vigillence. As I said, had it not been for the peculiar moral aspect of my “diet” (veganism), I probably would have “fallen off the wagon” many times and struggle much more with my weight than I do. It’s just a really hard thing to do when your body is designed to put on as much weight as it can to keep you ready in case there’s a famine coming.

            So, no, it’s not the same in my mind as being born into a wealthy family or having your parents put you into private school. That just happens to you (unless you get a scholarship of course). Gaining control over my bad eating habits which had the consequence of me gaining control of my weight required a lot of mental and physical exertion on my behalf and I think it’s something that I earned.

          • Nikki says:

            I think the purpose of the BMI project is to show #1 that people who are overweight can be extremely active (i.e. Kate Harding’s yoga photo) and #2 to show that people we wouldn’t necessarily judge as “fat” are actually obese according to the BMI.

            I caught the first few minutes of The Biggest Loser the other night. The competitors seem to be in the 300-400 lb. range. They are shown at home shoveling fast food into their mouths, unable to play with their children or walk up a flight of stairs. This is what most Americans think of when they hear “obese.” What most Americans don’t realize is that Kate Harding, the woman who is often told she’s too thin to be a voice of the FA movement, is technically obese.

            By your own admission, Anna, you have stated that your behaviors mimicked these participants, yet your BMI did not place you in the “obese” category. Surely this shows you that genetics or other factors play some role in weight loss/gain?

            Lastly, I refer back to Rachel’s comment stating that IT DOES NOT MATTER whether you are thin as a result of genetics or strict dieting or hours in the gym. Fat discrimination, and the flip side of that coin which is Thin Privilege, are WRONG. We should be working to eradicate them, not arguing over whether or not people can lose weight if they try hard enough. Seriously, who is benefitting from that argument?

          • Anna says:

            “By your own admission, Anna, you have stated that your behaviors mimicked these participants, yet your BMI did not place you in the “obese” category. Surely this shows you that genetics or other factors play some role in weight loss/gain?”

            No, it was probably more to do with the fact that I was only 18 years old before starting to get a grip and I’d already got up to 165lbs which is the border of obesity for me. My eating was also becoming more disordered as I got older; although I’d always been given 3 bars of chocolate a day as a child since aged 5ish and portions that were the same size as my parents, it was really as a teenager the problem became worse and I started midnight snacking, serious comfort eating etc. and it was getting worse.

            I have little doubt that if I’d left it another 10-20 years so that I was a similar age to the contestants on that show I’d be at very least 250lbs, probably a lot more.

            The issue of genes is a tricky one though. I think they can make a bit of a difference here and there and explain why some people find it easier/harder to lose/gain weight but I honestly have a hard time believing that they can make someone 300lbs without being coupled with portion sizes which are too large and/or unhealthy food. If you believe the whole calories in vs. calories out thing (as I do) – that’s just too many excess calories to blame on the lack of calories going out alone. It’s like I would have a hard time believing someone who weighed 80lbs if they said it was *only* because of their genes.

            And there are things that blaming it all on genes doesn’t explain – such as 1) Why the US obesity rate has shot up from 10% in the 1960s to 33% today (unless are genes are “getting worse”), 2) Why obesity rates vary by geographic regions and 3) Why obesity rates increase depending on country’s developmental stage (as their society and diet becomes more “Americanised”, their obesity rates increase).

            So all I said was I really don’t buy the accepted argument in the FA community that your weight is pre-determined to just be what it is and it has nothing to do with the food you consume whatsoever. If I did then I would accept that being able to lose weight was just some stroke of luck that I was born with and would be more equatable with being born white into a middle-class family in a country with free education, health care etc. and the associated privileges that go with them. So that is why I think it *is* relevant to the discussion of the nature of thin privilege.

            Because if it is something you have to work to achieve, is it really exactly the same as the other privileges? Is being privileged in terms of wealth exactly the same for the people who were born with rich parents and did nothing and the people who were born with poor parents who worked really hard to get a well-paying job? You both have money but is it really a “privilege” for the latter?

            And I never ever condone treating overweight people badly – as I said, I was made thoroughly miserable throughout my childhood and teenage years because of people picking on my weight. But if you want to have a proper discussion of thin privilege I think one must start with whether the notion and the label itself are completely valid.

          • Synna says:

            But Anna, YOU don’t individually get to decide what name is given to thin privilege. There is much academic work on privilege as a concept (insert white/class/able bodied before it) so it IS a well recognised and defined term. the ‘thin’ is just another descriptor.

            To come in and say ‘well, I don’t like TP so you guys have to call it something else so my feellings aren’t hurt’ is insulting and patronising.

            I don’t know if you intend for your comments to be taken that way, but that’s how it affects me.

          • Orodemniades says:

            I see that threading has kind have gone the way of the Dodo for some reason.

            Anyway, I just wanted to say that I honestly just can’t any more of this particular post. I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall, so I’m done.

            However, I would like to add just one more thing, and I think this is from another blog war from, oh, maybe Feministe or Shakesville, something that happened in the spring or maybe even last year, something I think AngryBlackBitch (or BrownFemiPower?! I can’t remember) said:

            Speak less, listen more.

          • Rachel_in_WY says:

            If you believe the whole calories in vs. calories out thing (as I do)

            This is probably a part of the issue, then. This is based on outdated science. Even back when I was a personal trainer in the late 90s they knew that this isn’t the same for each person, and there’s a lot of genetic variation in how your body adjusts to changes in caloric intake. The newest research shows that each person’s body has a sort of “target weight” it tends to want to be. And whenever conditions even out (you stop dieting and go onto a maintenance diet, your thyroid level is returned to an appropriate level, you have a baby, or stop breastfeeding, or whatever…) your body will naturally return to this weight. And if you’ve lost weight to be below that target weight, and are now consuming less calories to try to maintain the weight loss, your body will simply become more efficient and your metabolism will adjust in order to allow your body to gradually return to that target weight. This is thought to explain the stat that something like 95% of people who lose weight can’t keep it off. And it works the other way too. If your body wants to be thin, you can’t keep the weight on. I can’t. After periods of having low thyroid when I’ve gained a few pounds, and after I had my kid, and after I was inactive for several months after knee surgery, my body relentlessly returned to it’s target weight with no dieting or special exercise regime.

            So I think part of the issue is that there’s a lot of cultural mythology left floating around that’s based on outdated and inaccurate ideas. And I suspect that these ideas are perpetuated because they benefit the multi-billion dollar diet and fitness industries.

          • Joy says:

            Anna, what I see you doing is normalizing your own experience and broadly applying it to a large group of people who are strangers to you. You say that you were overweight because you ate poorly and then go on to say that you also think that most fat people are fat because they eat poorly, too. You have no basis for this assumption. Even if you say that you’ve seen lots of fat people eating McDonald’s, you have know way of knowing if they regularly eat fast food or if this is an anomaly. You can say that your parents are fat because they eat high fat/low nutrient foods, but your parents represent only themselves, not all fat people.

            FA and HAES, in my experience, do not generally say that there is one single weight at which an individual’s body is most comfortable, but rather that each person has a set range in which their body is most comfortable. People might weigh below this due to illness/EDs or above it due to eating more than their body needs. So yes, of course the food you eat has some relation to your weight, but it’s not the ONLY thing. There is also evidence that past famines can actually change how DNA is expressed in the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those directly affected. It’s not necessarily that genes are “getting worse,” but rather that they’re being expressed differently due to external environmental factors.

            Because you worked hard to lose weight and have so far kept it off is certainly an achievement, but I don’t see it as relevant to this discussion. Just because you were able to do so doesn’t mean all people can. I’ve lost weight (25 lbs or so) multiple times and each time I gained it back. At my lowest I was a the high end of “normal” and now at my highest I am borderline obese. I eat just as well now as I did then – the difference is that now I’m actually eating enough and not hungry all the time. I still exercise, walk almost everywhere, and lead a generally active life. I still don’t think it matters why people are thin or fat because those snap judgments that lead to privilege doesn’t know why we look the way we do, but I also find it offensive that you seem to genuinely think that you can apply your experience to so many people you know nothing about.

          • Synna says:

            Thank you

          • mamaV says:

            Hi Anna: Thank you for having the courage to speak your opinion and not be afraid. I am reading your comments, as well as many others, so don’t be intimidated by backlash….if that is even possible!

            I need to go back and read through the thread, so I don’t have an opinion on what you are saying one way or another, but I wanted to send some encouragement in the meantime….it know it is not easy.
            mV

          • Orodemniades says:

            *headdesk*

            Y’know what, I’m not going to argue with you, because clearly I wouldn’t be getting anywhere. I could tell you about my personal experience with food and exercise and how none of it made a damn bit of difference, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been told ad infinitum that since I’m still fat, I’m doing it wrong.

            Don’t lose weight from exercise? Not exercising enough. No lost weight after seeing a personal trainer for 6 months? Not doing the right exercises. No lost weight after working out 12 hours a week for 8 months? Not doing enough. Don’t lose weight from change in diet? Not eating the right things/too much/don’t eat after 5pm yadda yadda yadda.

            All I can say is that it must be nice. Enjoy your privilege, I hope someday you see it for what it is.

          • wriggles says:

            There is this mad, unscientific belief in the FA community that calories have nothing to do with weight gain or loss

            Excuse me, but the only mad belief here is the one that believes that there is a co-ordinated international conspiracy on the part of fatties to pretend diets dont work.

            There is nothing ‘scientific’ about weight loss dieting, except the fact that it doesn’t work.

            Work, means effective, it doesn’t mean occasionally someone can manage to become a proto anorexic.

            And please spare us the I’ve work so hard….. I’ve worked like a dog to fail at dieting over decades and hate myself for it too. So what?! Get over yourself.

          • julia says:

            Wriggles: “proto anorexic”

            …because bashing someone because of their size is OK if they’re thin…

            And there’s no way to lose weight that doesn’t include starving oneself and isn’t hard hard work that’s doomed to failure.

            I’m sorry, that’s just not true.

            I’m sorry also that you’ve hated yourself for your failure at losing weight. But you also need to get over yourself a bit, and stop with the judgment based on body size… you don’t like it when people do it to you, I think.

          • wriggles says:

            Julia,

            Sorry, I should have warned you that my views are not the same as everyone in FA.

            Proto anorexia, refers to the early stages of anorexia, and that is what weight loss dieting is, being in this state doesn’t =thin. I have absolutely no interest in bashing people on the basis of their weight, unless it exposes their hypocrisy.

            And there’s no way to lose weight that doesn’t include starving oneself and isn’t hard hard work that’s doomed to failure.

            Er, I think you must have mixed me up with someone else.

            This is a very important point though. We have all been told that it is weight loss dieting or nothing- to lose weight. Therefore we either believe in weight loss dieting or nothing.

            However, I think that saying weight loss dieting doesn’t work is not the same thing as saying that weight loss is not possible.

            That in my opinion is clearly false. I’ve known a few people over the years who’ve lost weight as a side effect of other change in their lives, sometimes, they can’t even say why or how, they just have.

            Also, everyday everyone’s weight fluctuates in order for energy to be used, it doesn’t hurt and we don’t consciously direct.

            Therefore, we know that it is possible for the body to relinquish weight, painlessly. What we don’t know is how to connect this, either directly or indirectly to our conscious will.

            The point is the idea that it’s WL dieting or nothing is coming from obesity scientists/ researchers/doctors etc.

            If something is occuring it cannot be impossible, can it?

            Oh and by the way, I said I hated myself for it, because I’m a moral person and I thought I was failing at something I should be succeeding at. I have gotten over it, but thanks for you concern.

          • julia says:

            Wriggles,

            Weight loss dieting, if you mean dieting-to-lose-weight, does *not* equal “proto anorexia”.

            It does not have to mean starving yourself, restricting food groups, feeling inordinate amounts of guilt over straying from rigid diet plans, etc. etc. (all the things I tend to hear described as “weight loss diets” which are really “unsustainable and overly restrictive diets”.)

            I just get a little sick of the inability people have to imagine that there is more than one way (the unhealthy and destructive way) to go about weight loss.

            I did the unsustainable and overly restricitive diet thing myself for a long time, with similar sense of failure – I’m not being fake-concerned for you.

            I’m of two minds about intentional weight-loss these days.

            I’ve done it sensibly and slowly and guilt-freely, and I get tired of hearing that that approach doesn’t exist, or doesn’t work – or means I’m an anorexic-in-waiting. It’s insulting.

            I lost weight consciously, and without abusing my body or my psyche. No “good” foods and “bad” foods, no starvation or physical torture. It wasn’t even hard – just slow.

            I also think it’s completely valid to say “I’m done caring about whether or not I lose or gain weight, I’d like to just live at whatever weight I am.” Much better for one’s mental and physical health than extreme dieting followed by weight gain followed by more extreme dieting.

            Whatever floats people’s individual boats is the right way for them. But demonizing one way or the other is definitely not the way to go.

          • wriggles says:

            Julia,

            Weight loss dieting, if you mean dieting-to-lose-weight, does *not* equal “proto anorexia”.

            That’s a matter of opinion. I’ve come to this view not to insult you or anyone else, but because I feel the facts and experience merit it. I assume the same of why you’ve come to your own views.

            While we are at, even if I was comparing a state to the early stage of anorexia, since when is anorexia an insult?!

            I just get a little sick of the inability people have to imagine that there is more than one way (the unhealthy and destructive way) to go about weight loss.

            Allow me to quote myself;

            However, I think that saying weight loss dieting doesn’t work is not the same thing as saying that weight loss is not possible.

            Again, the pain and problems etc, are caused by the intrinsic dysfunctions of weight loss dieting.

            Whatever it is called, lifestyle change/choice, healthy eating, weight watchers whatever, it’s all dieting to me if the intent is weight loss.

            I get you when you say, you’ve done WLD in a calmer way and can’t understand why people can’t see it’s possible.

            What you’re not quite getting is;

            a) people know that and the results haven’t varied anymore than more strenous ways, why do you think so many are keen on HAES?

            People are seeing it your way, but you’re not seeing that for many people they cannot lose any real weight until it starts to hurt, they are not just being tiresome.

            and b)

            The crux of why your more relaxed approach makes a difference, if it does, is because it gets closer to normal balanced eating and behaviour and further away from the dysfunction of weight loss dieting.

            The further away you get from WLD, the less discomfort, dysfunction etc you tend to endure. The problem is not you personally, it’s not, weight loss intrinsically, its weight loss dieting specifically.

          • julie says:

            Thanks for this. I did it the slow (and I do mean slow-1.5 years to lose 45 pounds) but painless way. I am so far from anorexia that the whole concept is laughable.

          • mamaV says:

            Hi Veronica: I hear you, I promise I do.

            Blogging is a process for me. I ponder, I write, I sit on it for a while, I sometimes publish, sometimes not. The hours (and I mean hours) I spent thinking about this topic before I posted and made a video were significant.

            Please believe I am genuine in saying that I do not take anything I say lightly. I don’t make random remarks, off the cuff criticisms — what I say, I mean…and that rubs some of you wrong (I think rubbing people wrong is a good thing at times, and it takes guts, which I am proud of, but it also bubbles to the surface core issues that must be discussed).

            The response you show above is a result of LISTENING to all of you on this thread for the past week. I am unable to articulate these points off the bat, because I have formed them based on this discussion we are having. Is that not the point of blogging?

            I know, I know, I am supposed to be this superwoman, set strong in what I believe, leading the troops, never waffling, never ever showing my true self because I founded this blog. I should keep up this front that I am a proper activist, following the rules of life. This approach and thinking puts me to sleep. Talk about boring!! This is not my idea of a good time, I want to learn from others, I love a good debate, and life is about learning! If I wanted my opinions set in stone, I would be an author, not a blogger (think about this, I have no skin in this game — I am not trying to achieve some big goal for myself. I have the life I want, and I am doing the blog I want, simplicity — AND authenticity).

            In regards to my writing style, again, the amount of commentary on what I do, how I do it, when I do it is astounding. As a blogger since 2006, I have never seen anything like it! My personal blog mamaVISION was and is highly controversial (particularly with proanorexics and mothers of anorexics), but never, ever have I come up against such…..how shall I say – anger at the level of hate?

            This must mean something, so I don’t disregard it in any way whatsoever, but I am trying to figure it out. It tells me this audience is perhaps much more tuned in, which is a HUGE positive. It tells me this community is very passionate, again awesome. But the downside I see is they are pissed as hell and they are not going to take it anymore!!! 🙂

            If I was in their shoes, I would be the same way, so I can’t blame them. Where does that leave us? Who knows — but THAT is the beauty of blogging.

            mV

          • Veronica says:

            Thanks for responding to me, I’m glad you can hear me.

            Look, as I said earlier, I appreciate and applaud your efforts, all of the contributors on this site. You all are taking the time to do something I’m not willing to do. That does say alot about you. Thank you for that.

            But, superwoman, spare me. (that was just a joke…)

            I do want to respond to one thing you said: ” I am supposed to be this superwoman, set strong in what I believe, leading the troops, never waffling, never ever showing my true self because I founded this blog. I should keep up this front that I am a proper activist, following the rules of life.”

            They are not asking you to be superwoman. If I’m right (and I am open to the fact that I could be wrong), people want to know that you hear what they say. Goes back to my comment on validation waaayyy up there.

            Leading the troops – I’ll go with that. Your blog- tag, you’re it – you get to lead. And you’re doing a good job, in the face of what I also view as harsh criticism.

            Never waffling – fail. There have been so many commenters that have been ok with some blatant mistakes you have made (can we agree a few have been doosies?) Initially I saw limited forgiveness or margin for error, but I feel that has changed. (with the exception of a few special commenters, but they never will change) People appear to be going along with giving you a learning curve. And you appear to be making earnest efforts to learn. So, a good thing.

            “Never even showing my true self because I founded this blog’. Come on, read that again. That really is total bullshit. As I said before there is a difference in being blunt & being careless. People are drawn here partly because of who you are. They wanna see real, they can overlook some flaws when you’re being real.

            I should keep up this front that I am a proper activist, following the rules of life – I think this is where I (and many others, although I am open to the fact that I may be wrong about the others) lose you.

            You are an activist. You chose that when starting this blog. There is a difference between being bold and coloring outside the lines & being too self-focused to see others points of views in a non-threatening way. Stop playing defense so much. My god, you must be tired, I’m tired just from watching you.

            How can I explain this? Let’s look at 2 of your comments:

            1. Thin Privilege, spare me.

            2. FA should not use TP as a strategy.

            Basically you said the same thing, but 1 comes of as harsh & condescending. 2 on the other hand states your point without being overly emotional. (frustration is an emotion)

            I don’t know if I’m even making sense, but what the hell, I’ve gone this far…

            You commented that you like a good debate. You know, I’m italian, I was raised that debate is an art form. We ‘live’ to debate good issues. It comes from all the excessive passion in our genes. Sometimes I see you debating, and sometimes I see you berating.

            Why do I care??? Because I know that your love & passion is real. And I feel this site is really important. I know all of you will do great things with it.

            However (you knew there was a however coming, right?) some times ‘the way you say things’ shuts down communication in the same manner you’ve seen communication shut down from other commenters. When you see them do it, you can see it, and it frustrates you. When you are doing it, sometimes, it’s not so easy to see, maybe?

            Where does that leave us? Maintain your focus. Remember what you initially wanted to accomplish with a blog called “We are the real deal”.

            See, my blog is called “My life as a fat woman”. I live in peace & harmony. Not many people come there because really it’s a blog where I basically think out loud & talk to myself. And that is all I want to do there. I sit in the middle of all my words and go “ME, ME ,ME ,ME. It makes me happy. But, it’s my blog.

            On the other hand, you & the other contributors see a need for a self-acceptance blog that will address body issues in a new & powerful way, and from what I can tell of the commenters, to start really putting an end to fat discrimination. And I applaud you, all of you.

            (and by the way, the commenters determine almost as much of the direction & life of a hi-traffic blog as the posters, (IMHO) That is the beauty of blogging.

            Just try to remain teachable, my friend…

          • Veronica says:

            that makes me mad that my comments don’t go under the person I am trying to respond to – that last comment was for you, MamaV…

          • Marlie says:

            Veronica – I totally agree. It’s very annoying

            I wonder what happened to the blog, this just started recently.

          • Veronica says:

            Marlie – I hope you read my response to you earlier…

          • mamaV says:

            Not sure what is up with this “reply” issue — its driving me nuts too! I’ll keep working on it, in the meantime, be sure to check the end of the comments to see if someone responded to your comment, huge hassle I know!

          • Forestroad says:

            Veronica-
            I think FA bloggers not taking the body image concerns of thin people seriously largely occurs on their own blogs where, well, the body image concerns of thin people aren’t as relevant in that particular forum.
            Here, on the other hand, is a different story, and I hope the FA ppl on here do take discrimination/hardship as it applies to thin people serious. I think many of them are just trying to explain why they are different, even if they stem from the same source (capitalism and patriarchy in my opinion), not negate thin discrimination entirely. Also, FA bloggers don’t like (in general) to get into oppression olympics as to who has it worse. But their movement is about Fat Discrimination which is why thin privilege is an essential concept in that sphere. Maybe a size discrimination movement is necessary, but that is not the primary mission of the FA movement, nor do I personally think it should be as I think we need to tackle fat discrimination to move towards size acceptance in general, bc the vitriol against fat people is the most glaring cultural meme of size discrimination imo. I think/hope we are trying to find common ground in this sphere.

      • sarcasticmuppet says:

        Marlie: Class Act post!

        MamaV, I’ve been more than a little disappointed that for the several smart, well-reasoned arguments against your post in this thread, you’ve responded to few-to-none of them. Do you have a rebuttal to CL, or Fatnsassy, or Zanoodle in the earliest comments in this thread? You are quick enough to jump on the ones who are mean to you and are lightning fast to defend those who agree with you, but you seem to have ignored the ones who have brought up real issues with your statements.

        That sounds far more like a walled-garden atmosphere than anything you describe. You’ve built up straw enemy upon straw enemy, but you are selectively ignoring anyone who stands up to you in an intelligent way. Several people here have offered to challenge you, and you are consistently missing the opportunity to be challenged. And then you get upset when people take your statements badly, because people must just hate you, and where are the hugs and kisses already?

        Yes, there are annoying and vocal minorities that will rail against anything and everything you stand for. Thinking that they must represent everyone is more than a little insulting to the movement they represent.

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        First, I hope you don’t really think anyone here is trying to tell you you’re stupid. And if that’s the impression you’ve gotten, then I apologize. Some of us think that you’re so committed to your view that you’re unwilling or unable to really listen. But that’s different from thinking you’re stupid.

        Second, in my case, I’m on many blogs, every day. And this concept of privilege is extremely common across the blogosphere. On feminist blogs and womanist blogs and rae-relations blogs and political blogs and disability advocacy blogs and trans advocacy blogs… This isn’t some new idea that a few of us made up. It’s all over academic writings and political writings and advocacy work every day. It’s just that the way you’re speaking of it shows that you don’t understand what we’re saying. Nobody thinks that thin privilege is a concept constructed and used to silence thin people or invalidate their issues. Nobody is trying to use it to make light of EDs. The very opposite is true. Thin privilege is one of the root causes of EDs. So “your girls” are suffering from the very system that we oppose – that which privileges thin people, and thus encourages others to die trying to be thin and in the privileged group. This makes us natural allies. I’m not sure why you can’t see this. I don’t believe it’s because you’re stupid, so please don’t feel that way. I think it’s because you’re feeling defensive, and we all do sometimes.

        Third, I’m not really an FA activist. I’m a feminist who sees a lot of fucked up shit in our culture. One of them is the way we value people differentially based on their size and conformity to the beauty standard. So please don’t wrongfully lump us all together and dismiss us. Let’s be thoughtful adults here and leave the defensiveness and the eye-rolling behind.

      • Veronica says:

        MamaV – I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to respond. I am going to speak to what you said, I’m not attacking you, so please don’t feel you need to ‘defend’ yourself. Your opinions of my thoughts are always welcome…

        Thanks for pointing out what you learned from the commenters. It was good you included info about who you are, the more we know of you, the easier to understand the context of your posts & comments. I said in my initial response to you that I can see that you genuinely care about women & these issues.

        Here is the point of my response that you didn’t address:

        Why. Can you learn to ask why? Don’t you want to know why?

        Why do the people disagreeing with you feel differently? Do you think if you gave them an opportunity to explain their why to you, it might make them feel validated? And once validated, do you think they might be more open to considering your view, even if it differs from theirs?

        Asking their why, & taking a moment to understand why they have those feelings does not require you to agree with them. But it does show them that their viewpoint is important to you.

        Asking why someone has a viewpoint different from mine, and having them explain themselves openly & honestly is where I am able to learn from people who’s lives are much different from my own.

        You put alot of stuff in your response to me that had nothing to do with my response to you, but I would like to adress it anyway. Shall we?? ; )

        “”I have never, ever had so many people telling me what I should do, how I should do it, when I should do it, and how very stupid I am — which is very telling don’t you think? How far do you think the FA movement is going to get with this type of attitude?””

        First let me say, you have gotten a lot of criticism, but I don’t recall anyone calling you stupid. Do you feel people view you as stupid? Tell me why? I know I do not think of you as stupid.

        Second, I don’t think the FA movement will get much further than they’ve gotten unless they (as a whole) gain some open-mindedness, but if you read my blog, you know my opinion of the small part of FA I have been exposed to. (disclaimer: I have not had alot of exposure to FA, I disagree with the fundamentals of FA, but not HAES, but that’s a whole other topic. please direct any anger or discontent with my views on FA directly to me on my blog, I don’t have a comment policy).

        You went on to say:
        “”The response here tells me that I am up against a group of individuals who are extremely hurt, very passionate, and want to be understood.””

        That, my friend, is hitting the nail on the head. Good job. So… ask them why they feel the way they do. Hear what they have to say, even if they can’t hear you. Try & imagine living their lives, walking in their shoes. Challenge yourself.

        This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but at least take the time to hear what they have to say & understand them. That doesn’t require you to be someone else.

        When you think about it, we all come from walled-garden lifestyles. The possible beauty of WATRD is that we might have a place to disagree, discuss & learn from each other. That can very well lead to an amazing support system for all of us. That may be hindered if you are going to become as small-minded as you feel ‘they’ are. Do you see my point? So, let me ask you, where is ‘your’ learning??

        “”I am not afraid to be me. My style is my style. I am blunt and I say it like I feel it, and I will never be a phony. Why is that wrong? Why should I change?””

        I don’t think I’m hearing people wanting you to be different. From all the comments I read, (and I took a lot of time reading a lot of them directed at you) people don’t feel that you validate ‘their’ opinion. Again, you do not need to agree with someone, but you should value their opinion, they put in the blood,sweat & tears to form their opinion, the least you can do is hear it. Then ask them why they feel that way. I think you’ll be surprised by the outcome. I don’t feel you should change who you are, but maybe how you speak, sometimes. There is a difference between being blunt & being careless.

        See, on one hand, I can totally relate to you. I’m a blunt,straight-forward person. I don’t like to blow sunshine at people. To me I feel it is inefficient & insincere. But I do need to gain an understanding of why someone feels as they do, before I can respond to their thoughts.

        “”but then at the end of the day, please take a moment and try to see if there is perhaps an ounce of truth in what I am attempting to share.””

        First – ok, but are you willing to do the same for them??

        Second – can you articulate that truth in a manner that opens up an avenue for discussion & learning?

        I’m just sayin’…..

  44. Nats says:

    Can I just ask you all just one question please?

    I am not being rude or hatful in any way I just would like to know your thoughts, good or bad.

    What are your thoughts on this comment?

    Why would anyone listen to people who “fit the mold” talking about body image issues??? So you sometimes worry about not being cute or thin enough–whoop dee-doo.”

    Whatever mamav has said about this, I dont care at this moment my main question is what you guys think of this post. This post hurt me deeply, made me feel like the feelings I have arent worth worrying about or aren’t important.

    Whatever mamaV has said regarding this post has nothing to do with why I am asking what so ever, I just want to know if I am the only one who got fired up about it and got upset by it, I MAY have read this the wrong way, or in the wrong context but when I FIRST saw this comment (not others comments that were posted after) I was not happy, it made me feel like crap.

    Just wondered if I am alone in this feeling or if anyone else shares these feelings too?

    Again, I am not trying to cause an argument about this, I am just really interested in what the thoughts were of others when they first read this post is all.

    If I am going over ground which it seems I may be then I am sorry but I would like to learn from others on this blog and try and open my mind to others opinions on subjects.

    Nats

    • B says:

      Nats – It’s a good question. I’m having a hard time responding to it when mamaV posts it, because I think she’s using it to dodge the very real issues people have with the way she’s created such an issue around Jelly’s comment. And her absolute lack of sensitivity towards the discussion around privilege. I tend to want to bang my head on the desk, when I see her coming back to this entire issue time and again.

      But, it’s still a question that deserves an answer.

      As I said before, I’m pretty average weight-wise. And I wasn’t offended by Jelly’s comment, mainly because it was just one comment, albeit a horribly worded one. Going back to look at the response, it’s obvious that Jelly’s comment really shut down conversation on the We are the White Girls post, because almost no one responded. That is, until mamaV posted her now infamous reaction.

      If we are to take mamaV’s words as they are and reject her efforts to say, “But that’s not how I meant it,” then we need to do the same with Jelly’s comment. And it was a nasty one.

      I also think, though, that we are right to hold a regular contributor to a higher standard than a commenter. You call Jelly’s comment a post, but it’s not. It’s a comment. To me, one person’s comment is much less offensive than a post made by one of the blog’s authors. A post sets the tone and direction of the site in a way that our comments do not.

      Finally, I don’t get why people would be scared away from commenting on an anonymous forum, but that’s just me. That’s not a dig at anyone — I really don’t get it.

    • thegirlfrommarz says:

      Hi Nats,

      When I read Jelly’s comment for the first time, I thought it was sad that she was so angry and that she would lash back at someone using the same tools that people use to hurt her as a fat woman. Instead of saying “why should any woman be judged by what her body looks like?”, she reacted angrily and lashed out at people she thought were luckier than her, people who were thin.

      I’ve almost never seen that kind of attitude in the Fatosphere, and where people make that kind of comment, they are roundly slapped down by the community (if not actually banned). I suspect a lot of people ignored Jelly’s comment at first because it was so ridiculous and childish and obviously wrong.

      FA, to me, is all about recognising that in this culture of perfection, no body is ever good enough. Thin is considered “better”, but if you look at the magazines, they’re always pointing out people’s cellulite or one week calling them too fat and the next week calling them too skinny. It’s a zero-sum game. The only way to win is not to play, to decide that this body is the only body you get and to try (and, man, it’s hard, in the face of all the messages telling you you aren’t good enough!) to love it every day.

      I’d like to direct you to the comments policy on Shapely Prose, particularly Rule 11. The Skinny Person A and Skinny Person B examples show why it’s never acceptable to be hating on someone else’s body or to dismiss someone because of their shape – that’s exactly what people do to fat people all the time, and it’s what FA is all about ending.

      mamaV (despite appearing not to understand it at all) links to Linda Bacon on Thin Privilege. I thought I’d excerpt this bit for you, as it’s a similar situation, but handled very differently:

      I remember in one class that I was teaching, a thin woman broached this subject in our class discussion, and my insecurity about this issue came front and center. “How is your work received by fat people?”,
      she wanted to know. She talked about how she would like to speak out about these issues, but she was afraid that she didn’t have the right to speak for others, and that she wouldn’t be trusted by fat people because of her appearance.
      Before I got very far in my response, I couldn’t help but notice that in the back of the room, there was a fat woman, hand up, obviously enraged, nearly jumping out of her seat to get my attention.

      I felt waves of panic coming up, but figured I had to ride this out, so I called on her. “You don’t represent me,” she said belligerently. “I don’t trust you. You’re just another skinny bitch telling me and everyone else what it’s like to live in my body. It’s not okay that you get to define my experience.”

      And here’s another disgusting fact about thin privilege. When we make the decision to resist a system that bestows privilege on us, we discover that even in our resistance we have power. She is absolutely right that she deserves the space to make her experience known and fight the good fight. But unfortunately privilege rears its ugly head: my academic credentials, my thin body, and all sorts of other privileges team up to give me a ready audience for my material, and it is much less easy for her to find a
      forum to have her important message heard.
      It’s not just about having an audience, it’s also about gaining the trust of the audience. When I speak out
      for fat rights and against thin privilege, in most audiences my words are seen as far more credible than
      the same words spoken just as articulately by a fat person. People attach more of a sense of legitimacy
      to my words – they can’t write it off as a way of rationalizing my fatness the way they might with a fat person.

      Anyway, back to the moment. This was extremely hard for me – it was like my worst fears confirmed. I
      do feel like an imposter in my role sometimes – and I do recognize the dangers inherent in being seen as
      a spokesperson for fat people. […]
      Stay cool, don’t get defensive, I thought, honor her concerns. “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said to her. “But
      it makes sense that you don’t trust me. In fact, we’ve been set up to hate each other. There’s a system
      out there teaching us that I’ve got the right body, you don’t, that there’s something defective about you that resulted in your body, and something virtuous about how I live that resulted in my body. And I certainly don’t have your lived experience. Why should you trust me? But that’s okay. You don’t have to. Do you have any advice for this woman – or for me – about how people with thin privilege could best support fat people?”
      An incredible discussion followed. And it comes back to that point I raised earlier. What we say may be less important than opening up the space, creating a safe zone where people can talk about their experience.

      The fat woman in Linda Bacon’s story was angry because a thin woman was speaking about the way our culture treats fat people and the effect on society and getting an audience, whereas she, as a fat woman, who had directly experienced the negative consequences of societal attitudes to fat, couldn’t get anyone to listen to her when she spoke on the same subject. Some people really don’t get that the “fat = bad / thin = good” paradigm hurts everyone, fat and thin – I’m afraid Jelly is one of those people. But look at how Linda Bacon handled it, as opposed to how mamaV did. Linda Bacon understood how hurtful and frustrating it is to be ignored when you talk about something you live with every day and know inside out; she recognised that when the fat woman talked about the insidious effects of fat-hating, her listeners often assumed she was looking for an excuse for being fat. mamaV was hurt, got defensive and made it All About Her.

      • Nats says:

        Hi agirlfrommarz,

        Thank you for taking the time to answer my question, i am also sorry if you are having to repeat everything that you may have said before.

        I will check out that link now hun, thanks alot xxx

        Nats

      • Jeanne says:

        Bravo gfm!!! Well said. Also my (unnecessary) kudos to Linda Bacon for handling the situation in the inset so well.

        mamaV, are you listening?

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      Nats,

      I don’t think that Jelly worded that comment well at all, just like I think mamaV often words her comments poorly. And I don’t believe that privileged people should be silenced.

      However, there’s a huge difference between saying that someone should shut up altogether, and saying that they cannot presume to speak for others, especially those less privileged than them. Jelly was responding to the fact that this blog claims to represent the full spectrum of body issues, but the contributors only represent a small, and fairly privileged, portion of that spectrum. When a privileged person claims to speak for the less privileged, the effect is silencing of the less privileged. So although that comment kicked this whole thing off, this topic goes way, way past that. This is a much larger issue that needs to be addressed in all areas where our culture privileges one group over another. I think for mamaV this is still totally about the Jelly comment, but for many of us, it’s a much broader topic.

      So this is how Jelly’s comment does relate to this: mamaV and other thin bloggers cannot presume to represent the experience of those who are fat or disabled or a number of different demographic locators, because they can only speak from their position and their experience. And that’s OK. That doesn’t mean they can’t speak, and say a lot of good things. It just means that they should try (and I guess they are trying) to round out the POV of this blog by bringing on other contributors from these backgrounds if they’re going to claim to be representative of a wide range of body issues.

  45. Dav says:

    Nats, you are going over ground that the blog has been over before. The whole Jelly thing has been explored extensively, and this is fallout from it. Commenters should not be required to rehash the argument for you – go read the original post, the comments, and the fallout.

    This: “I just want to know if I am the only one who got fired up about it and got upset by it” is either a disingenuous attempt to stir up shit, or a signal that you *really* need to go back and do some reading.

    • Nats says:

      Dav,

      Where do you get off telling me what I “need” to do? I have simply asked a question, if you do not wish to answer, then dont! Simple! But please do not tell me that I am stirring “shit” or that I need to go back and do some reading!

      I asked a question…. thats all! If you dont want to *rehash* then please feel free to not bother doing so

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        But it is a basic courtesy to bring yourself up to date on the context of a discussion rather than expecting everyone else to do it for you. This is fairly basic blog protocol.

      • B says:

        Dav – How is Nats showing that she doesn’t understand the context of this discussion? I haven’t seen too many people respond to Jelly’s comment and how she worded it, and I’ve been following this entire debate.

        Rachel in WY – I love your blog, but this comment of yours was pretty unfair, given your eariler comment of:

        I don’t have the time or energy to read through all the comments here, so I may be repeating what’s already been said. My apologies to those whom I may be speaking over.

        I’ve commented before on the silencing effect so many feminist and FA blogs have had on me, because bloggers and commenters frequently tell those of us who are relatively new to these discussions that we need to get our required reading on before we enter a discussion. I get how that direction has its place on more specialized blogs, but I like that this has been a forum of learning.

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        B,

        Fair enough. Although I think that my comment is a bit different than asking to be educated about the current situation by others instead of going and reading it myself.

  46. Ama says:

    Words fail. I couldn’t say anything more than what has already been said, you simply do not understand and are now scrambling to argue for your own position, in the face of evidence against it.

  47. tombrokaw says:

    Alright! Everyone in an industrialized state is privileged. Whining about it makes you look like an idiot.

  48. mamaV says:

    NOTE: Please read the comment policy, I let the last few comments through…but they skate awfully close to the line.

    Be respectful please.
    Thank you,
    mV

  49. Tempe Wick says:

    I find it hard to take the concept of “thin privilege” seriously, for a couple of reasons.

    1) It’s an imitation of the phrase “white privilege” which unlike “thin privilege” has been clearly defined and studied over the past 25 years or so.

    2) I find it hard to attach the word “privilege” to something that is available to the vast majority of the society, regardless of race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation. That’s pretty much the opposite of privilege.

    With changes to diet, exercise and various habits, most people can lose weight. Please note that I said “most.” There are people who have medical conditions, who are disabled or who have to take medication which causes weight gain, who cannot lose weight.
    I’m talking about the average person in the U.S. to whom none of the above applies. An able bodied person can walk for exercise, cut back portions and change some of the foods they eat.
    I am thoroughly tired of hearing from some of the extreme FA crowd that it’s nearly impossible to lose weight; what I see in front of me puts the lie to that. It’s like that old joke (I think it was Richard Pryor): “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”

    Thus, most people in this society can gain this “thin privilege.” Contrast that with “white privilege.” You either are white (or white looking) or not. If you don’t look white, you don’t benefit from white privilege. And barring some major intervention by surgeons and dermatologists, people who aren’t white can’t gain white privilege. It’s that difference that gets my back up when I hear the phrase “thin privilege.”

    • Nats says:

      Tempe Wick,

      I agree with you, its the same in the UK, I hear people constantly saying that it is impossible to lose weight, its not IMpossible, its possible, just hard!

      I know that I have never personally struggled to lose weight, I have never needed to do so in the normal sense needed to lose weight( I mean “normal” with the meaning that I didnt need to diet etc, but I am anorexic so I lost weight for different reasons). But I have known and still know people who are dieting because they are unhappy with their weight, they say to me that it is a struggle to lose weight and that it is impossible to do so. Some of said people have actually done the diet for like 3 days and not seen any difference thus far, but they say its hard to continue trying it because they are not seeing results as soon as they had hoped.

      Losing weight is hard, so is gaining weight! I am in the later end of that sentence, I have been trying for a long time now and its hard but not IMpossible.

      Am I making sense? Sorry if ive rambled xxx

      • Sarah says:

        Well, I did it! I wrote my own blog entry on thin privilege. Check it out by clicking on on my name. 🙂

      • B says:

        Nats –

        Are you agreeing that thin privilege doesn’t exist. If so, your comments confuse me, as you’ve said elsewhere that you have come to understand and accept the concept as valid.

    • vitty10 says:

      Losing weight is possible. It’s keeping it off long-term that is impossible for a large segment of the population. There is medical evidence to confirm this fact.

      • Veronica says:

        Vitty – the use of the word ‘impossible’ is limiting. It is possible to lose weight & keep it off, if you have a doctor determine the medical reason for the weight gain & working with your doctor, you make necessary lifestyle changes. That is why I like the HAES movement. We should all strive to be healthy.

        But the word impossible is quite limiting.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Tempe Wick: That is an interesting point, one I had not thought of — I’ll be curious to see what others think.

      In regards to weight loss stats, I believe 95% of people gain the weight back ( and more) after 5 years….but feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

      Taking that statistic into consideration, perhaps individuals “believe” then can never be Thin Privileged, so they consider it the same as race, sex, etc. privilege?

      mV

    • q says:

      I don’t know the history of the term very well, but as I understand it, “privilege” is one of those concepts that is used across several different activist movements because it is equally useful despite different situations–not all oppressions are the same, obviously, but they generally function in the same systemic ways, and so a borrowing of terms is useful both in defining any given social justice movement (because it helps if you can put the problems and solutions into easily grokable terms with well-established meanings) and in allowing people working in different movements to recognize each others’ struggles and where those struggles intersect and to see each other as allies (since they’re speaking the same language). Of course, if you have a different take on the wider applicability of terms like “privilege”, I would be very interested to hear it.

      The rest of your comment, however? First of all, I’m appalled by the classism and ableism displayed in your statement that thinness is available to “the vast majority of the population”. Even IF all it took was a little “sensible” eating and a walk around the block to become magically privileged (which it doesn’t, but more on that in a second), where does that leave those who are unable to afford fresh fruits and vegetables? Or those who work two or more jobs to support their families and have no leisure time to spend on exercise? Or those in unsafe urban areas where walking around the block is dangerous and there is a dearth of grocery stores? You did qualify your statement with “any able-bodied person” and nods to the “few” (in your tendentious assessment) who might have other medical reasons for being unable to lose weight, but what you’re implying, perhaps unwittingly, is that we should just let the privileging of thin people and the concurrent discrimination against fat people continue on its merry way, since it will only affect a few people. Because oppression isn’t oppression when it only applies to the disabled and the poor, amirite?

      (You didn’t touch on other areas of intersectionality, but I feel pressed to mention that fat hatred is also absolutely linked with misogyny and racism. Even if you don’t think it’s a valid “oppression” on its own, it’s still a form of discrimination that is applied disproportionately, not only to the poor and the differently abled, as I mention above, but also to women and people of ethnicities for whom the incredibly eurocentric BMI standard is even less applicable than it is for white people.)

      Now, on to whether or not fatties can just diet and jazzercise away the pounds. Newsflash: they can’t! Weight has about the same heritability rate as height, to start with, and as yet there is no such thing as a time machine that would enable fat people to go back and change the parents they were born to. Yes, much like with height, nutrition and other environmental factors can also influence weight. But guess what? Studies have shown that something like 95% of diets fail. And sometimes the statistics are even more dire: see, for example, Weight Watchers’ own internal numbers, which show that only 2 out of every 1000 people who join their program will hit their goal weight and keep it off for any significant period of time. And that particular study did not control for people who would have lost the weight anyway (e.g. due to illness). Meanwhile, gastric bypass surgery is prohibitively expensive and has an absolutely dismal longterm success rate, and that’s assuming you don’t die on the table or from complications shortly thereafter due to the surgery’s dangerous and invasive nature. Beyond which there are new data coming out all the time that both chronic dieting AND fat hatred can actually make people larger in the end–the more we fight our bodies, the more contrary they become, as it turns out.

      And what is a diet, when you come right down to it? It is starvation. It is depriving people of nutrients required for their basic functioning. It has been shown to lead to depression, fatigue, decreased mental and physical functioning, loss of strength and decreased sex drive, among other things (see: the Minnesota Starvation Experiment). It is torture (see: reduced-calorie diets at Guantanamo Bay). So essentially, women’s magazines and nutrition “experts” recommend that we eat as little as, or less than, tortured detainees and the starving population of Nazi-occupied Holland, just in order not to be treated like utter shit by society.

      So, yes, all people with leisure time, money, and access to safe neighborhoods and farmer’s markets CAN undertake to starve and torture themselves unnecessarily and with almost no chance of success. But people who can’t, or people who opt out because they are disgusted as fuck by the notion that this is what they should do to themselves in order to merit basic human decency and respect, do NOT deserve every bit of scorn and discrimination we can contrive to send their way.

      Finally, I am struck by your mention of “surgeons and dermatologists”. Something that you actually see across so many forms of oppression is this kind of attempt to change the fundamentally unchangeable. No, you can’t make a black person white overnight, and even if you could, you wouldn’t be able to change their experience of their life when they were black or the attributes besides skin color that make up people’s perception of “blackness”. But that doesn’t mean that methods of, if not actually becoming part of the privileged group, then at least changing oneself so as to gain some of the advantages usually reserved for the privileged group, don’t exist–which you acknowledged with the “surgeons and dermatologists” remark, though I don’t think you’ve thought through the implications of that,. I mean, think of skin lightening creams, hair relaxants, eyelid surgeries; think of people who are exhorted to pass (if they can) or to “act less black/flamboyant/butch/emotional”; think of medical interventions like “cures” for autism, or cochlear implants; think of dodgy “de-gaying” programs. These are all things that can be dangerous (deadly, even), completely fruitless, and/or prohibitively expensive. Oh hey, EXACTLY LIKE DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY CAN BE, AND IN FACT ARE. Just because there is a (dangerous and pointless) way to gain (some approximation of) the privilege you have been denied by being born the way you were born, doesn’t mean that anyone should be required or even advised to pursue it. And it doesn’t change anyone’s experience of the time before they were privileged, or the scars that that discrimination has left them.

      (I hope I didn’t go too far in comparing oppressions, there, but if I’ve stepped over that line, I apologize.)

      • Nikki says:

        Whether or not fat people could lose the weight if they wanted is not the point. Let’s say someone CHOOSES to be fat by overeating and never exercising (I don’t believe this, just to be clear, I am assuming your argument to make a point). That person who chooses to be fat still deserves respect and equal rights. Thin privilege means exactly that — thin people are getting a benefit because fat people aren’t. That isn’t respect, and that isn’t equal treatment. Period.

      • q says:

        Nikki–

        I’m not sure if you meant to respond to me, since you said you’re assuming my argument, but I never once made the argument that people choose to be fat, or that, even if they did, that they would somehow deserve the treatment that fat people in our society get (in fact, quite the opposite). I did take on Tempe Wick’s argument for a moment (and set my own aside) in order to point out that, even were “the vast majority” of fat people able to change their weight permanently, fat hatred would still exist and, what’s more, it would still (and even moreso than now, one could argue) apply disproportionately to groups who are already marginalized in other ways.

        Also, “whether or not fat people could lose the weight if they wanted” actually kind of IS the point, when answering a commenter who is promulgating the false and injurious claim that they COULD. Ideally we’d start from “this discrimination exists and it sucks” and move straight on to solutions, but Tempe Wick was arguing that it doesn’t matter since people can choose whether or not to be fat, and therefore can essentially choose whether or not they are discriminated against. I think that’s a claim that needs to be refuted.

        I apologize if all that was not clear in my original (and admittedly very tl;dr) comment.

      • Nikki says:

        @q, I was responding to Tempe Wicke. To your response I say, Here, here!

        I feel like Tempe Wicke is moralizing the behavior that she (he?) assumes leads to weight gain. i.e. comments like, “An able bodied person can walk for exercise, cut back portions and change some of the foods they eat. I am thoroughly tired of hearing from some of the extreme FA crowd that it’s nearly impossible to lose weight.”

        What if I choose NOT to exercise? What if I choose to spend my free time with my friends, or reading books, or working overtime at my job? That may lead me to get fat. Does that mean I’m a bad person? No, but getting fat WILL lead to me being discriminated against (see my post re: discrimination stats above).

        I don’t see how you can deny that thin privilege exists when studies have repeatedly shown that thin people receive superior medical care and preferential treatment in the workplace (in addition to the “People are just more friendly when I’m a size 8” sentiments expressed by Julie in this thread).

      • Veronica says:

        q – let me start by saying you make several good & valid points in your comment. I am only going to take issue with one, because I think it is important that we give accurate information about the things we discuss.

        “”So, yes, all people with leisure time, money, and access to safe neighborhoods and farmer’s markets CAN undertake to starve and torture themselves unnecessarily and with almost no chance of success. But people who can’t, or people who opt out because they are disgusted as fuck by the notion that this is what they should do to themselves in order to merit basic human decency and respect, do NOT deserve every bit of scorn and discrimination we can contrive to send their way.””

        Let me first qualify my statement by saying I believe fat discrimination is wrong, wrong, wrong & even though I don’t suffer from it, I am interested in putting energy into helping do away with it completely.

        Let me also say that I agree there are ‘some’ people that are unable to lose weight. (and please don’t waste your time or mine classifying me as a fat-hater, I am not.)

        It is possible for people to modify their diets in a healthy manner & lose weight. It’s not even that much more expensive. The food that I eat costs $53 a week. I don’t waste food on soda, fast food, and empty calories unless I’m going off my ‘healthy’ diet. This diet, and the money spent, would give you 1800 calories a day, which is not really starvation, when you think about it.

        One of the reasons diets fail is weight loss takes longer than most people are willing to give it, and we want variety in our foods. Please note that the time issue is impatience and the food variety is merely choice.

        As far as working out, I spent $85 on an extensive set of free weights & anyone can pull up really great calisthenic exercises off the web for free. (I’ll assume we are all commenting on the web, so we each have access).

        Given 30 minutes a day of exercise, and modification of diet, just about anyone CAN lose weight. It will take longer than you may want it to, but it can happen.

        If you are not interested in modifying what you eat, or you don’t want to spend time exersising, that is fine. If you are disgusted as fuck (your words) with being forced into weight-loss just to be accepted, that is fine, as well. But it is inaccurate to tell people that no one can lose weight unless they have leisure time, money, and access to safe neighborhoods and farmer’s markets.

        Please don’t misunderstand me, we need to end discrimination. All discrimination. And fat discrimination is wrong, as I said earlier. But it weakens your argument when you use unfactual information to back up your statements.

        Hope you don’t misunderstand what I said….

      • Joy says:

        Veronica, I don’t think you’re a fat hater, but I do think you’ve fallen into the trap of assuming that fat people are fat because they drink lots of soda and eat only fast food.

      • Veronica says:

        Joy – no, no, no. But thanks for giving me a chance to quantify my statement. I am able to keep my food costs down because I don’t waste money on expensive empty calories like soda, etc. I know from many friends that are of larger size than I that their weight gain isn’t from drinking soda or eating fast food. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.

        My point is that weight loss is possible. It’s really hard, but it is possible. And while I agree with q that she shouldn’t be forced to lose weight just for society to treat her with a reasonable amount of respect & dignity – her statement that sustained weight loss is not possible is just wrong. That’s all.

        Hope that clears it up for you!! ; )

      • Joy says:

        @Veronica

        My point is that weight loss is possible. It’s really hard, but it is possible.

        Maybe, maybe not. Recent studies have shown that people who continue to eat restricted calorie diets and maintain high levels of exercise may often gain weight back. So again, it may be possible to lose weight, but it may not be possible for many, if not most people to keep weight off in the long run.

        But I think we agree that weightloss isn’t really the point here. People shouldn’t be forced to lose weight (especially not to the detriment of their health) just to be acceptable within our society.

      • q says:

        Nikki – I’m so sorry! I think I’m just not used to how the comments thread on this blog. 🙂 And you’re right about the choice thing, which I didn’t even get to. It sucks when you know the point is “no one’s body (or choices about hir body) should be grounds for judgment” but you still have so many people arguing the side of “well, I guess we’ll oh so generously excuse *some* people from judgment but, oh hey, let me repeat some stereotypes about those lazy fatasses who totally deserve the treatment they get!”, which is absolutely worth refuting, even if arguing against that often feels like such a half measure.

        Veronica – I did not say sustained that weight loss was impossible; I said that it is *improbable*. If you are one of those lucky few who have managed it, then good for you, I guess. But you are generalizing from your own experiences, and that is a very dangerous trap.

        What’s healthy for you is not healthy for everyone; what makes you lose weight will not make everyone lose weight–I don’t have statistics for this on hand but a quick spin around the Fatosphere will turn up a not insignificant number of people who are athletes, as well as people who follow restrictive diets for health, religious or ethical reasons, but who have not lost even an ounce of weight from it. And of course I’ve already mentioned that the latest data indicate that even people dieting and exercising for weight loss will, for the most part, be unsuccessful in the long run.

        Also, I think you must have missed my points about ableism and classism, because you are assuming that everyone has the same leisure time, money, mobility and access that you do. Do you honestly think everyone has $85 lying around to spend on gym equipment? Or can afford to spend over $200 a month on food? (fyi: the average food stamp allotment is a little over $1 per person per meal, or about $100 a month, and there are people living close to the poverty line who don’t qualify for even that much. $1 doesn’t go far in the produce department.) Or that everyone has all of the necessary appliances and tools and time and energy and mobility to store and prepare three fresh, healthy meals per day? Or access to a grocery store nearby, or a car to get to one?

        I admit I was hyperbolizing a little bit with the “farmer’s market” crack, but I don’t think pointing out that not everyone has access to weight-loss methods is in any way inaccurate. Even if you are privileged enough to be able to eat the way you do and exercise the way you do, it doesn’t mean that everyone *can* do these things, and even if everyone could it doesn’t mean they *should*, and–forgive me, since this next point has nothing to do with your comment, but it bears repeating–even if they “should” (whatever that means), it *still* doesn’t mean that we get to say a damn thing about their bodies.

        Anyway, from your comments, I see you get that the point is fighting the discrimination itself, rather than trying to get people to gain the privilege that is the flip side of that discrimination. And I don’t take you for a fat-hater or privilege denier! But your comment was disturbing to me on a few other levels.

      • MJ says:

        Veronica-“It’s not even that much more expensive. The food that I eat costs $53 a week.”

        Wow. That’s my budget for two weeks for two people. If I could afford to eat more healthfully, believe me, I would, but it’s simply not in my budget.

        One thing I’ve learned in life is that you can never generalize about financial situations. One person’s frugal is another person’s extravagance.

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      So then, in your view, is it a good thing that we value thin people more than fat people? This is an integral part of thin privilege. Should we require people who are not naturally thin to starve themselves in order to be valued and respected by their culture? Beyond the issues of health and all that, is it right and humane that the thin are given all the advantages? What a bizarre criteria for measuring human worth and handing out benefits and social goods.

      Also, I encourage you to catch up on the most recent research. According to this, most people can’t ever be as thin as our culture dictates. At least not without being very unhealthy. Sad.

    • Joy says:

      Unfortunately, you fall into a few fallacies here.

      1. Yes, sure, most people can lose weight, but you don’t question the methods they use to lose weight. Overexercising and severe calorie restriction are common to many weight loss programs. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that it’s really ok to eat 1200 calories/day and run for an hour or so. Frankly, for most people this isn’t reasonable or healthy. Turning to even more extreme “solutions” like medifast (under 1000 cal/day) or gastric bypass (which I’ve seen called “medically induced anorexia.” I know this is triggering for some people, but think about how people really do eat after bariatric surgery) don’t lead to better health, and statistically don’t make fat people permanently thin. MamaV is right – about 95% of people who lose weight gain it all back within 5 years. This isn’t because they’re lacking willpower or commitment. It’s because maybe, just maybe their bodies didn’t want or need to lose weight in the first place.

      Weight isn’t the same for all people. I find it interesting that, even as we’ve gotten taller, the introduction of the BMI scale in the late 1980s actually reduced the “healthy” weight ranges. I know that previously the range for my height (5’4″) was 110-152. Now it’s 117-145. Realistically, though, human weight is a bell curve: some people are very thin, others very fat (naturally), and most of us somewhere in between. One need not be disabled or have a medical reason to be fat, and the assumption that all human bodies naturally want to look like what our culture deems physically attractive doesn’t make sense.

      For many people, becoming and staying thin means making health sacrifices (not eating enough calories, oveerexercising, sacrificing sleep in order to exercise) and is seems ridiculous that people should be expected to do this simply to gain privilege that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

      2. So white privilege is only valid because it’s been around for 25 years? Actually, even if you haven’t heard of it, so has the idea of thin privilege. It’s less integrated into society because we still see fatness as a determinant of social or moral worth without questioning why.

      White privilege still existed when the majority of Americans were white, and it exists now even in places where whites are a minority. Privilege has nothing to do with majority/minority status.

      • julia says:

        I have to say, I’m getting really sick of people repeating that it’s “impossible” or even “improbable” to achieve and sustain significant weightloss. I think Veronica has a very good point about people not going about weightloss in a reasonable way or being patient enough to do it successfully.

        I’ve been reading lots of FA sites in recent months and I hear over and over again about overly restrictive diets and overexercising – as though that is the only way anyone can attempt to reduce one’s weight. Why should I have to starve myself? people say, and Why should I have to torture myself (with exercise)?

        I say if you’re starving or torturing yourself, you’re doing it wrong. (Which is quite possibly not your fault, since much weightloss advice promotes rather extreme methods, like eating 1200/calories a day, but still… the problem is with the method, not the idea.)

        I absolutely agree that those sorts of diets do fail for most people – because they are unsustainable, and don’t adequately fuel the body. If you go on a diet like that and keep it up, you can bet that your body will respond by slowing down the metabolism, so you can eat the same restrictive amount and gain weight back again.

        What I have seen work is that reasonable approach that almost everyone is too damn impatient to follow – eating just a little less than needed to maintain and being willing to lose very slowly and gradually over time. No starvation, no guilt, no torture – I personally think that’s why employing HAES principles does lead to weightloss for some people. When the focus is on nurturing the body, I think we often make better choices.

        Not that anyone should have to lose weight to get basic respect as a valid human being – and not that anyone should ever feel external pressure to change their physical self to conform to anyone else’s ideas about what’s attractive… but this constant “diets don’t work” mantra that I hear really ought to be changed to “overly restrictive diets don’t work”, because that’s a lot closer to the truth.

    • Nats says:

      B,

      No hun im not saying that, I was agreeing with what tempe said about it being possible to lose weight hun sorry if my post was confusing I ramble alot xxx

  50. Yum says:

    While I wouldn’t call myself “thin”, I’m average size and attractive, and I have never gotten any special favor in life to my knowledge. In fact, I’ve noticed a lot of sexism and ageism, much more frequently than I’ve received positive benefit from it. I’m young and pretty – I must be shallow, vain, ignorant, immature. So often I have come up with harassment and opression in the work place because of this attitude. I’ve never gotten a promotion for being pretty.

    • julia says:

      “I’ve never gotten a promotion for being pretty.”

      You may think you’ve never been hired because you’re pretty, or never been promoted because you’re pretty… but it’s possible that you just never realized that being pretty gave you a boost in some situations.

      You notice that people sometimes make negative assumptions about you due to your attractiveness – believe me, there are other people making positive assumptions about you for the very same reason.

      There have been numerous studies that have shown this.

      http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/orsp_shahani-denning_spring03.pdf

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17369873/

      “Good looks appeared significant to both men and women and the workplace. About 58 percent of female bosses who were rated as attractive got high marks for competence, compared with 41 percent of “average-looking” female bosses and only 23 percent of unattractive supervisors. Among people with male bosses, 61 percent who rated their supervisors as good-looking also found them competent, compared with 41 percent for the average types and 25 percent for those rated unattractive.”

    • Veronica says:

      Yum – Hi! I’ve read your other comments and always like what you have to say. Don’t take my comment the wrong way, however…

      “I’m average size and attractive, and I have never gotten any special favor in life to my knowledge.”

      Sorry, but I ain’t buying this. I too have spent my life being ‘average-sized’ & I am attractive (well, before I got old I was, well, now I guess I’m an older attractive… sorry, I digress)

      I have always been treated special. Many times it wasn’t deserved, sometimes it wasn’t wanted. But it has always been the case. That is how our screwed up society is. And if you made it thru life being thin & attractive and you think you haven’t gotten any special favor, then maybe you just ain’t paying attention.

      The work that I have done has always been top- notch, I beleive in excellence in everything I do. I deserved every promotion I received, but I know full-well, had I weighed 100lbs more or been a POC, it would not have been as easy.

      I have gotten sales & promotions because of how I look, because of my charisma, because people in the office expected me to do well, because I look the part of successful beautiful business woman & they wanted to promote me, heck- I even had bosses tell me just that. There was a term they used – I was “golden”.

      Now, while there are inherent problems that come along with this – it is nothing compared to how things would have been if I looked different than how I do.

      So, people assume you are shallow & vain? At least they don’t view you as a lazy, gluttonous slob, even though you may be a meticulous, neat, healthy, loving, hard-working person. That is what people are talking about here. People think I’m shallow & vain, but still clamor to assist me, spend time with me, come to my parties, seek out my attention. It has nothing to do with my true value, mostly just the perceived value they project onto me.

      It makes my life easier. It is a privilege. I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist or claim that I can’t see it.

      I thank God for it every day, I try not to be ungrateful or take it for granted. And I know every moment of every day that my life is different because of how I look. That places a greater responsibility on me to seek out the experiences of others that may not have this. To really look at what their experiences are and try to learn from it and educate others to it, as well.

      But I can never pretend I don’t know it is there….

      (I shouldn’t blog while enjoying mojitos)

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      It’s the nature of privilege that we aren’t aware of it. Wear a fat suit for a day, and then we’ll talk.

      • Veronica says:

        Rachel, I was confused who you were responding to? Clarify, if you would be so kind. ; )

        I don’t believe it is the nature of privilege that makes us unaware. Those who are privileged have the added responsibility to be aware of it. It’s pretty easy to see it, from my perspective…

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        I responded to Yum’s comment, and it placed it under your comment. Sorry for the confusion!

        And my comment just referred to the fact that it’s almost always the case that we’re not aware of our privilege until someone points it out to us. Then we can see it all around us. But usually we don’t understand that the things that we take for granted on a daily basis are not the same for others.

      • Veronica says:

        Rachael – you are so right. And if we benefit from some privilege, it is our duty to see it, and learn how to undo the damage privilege does to others…

  51. Diana says:

    I have read all the comments on hear so many times. I see what you all are saying, and most I agree with. However, it appears to me, in my understanding, that most of the arguments on hear are attempting to persuade others into thinking alike. I get that in seeing other points of view understanding, learning, and change can happen. But doesn’t it, plain and simple, come down to growing? We must learn and teach about acceptance, even if it starts small. Perhaps the way this was brought about may have been wrong, perhaps things could have been different. I know that tones and certain words come wrong, but can we look past that? If we are all here defending ourselves and whomever we are defending, then can we not do it as a collective group? I have been on both ends of this insanity between too obese and too thin. Niether made me feel any better or worse because I still was not what society wanted. So should we not look to change was is wanted? If that makes sense. Sorry to just jump in on this. I just wanted to state what I have got out of this conversation.

  52. meganmae says:

    Also–and then I have to go, I have teaching to do–part of the reason people have come down so hard on people who deny thin privilege or “call bullshit” whatever that means, is because accepting thin privilege as a fact and as patently uncool is kind of critical for Fat Acceptance. And since this blog seems to be trying to participate in FA, those of us who already are really want to help people understand that claiming to be Fat Accepting and also denying thin privilege is putting yourself in a self-contradictory position. It’s like saying you want to live in a democracy and then wanting a monarch. The ideas aren’t compatible.

  53. Sarah says:

    Well, I had to do it! My thoughts on privilege – thin and otherwise: http://sayhealth.wordpress.com

  54. Rachel_in_WY says:

    So, I guess I’m trying to understand what exactly the stance of this blog is now. You seem to be rejecting the concept of thin privilege because in your view it’s tied up with fat acceptance, and this is not a fat acceptance blog. Is this correct? If so, a couple of things.

    First, the concept of privilege has been around for quite some time, and precedes the existence of the FA movement. Many, many people who are not a part of the fat acceptance movement accept that there is thin privilege in our culture, because there’s a ton of empirical evidence to prove it. Lots of studies have been done that demonstrate that thin people receive preferential treatment in our culture. It’s an established fact. But accepting thin privilege doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an FA activist. Think about it: racists accept that white privilege exists – they just think that it’s the way things should be. They believe that whites deserve to receive preferential treatment. And sadly many people in our culture believe that thin people deserve preferential treatment as well. So acknowledging the basic fact that thin privilege exists does not entail any particular political stance on FA.

    Second, if your stance involves a denial of thin privilege, then what can the scope of your blog really be? How can we go about helping those who are not naturally thin feel OK about themselves and have a healthy body image if we refuse to acknowledge that our culture views them as less-than because they don’t conform to the ideal? What is their new found self-acceptance and confidence supposed to be based on if we’re in denial of the way our culture treats them, which has resulted in their poor self-image? The road ahead seems unclear to me given this stance, and I’m sincerely curious how you see this working.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Rachel: I wanted to respond to this question you posed;

      Second, if your stance involves a denial of thin privilege, then what can the scope of your blog really be? How can we go about helping those who are not naturally thin feel OK about themselves and have a healthy body image if we refuse to acknowledge that our culture views them as less-than because they don’t conform to the ideal? What is their new found self-acceptance and confidence supposed to be based on if we’re in denial of the way our culture treats them, which has resulted in their poor self-image? The road ahead seems unclear to me given this stance, and I’m sincerely curious how you see this working.

      In a prior response to you (just today), I clarified that I do not in anyway deny the fact that thin privilege exists (I never have it was just perceived that way). I am privy to it, you are privy to it, we both know it is so obvious why would one try to deny it?

      I object to “using” it as a strategy towards FA goals because it serves to divide us. However, as you explained above, I should not marry FA with thin privilege, so I will not do so moving forward. Thank you for educating me.

      Regarding the path this blog will take, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t believe in paving a path, I like to just let things happen — and they are definitely happening! I do get concerned the blog will be and/or is disjointed — what do you think thus far? Is having such a mixture of individuals, voicing conflicting point of views, a good thing? confusing thing? At least it is a NEW thing, and that is what I like about it.
      Thank you so much for the time and energy you put into your comments, I think your presence here is important.
      Sincerely,
      mV

      • Tori says:

        I think the title of this post, for one, implies that you’re “not buying it.” I’m actually a little bit confused about your stance, since you seem to acknowledge thin privilege in one breath and deny it in the next. And I agree with others that it would actually help your main constituency if you acknowledged thin privilege and explored the implications of it, since I think that Rachel and others are right that EDs really are closely tied to the privileging and valuing of thin bodies in our culture. Why would you starve yourself if you didn’t think that thin is the ideal and the best?

  55. Rachel_in_WY says:

    Also, I’m curious why you haven’t responded to any of my comments? Am I not making sense? Do my comments seem overly hostile? Because I’m honestly trying to further the dialogue here, and am confused as to why you respond to other commenters but not to me.

  56. tom brokaw says:

    Let’s say I am society, which for all you FA individuals, I functionally am, since I agree with the dominant patriarchy. As an individual and as a representative of the whole, I want to give thin hot women everything. I want to look at them and ignore you, I want to have sex with them, I want to marry them and later lose half my assets to them, I want to treat them better than fat women, I want them in high profile occupations – movie stars, I want to photoshop them. I want to do all the evil crap you accuse me of wanting. Yup.

    That is my prerogative, my preference. Just as it’s your prerogative to want to date certain people or certain types of people. Or your prerogative to treat certain people better than others or to prefer to see certain types of people in media and not others or to have one set of politics over another. I don’t write blogs complaining about all of YOUR preferences and I honestly don’t care what you prefer.

    My prerogative is coincidentally society’s prerogative since the whole is simply a collection of individual choices. If you respect the individual’s right to that choice, the whole has the right to choose universally.

    I can hear you screeching FA bloggers screaming now: “blah blah blah I don’t care what you want to have sex with, I would never want to have sex with YOU or have anything to do with YOU.” Right?

    Great, thanks for proving my point. What business is it of yours the game that I play with women who are willing to starve and cut themselves in order to fit into a mold I find attractive? My girlfriend works out 90 minutes a day and maintains a bmi of 18.6, mainly in order to stay attractive to “society” and more specifically to men who think like me. She’s considering getting breast implants because as the fatosphere loves to point out, thin women don’t have huge breasts (well that’s what they invented breast implants for). So what business is that of yours? Especially if you “want nothing to do with me?” Have you not opted out? Well stay the F out then and let the shallow people live as we will. We are all adults, leave us to it.

    You obviously do care, you wouldn’t be putting your whine into the fatosphere if you didn’t care.

    So yeah, if I saw MamaV and I saw you on the street, I would rather hit on her. She’s more attractive to me and to other men. That’s where all the privilege you speak of stems from, right there. But it’s a privilege you supposedly don’t want anyway so shut it already.

    • Sarah says:

      Classy – hitting on a married woman. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything better from a individual like yourself.

      What’s even funnier is that you are assuming you are attractive and/or better than the rest of us here. You don’t even have the balls to post a photo or personal website of yourself. Ego much?

      PS – MamaV wouldn’t give you the time of day. She has this thing called “taste.” Plus, the whole married thing.

      The original commenter is a big time troll on the FA feeds, so that is where my reply is coming from – in case you were wondering about the snark.

    • I hope that your girlfriend – who sounds like she might be sick, or bordering on it at least – can find the courage take care of herself and find someone who supports her in gaining back her health.

      • Gina says:

        Sarah, Sayhealth – I don’t think it’s reasonable to make assumptions about the health of “Tom’s” girlfriend based on her BMI. Your wouldn’t want anyone to make assumptions about *your* health based on *your* BMI, would you?

      • Mulberry says:

        Sarahs,
        I seriously doubt that tb above even HAS a girlfriend. And as for caring or not caring, he’s the one who chases down any blog in the fatosphere desperately trying to get heard.

        Screechingly yours (as per tb’s remark),
        Mul the Screechberry

    • B says:

      Ugh. mamaV – do we really have to see this troll on this site?

      • mamaV says:

        Hi B and All: I made a judgment call letting “Tom’s” comment go through because sadly he is representative of a group and he speaks their reality.

        He is blacklisted so I moderate all comments from him.
        Since he has not returned, do we see any value in his statement above? If no, I have no issue removing it and the comments related to it.

        Thank you for flagging me,
        mV

      • Nikki says:

        Is that why all of my comments have to go through moderation as well?

        If you seriously want to put me in the same class as this troll, I simply won’t bother to post anymore. Have fun all.

        XOXO

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        Nikki – don’t leave!

        *clutches Nikki’s leg and drags on the floor behind her as she heads for the door*

        And by now it may be clear that I spend a lot of time with a toddler.

      • Nikki says:

        lol, I’m currently in the process of adopting a 6-year-old. Is it bad that I’m sort of glad I missed going through the terrible-twos with him?? 🙂

  57. Sarah says:

    Well, I had to do it! It was too much to get out here. I wrote a response blog entry on thin privilege. Check it out by clicking on my name. 🙂

  58. Alex says:

    Well I have not much to say…there’s been a lot of discussion here (and almost hostility it seems =S) but I just want to state my opinion about a few things.

    Mostly I do agree with Mamav.
    I am especially sick of overweight people and skinny poeple going against each other and saying we’re all so different. Bein overweight can also be and eating disorder…often is, Being overweight and being too thing are part of the same thing, the same problem.
    I agree on the fact that we all should get together, face the facts and stop scrutinizing each other with”thin privilige” and calling people lazy and stupid just because they’re fat..come on!

    I also agree with a lot of the comments above that fat people today are a lot more scrutinized against than thin people. Thin has always been the desireble.
    I myself am thin and have never been called fat. But that doesn’t mean that my life is fun all day long..just because you are fat doesn’t mean that you can tell thin people to piss off and not have an opinion.

    This terrible inhuman categorizing we do…
    “You’re fat, so that means you are lazy and an ugly person”
    “You’re thin, so you are “priviliged” and you are liekd just for your looks..”

    That’s awful =/
    I won’t be a hippocrit, i categorize..but human worth is something everybody has. No matter what.
    Be proud, be strong and be honest

    Hugs from
    Alex <3

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      That’s not what we’re saying about thin privilege at all. Not at all. This isn’t about why thin and fat women can’t get along. This is about what changes we need to work toward in the way our culture values people based on their size and appearance. And it’s inevitable that we’ve internalized some of these values and attitudes, and the very first thing we have to do if we want to have positive body images ourselves, and be good allies to those who are not naturally thin, is to examine and change those attitudes in ourselves. Women with EDs have most definitely internalized the message that only thin women are worthy of love and respect. How on earth can we help them if we don’t examine and debunk the privileging of thin people in our society as a whole? How?

    • B says:

      Alex – What do you mean by this?

      Being overweight and being too thing are part of the same thing, the same problem.

  59. Nikki says:

    Why are my comments still in moderation?! I have posted here many times before, according to the policy my comments should be going through.

    I feel like you’re pretty effectively keeping me out of this conversation by not publishing anything I have to say. Ridiculous.

  60. Anna says:

    I’m in agreement with MammaV. Thin people are treated better by society than overweight people. But there is an annoying tendency from certain people in the FA movement to try and quieten any comment they don’t like with “Oh, that’s such a priveleged comment” and try to dismiss people in an extremely obnoxious way, even in situations when the issue of thin privelege is not involved.

    I also don’t like the term “thin privelege” – it seems to suggest that thin people get treated nice and they should be brought down to the level of fat people and treated badly too. I think everyone should be treated nicely.

    Also, the label “thin privelege” seems to subconsciously place the blame for the existence of this privelege on those who receive it. It’s got this subtext of “You get special treatment that you don’t deserve and you’re not doing anything to stop it – so it’s your fault I feel bad”. “Fat discrimination” would be a better term as it puts the blame on those who are doing the discriminating, where it belongs.

    • Joy says:

      Anna, you’re right that there are people who will say that thin women shouldn’t have a voice in this discussion, but I don’t think anyone here has said anything to that effect.

      The term “thin privilege” does not have any intent to imply that thin women should be treated as poorly as society treats fat women. It acknowledges that thin women are treated better and asserts that all women should be treated with the same respect and dignity. There is also no blame involved. Some women are thin, others fat, and many are somewhere in between. These aren’t measures of value, but rather physical descriptions, and there should be no fault involved.

      I think you are right that there are some fat women who will blame thin women for how they are treated, but that’s not the whole, nor is it the point or purpose of recognizing privilege. Fat discrimination is certainly the inverse of thin privilege, but it doesn’t have quite the same implication. Fat discrimination describes how fat people are treated as though they have less worth than the average woman in society – thin privilege describes how thin women are treated as though they have more value than the average women. There are also many women who fall somewhere in between an experience aspects of both.

      • Anna says:

        My point isn’t that people *here* on this particular thread are saying that thin women shouldn’t be able to voice an opinion – but on other websites when people do want to shut someone up, they can say something like “You need to recognise your privilege” as code for “Shut up, skinny bitch – what do you know about this?” I have far more often seen the topic of “thin privilege” come up to divide and label people, than I have seen it come up to actually discuss the different treatment of groups in society. Like it or not, it can create an “us vs. them” attitude and is often used as a weapon.

        And although whoever came up with the idea of “thin privilege” and a lot of the people using might not intend it to place blame on thin people – this is nonetheless how it can come across. It, perhaps unintentionally, shifts the focus from those who give different treatment to people because of their weight, to the recipients of the special treatment who might not have asked to be treated any better in the first place.

        The problem doesn’t lie with the skinny girl who doesn’t get called a “fatass” and doesn’t spend her time thinking about how awful it would be if she did – the problem is the person who goes around insulting people. And by calling people “privileged”, it’s the real offenders who we can lose sight of.

        And while I agree with you that there is a sliding scale of treatment, from the bad treatment of the overweight, the neutral treatment of the average and the good treatment of the skinny – people often don’t use the term “thin privilege” to mean just the extra special treatment the ultra-thin get. In fact, I’ve rarely seen it used to mean that at all.

        700stories posted this list of examples of “thin privilege” on her website upthread:
        “1. Doctors don’t chalk up every symptom you have to your size and present weight loss as a panacea.

        2. You can eat in public without people judging your food choices. Likewise you can be pretty assured that no one behind you at the grocery store is looking at what you buy to “see what makes you so fat.”

        3. You can be assured of seeing people your size in popular media (tv, magazines, etc.) If you are an actor you can usually be up for meaningful lead roles rather than the “comical sidekick” or be otherwise unrestricted in terms of what parts you’re allowed to play.

        4. You can shop in most stores and find clothes in your size.

        5. When a person flirts with you you don’t have to worry that they’re doing it to have “good politics” and can genuinely assume it’s because they find you attractive. Also, you do not have to deal with people who fetishize you because of your size.

        6. Your size communicates very little to most people and is value neutral. That is, most people don’t assume anything about your values, morals, etc. because of your size.”

        Now, this doesn’t sound to me like a list of examples of how thin women are treated better than average women – it seems like a list of things which are unfair, unfortunate and/or discriminatory against fat people which those of us who aren’t don’t have to suffer through. And for this, I feel “fat discrimination” or “weight discrimination” would be a more effective term.

        What I’m saying is, this topic is very confusing because there doesn’t seem to be a true consensus on what “thin privilege” means. It’s unfortunate the people keep saying “You just don’t get it” when to my mind there really isn’t an agreed “it” to get.

      • Synna says:

        Anna, there IS consensus on what thin privilege means. Please take the time to read around the FA/size acceptance/progressive blogosphere where many very intelligent articulate discussions have taken place.

        Here are some good places to start:

        http://kateharding.net/2009/01/29/guest-blogger-volcanista-on-thin-privilege/

        http://kateharding.net/2008/08/09/privilege-and-apologies/

  61. shinobi42 says:

    Look, you simply cannot talk about how one group is discriminated against without talking about how another group receives inherent privilege. You can’t unpack the nature of the discrimination without it sometimes coming up. It would be like trying to paint a painting with only shadows, never highlighting the bright points. Privilege is what happens when one group is discriminated against, it means that another group receives inherent benefits from NOT being discriminated against. It is a yin yang thing.

    I totally get that being told to check your privilege feels like an attack. I feel wounded every time I have to check my white privilege or my cis gendered privilege or even my Tall well educated upper middle class privilege. It’s hard to acknowledge these inherent benefits you have because you feel GUILTY AS HELL. (Or at least I do)

    But to just say we can’t talk about it because it is “Othering”? ORLY? Is it as “Othering” as say, people not sitting next to you on the bus? Or not getting jobs/ Or being called lazy? Being told you smell even when you dont? Being told to go to the gym? Not getting adequate medical care?

    The fact is, it is othering, it is supposed to be, the point is for people who have privilege, for whatever reason, to take that opportunity and realize how while what they are saying may be valid in their experience, it comes from a place where they haven’t had to deal with the same damaging behaviors (See above) as the group they are discussing.

    That is not to say that they don’t deal with ANY damaging behaviors. Just not the SAME ones.

    If you find yourself reading this just trying to come up with more ways of proving that you’re right, then you aren’t learning. You are trying to find a way to defend your own ideas that you’re always right, or that you know a lot and other people don’t, or that you should never have to feel bad or guilty ever, or for whatever reason. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes, it is NOT okay to refuse to admit it. (Does that sound as patronizing as point #7?)

  62. Sarah says:

    I agree with you one hundred percent. Great post. Personally, I’m tired of others whining about “privilege.” It’s an excuse for failure – it took me 27 years to figure this out. I blamed everything on my weight problem, but it turns out I was pushing others away and never giving anybody a chance.

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      Are you tired of hearing those black people whine about white privilege, and the disabled whine about able-bodied privilege too? What about male privilege? What do you propose we do about that? Shall we all become white able-bodied males so that nobody can whine about privilege anymore.

      The facts are out there. This has been established repeatedly. You may be in denial about it if you wish. But please don’t be an asshole about it.

      • B says:

        Rachel in WY – Unfortunately, I think your comment hits the nail on the head. I would wager that a few commenters here would disagree with the concepts of white privilege and able-bodied privilege. But it’s “easier” to say you don’t agree with thin privilege than argue against the entire concept.

        I say this, as I know that most of my family would disagree that they’re privileged in any way, and we couldn’t be any waspier.

  63. Anna says:

    “Synna, on September 25th, 2009 at 2:35 am Said:

    Anna, there IS consensus on what thin privilege means. Please take the time to read around the FA/size acceptance/progressive blogosphere where many very intelligent articulate discussions have taken place.

    Here are some good places to start:

    http://kateharding.net/2009/01/29/guest-blogger-volcanista-on-thin-privilege/

    http://kateharding.net/2008/08/09/privilege-and-apologies/

    Sorry, I couldn’t see a reply button below your comment for some reason so I’m just going to have to quote it.

    Firstly, there clearly isn’t an adequate definition of thin privelege. It either is the exceptional treatment of the skinny as opposed to the neutral treatment of the normal weight and the bad treatment of the overweight, or it is things which suck about being obese or morbidly obese that you don’t have to deal with if you aren’t. I have seen both definitions used on this thread and seen people deny that the other defintion is right.

    And secondly, I have already read the posts on Kate Harding’s website. Kate Harding might have a definition of it; but that doesn’t mean everyone else agrees with her.

    • Synna says:

      Its not my job to do your research for you.

      • Anna says:

        I’ve come to the conclusion that you seem to not be reading my posts.

        I am saying I have done the research and I can point to examples both on other sites and within this thread (eg Joy and 700stories) defining thin privilege as two completely separate and mutually exclusive concepts. And if you had actually even bothered to read the comments on this thread you would see the same thing.

        Perhaps you’re one of those who thinks that just because Kate Harding said it was X, that means it is X – but not everyone else does. So really, I don’t know why you’re pointing me to basic articles on her site which just seem to say “Thin privilege sucks” and don’t actually deal with the issue I was raising at all.

        I’m saying you can’t say things like, as Linda Bacon does (http://www.lindabacon.org/Bacon_ThinPrivilege080109.pdf), “Not having to worry about fitting in airline seats is an example of thin privilege” if one defines thin privelege as actually some kind of extra-special treatment that only thin people get (as Joy suggested it was defined) because I’ve never been thin and yet even at my heaviest the thought has never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to sit in an airline seat (and my arse is the fattest part of my body) and my mother is quite obese (I think her BMIs been up to about 35) and she’s never had a problem in this regard either.

        What I’m saying is not that the idea itself is bullshit, but that A) you shouldn’t get pissed off for someone saying “spare me from hearing about thin privilege” when you both might have completely different ideas of what the term means and B) people seem to be ignoring the central issue of what exaclty it is we’re discussing; and until everyone agrees on a proper definition, any discussion of it’s merits or disadvantages will be rather pointless,

      • Nats says:

        Anna, there IS consensus on what thin privilege means. Please take the time to read around the FA/size acceptance/progressive blogosphere where many very intelligent articulate discussions have taken place.

        I actually read this several times over, in my head the first thought was “I cant think of anything else I would rather not do” simply because everybody will believe different things and have a different opinion on this matter and any other. People do not always need to read up and “do research” because they already have their opinion on the subject. Such as me, I have my opinion, which frankly was also told to go and do research and read other posts, im not going to do that again, read em, my opinion is still the same as it was before hand, nothing changed.

        your opinion is your opinion dont change it because someone is telling you to go and read what others to say so that maybe you will then start to agree with them instead.

    • Zenoodle says:

      Or in other words, you’re saying: “lalalalala I can’t heeear yooou”?

      • Zenoodle says:

        (Anna not Synna — confusant!)

      • Anna says:

        No, I’m saying I’ve already done plenty of reading and treating me like some kind of n00b and pointing me to some basic “Ooh, doesn’t thin privilege suck” articles that I read ages ago, rather than actually listening to what I was saying, is rather patronising and obnoxious.

        I have spent far more time on SP than is good for my sanity, and whilst everyone on that site seems very eager to yell “That’s such a privileged comment” at each other – I don’t think the FA community as a whole has reached a clear and united definition of thin privilege, they’ve only decided that whatever it is exactly, it sucks.

        I did listen, but Synna was bascially saying “Go away n00b and read these 101 articles” rather than listening to my point. There is no need to say “La la la, I’m not listening” because there was nothing to listen to.

      • Synna says:

        The basic concept is that it’s not the unprivileged group’s responsibility to educate the privileged. Where you fall on the categories of privilege I don’t know, I can only assume from the comments you make that you have decided that in your mind there is no consensus when to me, if you did research you would see that perhaps while there is no ‘wiki’ definitively on the topic, (its not necessary in order to have a definition) there IS consensus on thin privilege just like other categories of privilege

        And there is nothing wrong with reading lots and lots of 101.

      • Anna says:

        You do not seem to be able to understand a word I say.

        I have done the research, unlike you apparently, and come to the conclusion that people are using the term to mean two different things.

        I’m not saying I want a nice neat definition – I would just like to not have one person say “It means A, it doesn’t mean B at all” and another person saying “It means B”. Is that too much to ask?

        I’m not asking you to define it for me. I’m just saying you should realise that people are using this term in different ways.

        If you would like to actually *read what I have said* rather than just prattling on about how I need to go do some research, perhaps you would understand.

      • Nats says:

        Anna,

        I totally 100% agree with you.

        It does seem that when anybody asks a question on this post they seem to be told to go and do reasearch or go and read all the other comments written.

        I agree with that there are different ways that people would take this to mean too xxx

        Nats

      • Anna says:

        Thanks for the support Nats.

        Sometimes I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall talking to certain people so it’s nice to have some backup 🙂

        PS – you don’t happen to be the same Nats from a certain hair care forum, do you? You’re probably not the same one, it would just be quite coincidental if it was you.

      • Nats says:

        Sorry this is a reply to Anna but there is no reply button under her post so have to reply here.

        Thanks for the support Nats.

        Sometimes I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall talking to certain people so it’s nice to have some backup

        PS – you don’t happen to be the same Nats from a certain hair care forum, do you? You’re probably not the same one, it would just be quite coincidental if it was you

        Your welcome, I have had the same feeling too, and I didnt like that when I asked A simple question I got told to go read post etc. You will see I have plenty of posts on this topic x

        Im sorry but no I am no the same nats on that hair care forum. I have a blog but hair care is not my subject babes xxx

        Anyways. Im here if you ever wanna rant xxx

        Nats

  64. Fat Acceptance says:

    Frankly this whole privilege mess is the main reason I can never see fat acceptance going anywhere. Fat Acceptance is has become a small subset of feminism and is controlled by the “______ studies” (womens, gender, queer, fat, black, etc.) people. This does such a good job instantly alienating the vast majority of the population. Good luck getting any men into fat acceptance when the prerequisites include atoning for their male privilege and having to use laughable pronouns like zie and hir.

    • I have a B.A. and an M.A. in Women’s Studies; I’m currently work on my Ph.d. This is such a reductive and simplistic view of academic disciplines born out of activist/social change movements. People are alienated, intimidated, etc. by most social change movements LONG before they encounter any of these academic disciplines. IF they encounter a Women’s Studies classroom, for example, much of what we do is working to counter the alienation, stereotyping, misunderstanding, etc. of these social movements that has already been fed to people by society, not by the academy.

      And I get your point. A lot of the theoretical writing in these fields – critical race theory, queer theory, etc. – is often inaccessible to the general population. I agree that that is a flaw in these disciplines. However, men, along with most people in “mainstream” society don’t even know these bodies of work exist because they are alienated from these social movements and political belief systems before they’ve even heard of “Women’s Studies,” “Fat Acceptance,” etc.

      This alienation is a societal problem that extends WAY beyond the academy. I agree that it alienates people and that it prevents people from really seeing what these social movements are about. And I agree that some “____ studies” people add to the problem. I certainly have some MAJOR issues with certain scholars, certain approaches, etc. Many of us, though, are working to combat alienation, make these movements/disciplines accessible to everyone, combine action with scholarship, open the field to new voices, etc., etc.

      • Fat Acceptance says:

        If you don’t believe me just look at the sheer volume of men in the fatosphere. Actually there is one now they just added him and I will be entertained to find out how long he lasts for. Even Paul McAleer, one of the first fat acceptance bloggers was driven out quite quickly by Harding and Co. Not excluded, but put in a situation where it became something they could not be a part of without even having his language choices criticized constantly.

        All I am saying is that as long as Feminism is a prerequisite to fat acceptance it can never go anywhere.

      • I don’t understand entering into a dialogue and then shutting off the comments. Anyway, feminism isn’t a prereq, so there’s that. Also, part of the reason not many men aren’t part of the FA movement is also that oftentimes “body image” stuff is seen as a “women’s issue.” There are more reasons, but it seems silly to get into it w/ someone who obviously wants to cut off my chance to respond.

      • Anna says:

        I have to kind of agree with the poster Fat Acceptance – like it or not – an awful lot of people (in fact, from my experience I’d say most) don’t like the people who study “____ studies” or what they say.

        Like I would say I’m a feminist as I believe in equality of the sexes, but I really can’t bare to hear what most “feminist writers” have to say on the subject. I think my main problem with them is that they often seem to want to impose their belief on an issue on you, without any chance to discuss whether it really is a feminist issue. The tone taken is more often than not aggressive and angry, often about something relatively trivial, and the author just comes off as someone who thinks their opinion is superior to anyone elses. It’s all very off-putting for anyone who doesn’t want to just automatically believe in what someone else has to say. It’s the same tone that is used on so many FA sites.

        And I will agree with the poster Fat Acceptance, that certain parts of the FA movement are dominated by hypocrites and idiots.

        One of the reasons why reading SP drives me nuts is that Kate Harding and the others on her site seem to have this mad belief that just because discrimination against fat people is bad – it must also be that any suggestion that being overweight is bad for your health is untrue and just another example of discrimination. This is bollocks. I can’t count the number of articles which I’ve seen her and her ilk cherry-pick from to make it sound like – “Hey, you know what – being overweight is healthier than being normal weight” when that wasn’t what it said at all. Or the way she twists the fact that most people fail on diets into the argument “If you succeed – it’s only because you are a freak of nature and your body is one that is capable of losing weight, not like the rest of us.”

        The science will say what the science will say – it might say that being overweight is unhealthy, it might not – but you can’t jump at studies with such a biased view looking for evidence that will back you up and ignoring anything that contradicts you.

        And I know that I used to sort of be a hypocrite and an idiot. I ate a completely appaling diet but I would insist that I ate no worse than the rest of my family, and I was genuinely perplexed why I was heavy given that I was eating what I would insist was a healthy diet. I wouldn’t really call it hypocrisy looking back – more denial and having my idea of what a healthy diet should consist of by my unhealthily eating family (although it was mostly just denial – I should really have known that a “healthy salad” should not consist of 50% cheese, dressing, croutons and bacon bits and that midnight binge eating is not a normal thing to do). And I’m unbelievably grateful that I didn’t find the FA community back then because I would have added to the self-dillusional aspect of it, repeating “It’s not what I eat (lie), I eat very healthily (lie), I do plenty of exercise (lie), I just can’t understand why I’m fat”.

        So, just to reiterate, I am very against discmrimination based on weight. However, I don’t like to see people abusing science for whatever reason, even it’s to make people feel better about themselves and there are people involved in the FA movement who will put off outsiders from listening to them.

    • Sarah says:

      Hey FA troll, don’t assume we all follow the same line of reasoning in the FA community.

      • Fat Acceptance says:

        If this is who I think it is I should take this oppertunity to say two things:

        1) Don’t feel bad about yourself for being fat, there is nothing inherently wrong with it and it in no way makes you a bad person.

        2) You are a perfect example of the problems with fat acceptance. In order to join the movement you had to adopt all their rules. That meant you had to admit that obesity is in no way a product of lifestyle, weight gain if the form of fat is only possible through dieting, fat people eat less then thin people, etc.. even though this what totally false and you knew it. Yet you still towed the company line like a little sheep. Your former blog is perfect proof that the “I only eat whole grain vegan food in tiny quantities” spouters are not to be believed. There is nothing wrong with being fat, there is a lot wrong with blatantly misrepresenting yourself and then trying to say all this bullshit is somehow scientifically sound. This IS true of the entire FA community because if someone says otherwise they are quickly excluded (see You, this very blog, good with cheese, any one with a penis who does not constantly apologies for it, etc)

        I am totally good with fat people. My gf and I both used to be fat. I DO have a problem with hypocrisy and idiocy.

        You were a hypocrite. You claimed you ate less than the thinnest of people and only gained weight because you dieted, now you admit you were a binge eater. I commend you for coming out of such a deep state of denial and wish you all the best in recovery but must strongly state that the fatosphere did nothing but further lead you into deeper denial and delusion.

        The idiocy I can not stand is the idea in FA that caloric intake and expenditure is wholly unrelated to obesity and that there is no possible way to lose weight in the long term. The ENTIRE WORLDWIDE scientific and medical community disagrees. Yet FA supporters come back with the only 3 sources of “evidence” they have: Paul Campos, a lawyer, Sandy Schwartz, a nurse, and Linda Bacon, a biology teacher at a community collage.

        Somehow we are expected to believe that a lawyer, a nurse, a biology teacher at a community collage, and a couple of morbidly obese women on the internet lead by a feminist blogger actually have more knowledge and accurate information about obesity than the ENTIRE WORLDWIDE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL COMMUNITY. It boggles the mind. Even better, while the Sci/med people all are totally down with debate, Fat Acceptance must exist in a echo chamber for the sanity of those involved. No debate can be had. I wonder why this is, surely not because all their arcuments are laughable and can be knocked down in a matter of seconds. I am totally good basing my medical information on information posted on the internet and completely isolated form comment of review. If Fat Acceptance can’t even out argue people on the internet good luck arguing with scientists and doctors.

      • Forestroad says:

        FA- But big diet and the obesity industry don’t cherry pick studies either? There is a lot of conflicting evidence out there, and maybe that’s why we should pause before shutting people out of health insurance based on an arbitrary number, among other things. You’re right: when we have more evidence, it might show overweight to be healthy, or not.

        I agree with Sarah, too; there are different lines of reasoning within the FA community. I do believe lifestyle contributes to weight; I think it’s more important to implement social policies that incentivize healthy behaviors over weight loss.

        I’m also a feminist, and I don’t require my bf to apologize for his penis. I’m actually quite grateful for it.

  65. Cecca says:

    I’ve seen a lot of comments here on the use of thin privilege to silence people, but there’s one argument I haven’t seen: the argument that there are spaces in which people who have thin privilege should legitimately be quiet.

    This blog isn’t one of those spaces, obyviously. I’m speaking of spaces created by and for fat women specifically for higher-level discussion of the issues their weight creates in their lives. Most of my experience with the blogosphere is in anti-racism activism, so I’ll use that as an example. It is not unusual for black women who choose not to relax their hair to have conversations about societal prejudice against natural hair. Every once in a while, a white woman with curly hair will enter the discussion with her story. And while her points may be valid, she has simply entered the wrong discussion forum to air them. It’s not about her. In a world where you are never given space to air your grievances, it is occasionally necessary to have a safe space that will not be hijacked by people with privilege inaccessible to you. Once again, I am not arguing that this blog is such a space, but the comments on the silencing of the thin have reminded me of spaces in which this may not be a bad thing. If a group of thick women choose to create a blog specifically for discussion of their lives as thick women, I do not have the right to enter that space and talk about how hard my life is since I moved up from size 8 to size 10.

    One of the hallmarks of privilege is accessibility. If you have certain types of privilege, you are given access to certain spaces and assumed to have the right to speak on certain subjects. It is difficult, then, to be told that this space is not for you that you are not as knowledgeable as you would like to believe on the subject at hand and that, perhaps, you should be quiet for a moment and pay heed to the stories of the people who are experiencing marginalization rather than jumping in with your own stories.

    When you have privilege you get used to being able to say certain things and not get called out for them. It’s hard to walk into a space and hear “That’s an asinine point and we’re not going to dignify it.” It’s difficult to ask a basic question and hear “That’s a 101 question and this is a 400-level discussion; do your research and come back later.” It’s difficult as hell, but it’s necessary for growth, because an important step in becoming an ally is realizing that the world outside may be a safe space for you in this aspect (or that you have created your own safe space) but this is a safe space for them and that you do not have the right to hijack the conversation.

    Once again, this comment pertains more to the FA blogs people have been bringing up in comments than this blog.

  66. Rachel_in_WY says:

    This is a great example of how to resist dialogue – how to plug up your ears and scream “lalalala” while defending your privilege and your right to talk over those who are less privileged than you. It’s sad, but not terribly surprising. And I guess it’s not a total loss – I can use it in my classes as an example to my students of how not to be an ally, how to steadfastly resist constructive dialogue and true growth and learning.

    One last thing: advocacy is not about you. It’s not about stroking your ego and defending it. It’s not about garnering praise and respect. It’s about helping people. And when you ego is at the center of your actions, you cannot help people.

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      OK, a bunch of new comments that were made previously but for some reason weren’t showing up have just shown up, so I take this comment back. Some of the responses here are showing some real listening and dialogue. But now many of the comments appear out of order, and new comments (not replies) aren’t showing up at the bottom of the thread, but somewhere in the middle. And the columns are overlapping… =( Confusing.

  67. Tempe Wick says:

    q,

    I do wish I had the time to go into detail about the points you raised. Here’s the bottom line. No one should be disriminated against. *But* I do not see thin privilege as the same as white privilege or male privilege. One (thin privilege) is a good deal more attainable than the others, which is why I have trouble seeing them as equal.

    Re: 101 level discussions

    I was under the impression that this site was someplace where 101 discussions could take place. There are others which are more like 400 level courses, as someone put it. But I don’t think this is one of them.

    Fat Acceptance,

    I’m not sure who the person you were addressing is or what blog they wrote. But for this, I thank you:

    “The idiocy I can not stand is the idea in FA that caloric intake and expenditure is wholly unrelated to obesity and that there is no possible way to lose weight in the long term. The ENTIRE WORLDWIDE scientific and medical community disagrees. Yet FA supporters come back with the only 3 sources of “evidence” they have: Paul Campos, a lawyer, Sandy Schwartz, a nurse, and Linda Bacon, a biology teacher at a community college.”

    • Rachel_in_WY says:

      OK, so *some* people who are not naturally thin can diet and work really hard and attain thin privilege. Fine. But should they have to? Shouldn’t we object to the fact that our culture values people more for being thin? Shouldn’t we object to the privileging of some based on the size (or color, or gender) of their body and instead insist that people are valued and respected on the basis of “the content of their character” rather than the appearance of their flesh? I simply don’t understand why there’s so much resistance to this idea on this blog. It’s downright bizarre, and unsettling.

      • Nikki says:

        “OK, so *some* people who are not naturally thin can diet and work really hard and attain thin privilege. Fine. But should they have to? Shouldn’t we object to the fact that our culture values people more for being thin?”

        THANK YOU!! I have been trying to say this for my past few posts, but I think I was missing the point myself. This is why I am glad you continue to stick around. 🙂

      • B says:

        Rachel in WY – Yes!! Thank you for breaking this down.

      • mamaV says:

        I agree 100% (hey that’s a first!) 🙂

        We are all trying to fight against this societal need and pressure –right?

        I believe the individuals who have said these types of comments, “some people who are not naturally think can work very hard to attain thin privilege,” are not saying in the same context.

        In some circumstances above, this is being said to make a separation between a privilege you are born with and stuck with (ie racism) vs. a privilege you are born with and could change (ie thin).

        Does that make sense?
        HB

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        Yeah, I agree that there’s this difference, but why is it relevant? Is thin privilege less damaging because of it? Black women spend lots of time and money straightening their hair, and Indian women use dangerous skin lightening cream, and Asian women have plastic surgery on their eye – all to approximate the western beauty ideal more closely and acquire the privilege that comes with it. Should we celebrate the fact that they can work really hard and fork over a bunch of their hard-earned cash to approximate this ideal, or should we work to dismantle the privileging of these features in our culture?

  68. Veronica says:

    wow – so I see alot can happen when one walks away from the computer to spend time at the beach.

    Several people gave some really good insightful information, on both sides of the topic, giving way to what could have been an excellent opportunity for each to learn a little from the other. (I could be wrong, but I think that’s been referred to as growth).

    But it came right back to where it always does…

    “”go away & read enough information until you agree with my opinion completely because I’m too mentally lazy to answer your comment in a way that you (or anyone else reading) might gain additional insight into my opinion. Don’t bother addressing me again until you do agree with my opinion, because after all, my opinion is the only one that counts as true intelligence & although my opinion is so very important, I am far too selfish to give of myself in an attempt to assist others in understanding my opinion because my opinion is so obviously the only opinion that should exist.””

    Someone please lead me to believe that this site is going to be a place where body acceptance is taught and educating the masses of the damage of any type of discrimination is assimilated in a manner that is useable right away, so we can take that information out in to the world with us – right here – right now – in our lifetime – and bring about some meaningful change.

    Please…

  69. Veronica says:

    wow – so I see alot can happen when one walks away from the computer to spend time at the beach.

    Several people gave some really good insightful information, on both sides of the topic, giving way to what could have been an excellent opportunity for each to learn a little from the other. (I could be wrong, but I think that’s been referred to as growth).

    But it came right back to where it always does…

    “”go away & read enough information until you agree with my opinion completely because I’m too mentally lazy to answer your comment in a way that you (or anyone else reading) might gain additional insight into my opinion. Don’t bother addressing me again until you do agree with my opinion, because after all, my opinion is the only one that counts as true intelligence & although my opinion is so very important, I am far too selfish to give of myself in an attempt to assist others in understanding my opinion because my opinion is so obviously the only opinion that should exist.””

    Someone please lead me to believe that this site is going to be a place where body acceptance is taught and educating the masses of the damage of any type of discrimination is assimilated in a manner that is useable right away, so we can take that information out in to the world with us – right here – right now – in our lifetime – and bring about some meaningful change.

    Please…

    • Marlie says:

      There will be people in any discussion who feel like those involved should have done their research before joining the fray. They are entitled to that opinion, and sometimes justified.

      I really feel that this is a 101 blog. There are too many people coming here from blogs with different focuses and/or viewpoints for it to be anything else. We should all be learning here.

      However, this particular post is very much a continuing discussion, and there is a difference between “go research or read what x, y, & z have said before talking to me” and “go read what was already said”. The former is a bit daunting, and unlikely to draw anyone to your point of view. Honestly, it’s always a toss up for me whether I’m going to look at those links or not.

      But the latter is just common courtesy in an ongoing discussion. If we were all sitting around a table talking about those things, wouldn’t it be frustrating if different people kept bringing up the same idea, the same thing said and discussed just a few minutes before? Meetings keep minutes so that others can review them and know what’s going on. If you don’t read the minutes, and you bring up something that has been discussed, people will look at you like you are wasting time. And tell you to review the minutes. It is not too much to ask that people read some of the other posts, or if you don’t want to(I understand, it’s a lot) don’t get upset when people tell you that you should have.

      Also, I am not saying not to post links to other sites and ideas. I’m new to a lot of this, and much of those links are new to me, and I like having them there to go to. They are as much a teaching tool as the discussion itself. However, sometimes they are posted in a go-here-and-don’t-waste-my-time manner, and I don’t think this is the place for that attitude. If you are at the 600 level, and it’s difficult for you to come back to the 101, save the trips for when you have a lot of patience.

      • Veronica says:

        Marlie – thanks for responding to my comment. I understand alot of what you said.

        My comment was born of frustration. There are days when this site shows promise. I have learned a lot engaging with many here that do not share my opinions. It gave me oportunity to broaden my view & re-examine my opinion. That also leads to my being able to discuss what I’ve read & learned here in a positive way with people that don’t spend time reading blogs.

        Unfortunately, it continually comes down to closed minded arguments & certain people trying to force their opinions in very condescending ways. An opinion is an opinion no matter who it may have come from.

        The other problem I’m seeing (and I am open to the fact that I might be wrong) is a lot of pissing & moaning with no collaboration on making effective strides towards change.

        A site like this has so much power. There is so much the contributors & especially the commenters could do with this site to raise awareness of problems on such a large scope. Education of the masses is still very powerful.

        We all seem to agree that discrimination is bad, (and I mean ALL kinds of discrimination) and being aware of privilege will help us connect more effectively, yet we give up any power we may have because we prefer to bicker back & forth about nit-picky bullshit.

        So many of you like to infer that you are so well educated & intelligent. Well, what you accomplish with that education & intelligence is far more important than proving to us lesser mortals just how amazing you are.

        Marlie, by now you probably think I’m in a full-blown rant at you. I am not. I keep making the mistake of coming back to this site thinking that the promise it shows will start to be fulfilled.

        And I am disappointed time & again. I was so hoping that this site was going to be a true vehicle to get important issues out in the open, to be read, and discussed by many. And that through this, the site could take on real issues (I was not too concerned about Hallie having to prove she’s not pregnant) and effectuate real education and change.

        You people talk about how damaging poor body image is, how our children are dying from it, how terrible it makes you feel knowing this. All the poignant stories of suffering at times in your own lives. But then all your energy is spent bickering back & forth. Where is the striding for change? Where is the taking on issues to bring about different circumstances from those of you that do suffer from discrimination?

        What a waste of time.

        What a waste of energy.

        What a waste of an incredible opportunity….

      • Marlie says:

        Before I start, I understand that some of what you said had nothing to do with me personally, so this is not a defensive attack at all.

        I disagree with you on several points.

        I cannot speak for others, but for myself, there is not a lot of room for growth on this subject, as we are discussing it now. A lot of the back and forth has seemed to be about the existence of thin privilege, in general. For me, the answer is that it exists. I can’t budge on that. There is no room for me to do so. Where I could have learned or grew in this subject, would have been a discussion on how it impacts everyone, including myself. I do not have thin privilege, but truthfully, I have never really stopped to think about how that might have impacted my life. It is really more of a lofty concept than something I deal with on a daily basis. I know that is largely because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about random people in relation to myself, but I would have enjoyed taking the time to discuss more fully how it impacts everyone individually and our society as a whole.

        That shift in topic focus would probably have been better for everyone. Those who feel TP denies them a voice would have one as they shared their experience on the subject, and we could all stop feeling as if we were going in circles.

        I do not feel that any power is given up through bickering “back & forth about nit-picky bullshit”. Again, this is one topic. I read the other posts and comments, and give or take a few posts, do not see much bullshit in the comments at all. It is unfair to judge the entire blog on this one situation.

        Also the blog is still fairly young, and you seem to be giving up on it. How quickly does it have to become awesome? Criticize it, yes, but don’t lose hope yet. You are one of the readers open to learning and teaching. I think this blog needs to keep those individuals.

        Another thing is, if you look at the contributors, few of them blog personally about larger topics, things outside themselves. I think that they are(hopefully) learning how to do this, so it will be a bit before the type of topics you are looking for are posted.

        As to this:

        Where is the striding for change? Where is the taking on issues to bring about different circumstances from those of you that do suffer from discrimination?

        I don’t really know what that would look like. Since I doubt the blog is taking to the streets anytime soon, I think discussion is our route to change. People walking away from the computer, and saying, “Hmm, I never thought about that.” If someone is doing that after reading something we’ve said, then we’ve made a start, and that counts towards change.

        And while the blog is open to guest posters(all of whom I’ve appreciated to date), it would be rude and poor commenting ettiquette to change the subject in the comments, so I don’t know how different issues could be taken on, or feel the commenters should be reprimanded for not doing so.

        And, saving the most upsetting for last:

        So many of you like to infer that you are so well educated & intelligent. Well, what you accomplish with that education & intelligence is far more important than proving to us lesser mortals just how amazing you are.

        I’m not sure it should, and it didn’t the first time I read it, but I find this so insulting I can’t think of anything appropriate to say to it. The implication that I think I’m better than anyone……..this is not cool.

      • Veronica says:

        Marlie – thanks again for a well thought out comment to me. I respect that you can disagee, be upset with what I said and articulate it in such an intelligent manner.

        Most of what I said was not in response to your post, I am having trouble figuring out the placement of comments. I also don’t always do a good job articulating my thoughts.

        I agree whole-heaertedly that thin privilege exists. When we are able to discuss back & forth our views & experiences, we all can learn how to lessen TP’s impact. Many of the posts above yours, showing impatience at what is termed 101 info, I allowed to frustrate me.

        In my 47 yrs, I have lived a somewhat sheltered life, so hearing about life experiences that are vastly different from mine gives me such great insight to the world at large. That makes me more empathetic & understanding. It also allows me to see how very much I benefit from all the privilege I’ve been given, more appreciative in a sense.

        When you said “Where I could have learned or grew in this subject, would have been a discussion on how it impacts everyone, ” – that is exactly how I feel. And some of the comments here (not yours) seem to want to limit discussions to only information that mirrors their opinions, they do not seem willing to consider other peoples experiences or struggles.

        Your statement “That shift in topic focus would probably have been better for everyone. Those who feel TP denies them a voice would have one as they shared their experience on the subject, and we could all stop feeling as if we were going in circles.” – speaks to the very frustration I was feeling. Let me ask my ignorant questions sometimes, listen to what it is like for those that share a different life experience. (other people’s comments, not yours)

        You are right, the blog should not be judged based on a few poorly worded comments. But I wish the people making the comments would think about the overall impact, instead of just trying to prove that their opinion is the only ‘right’ one. (again, others comments, not yours)

        The nit-picking does waste energy & time. It accomplishes nothing. I didn’t make myself clear in my last post. Those comments where people have disagreed in a clear & understandable way is good discussion. But statements like: “Its not my job to do your research for you.” – these are just counter-productive. It shuts down communication. (and that was not something you said)

        I have little criticism (man, I just rode my bike 30 miles, I can’t spell, sorry) for the contributors of this blog. While I don’t care about Hallies problems & I feel that MamaV needs to give more thought to ‘how’ she articulates her ideas, these contributors are sacrificing time that I am not to have this blog here. It is because of all of them (including MamamV) and commenters like you, that I keep coming back with hope.

        I guess some days while reading I see more attacking than support, and we all have a breaking point. So, that last comment was mine.

        In my mind, (and I am open to the fact that I am wrong) this blog has already taken to the streets. Look at how many comments are recieved on some of the posts. That’s incredible. But there is what I consider alot of unnecessary bickering. (again, I don’t believe that disagreeing is bickering). Earlier in the comments, several people commented to Anna’s comments. I thought they were very condescending. She appeared to get very frustrated by their statements. Again, I feel that this weakens the overall message this blog could be sending.

        Again, you have made another excellent point “If someone is doing that after reading something we’ve said, then we’ve made a start, and that counts towards change.” – That does count, and we need to think about that before shutting someone down with statements that make them feel their opinions aren’t valid unless they are agreeing with certain commenters. (not what you said, what someone else said)

        Rereading my comment “So many of you like to infer that you are so well educated & intelligent. blah, blah, blah”. This was totally not directed at you, I am sorry if you felt that it was, understandably so.

        On so many occasions you have shown yourself to be articulate, intelligent & caring. I was not referring to you at all.

        There are some people that have commented here that do sound as though they feel they hold themselves above the rest of us. But you were right that it was uncool for me to state that. Some opinions do not need to be voiced, as they do not add to the discussion.

        Hopefully you can forgive my shortcomings & frustrations. (and my really poor spelling)

      • Marlie says:

        I read this, and feel like I understand where you are coming from.

        I get that the whole thing can be frustrating. There is some condescension here, which can halt a conversation. I think since I have observed that in every activist group I’ve joined or attempted to join, in person or online, I take for granted that it is a given and that others will brush themselves off and perservere.

        There are a lot of attitudes and perceptions that I take for granted, and I will have to work on that.

        I hope you don’t feel like there are hard feelings. I may get upset or upset others, but once something’s resolved, then everything is fine.

  70. sarcasticmuppet says:

    Here’s my perspective, I guess. In my undergrad I had to write a “meritocracy” paper for an introductory Sociology class — I had to write about what privileges I had in my life that I did not deserve. It was the easiest paper I ever wrote. Everything from being born in a country that values individual rights, to being white living in a predominantly white neighborhood and going to predominantly white schools, to living in a comfortable middle-class home where I had a primary care-giving parent for most of my formative years who made sure I ate every day and made sure I worked hard to pursue higher education. I had to work to keep from surpassing the maximum length.

    In class that day several students talked about how hard it was for them to even find one thing to write about in their papers.

    That really got to me. I mean, I didn’t have a silver spoon existence by any means, and there were many negative things that impacted me, but at that moment I finally had some small understanding of what privilege was. As a result, I don’t seek to make light of the privileges I know I have. I would never say “White Privilege, Spare Me”, or “Money privilege, spare me”. Recognizing that I have privilege doesn’t take away the hardships I’ve gone through. But understanding that I have privilege makes it possible for me to understand just a little bit those whose experiences are different from my own, knowing that X thing that I completely take for granted is not even possible for this group of people. It’s a first step toward understanding, and a wee baby step toward action.

    It seems like you’re saying that Thin privilege exists, and that it’s bad, but it shouldn’t be pointed out. Why? Why deny people the opportunity to take that first step? You seem to eschew politeness in favor of being yourself (from what you say about your own writings) so why should the FA movement walk on eggshells?

  71. Marlie says:

    I don’t think society as a whole takes the individual experience into account. I consider privilege in the context we are talking about it to be societal privilege, as in society determines that certain traits are good or preferred and others are bad. Society does not research your history to learn of your struggles or the pain you’ve been through. It doesn’t know what you once were, or what you hope to become. It looks at what you are at this very instant and applies a value to it. Perhaps an individual grew up poor, they worked hard and sacrificed everything, and now they are rich. Sure, individuals will tell their story and call them an inspiration, but for Society, they are rich. When people generalize, and say “Rich people do blah blah blah”, they are included in that. They can stop those people and say, “Well, I don’t do that.”, and more than likely they’ll be told that they’re an exception, and most rich people enjoy blah, blah, blah. Even if they reach that generalizing bunch, there are countless others. Really, everyone. Everyone generalizes sometimes. We are society, after all.

    For those of you who were once fat, and worked hard to get to a size you found acceptable, I’m happy for you and hope that in your journey you became happy in yourself(like Roni), but I don’t think Society looks at you and sees how hard you worked. It sees that you are thin or thinner, and places you in its appropriate column.

    For those of you who have suffered or are suffering from different eating disorders, it is wildly unfair, but Society is still placing you in that same column.

    We should be fighting against that judgment. First by stopping it in ourselves, learning not to generalize or stereotype, cutting ourselves off when we begin to judge anyone, including ourselves. Then we can work on changing those attitudes in those around us.

    • Nikki says:

      “For those of you who were once fat, and worked hard to get to a size you found acceptable, I’m happy for you and hope that in your journey you became happy in yourself(like Roni), but I don’t think Society looks at you and sees how hard you worked. It sees that you are thin or thinner, and places you in its appropriate column.”

      Excellent. I’m a person who lost a significant amount of weight and maintained it, but my bosses didn’t know that when they hired me. I was hired with no prior teaching experience during a budget crisis. There could be many reasons for this, including the fact that it costs less to pay me than a veteran teacher, but the statistics suggest that my weight may have given me an advantage over fatter teachers with more experience. Who knows?

      I’m not going to sit around beating myself up over my privilege, but I ACKNOWLEDGE that it’s there, I see how it has affected me and how it may negatively be affecting others. I think that’s all anyone is asking people to do here.

  72. Rachel says:

    I find it extremely ironic to see Heather invalidating the concept of thin privilege when just a month ago, she didn’t even know what the general concept of privilege meant.

    I find the blatant disrespect and mockery shown by Heather to be appalling. For these reasons, I am removing her blog from my Eating Disorders Digest feed and her link from my blogroll. I refused to be associated with someone so willfully uninformed and disrespectful.

  73. Nikki says:

    “So that is why I think it *is* relevant to the discussion of the nature of thin privilege.

    Because if it is something you have to work to achieve, is it really exactly the same as the other privileges?”

    Yes, because the fundamental aspect of all privilege is that People X are privileged because People Y are discriminated against. Fill in those blanks however you like, with white and black, rich and poor, pretty and ugly, whatever.

    Fat discrimination is real, therefore thin privilege is real. There are stats to back it up, which have been linked repeatedly on this thread. Anytime that anyone is discriminated against, it means someone else is benefitting. In this case, thin people benefit from the fact that fat people are discriminated against. A fat person doesn’t get hired and a thin person does, a fat person gets paid less and a thin person gets paid more, etc. This is thin privilege, a real and tangible privilege with statistics proving it occurs.

    There are finite commodities that are distributed unequally in society. Will we ever get to the point where all the resources are distributed evenly? Of course not. I don’t think we will ever even get to the point where we can agree what equal distribution would look like. But that doesn’t mean you stop fighting for it.

    It’s completely tangential, but to me it would be like looking at my class of 20 2nd graders and saying, “Statistically, x% of these children will end up in jail one day.” Does that mean I give up now? Of course not.

    I think there will always be racist people in the world. But I will continue to work to be an actively anti-racist person.

    Unfortunately it seems to me that instead of working to eliminate, or at the very least limit, fat discrimination and thin privilege, we’re sitting here arguing over how people get fat in the first place. IT. DOESN’T. MATTER.

    • Anna says:

      “IT. DOESN’T. MATTER.”

      But it does matter to the label you ascribe things.

      I don’t think privilege is the right word for something that someone has worked for. It’s like I worked my arse off doing a course last year whereas one of my friends didn’t put in much effort at all. I passed with flying colours and she failed. Now I’ve got an offer for my dreamjob because of my qualification and she’s trying to get a different job that she doesn’t want much and pays a lot worse. Did I get the job because of “privilege”?

      And if being thin is something that most, if not all, people can achieve, then is it still a “privilege”? Do we say men with short hair are privileged because they are more likely to get hired than men with long hair? Even though the guy with the long hair could just cut it? (Obviously losing weight is a lot harder, just using an analogy),

      As I said earlier in this discussion, I don’t think the term “thin privilege” is the best to use, and “fat discrimination” would be much better, because saying “thin privilege” shifts blame away from the people doing the discriminating and onto those receiving better treatment, who probably can’t help how they are treated.

      I agree that looking at the situation of hiring people for jobs there is a discrete number and so being biased against fat people will lead to bias in favour of thin people. I think with the wage gap however, it’s more likely that the company will just keep the extra money they would have had to pay the fat person, rather than giving any extra than they need to to the thin person; so really that’s just more money for the shareholders who may be any size.

      But I’ve heard thin privilege brought up in so many different and inconsistent ways on here and other sites. Amongst other things I’ve seen people saying that these things were examples of thin privilege:
      1) Going to the doctors and not being told to lose weight. I’m not sure how thin people are affected by the doctor nagging an overweight person.
      2) Not having to worry about whether a guy is hitting on you just to make himself look politically correct. Again, what benefit does the thin person get from the shallow guy pretending to chat up an overweight person.
      3) Not having people judge your food choices. I don’t know what benefit there is to the thin person because someone looks at what the overweight person is eating to see what made them get that way.

      And this is why I think that if the term thin privilege is to be used at all – it must be much more clearly defined.

      If the FA community continues to go round yelling “thin privilege” at any thin person who stumbles across one of their sites, or happens to write something they don’t like, I’m certain they will alienate people and make aims much harder to achieve. This is why this matters.

      • Nikki says:

        “1) Going to the doctors and not being told to lose weight. I’m not sure how thin people are affected by the doctor nagging an overweight person.
        2) Not having to worry about whether a guy is hitting on you just to make himself look politically correct. Again, what benefit does the thin person get from the shallow guy pretending to chat up an overweight person.
        3) Not having people judge your food choices. I don’t know what benefit there is to the thin person because someone looks at what the overweight person is eating to see what made them get that way.”

        This is why I chose my examples so carefully. In my examples, if a fat person doesn’t get hired because they are fat, it means a thin person DID get hired. PRIVILEGE.

        If two people are up for a raise and the fat person doesn’t get the raise because they are fat, then the thin person DOES get the raise. PRIVILEGE.

        You agree that fat people shouldn’t be mistreated, yet you continue to argue that being thin is something they could easily obtain. You don’t go so far as to say it, but the obvious implication is, “So why don’t those fat people go on a diet already?” You liken diet and exercise to working hard in a class which, in analagous terms, makes your lazy friend the equivalent of a fat person. Your bias hurts me. This is what breaks my heart when I read the comments — people who truly believe they are tolerant but whose opinions show their true feelings.

      • Synna says:

        wow, you just compared haircuts to losing weight, AND then argue that thin privilege doesn’t exist.

        /head asplode.

      • Veronica says:

        Nikki – you do bring up some really good points. I want to share some information with you but I’m not disputing your comments…

        I don’t know if you’ll ever find my response to your comments but here goes –

        it sounds as though you 1. don’t believe some thin people understand their privilege, 2. think thin people live under rainbows.

        Thin people have problems with doctors too. I had to fight for 8 yrs to get my doctors to do the right tests to find my thyroid problem, because I look so healthy to them. And as a thin person, I’ve been seen by doctors that I didn’t like, I stand up for myself & find another dr. It can be remedied.

        How about knowing a guy is dating you mostly because of your looks, and not because he could care less about your personality or intelligence? Or because no matter how great a person you may be, the thought of having sex with you is overwhelming. “I don’t need you to be intelligent, sweetie, just stand next to me and make me look good.”

        Or my favorite one, having to act like a bimbo just to not be too threatening. Having other women in the office feel uncomfortable around you because they considered you so ‘perfect’.

        I am not trying to say being thin is as hard as being a larger size, please don’t get me wrong, IT IS NOT. But you speak as if larger sized women are the only ones that ever have to struggle.

        You totally got me on the food choices thing to a point. Sometimes people are judging you, but sometimes they aren’t. Something I noticed when I gained weight, I kinda disappeared. People didn’t notice me as much, even at the all-you-could-eat-super-chinese buffet.

        I am an extremely shy person. When I was thin, seems everywhere I went, people would look at me. It totally creeped me out, all I really wanted was to get from point A to point B unnoticed. At first I thought I was just being self-concious, but I had people tell me that they saw it. I had a guy friend one time, after walking into a restaurant, sit and the table & say “Can we do that again?” He then explained he had never walked into a restaurant & had so many people turn to look. Being really shy, it just creeps me out.

        And last, but not least. OMG – please oh please don’t do that….

        Nobody ever said losing weight was easy. No one is arguing that being thin is something anyone could easily attain.

        You make assumptions on people’s biases… and then are hurt by that. And it’s not about being tolerant.

        We shouldn’t be tolerant of people of larger size, we should love them, want to be around them, see their true value, hire them based on their merits.

        Treat them like the normal human beings that they are.

        And for those of us that are blessed with thin privilege, we should not only acknowledge our privilege, but also acknowledge the discrimination that exists every single time we do benefit from TP.

        And on this point here:
        “This is why I chose my examples so carefully. In my examples, if a fat person doesn’t get hired because they are fat, it means a thin person DID get hired. PRIVILEGE.

        If two people are up for a raise and the fat person doesn’t get the raise because they are fat, then the thin person DOES get the raise. PRIVILEGE”

        You are dead right!!! What can we do about it?????

      • Nikki says:

        I am a thin person! Well, average-sized at least. I weigh 130 lbs. and I certainly don’t live under a rainbow.

        As other people have stated, I’m not trying to come up with a spectrum of discrimination and privilege to find out who has it the worst. When people deny thin privilege, I point them to the stats (as I have done upthread) to demonstrate that thin privilege exists.

        I would amend my previous statements to say that poor medical care is more fat discrimination than thin privilege; as Anna states, thin people gain nothing by doctors providing poor medical care to fat people.

        Lastly, in response to this: “You make assumptions on people’s biases… and then are hurt by that.”

        I don’t think I made an assumption so much as an inference. No one wants to be the asshole who goes around telling fat people to wise up already and lose the pounds (well, okay, tom brokaw does). But when Anna writes things like, “And if being thin is something that most, if not all, people can achieve, then is it still a “privilege”?” The clear implication is that if you want the benefits of thin privilege, you’d best get yourself to the gym, post-haste!

        Or how about where Anna talks about how hard she worked to earn her grade in a class while her friend failed because she put in no effort. The analogy is, “Hard work = thin, no effort = fat.” I’m not making wild assumptions here. I’m stating explicitly what Anna will only imply.

        A lot of the commenters here are not only denying thin privilege, they are also denying their own personal biases. That’s what hurts my heart.

      • Nikki says:

        PS: Can’t believe I didn’t answer the most important part of your post, which is the “what can we do?” question!

        We can encourage our lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation, like they have in SF and Santa Cruz: http://www.thewip.net/contributors/2009/07/fat_activists_seek_law_banning.html

        When you see ads that encourage fat hate, such as the alcohol ads that ran this summer (I want to say it was Absolut, but I am having trouble finding a link to the specific product), boycott that product and inform the company why you are boycotting the product.

        Participate in conversations such as these.

        EXAMINE YOUR OWN BIASES. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Lord knows I have my own, but I try to be aware of them.

        You know, this should be a blog post mamaV. You’re all about, “Don’t sit around whining, DO something.” There should be a brainstorming post about ways we can actively fight discrimination against fat people.

      • Nikki says:

        http://kateharding.net/2009/06/20/i-would-need-a-lot-more-than-a-bacardi-breezer-to-be-able-to-stomach-this/

        It was Bacardi, not Absolut. Absolut is getting boycotted by immigration groups at the moment, I got confused.

      • Anna says:

        No, Nikki, you are totally reading my posts wrong and making *massive* assumptions.

        My point with the analogies, is that the word “privilege” is not the best phrase for all situations.

        The point with the hard work analogy is that you can’t say that I’m “privileged” in getting a good grade when I worked hard for it. If I’d had just an amazing memory and didn’t work any harder than my friend, then yes, “privileged” might be a fair term. But privilege does, to me, imply that something is just handed to you on a plate. Whereas in today’s society where food is so easily available whenever and wherever you want it and more often that not is loaded with sugar and fat, I’d guess that most people do actually have to “work” to stay thin.

        “You liken diet and exercise to working hard in a class which, in analagous terms, makes your lazy friend the equivalent of a fat person… The analogy is, “Hard work = thin, no effort = fat.” I’m not making wild assumptions here. I’m stating explicitly what Anna will only imply.”
        See, my friend actually is obese so if I actually did want to say all fat people were lazy (which I don’t) and I was actually the horrible biased person you seem to imagine I am it would have been really easy for me to say “My obese friend who didn’t work hard on the course and doesn’t work hard at anything including choosing what she stuffs down her throat…” but I wasn’t saying that and I wouldn’t say that. My point was simply that if you were really hard to get something, I would no longer use the word “privilege” for it.

        “You agree that fat people shouldn’t be mistreated, yet you continue to argue that being thin is something they could easily obtain.”
        You know full well that I don’t think it’s something easy to obtain. I even immediately qualified the haircut example with “Obviously losing weight is a lot harder, just using an analogy” and in another comment earlier (which you responded to so you should have read) said “It’s just hard to lose weight and even harder to keep it off as it requires constant vigillence… It’s just a really hard thing to do when your body is designed to put on as much weight as it can to keep you ready in case there’s a famine coming.”

        I do however, think that it is something which for most people is *possible* (nb possible is not the same as easy) to obtain if they chose to. This is not me saying that they should choose to. But this does complicate any comparison to other “privileges”. A black person can’t decide to be white (without some quite extensive surgery), a person born in the Sudan can’t take action so that he is born in Europe or the US. So this is something that should be born in mind before lumping it together with white privilege etc.

        That is the point of the haircut analogy. It’s undeniable that men with long hair will face discrimination when trying to get certain types of jobs and a lot of people will immediately assume that they are a smelly, lazy, unprofessional hippy etc. Now, obviously it’s not right that they’re treated like this. But my point was, looking at the men with short hair, is the term “privileged” the best term to use? Because to me “privilege”, as well as implying that something is unearnt, implies that something is impossible to achieve if one doesn’t already have it.

        Yes, the examples you brought up were reasonably valid to show how discrimination against one person can advantage another and I acknowledged that. But I have continuously pointed out that the FA community applies this term willy-nilly to all kinds of situations. Including situations where normal-weight, overweight and a lot of low-end obese people get the privilege too (eg people only having to buy a single airplane seat) and situations where there really isn’t even a proper discrimination to speak of, just unfortunateness (eg thin peopole not having to worry about breaking chairs).

        So, if the term was reserved for the situations in which you have used it, I’d probably not be complaining. But using it instead of the term “discrimination” where it’s not appropriate or shouting at people to “recognise their privilege” when you don’t like what they’ve said is how I’ve seen it used 99% of the time. Having been what I’ve been through, I already know that discriminating against fat people sucks. But if people want those who have never been fat to join in the movement, then this using the term “thin privilege” in this way will turn people off. It turns me off the FA movement and I already agree that fat people shouldn’t be discriminated against!

      • Nikki says:

        “I have continuously pointed out that the FA community applies this term willy-nilly to all kinds of situations. Including situations where normal-weight, overweight and a lot of low-end obese people get the privilege too.”

        I sort of see where you’re coming from, but the nature of this discussion is that it’s NOT clear-cut. That’s the point of the BMI slideshow, which was brought up earlier. People who look “normal” are actually obese, and vice versa.

        To analogize (again, because that’s been working so well), take White Privilege, which you acknowledge. Black people with very dark complexions often experience more discrimination than lighter skinned black folks. Some extremely light skinned people pass for white and may not experience the overt consequences of discrimination, but they may suffer mental consequences.

        In America, we are seeing this kind of thing more and more. Mexicans who speak fluent English experience less discrimination than Spanish-speaking Mexicans… Chinese and Japanese Americans are treated better than the Hmong or Cambodian people… Since 9/11 anyone who looks like they might be Muslim is treated like a terrorist.

        Privilege occurs in gradations. By admitting that, I’m not suggesting we devote our time on this blog to mapping out exactly who gets what privilege at what height/weight etc.

        This issue has such far-reaching, profound effects. It absolutely astounds me that you (Anna, and many others here) would rather debate semantics to the death than get into the actual meat of these issues. If it will make you happy, FINE, we can call it fat discrimination. Can we move forward now??

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        I’m going to repeat this one. more. time. for your benefit, Anna. Regardless of whether you’re naturally thin, or you starved yourself to get there, being thin is not a privilege. It’s all the shit that society confers upon you because you’re thin that we’re referring to when we talk about thin privilege. So if you still think that being thin is the privilege, then I can kind of get why you object to the term. But that’s not what we’re talking about. If you need more examples, here are some that have already been used here: people don’t assume that I’m lazy or ignorant about nutrition when they meet me; people don’t categorize me as “that fat chick” when they meet me, and then have a really hard time seeing my other qualities and characteristics; I can leave the bar alone, and nobody assumes it’s because I couldn’t hook up with someone – and nobody looks at me with my friends and deems me the “fat friend” who’s just tagging along; I can walk into a store and find many clothes in many styles at affordable prices that fit me comfortably; etc. etc.

      • Rachel_in_WY says:

        And one more thing: here are some explanations of the things you didn’t get about thin privilege:

        1) Going to the doctors and not being told to lose weight. I’m not sure how thin people are affected by the doctor nagging an overweight person.

        It’s a benefit for thin people that medical professionals don’t immediately assume that every health issue they have is weight-related. And it’s flat-out insulting that for many larger people, medical professionals always make it about weight. This has been shown to cause some long delays in proper diagnoses for real conditions that proved to be very detrimental to the health of those who were just told to go home and diet.

        2) Not having to worry about whether a guy is hitting on you just to make himself look politically correct. Again, what benefit does the thin person get from the shallow guy pretending to chat up an overweight person.

        The privilege here is that the thin person can pretty safely assume that the guy is interested in her, and isn’t just trying to earn points. You really don’t see that as a benefit?

        3) Not having people judge your food choices. I don’t know what benefit there is to the thin person because someone looks at what the overweight person is eating to see what made them get that way.

        I’m thin and I eat cookies and muffins all the time. But nobody has ever once told me I shouldn’t, or looked at me disapprovingly. It affects my self-image and my self-esteem differently because I always already have the approval of the complete strangers around me. My friends who are not so thin don’t have this benefit, and in fact they always already have the disapproval of the complete strangers around them. And this cannot help but effect your self-esteem and self-image over time. Do these benefits and advantages really not seem significant to you?

    • Veronica says:

      Nikki – Thank you!!!

      You finally addressed my point.

      PS: Can’t believe I didn’t answer the most important part of your post, which is the “what can we do?” question!

      We can encourage our lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation, like they have in SF and Santa Cruz: …
      When you see ads that encourage fat hate, … boycott that product and inform the company why you are boycotting the product… Participate in conversations such as these….You know, this should be a blog post mamaV. You’re all about, “Don’t sit around whining, DO something.” There should be a brainstorming post about ways we can actively fight discrimination against fat people.”

      Thank you!! That is what I am talking about. Let’s find ways to DO SOMETHING about the discrimination, fat & otherwise.

      Some people don’t know how to address lawmakers & interact with them about legislation. There are some really intelligent people here. Help us use that knowledge to teach the readers here how to address our lawmakers, so we can begin to have a voice with them.

      We could use this forum to collectively boycott companies that are practicing fat discrimination. Liquor ads, airlines, clothing companies and so many others. Because this blog is so heavily trafficked, it can have alot of power.

      Participating in conversations such as these will educate the readers here. But only if 101 people are able to discuss their thoughts & feelings with those of you that feel your at a 600+++ level. You need to find a way to actively remove the conversation stopping comments and allow people to voice their viewpoints. And then really listen & contemplate the views that are different from yours. (I didn’t say agree, just contemplate, think about why that person may hold that view. You may find it interesting).

      101 people always bring a fresh perspective to a conversation. Many times I have seen that cause the more experienced people to get out of their rut and do some new thinking & growing. And we ALL can benefit from growth.

      I don’t see why there couldn’t be a monthly post that addressed a specific company or situation so we could band together & bring attention to it in an attampt to show said company the loss of revenue they WILL experience by not changing how they do things, so they are less discriminitory.

      There could also be a monthly post that effectively addressed a specific area of discrimination, like this Thin-Privilege one did.

      Not every post needs to do that, but if you were doing something on a more focused & regular basis, I feel so much could come out of this site.

      Nikki – on this “I don’t think I made an assumption so much as an inference.”

      Your intention may have been to make an inference, but it came across as a huge assumption, especially to Anna.

      “”“Hard work = thin, no effort = fat.”” That is not what Anna said or meant. Plus, I believe is should read:

      Hard work = attaining your goals, no effort = no accomplishment.

      And it is my opinion that people of larger size should not HAVE to have weight loss as a goal, especially if it is only done to avoid discriminitory actions from others.

      A person’s size DOES NOT determine their value as a human being. We need to change this now…

      • Nikki says:

        “Participating in conversations such as these will educate the readers here. But only if 101 people are able to discuss their thoughts & feelings with those of you that feel your at a 600+++ level.”

        I love how the original comment was about 101 vs. 400 level discussions, but this is now exaggerated so that some of us believe we are at 600+++ level. Do course numbers even go that high?

        The point is, a lot of us are coming from blogs where we’ve all agreed thin privilege exists and we have moved on to the “What do we do now?” part. It is hard to come here and read comments denying that thin privilege even exists, because it means we are that much further from the “What do we do now?” part.

        And, I just can’t let this one go:

        ” ‘Hard work = thin, no effort = fat.’ That is not what Anna said or meant.”

        Yeah, it is. She said that she earned her thin privilege by strict dieting and constant vigilance. She then drew the analogy that in a class she earned her grade by working hard while her friend failed because she put forth “no effort.”

        Follow the logic: I worked hard in my class, I earned a high grade. My friend did not work hard in class, she failed. I worked hard to lose weight, I earned thin privilege. **HERE IS THE PART THAT IS IMPLIED BUT NOT EXPLICITLY STATED** My friend did not work hard at dieting, i.e. was lazy, so she failed.

        This is not me making an assumption. THIS IS THE WAY AN ANALOGY WORKS. And that is straight out of Lit 101.

    • Forestroad says:

      This is in response to the difference between having privilege handed to you and working hard for it.

      I agree that even if you worked hard for something, society puts you in a column where you get benefits.

      It’s the benefits that are the privilege, not the fact that you are thin/white/rich whatever.

      Maybe the difference is that some privilege should exist, and some shouldn’t. This is where we get into disagreements about what equality looks like.

      White privilege shouldn’t exist, privilege of good test scores should…we figure this out in our own moral frameworks.

      Some people would say that your hiring was based on privilege…yeah, you worked hard, but the fact that you even had access to school and a job market is privilege. Maybe that’s different kind of privilege. I’m not sure.

      What do you guys think?

      • Veronica says:

        Forestroad – I agree with you.

        Like Rachel in WY stated earlier. Thin privilege (and I don’t like that it is called that, but that is what the general population calls it, so that is what it’s called) exists, so those of us, whether we worked hard for it or not, reap the benefits. At the same time those that are of a larger size are being discriminated against.

        It’s not a personal thing. And from what I’ve read here there is a lot of types of privilege. You hit the nail on the head that it’s the benefits society gives those (thin/white/male/rich/etc.).

        This is why we need discussions like this one. I have learned so much from the commenters here.

        I walk away feeling that while society will continue to classify & discriminate, we can make a difference through educating people. And the best education I’ve gotten has been from unprivileged people discussing their life experiences.

        We should strive to treat humans (all humans) with respect & dignity…

  74. Katy says:

    Synna, I agree. It seems that many people’s problem with the word ‘privilege’ is that they have given it their own definition, compete with their own nuances. A ‘privilege’ at its most basic is simply “an advantage or special right” granted to a person or group. For example, I have ‘car parking privileges’ because the flat that I rent comes with a parking space. That doesn’t mean my life is magically better that someone else’s, it just means that when it comes to parking my car, my life is simpler. Privilege can be minor or major and I believe that most of us have privilege in one area or another, just some have more areas of privilege thatnothers.
    All it means is that when debating in an arena where one’s privilege matters, one should be aware of it. So I won’t be going onto the local borough’s discussion forum and telling everyone complaining that they can’t get a parking space that they are deluded and parking is easy, they must be imagining it, for example. Because if I did, i would be speaking from my position of parking privilege and ignoring the fact that those who don’t have that privilege have to fight to get a parking space on the road every day. Please forgive my simplistic analogy, but I wanted to pick something unemotional, impersonal and of pretty minor importance to make my point…

    • Nikki says:

      Katy I LOVE your analogy. 🙂

      And you hit on something else — no one is asking anyone to berate themselves for having privilege. Just be aware of it.

      I almost died laughing at going around telling people “Parking is easy! You must be imagining it.”

  75. sayhealth says:

    MamaV checked out my blog entry on the subject, and suggested I post it in full here. Thanks, MV! If you like this, feel free to check out my (new) blog by clicking on my name.

    This post was sparked by this discussion.

    I have a lot of thoughts about privilege. I will try to be concise, though I may not succeed. I am perhaps, well, privileged when it comes to thinking about privilege. Both my B.A. and M.A. are in Women’s Studies, and I’m now working toward a Ph.D. in WS. This means that I have read A LOT about privilege. It means that I am talking about privilege on an almost daily basis. I teach about privilege. I think (and worry) about privilege and my own privilege pretty much incessantly.

    I was first introduced to the theoretical concept of privilege as an undergrad WS student. The article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh was my first encounter.

    Privilege is not an easy thing to come to terms with. I struggled with it, for sure. My initial reaction to the concept of white privilege was, “But, I’m not racist! I don’t want this privilege! I didn’t ask for it, and I don’t condone it!” And, all of those things are still true. I’m not racist. I don’t want this privilege. I didn’t ask for it. I don’t condone it. AND I still have it. It’s not my choice. Whether I approve or not, our society treats people differently based on the color of their skin. My skin color, being white, affords me certain privileges as I move through my day to day. Some privileges I can perhaps acknowledge and work to change – I can, for example, choose to study and learn the history of groups other than white (male) Americans. I can then work to combat privilege further by sharing what I’ve learned, whether that is in the class I teach, with a child, or with a peer. I also think that acknowledging, interrogating, and being willing to discuss systems of privilege – and this includes owning up to our own privilege – is a way to combat it.

    I am privileged in many ways, and I am disadvantaged in others. In the US, I am privileged because of my race, my class, and my physical and mental abilities. I am very privileged in regard to education. I have conflicted privilege in regard to sexuality – I am bisexual (not privileged), yet my partner is male (heterosexual privilege). I am disadvantaged in regard to gender. Globally speaking, I am among the most privileged.

    And there is still another way in which I am privileged. I’m thin. I have thin privilege. For example, when getting on a crowded bus this morning, I did not have to worry about getting dirty looks because my body took up “too much” room. 700 Stories did a great job of outlining some concrete examples of thin privilege in her blog post on the subject.

    I can add some more. Because of my thin privilege:

    A) I can walk down the street without fear of being harassed about my weight. (I might be harassed for other reasons, but that has to do w/ the fact that I don’t have male privilege).

    B) I don’t have to worry about being fired from a job due to my weight. I don’t have to worry about not being hired due to my weight.

    C) I don’t have to worry that a desk at school, a seat on the bus, a seat in the movie theater, a seat on an airplane, a seat on an amusement park ride, etc., will be too small.

    D) I don’t have to worry about people eyeing what is in my grocery cart.

    E) I don’t have to worry that – when being introduced to new people – they will make judgments about me or my lifestyle based on my size.

    F) I’m not stared at, snickered at, or self-conscious when I work out.

    G) People don’t assume that I’m not physically fit or that I’m lazy because of my weight. In fact, people might assume that I am fit, or at least active.

    H) I can wear a bathing suit in public w/out the fear of being scrutinized.

    I) If I (hypothetically) had a child and treated her to ice cream or sweets, my parenting skills would not be judged.

    I could go on. But you get the point.

    Personally, for me, my thin privilege is in some ways the hardest to come to terms with. This is true on a number of levels. I was a chubby young child, and an overweight pre-teen, early teen. Since the age of 16, I have ranged from underweight to obese, and everywhere in between. My body’s set point is somewhere around a bmi of 24/25. So, on the high end of normal, low end of overweight. I am not at my set point now. I am not underweight, but I am certainly “thin” by pretty much any definition. And I know how much privilege it affords. I can walk into any store (unless it is a “specialty store” for “plus-sized” women), and know without a doubt that they will have my size. I also know that – more often than not – the employees at that store will be helpful, will approach me with a smile, and will not rush me out because I do not fit their store’s “image.” I know that – on a day to day basis – people are MUCH nicer to me when I am thin. I wish it wasn’t true. But, it is. I wish that I wasn’t bolstering the system by maintaining a lower weight than my body wants. But, I am. I wish that thin privilege didn’t make my eating disorder recovery more difficult. But, it does. It’s not fun to admit.

    What we need to keep in mind is that, privilege (thin or otherwise) is NOT about placing blame. It is not about faulting the individual. It’s not really about the individual, actually. Yes, of course oppression and privilege have very concrete ramifications for individuals, don’t get me wrong. But privilege really operates at a much larger level. Privilege and oppression are rooted in societal ideologies, values, structures, and institutions; they are systematic. In many ways, oppression and privilege are two sides of the same societal coin. They are beyond the level of the individual, though individuals, often through no fault or intention of their own, are implicated.

    Also keep in mind that the acknowledgment of thin privilege – or oppression generally – does not negate individual suffering. OF COURSE thin people can internalize messages of self-doubt or self-hatred. OF COURSE thin people can be victims of abuse. OF COURSE thin people may feel self-conscious sometimes. OF COURSE a thin person with an e.d. is genuinely in pain. Every person is going to have some suffering, some pain, some hardship – and hopefully lots of joy – in her or his lifetime. Acknowledging and interrogating privilege does not deny or undo that.

    And, also keep mind, these systems are not isolated. They weave an incredibly complex web. Like I stated above, I may not be harassed walking down the street because of my weight, but I may very well be cat-called because we still live in a patriarchal society that normalizes the sexualization and objectification of women. I may even been judged because I am thin – and this can connect to thin privilege too. This judgment may come from others who notice my thin privilege and are (rightfully) hurt that they do not share it. This judgment might be out of concern if someone knows about my eating disorder (which ties into society/oppression/privilege in a number of ways). Or, this judgment might be outside of the realm of privilege/oppression. Not *everything* fits; there are always exceptions. Or, something may seem like it doesn’t fit, and upon further inspection we realize that it is the result of a different and/or interlocking system of disadvantage/privilege. Thin privilege doesn’t operate in a vacuum. No privilege does. These societal structures, systems, and ideologies are always mediated by each other, by individuals, by subject positions, by material realities, and by the fact that they are constantly in flux.

    As far as I’m concerned, denying privilege – whether that is thin privilege, white privilege, heterosexual privilege, male privilege, beauty privilege, ableist privilege, Christian privilege, class privilege, etc., etc. – is not helpful. If we do not interrogate these systems and acknowledge our own position in them (even if that position is difficult to reconcile with), we allow them to continue unquestioned, unchallenged, and unseen.

  76. Anna says:

    “But Anna, YOU don’t individually get to decide what name is given to thin privilege.”
    I know I can’t stop people from using the term, but I can point out the problems that you create if you decide to use this term and then it’s up to you whether you want to keep using it or not.

    “There is much academic work on privilege as a concept (insert white/class/able bodied before it) so it IS a well recognised and defined term. the ‘thin’ is just another descriptor.”
    But there are differences between being white/upper-class/able-bodied and being thin or fat (as I’ve mentioned in other comments) that for me means that it is a term which should be used with more caution than in the other cases.

    And the fact that thin is another discriptor does not make “thin privileged” as well defined as the other types of “privilege”. I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse but within this topic you can see people saying that it only applies to thin people and then others saying it applies to all but the morbidly obese. Then others are saying that it is only where discrimination against a fat person causes the better treatment of a white person and others saying that no discrimination is necessary. You can repeat that it is well defined until the cows come home but it won’t suddenly become true.

    “To come in and say ‘well, I don’t like TP so you guys have to call it something else so my feellings aren’t hurt’ is insulting and patronising.”
    My feelings haven’t actually been hurt at all. But I do find large sections of the FA community extremely annoying for various reasons even though I am very anti-discrimination against fat people. And I think it should be pointed out when the FA community yaks on about privilege or tells people to “go and do some research” or “recognise their privilege” before they are allowed to express an opinion, it will make the movement less popular and hurt its objectives.

    Why do you think that people don’t want to be associated with the feminist movement anymore? Most people I know don’t want sexism but certain parts of the movement have given the whole thing such a bad “man-hating reputation” that nobody I know would want to be associated with it, even though we want things like equal pay for equal work. It would be a shame if this happens to the FA movement (if it hasn’t already).

    • Nikki says:

      To summarize what you’ve said (stop me if I get it wrong), you don’t believe we should treat fat people badly, you just believe that it is possible for most people to lose weight through diet and exercise.

      I’m trying to make it so you can see how that is still offensive. I mentioned upthread how Spanish-speaking Mexicans are treated worse than English-speaking Mexicans in America. If I took on your line of reasoning I could say, “Well, those Spanish-speaking Mexicans could learn English. It might be really hard for them, but they could do it. Oh I’m not saying we should treat them like second class citizens or deny them their rights or discriminate against them. But they could learn English if they tried hard and really wanted to. I’m just saying.”

      Is it clear to you, in that example, how it DOESN”T MATTER if people who speak Spanish can learn to speak English? The much larger, much more important point is, IT IS WRONG TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ANYONE.

      But instead of focusing this discussion on the fact that discrimination is wrong and how can we stop it, we are getting bogged down in a debate over whether people can or cannot obtain certain privileges. This is where the *headdesk* frustration is coming from, at least on my end.

    • mamaV says:

      @Anna I completely agree with you on the “my feelings are hurt” issue. My feelings are not hurt either, and I repeatedly stated this to no avail Perhaps it is easier to say “well she’s just a whack job because her feelings are hurt and she can’t take it.”

      And this is also a key observation:

      when the FA community yaks on about privilege or tells people to “go and do some research” or “recognise their privilege” before they are allowed to express an opinion, it will make the movement less popular and hurt its objectives.

      Couldn’t agree with you more,
      mV

    • Gry says:

      One reason to why feminism is alienating, men especially, is because a lot of men don’t want to give up the privilege that comes with being male and a lot of women still pander to the patriarchy.

      Also, so what if it is possible for a large segment of the fat population to lose weight? Where does that leave the ones who have “genuine” medical issues? Do they just wear a button that says “I’m fat because of my thyroid, so please don’t discriminate against me!”?

      The mind, it boggles.

  77. Tempe Wick says:

    “This is probably a part of the issue, then. This is based on outdated science. Even back when I was a personal trainer in the late 90s they knew that this isn’t the same for each person, and there’s a lot of genetic variation in how your body adjusts to changes in caloric intake. The newest research shows that each person’s body has a sort of “target weight” it tends to want to be. ”

    I’ve heard this in more than a few blogs, but haven’t seen evidence to back it up. Any links you could point us to?

    When I google for “weight set point” I get plenty of results similar to what you’ve said here. “Recent studies suggest….” etc. But no links to actual study results. This is frustrating.

    • Veronica says:

      Tempe – I run a cycling club for mostly women. We have over 250 members. I teach them how to ride bikes. Been doing it for 8 years.

      So many of them are various stages of overweight when they begin. Most of them want to ride because it builds their confidence & makes them healthy. A few have ‘weight-loss’ as a goal.

      Many of them have lost weight just from cycling (whether it was their goal or not). Some of them had to modify their diets (taking out things like wheat & potatoes) before they were able to see weight loss. (not that they were necessarily trying to lose weight).

      They modified their diets to raise their lactate threshold (at a certain point of maximum heart rate, our bodies produce lactic acid, which feels like pain in our large muscles) By removing refined carbs, (as well as training in general) a person can extend the point where their bodies will start to produce lactic acid, ie, the lactate threshold.

      Watching so many of them modify their diets (for training purposes) and seeing how their bodies respond has shown me a few things about metabolism and it’s affect on our body’s ability to store or lose antipose tissue.

      We have found (through 2 yrs of highly unscientific experimentation) that the ‘types’ of foods we eat determine how our bodies produce insulin. (and each person seems to be different in how their body reacts to certain types of foods). As I am sure you all know, insulin determines whether our body’s store or discard fat.

      You can google all you want, the majority of ‘scientific studies’ appear to be flawed and you can find a study to support your view (most of the time) on either side of the issue.

      But I have access to 250 people, that I’ve worked with for at least 2 years. Many of them got involved with our ‘experiments’. Most of what I talk about is information I learned working with them.

      Calories in vs calories out equals weight-loss is NOT accurate.

      Weight loss is determined by how your body produces insulin. And by the way, not every one that has problems with insulin are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

      I am currently in a state of high metabolic resistance, which means my body is not handling insulin production properly. (please don’t talk with me about how metabolic resistance is a rare disorder, I saw the study to0. If you’d like you could call my doctor & discuss it with him directly) I am under the care & supervision of several doctors.

      I am not diabetic or pre-diabetic. I do have a slow thyroid. My internist & I are looking at some unusual reaction to eating high sugar foods and my thyroid level fluctuations. When you eat foods that modify your thyroid levels, those levels take weeks to balance back out.

      Our bodies respond to the ‘types’ of food we eat. And I am not talking ‘junk food’. Some people, like me, get high insulin production from eating fruit, some people with high insulin production can eat fruit and it doesn’t affect them the same. Many people are negatively affected by wheat & potato starch.

      I could go on and on for hours, (you know this) but weight loss is possible. It is not easy. It takes more time than most of us are willing to give it. You do not have to be rich to lose weight. You will see greater benefits modifying the ‘types’ of foods you eat than excessive exercise. Most of the medical industry knows nothing accurate about weight loss.

      The doctors that are harrassing you about “exercising more & eating less” are wasting your money by not running the right tests on you. Many of them also do not have a clear understanding of what the results of many of those tests are (pertaining to thyroid function, for certain) They are not doing their job right & you should either see someone else or make them run the right tests.

      I’ve had to fight really hard with some of my doctors to get them to run some tests and consider some possibilities that they did not believe existed with me medically until they ran the tests. Oooohh, we were pleasantly surprised.

      But please, please stop saying that not everyone can lose weight & weight loss isn’t possible and this study said this & that study said that.

      If you want to lose weight, consider what I’ve discussed & talk to your Dr. If you don’t want to lose weight, than don’t, but be happy.

      Size should not determine personal worth. We need to find effective ways to end fat discrimination. We each need to be part of the solution…

      • Tempe Wick says:

        Veronica, thank you for taking the time to give such an informative response. You made some very good points that I hadn’t thought enough about. But I think you have me confused with someone else–I’ve never said that weight loss isn’t possible, quite the contrary.

  78. Tempe Wick says:

    “Weight loss dieting, if you mean dieting-to-lose-weight, does *not* equal “proto anorexia”.

    “It does not have to mean starving yourself, restricting food groups, feeling inordinate amounts of guilt over straying from rigid diet plans, etc. etc. (all the things I tend to hear described as “weight loss diets” which are really “unsustainable and overly restrictive diets”.)”

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    “I just get a little sick of the inability people have to imagine that there is more than one way (the unhealthy and destructive way) to go about weight loss.”

    Thank you for saying this. I was thinking about this today. I’m in OA and my sponsor asked me to listen to some podcasts. I was listening to one–a guy who came into the program 37 years ago, lost 55 pounds and has kept it off ever since.

    I was amazed by that, but then I realized that this wasn’t an isolated incident; he isn’t a “freak of nature.”

    Every week I go to meetings with people who have lost 40, 50, or 85 pounds. Some have lost 100+ pounds –what they all have in common is that they kept it off for a significant amount of time. Some 7 years, some 10, some 15.

    At the same time, I read in some quarters that losing weight and keeping it off is some Herculean task that only those “freaks of nature” can accomplish. I find this disturbing because I know what I’ve seen time and again with my own eyes. .

    “I lost weight consciously, and without abusing my body or my psyche. No “good” foods and “bad” foods, no starvation or physical torture. It wasn’t even hard – just slow.”

    That’s a big part of the problem. People fall for all these bizarre diets (Atkins, the Master Cleanse, etc.) in part because they are promised quick results. That is how our culture is–we want it now, or soon. Not in a year, not in 18 months.

  79. Orodemniades says:

    I find it really interesting that this post has gone from talking about whether or not thin privilege exists (it does, but fat people shouldn’t talk about it because thin people get demonized, too) to diet talk and how fat people could get thin if they’d only just watch what they eat and exercise.

    Just sayin’.

  80. Gigi says:

    This is an interesting struggle between two opposing sides that in reality (I assume) want the same thing. I am a very thin woman who every day has to put up with people watching/judging/commenting on what I’m eating, commenting on how I look and in general reacting to me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable, unattractive and as though I need to justify my weight to people. Clothing doesn’t fit me, people try to physically dominate me and my personal space etc, etc, blah, blah, blah… I’m sure you get the point.

    Although I am on the other half of this artificial physical binary I actually find some solace in reading FA blogs. Why? Because this isn’t about fat/thin/”normal”/whatever, it’s about women’s bodies being treated like public property.

    I shouldn’t have to justify how I look to anyone. Neither should anyone else. Rather than trying to whinge and whine about who has it worse – because let’s face it, that’s a competition no one wants to win – how about we start to think a little bit more about how we think about/talk about and react to people’s bodies that aren’t our own? How about we start to question other people who do the same?

    And yes, there is such a thing as thin privilege. That is quite apparent and completely stupid to deny such a thing. Other people have canvassed this quite well already. Does this mean people can make personal comments about my or anyone else’s body? FUCK NO! Rather than trying to divide people down the middle and compete for the title of “who has it worse”, how about we make this a discussion about feminism and women’s bodies, because that is exactly what this is: WOMEN’S BODIES ARE PUBLIC PROPERTY!!! Don’t be mad because your fat/thin/tall/short whatever and you feel like you have it worse off. Be mad because society thinks it has a right to have an opinion about your fucking body to begin with.

  81. julie says:

    (That last comment was for Julia)

  82. Nikki says:

    I know this thread is old, and I hate to kick a dead horse, but for anyone still interested, this is a great post about privilege:

    http://zaftigchicks.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/my-privilege-is-way-better-than-your-privilege/

    Just like a lot of people here, the author is saying, “Okay, here’s all my privilege. I acknowledge all of it. What do you want me to do about it???”

    I love love LOVE this comment, and am copying/pasting in its (near) entirety:

    Let’s say you and I are talking. You know where you’re coming from, and let’s say I’m 400 lbs., not conventionally attractive (acne, non-”pleasing” features, no sense of style). I’m also poor an uneducated. So, you mention this bar where you used to go in your skinny days and get the bartender’s attention and say that it was always so much fun and you loved that bar and you really want to go there again.

    I say that I went to that bar once and thought that everyone was unfriendly and the bartender was rude to me and people seemed to laugh at me and I was so embarrassed that I left in tears.

    What do you do with all your knowledge? You say, “wow. That sucks. That is so different from my experience.” You acknowledge that you and I might experience something differently based on my lack of the priveleges you possess. You do NOT say, “That didn’t happen.” “You’re wrong.” “The bartender would never be rude.” “You’re too sensitive.” “You must have been there on an off night.” “You’re crazy! That place rocked!” “You’re always assuming that people are making fun of you.” “Maybe you weren’t very friendly either, did you ever think about that?”

    When you are aware of your privelege, you can acknowledge that your experience is not universal, that there are so many things that can impact a person’s experience. That’s it… first the knowledge, then the understanding.

  83. Elizebeth Turnquist says:

    Anna,

    Research of twins proved that a person’s natural weight is genetic. Research of adoptee’s proved that a personal natural weight is hereditary. Research of runners proved that our natural weight increases as we age. And research that shows dieting has a 95% failure rate (ie weight regained within 5 years) suggests that our bodies fight to stay within a certain weight range.

    1) Why the US obesity rate has shot up from 10% in the 1960s to 33% today (unless are genes are “getting worse”):

    This percent is based on BMI. There are a couple things you may not have heard about these statistics.

    A) People got fatter AND taller. The shape of the distribution curve of weight didn’t change. It just shifted over a bit.

    B) The people who got fatter were fat already. The average weight gained was around 7-10lbs. Because of the arbitrary nature of the BMI, this small change pushed a bunch of people from being overweight into the obese range.

    2) Why obesity rates vary by geographic regions:

    Similar genetic profiles breeding with each other. There’s a similar effect when you break down the statistics by ethnicity.

    3) Why obesity rates increase depending on country’s developmental stage :

    A) When you give a genetic pool the chance to fulfill it’s potential it does just that. People genetically prone to become fat then become really fat. Also, there are fewer people starving or malnourished, so the entire weight distribution curve will reflect an increase in weight.

    B) The thrifty gene. It’s this idea that one way fat has been breed into us is because people who gained weight easily were more likely to survive. They gained weight during abundance and then were able to survive off that fat during famine.

    I have other points that help explain how weight is genetic/hereditary but I was trying to keep this to a few key items.

  84. FreeEternally says:

    I am just going to make a quick comment…I’ve been lurking around here and MamaV’s other blog. I’ve skimmed the comments but I haven’t read everything in depth. I am sorry if this is redundant or rude or something. I am on day five of a headache.

    Thin privilege needs a new name.

    It is thin privilege that makse it so the insurance company can deny me coverage for a nutritionalist because I am not overweight and they do not acknowledge an ED as needing help unless your BMI is less than 15.

    Thin privilege is also making it impossible for me to get to a program because my BMI is normal and not greater than 45 or less than 15 so I obviously don’t need help with weight issues. (FYI my BMI was 25 one month ago, today it is 21)

    Thin privilege gives the benefit of having a comment made every time I eat ANYTHING. If I don’t eat than I am congradulated to continueing to stay thin and watching my waistline. If I eat more than I usually do (which is usually just raw spinach) than someone will comment about how I am actually eating and warns me that if i start eating there will be no stopping and I will gain weight.

    Thin privilege gets me to joy of standing in front of my peers getting judged no matter what size I am. I enjoy the comments about how some people can’t even look at me because of the weight I have lost or how I gross them out because I no longer have my feminine curves.

    If you want to tell me that my life is so much better because I am thin and experiencing thin privileges…go ahead. I am sure that once I figure out how to look in a mirror without shuttering at myself I’ll listen and rejoice at all the benefits I am living with.

    (Personal note…This isn’t a diet gone bad. My original point of not eating had nothing to do with wanting being thin. I started doing this when I was living in a culture where being thin was considered a bad thing. I was being told I needed to gain weight when by American standards I was already a little plump as a child.)

  85. Hello, really good Picture. Craving, purposefulness greet more! Thanks
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