Skinny shaming and the truth about thin privilege
Thin privilege is what you get when your body type happens to fit in with the current societal standards: people don’t stare (for the wrong reasons) when you walk past, you never struggle to find a size that fits you in clothing stores, and all you have to do to get what the magazines call “bikini body ready” is to put on a bikini.
Ultimately what thin privilege means is that even though you may hate your twiggy legs, society still prefers them.
We live in a fatphobic society, where the mere thought of gaining a few kilograms has some people doing two hour sessions on the treadmill as “punishment” for eating a Bar-One. Why? Because the belief is that being fat in a world that hates fat will lead to discrimination, ridicule and ostracism.
Fatphobia stems from the fact that we have all, at some point or another, considered fat to be synonymous with ugly and or lazy. Even the euphemism “plus-sized” indicates our reluctance to use the word "fat" because it has always been used in a negative context - so much so that now it is now practically considered a swearword.
The word "skinny" also used to have negative connotations with its dictionary definition of “unattractively thin”, but these days it is not approached with the same sensitivity.
Understandably so, I guess.
But recently a new type of body shaming has been going unchecked. Skinny shaming is seen as unoffensive and has been normalised.
If someone says “That fat girl shouldn’t be ordering that,” there’s no need to even explain why that’s offensive, but if someone says “she’s so skinny, does she even eat?” we’re all lol and kumbaya about it.
This phenomenon of unchecked skinny shaming is rooted in the notion that slender people have the bodies that everyone desires, so how can they possibly be unhappy with them?
The fact is, both types of discrimination are equally offensive, as all types of body shaming are wrong in any setting. We can’t only vouch for the body positivity of one type of body, while putting the other down.
That said - as a thin person, it’s okay to be slightly annoyed by the dismissive attitude towards your grievances, but it's also just as important to understand why your wish to go up two dress sizes seems a little insignificant in the face of someone who has been denied employment because they are overweight.
The fine line needs to be drawn between grievances and actual oppression. While being thin does come with its own set of valid disadvantages, fatphobia is an oppressive mindset that society upholds daily.
But everyone’s journey with their body is different and you can’t trivialise someone’s insecurity no matter how small it may appear to you or how “perfect” they look in your eyes.
I was a fitness bunny throughout varsity (strictly for the gains, bro) and I would have other girls come up to me and ask why I am there because I "don't need to be there."
My response? A deep internal sigh, a polite chuckle accompanied by an empty “oh you know, gotta maintain” and I would pick up a barbell.
For a long time the gym has been seen as a place of sweating off "negative" weight - a place of shedding not packing, so I understand why when people see someone with a svelte figure at the gym they're slightly shook.
What we don’t take into account about small figured people is that some of them are recovering from eating disorders, some are genetically predisposed to thinness and some people just have ridiculously fast metabolisms beyond their control.
This is why in as much as we are cognisant of our thin privilege, we can’t ignore the erasure of thin struggles and the Pull Her Down syndrome that comes with some body positive movements - let’s celebrate the one body type while making the other one feel bad about theirs.
Be thin, but woah, not that thin. Be curvy, but don't ever get fat. Society and misogyny just always want to keep us insecure.
Take this silly quote for example, “Real men go for curves. Only dogs go for bones.”
A quote which lost the plot in trying to push body positivity for curvy women and instead just ends up shaming an entire group of people.
Besides, who cares what men think about our bodies anyway?
Of course, there are different obstacles that come with each body type. There’s always something we want to tweak a bit, nip or tuck. That’s why we really need to just go easy on the weight comments (if at all) because we don’t all have the same body goals.
And yes, skinny-shaming sucks, but perhaps we need to check our thin privilege before we pull an "All Lives Matter" in a "Black Lives Matter" conversation.