Yesterday I came across a piece about Thin Privilege on Everyday Feminism. It was perspective I have not considered in the mass social movement of “everybody is beautiful”. First and foremost, I don’t agree with the idea of telling people “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, because that does not fix the problem that currently exists in the society. Self-acceptance should not have its roots in other people’s opinions, period. However, until we rid patriarchy, someone out there will always hate their bodies because they do not conform with society’s (by that I mean men) ideals. So I suppose the next best thing would be to rid body-shaming.
I do not consider myself thin, although many have called me “tiny”, because of my upbringing in a Chinese family. I consider myself to be big-boned and without grace, but those are only my feelings. The article I read yesterday pointed out to me that my own grievances and hatred for my body does not mean I am oppressed in the same way that fat people are. My biggest problem when I walk around the world is that I feel like people are judging me even though they probably aren’t. My second problem is probably not being able to find my size ever during a sale, because everybody wears my size. That is privilege. While people above a US size 14 are unable to find their size in a non-plus size clothing store, I’m only unable to find my size because I’m considered “normal” and it will always run out during a sale.
Nowadays a new term has surfaced, called “skinny-shaming”. Where people who preach “real women have curves” are bad people because they’re putting down skinny people for not being “real women”. As somebody who doesn’t have curves in the right places, I hate that statement too. But what I read yesterday made me reconsider. The statement upsets me not because I feel they are shaming my body, but because they are purposely shifting the center of the universe away from me. That is where my thin privilege lies. It’s no different from men who cry “not all men”.
But knowing all of that, I am now at a loss. I complain about my body to everyone except for friends who are bigger than me. I used to think that was me being considerate, but now I see that as being mean-spirited because inherently I feel it’s still better to be me even though I don’t love my body. Another conflict arises when I think about health issues. Obviously it is not easy for everyone to lose weight, and not all thin people are healthy. Some heavier people living healthy lifestyles are probably less at risk that I am for things like collapsing under stress, high cholesterol problems, etc. However, if someone who is overweight is living an unhealthy lifestyle, would it be wrong for me to suggest changing their diets and including exercise into their lives?
We see a trend nowadays that we encourage overweight people to love their bodies, which is a positive thing. On the other hand though, having extra weight does increase certain health risks if the weight is gained from an unhealthy lifestyle. Shouldn’t we encourage healthy-living regardless of a person’s body size? Or is it wrong to do so regardless of the circumstance? How do we go about promoting health, physical and mental, without it having ties to body-shaming? We should all exercise not because we hate our bodies, but because we love them. But how do we promote that? How do we get people to love their bodies but still make necessary lifestyle changes because no amount of self-acceptance can save you when you get fatty liver?