Thin privilege is not having your body used as a shorthand for a long list of negative qualities, characteristics and traits.
Dolores Umbridge. Ursula. Kingpin. Jabba the Hut. The Dursleys. Fat lawyers and politicians in 150 years of political cartoons.
It’s no coincidence that so many villains in books and movies are fat. Their weight tells us a great deal about their characters in the first instant we meet them. They’re gluttonous. They’re greedy. They have no sense of restraint. They’re messy, slobbish and lazy. They’re jolly. They’re clumsy. They’re slow. They probably smell.
These depictions are both descriptive and prescriptive. They’re descriptive in that they portray existing cultural tropes about fat bodies. They’re prescriptive in that they preserve and perpetuate those stereotypes, teaching generation after generation that fat bodies are a marker of a long roster of negatives.
People in thin bodies are allowed to be heroes, villains, and every role in between in television, movies, books and more. Their bodies aren’t an automatic marker of moral (or physical) worth or value. Portray us — and allow us to portray ourselves — with the same wide array of traits and motivations. Stop using our bodies as shorthand for negatives.
Privilege is unearned, but it’s not something you need to feel bad or guilty about. Let’s work to extend those privileges to the most marginalized bodies, too.
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