100+ Examples of Thin Privilege

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“Privilege is a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. Thin privilege is backed and promoted by a multi-billion dollar diet/wellness industry.”

Β» Cori Rosenthal

The longest-running series over on the Body Liberation Photos Instagram and Facebook pages is my thin privilege series.

A common objection to the concept of thin privilege is that people think it’s meant to make people in thin bodies feel guilty, or to judge people based on their (thin) appearance.

It doesn’t have anything to do with guilt. In fact, the entire idea of privilege is that it’s not something you asked for or “deserve”/don’t deserve. It’s a systemic advantage given to some people over others.

That doesn’t make the people with a particular privilege bad people or guilty or anything, and it doesn’t mean people with that privilege have easy lives, but it does mean that if they have difficulties in their lives, at least it’s not due to that.

For example, I have white privilege. My life isn’t magically easy, but it does mean that any issues I have aren’t due to my skin color, and it does mean that I have (in a very general sense) power that a person with darker skin doesn’t.

I also have a certain amount of thin privilege, since privilege is a spectrum. Since at a size US 30, I can rarely shop in brick-and-mortar stores, I have thin privilege over someone who wears a size 36 and can only buy clothing online. It doesn’t mean that I have an easy time finding clothing, but I do have an easier time than someone who’s fatter than I am.

So no one is saying that people in thin bodies are bad. When I talk about thin privilege, I’m asking people in thin, average-sized and smaller fat bodies to:

Β» Be aware of this privilege and all the ways it helps you move through the world.
Β» Fight to extend those privileges to everyone who lacks them.

Below are over 100 examples of what thin privilege looks like in daily life across clothing, the physical world, healthcare and wellness, the media, careers and — more existentially — the treatment of fat people in society and institutions.

Clothing

Thin privilege is making your own clothing from a commercially-produced pattern.

Thin privilege is wearing a bathing suit, a miniskirt or a crop top without being called “brave” or “inspirational.”

Thin privilege is a pair of thermal pants.

Thin privilege is the ability to buy underwear at a name-brand retailer and have a reasonable expectation that they’ll fit.

Thin privilege is buying a t-shirt at a concert, or a convention, or a souvenir store.

Thin privilege is buying a last-minute interview outfit when an airline loses your luggage.

Thin privilege is a medical gown that covers your body.

Thin privilege is buying clothes off the rack at a brick-and-mortar store.

Thin privilege is a wedding dress, or a matching bridesmaid’s dress, or a matching outfit for a bachelorette party.

Thin privilege is a uniform that fits.

Thin privilege is the ability to believe that it’s possible to “support” a clothing company that doesn’t make anything you can wear.

Thin privilege is the ability to believe that getting companies to be more inclusive in their sizing just requires asking politely.

Thin privilege is a pair of rain boots.

Thin privilege is every mask pattern being designed with your face in mind.

Thin privilege is not being considered a “specialty” market due to your body size.

Thin privilege is a well-made, supportive, cute, cheap and/or commercially-available bra.

It’s a privilege to fit into a wedding dress. Any wedding dress.

Thin privilege is not being considered a “specialty” market due to your body size, even when your body size is in the minority.

Thin privilege is being able to access gender-affirming clothing and surgery.

Thin privilege is the ability to buy and wear a body-positive t-shirt.

One of the benefits of thin privilege is access to athletic and technical gear.

Thin privilege is not having to learn both sewing and pattern making to have clothing that’s fun, stylish, creative, fits well…or just fits, period.

Thin privilege is being held to lower dress and grooming standards to look “acceptable.”

The Physical World

Thin privilege is not having to think about whether you’ll fit.

Thin privilege is buying a standard-sized camping chair at a big-box store.

Thin privilege is a seat at a concert.

Thin privilege is getting in and out of your car in a crowded parking lot.

Thin privilege is the ability to fit comfortably in the seat of any given car, or fit in a seat belt, or fit in any given car, period.

Thin privilege is never having to choose between wearing a seat belt or a coat.

Thin privilege is renting a moving truck and being able to drive it.

Thin privilege is access to any kind of technical gear.

Thin privilege is never being selected for secondary screening by the TSA simply because the security scanners weren’t designed for bodies like yours.

Thin privilege is having a chair you can use in your hotel room.

It’s a privilege to eat in public without stares or comments.

It’s a privilege to never be turned away from dental care due to your body size.

It’s a privilege to never be trapped inside or outside your car by a parking lot or deck designed to exclude your body size.

Thin privilege is donating your body to science.

Thin privilege is the ability to do touristy stuff on vacation (like a helicopter tour).

Thin privilege is fitting in an inner tube for lounging in the pool or floating down the river. It’s also never having the humiliating experience of getting stuck in one.

Health, Healthcare and Wellness

Thin privilege is giving blood.

Thin privilege is donating organs or bone marrow, or receiving organs.

Thin privilege is never having your pain made worse by infrastructure created deliberately to exclude you.

Thin privilege is going to the gym without being stared at, harassed or condescended to.

Thin privilege is being believed when you describe what you eat.

Thin privilege is fitting in a dentist’s chair.

Thin privilege is a seat in the emergency room.

Thin privilege is the ability to access lower health insurance rates due to your body size or BMI.

Thin privilege is not having your body automatically medicalized or pathologized by healthcare professionals.

Thin privilege is having breathing issues taken seriously and not immediately blamed on your body size (e.g., asthma, illness).

Thin privilege is the ability to provide eating disorder support (or any kind of expertise on any subject) without abuse.

Thin privilege is not having your body size conflated with a dozen different health conditions.

It’s a privilege not to have entire ways of eating credited with fixing bodies like yours.

Thin privilege is a medical condition not being seen as a comeuppance or “just desserts.”

Thin privilege is not being turned away from sterilization surgery based on your body size.

It’s a privilege to have your medical issues coded properly.

Thin privilege is having medications like Plan B formulated for your body.

Thin privilege is not having your “health” status be constantly the focus of, and scrutinized by, an entire culture.

Thin privilege is not having an entire industry decide to cynically medicalize your body type in the pursuit of profit.

The Media

Thin privilege is rarely to never having bodies like yours described in objectifying terms by your favorite authors. (read more)

Thin privilege is never having a body like yours used as a running gag in your favorite comic strip.

Thin privilege is not having your body used as a shorthand for a long list of negative qualities, characteristics and traits. (read more)

Thin privilege is seeing bodies like yours in advertisements 99.9% of the time.

Thin privilege is seeing bodies like yours on TV 99.9% of the time.

Thin privilege is never having your body shape used as a shorthand in books, comic books and movies for gluttony, greed or villainy.

Career and Professional Life

Thin privilege is getting paid more due solely to your body composition (in other words, for not being fat).

Thin privilege is access to the public eye.

Thin privilege is not having to constantly police your social media channels for horrible bigoted comments based on body size and remove them every couple of hours before they affect your followers.

Thin privilege is a higher likelihood of being taken seriously in business and entrepreneurial contexts.

It’s a privilege to search a stock photo site and find people who look like you.

It’s a privilege to have careers open to you based on your body size.

Thin privilege is living in a body that’s considered an automatic credential.

Thin privilege is running a business you call “body positive” or “inclusive” and not even noticing who’s left out.

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources on body liberation, weight stigma, body image and more. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.

Society and Institutional Bias

Thin privilege is being told to sit down and listen in a social justice discussion, and finding that the chair fits.

Thin privilege is never seeing cars with bumper stickers devoted to making fun of people with your body shape.

Thin privilege is having people prefer to listen to you talk about fat people than to listen to fat people themselves.

Thin privilege is never having people comment on or take items out of your grocery cart.

Thin privilege is being able to go out to eat at restaurants and/or fast food establishments and not having to fear judgement or shame from others because of your size and food choices.

Thin privilege is thinking your particular genetically-inherited body size and social determinants of health are indicators of worth, willpower, beauty, knowledge, morality, or any other trait.

Thin privilege is uncritically living in a culture that credits your body size to your (presumed) virtues and blames other people’s body sizes on their (presumed) vices.

Thin privilege is living in a world where you’re automatically assigned positive traits because of your body, and those other people, well, they must be all those negative things or they would look like you.

Thin privilege is not negated by body dysmorphia, poor body image, or an eating disorder.

Thin privilege is the ability and tendency to deny fat experiences.

Thin privilege is considering the isolation, rejection and humiliation of fat people to be “first-world problems.”

Thin privilege is easy access to coolness, stylishness, suaveness, or charisma.

Thin privilege is not being told you’ll never find love or romance until you change your body size.

Thin privilege is having a partner willing to admit in public to dating you.

Thin privilege is the ability to have a sexual partner in a smaller body without being mocked, ridiculed and judged.

Thin privilege is having a celebrity lookalike.

Thin privilege is not having your body used as a societal scapegoat.

Thin privilege is not having an entire culture terrified of looking like you.

Thin privilege is posing in photos with food without automatically being fetishized.

Thin privilege is not being constantly expected to change your body size.

Thin privilege is being listened to when you speak about fatness and weight stigma.

Thin privilege is having the first thing people notice about you not being your body size.

Thin privilege is not having your body size used as a universal symbol of greed and gluttony.

Thin privilege is signing up for a dating app and not receiving responses that are 50% hateful harassment and 50% fetishization based on your body size.

Thin privilege is not being constantly scolded for not being inclusive when you focus on people with bodies like yours.

Thin privilege is the ability to be shocked over and over again at how fat people are treated, with the serene reassurance that that will rarely or never be you.

Thin privilege is not receiving death wishes when you dare to say that diets don’t work.

Possessing thin privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy.

It’s a privilege to be able to take what is good and leave the rest.

It’s a privilege to have a body that’s seen as worthy of self-acceptance.

It’s a privilege never to have the inadequacy of your body or your purported eating habits be used as metaphors or frameworks.

Thin privilege is the ability and tendency to conflate individual body image with systemic fat oppression.

It’s a privilege to focus on the gains of body positivity when fat people are still left out.

Thin privilege is not having your body treated differently depending on the “healthiness” of the context.

Thin privilege is having options.

Thin privilege is never being denied the ability to immigrate due to your body size.

Thin privilege is not having three-year-old children think your body is bad.

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources on body liberation, weight stigma, body image and more. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.

Fat professional nerd, office goth, aspiring tax professional, and all around trans weirdo.