Can a thin person have body image struggles? Can a thin person be at war with their self-image? Can a thin person hate to look in the mirror?
And does that suck?
But the difference between these negative feelings and fatphobia is this: The only person worrying about whether or not I’m meeting beauty standards is me.
And that’s not the same for fat folk.
When you’re not thin, other people on the beach actually do take offense. When you’re not thin, people really do think that you shouldn’t be in a bathing suit. When you’re not thin, people really do make your body their moral obligation.
And while your internal struggle is real and significant, the point is: You might hate your body, but society doesn’t.
That’s thin privilege.
I actually have come to think that this is a really wrong-headed way of thinking about the way fatness is pathologised.
Calling thinness “privilege” is buying into the misogynist, racist body image ideal that’s been sold to us as a bill of goods. Yes, it’s true that thin people don’t face the same kind of public shaming, and that’s important to point out.
But the terrible irony of that “privilege” is that it’s just the flip side of the toxic beauty myth designed to keep women (because let’s not fool ourselves that fat women don’t get it worse than fat men) small and vulnerable.
Thin women are closer to that toxic ideal, and if you don’t think there’s a shit-tonne of invisible and internalised pressure on them to stay as close to that ideal as possible, you’re deluding yourself.
In fact, the closer you get to the ideal of what’s considered feminine beauty the more toxic the impossible double standards and invisible pressure get. You get it from all sides, people telling you you’re beautiful and therefore you own them something, and if you don’t play the game you’re a bitch and you deserve what’s coming to you, or alternatively you have thin privilege and pretty privilege and you have no grounds to complain because you’re benefitting from the system.
It’s like being in a vise. It eats away at your soul until you feel like you’re only your face, only your body, and everyone has an opinion about you based on those things. The opinions may be more flattering to hear if you’re thin, but they are just as weighted, just as full of the male gaze and expectation and jealousy and hatred. You’re told you should be grateful people admire you, but the actual experience of it is a burden, and if you dare to say so you’re breaking the misogynist code of silence and people hate you and threaten you.
I’ve lived both experiences — thinness and fatness — and there’s not much between them. Personally, I was more damaged by the so-called thin privilege than the disinterest and disgust at my fatness. Yes, you get more benefits from thinness, but the price is fucking high. You know where you stand when people hate you openly. You’re on quicksand when everyone says you’re beautiful and then stabs you the first chance they get and tell you you deserve it because you’re a bitch.
My philosophy now is that every comment about women’s bodies that’s driven by the toxic beauty ideal, whether a “compliment” or an insult is an expression of the same hatred.
Pathologised fatness and idealised thinness are both killing women. We need to stop them both instead of pitting women against each other with unhelpful accusations of privilege.
The battle is for women to be however they are and still valued, without the size of their bodies even being an issue. And just as I support fat women as valuable, I refuse to call thinness a privilege as long as it’s driven by the misogynist male gaze.(via cupidsbower)
boys can like pink and not be gay
girls can have short hair and not be a lesbian
boys can like ballet
girls can like video games
boys can be hot without a six pack
girls can be hot without a hairless body
boys can have hair down to their waists
girls can have stretch marks, curves and back fat
gender doesn’t determine what you can and cannot enjoy, what you can and cannot look like or what you can and cannot do
I think one thing you can do to help your friends who are depressed is to reach out to them not in the spirit of helping, but in the spirit of liking them and wanting their company. “I’m here to help if you ever need me” is good to know, but hard to act on, especially when you’re in a dark place. Specific, ongoing, pleasure-based invitations are much easier to absorb. “I’m here. Let’s go to the movies. Or stay in and order takeout and watch some dumb TV.” “I’m having a party, it would be really great if you could come for a little while.” Ask them for help with things you know they are good at and like doing, so there is reciprocity and a way for them to contribute. “Will you come over Sunday and help me clear my closet of unfashionable and unflattering items? I trust your eye.” “Will you read this story I wrote and help me fix the dialogue?” “Want to make dinner together? You chop, I’ll assemble.” “I am going glasses shopping and I need another set of eyes.” Remind yourself why you like this person, and in the process, remind them that they are likable and worth your time and interest.
Talk to the parts of the person that aren’t being eaten by the depression. Make it as easy as possible to make and keep plans, if you have the emotional resources to be the initiator and to meet your friends a little more than halfway. If the person turns down a bunch of invitations in a row because (presumably) they don’t have the energy to be social, respect their autonomy by giving it a month or two and then try again. Keep the invitations simple; “Any chance we could have breakfast Saturday?” > “ARE YOU AVOIDING ME BECAUSE YOU’RE DEPRESSED OR BECAUSE YOU HATE ME I AM ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU.” “I miss you and I want to see you” > “I’m worried about you.” A depressed person is going to have a shame spiral about how their shame is making them avoid you and how that’s giving them more shame, which is making them avoid you no matter what you do. No need for you to call attention to it. Just keep asking. “I want to see you” “Let’s do this thing.” “If you are feeling low, I understand, and I don’t want to impose on you, but I miss your face. Please come have coffee with me.” “Apology accepted. ApologIES accepted. So. Gelato and Outlander?”
P.S. A lot of people with depression and other mental illnesses have trouble making decisions or choosing from a bunch of different options. “Wanna get dinner at that pizza place on Tuesday night?” is a LOT easier to answer than “So wanna hang out sometime? What do you want to do?”