A Little Blog Called “This is Thin Privilege”

Welp. It’s been a long time since I’ve swung round these parts. Time for an update.

Last June I founded a little blog called “This is Thin Privilege.” You might have heard of it. It took off like a mustang out of a corral. Since that first day in June we’ve grown from one mod to three, and from 1 (me!) follower to 6,200. We’ve been mentioned by Lindy West on Jezebel, and have created quite the buzz on Tumblr.

What is This is Thin Privilege? It’s a blog that approaches the subject of fat oppression through the lens of thin privilege. Thin privileges are unearned advantages granted to you for having a thin body, and similarly denied to you for having a fat body. Thin privilege exists on a spectrum, so even fat people can have relative thin privilege. Privilege as a social justice concept is structural, not individual: it doesn’t mean that thin people don’t have problems or can even experience body-shaming and other forms of hate. Thin privilege of course intersects with many other forms of privilege, which tend to interact and can magnify each other. You can also be thin privilege but oppressed along some other axis.

A typical example of thin privilege is: “Thin privilege is access to adoption services, fertility treatments, and birth control methods that have a BMI cutoff.” Another example is, “Thin privilege is going to the mall and being reasonably sure there will be more than one or two stores that sell your size, and that you can buy something that fits you and is affordable.”  There are more examples of thin privileges here. Still not sure what thin privilege is? Check out our FAQ.

Why, you ask, talk about thin privilege instead of what fat acceptance blogs (including Big Liberty) have traditionally talked about — fat discrimination?

As I said in a post on TITP: because most people don’t give a shit about fat discrimination. It doesn’t affect them, so they don’t fucking care. They hear there’s something called ‘fat acceptance,’ feel appalled at the idea that anyone could ‘glorify obesity,’ and that’s their sum total opinion on the matter. Informed by ignorance, ending in ignorance.

Talking about thin privilege stirs up the whole pot. Fat people know we’re discriminated against, so it can get fucking depressing/boring to talk about it all the time, especially amongst ourselves. But talking about thin privilege gets fat people angry. Because it reminds us that the oppression we face is structural. That this isn’t just our individual problems on any particular day. It reminds us how we WOULD be treated if there wasn’t fat oppression, how we DESERVE to be treated in the absence of fat oppression. Talking about thin privilege places how fat and thin people are treated in the sharp contrast it deserves.

There’s something that happens to you when you’re discriminated against fucking constantly. You kind of get used to it. It might sting, it might chill, but it starts getting so that you can’t imagine what it would be like without those stings and chills. Talking about thin privilege reminds the oppressed of their just deserts (in a just society).

From the perspective of the privileged, checking their privilege makes them realize how much they take certain things for granted. That some other people don’t have access to what they assume is every person’s due, and that they never even REALIZED it. Like being born it’s uncomfortable at first, but hell, it’s much better than staying it the womb. Good allies WANT to understand, to learn, to see their reality clearly.

Do you have an example of thin privilege? TITP accepts asks and submissions. I encourage you to get involved. 

Men’s average i…

Men’s average ideal weight is up 14 pounds since Gallup first measured it in 1990 and their average actual weight is up 16 pounds. Women’s average ideal weight is up 11 pounds since 1990, and their average actual weight is up 14 pounds. These trends suggest that as Americans have grown heavier overall, their concept of what their ideal weight is has been adjusted upward as well. These results are based on Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey, conducted Nov. 15-18. Gallup has asked Americans how much they weigh yearly since 2001, as well as in 1990 and 1999.

Americans Continue to Adjust Their Ideal Weight Upward (Gallup)

An average gain of 14 lbs among women and 16 lbs among men, since 1990. 14 lbs. 14 FUCKING LBS. THIS is the fucking obesity epidemic? THIS what I’m getting oppressed over?

A weight gain that can likely nearly be entirely accounted for by an aging population and smoking cessation?

THIS YOUR OBESITY EPIDEMIC. You fucking liars. You fucking panic-mongers. You fucking small-minded shitwads who desperately needed someone to feel automatically better than, through no actual effort on your part, by virtue of no actual ADDED VIRTUE on your part. 

Fuck you fucking healthists who’ve been pushing this fat panic bullshit ever since the lowering of BMI thresholds. Fuck you in the government for getting rich off panic-mongering and appropriating funds for giant new bureaucracies whose stated goal is to experiment on an entire generation of children. Fuck you employers for your ‘employee wellness programs’ that cause financial hardship to fat people who are penalized for having the wrong BMI. Fuck you insurance companies for profiting off the panic by charging fat people more for their policies. Fuck you stupid fucking economists who do assumption-laced back-of-the-envelope calculations that suggest fat people are responsible for global warming. Fuck you private and public foundations for issuing giant grants to anyone who does a study that finds in the negative for ‘the obese,’ and fuck you researchers who take that money.

The ‘obesity epidemic’ isn’t real, folks. It isn’t real. It isn’t fucking real. Welcome to the Theatre of Panic, Hate, and Other Shameful Social Tendencies. They say life is a stage. Well, I want fucking OFF of this one.

(cross-blogged on This is Thin Privilege)

Fat People: You Don’t Have To Justify Your Existence

Dear fat people,

You don’t have to justify your existence to anyone. Not TV doctors. Not lapsed surgeons. Not authors of diet books. Not researchers running an ‘obesity’ center. Not your own doctor. Not your parents. Not your spouse.

When they ask, “Well, don’t you think being fat is unhealthy?” You don’t have to educate them. It’s not your job to give them reasons why you have accepted your body.

When they say, “You must justify your fatness. I’m paying for you!”, tell them they don’t have a problem with you, they’ve got a problem with the system and how it apportions dollars and care. If they’re so concerned about being able to control who and what they ‘pay for’ then they need to take it up with their elected representative or an actual economist, not you.

You don’t have to tell the fatphobes why they’re wrong. Why they’re creating a fictional narrative about your life that isn’t your life. Why threatening you with future health ills is absurd and childish. Why they don’t understand the economics of insurance markets. They probably won’t listen anyway. They’re not looking for reasons to be okay with you. They’re looking for reasons to feel better than you. To blame you for their slimmer pocketbook, or global warming, or world hunger. To absolve themselves from responsibility for those things. To justify their own disconnectedness and indolence. To soothe the guilt of their own consumerism.

Dear fat people: all fat people, of all colors and backgrounds, of all those varying ways to be fat and visibly so, even if you’re just fat in your own family circle or if you’ve been used as a headless fatty folk devil in a news article: you don’t have to justify your existence.

You don’t have to justify your existence by performing health. Or by subscribing to HAES. Or by having a list of studies on-hand whenever some ubiquitous fatphobe challenges your experience and threatens you with the deterioration of your health and even early death if you don’t agree with them.

Fat discrimination is wrong. Don’t listen when they say you’re “lazy, unfit, immoral, liars, burdens.” Sadly, you aren’t the first group of people to be labeled as the biggest sinners, the biggest losers, the folk devils that must be fought and vanquished at all costs, the root of all evil. It’s a formula, an effective one that most people don’t even realize they’re playing into.

There’s no conspiracy. The fat public health panic, known colloquially as the ‘obesity epidemic’ even though obesity is neither a disease nor an epidemic, emerged as a response to a complex panel of variables. No one person sat down one day and said, “You know what we should do? Pathologize fatness, stigmatize fat people, make a bunch of money off it, then sell fat stigmatization to governments and world health organizations so we can codify dieting in their health regulations.”

Timing is everything: an aging population means that diseases highly correlated with aging like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes are going up, up, up. People are smoking less, getting taller and healthier, and also dieting much more regularly: all states of being that, in addition to aging, result in increased average weight. Fudge with an old statistical tool for insurance tables called the BMI and suddenly you’ve got a health panic on your hands.

Healthism emerged, partially as a response to an aging population afraid of death and convinced that if they ate the right things and did the right amount of exercise they could extend their lifespans to Auroran lengths (see: Asimov), partially as an outgrowth of modern Puritanism, partially because of the fat health panic outlined above, partially as a vehicle of elitism and classism and ableism, and for many other reasons not useful to go into here.

Dear fat people: you don’t deserve to be discriminated against. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t have to justify your existence. You don’t have to buy into the myth of health, an arbitrary measure whose definition has not only changed throughout history but means different things to different individuals, to different practitioners of health, even.

You don’t have to justify your existence. If you do, you lose. You lose for yourself, and you lose for the rest of us. What is fat discrimination? Believing that fat people don’t have the right to simply be. That, if they exist as fat people, they are “lazy, unfit, immoral, liars, burdens.” The answer is not to argue that you are “active, fit, moral, trustworthy, generous.”

What right does anyone have to require that in order to live unabused they must live up to a standard the abusers don’t expect of themselves? It’s a lose-lose situation. Ceding to fatphobes the right to question your existence also cedes to them that if you as a fat person didn’t perform exercise, or didn’t count calories, or weren’t ‘healthy,’ or were disabled, or just didn’t adhere to the Healthistic model of virtue, that they would be justified in flailing and abusing you.

Dear fat people: you don’t have to justify your existence. You aren’t supervillains: if you don’t fit into the Healthistic box the fatphobes say you must the world won’t stop turning. Children won’t die. The landmass of your country won’t be swallowed by the oceans. You won’t suddenly get all the so-called fat diseases. You won’t bankrupt your government’s economy.

You will be one precious person saying, “No. Healthism is wrong. Health is bullshit. You’re creating a hierarchy of acceptable, codified discrimination with a bullshit arbitrary measure. And I’m not buying it.”

One precious person, going against a seemingly irresistible tide. You won’t be the villain. You’ll be the hero.

Illegal to be fat: Japanese edition

Some of you may have seen the news that it is now illegal to be fat in Japan. This means having a waistline over 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) for men and 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) for women over 40 years of age.

I’m not sure what the penalties are. I know there are employment penalties, like weight ‘counseling.’ 

What’s most alarming about the article is that it’s screamingly clear this is a case of outright scapegoating. Official admit that fat people are being targeted because the population is aging, and aging-related diseases that have been mischaracterized as caused by fat, like diabetes and heart disease, are going up. So fat people are being targeted, even though this is clearly a statistical issue tied to a changing demographic, and not anything the Japanese public is doing differently or ‘wrong.’ 

My heart goes out to all fat Japanese. I hope your government sees the error of its ways, though it’s incredibly unlikely. 

Support Sara Koffi’s “Class Dismissed”

I was contacted recently by Sara Koffi, a plus-sized, African-American aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter about an eminently worthy film project called Class Dismissed, for which she needs funding. Help Sara say what she wants in her own words (which is the only true “right” way), without having to give up control of the creative process and hence dilute her genuinely size positive, LGBT* positive, sex positive message. Her appeal is below, including a link to where you can donate, which I’ve also included here.

Also note that Sara has a guest post up at Shakesville (published yesterday).

My name is Sara Koffi. I’m a plus sized, African-American aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter. I’m from Memphis, TN and have been “knocking” on Hollywood’s door for the past two years. My artistic focus has always been on creating something that would depict honest experiences.

But…I’ve learned that reality and Hollywood don’t always get along. After getting an offer to present my work in the “right” way (none of that topic, too much of that topic, etc), I decided to go another route. I realized that I’d have to be in charge of the full creative process if I wanted to create something less problematic. Something genuinely hilarious and poignant, that wouldn’t rely on stereotypes for the sake of entertainment (because that’s pretty gross).

So I came up with Class Dismissed.

Class Dismissed is a feature length dramedy about Christy, a plus sized escort and Aubrey, a chronic overachiever with some coming out to do. It follows their college lives a few days before Aubrey’s parents are coming over to visit and before Christy meets a confused conservative type who she maybe kinda’ likes.

I’ve got the background, the ability and the ambition…But not the funds to make this movie happen. Which is why I’m writing you. I only ask from support from the people that want the same thing I do: less problematic entertainment. I want Class Dismissed to be genuinely body positive, genuinely LGBT* positive, genuinely sex positive (no slut shame in my game) and genuinely based on the realities of college.

If you’d like to share this idea, the link is below:

http://igg.me/p/187967?a=936110

Thank you so much!

Peace and love,

Sara Koffi

Oppressing Me Doesn’t Set You Free

Regarding the recent Chick-Fil-A controversy uncovering the shameful homophobic views of Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A’s president:

Yes, a man like Dan Cathy who donates to causes that pathologize sexual preferences he doesn’t like and spins up hate against other people for the — gasp! — crime of loving someone he doesn’t approve of should be protested and called out.

But no, Dan Cathy’s views are not somehow worse since fat people are among the patrons of his business.

And no, fatness doesn’t somehow compound the bigotry of his supporters.

And no, fat bigots who support Dan Cathy aren’t prime targets of protest any more than a thin bigot is.

And no, pointing out that some of Dan Cathy’s supporters are fat shouldn’t be met with a knowing nod or, “Of course they are.”

In other words, fighting ignorance with ignorance means you’re no better than the bigots you’re fighting. Oppressing me doesn’t set you free.

I’ve included several images here of tweets made by famous/influential/sorta-influential people that try to fight homophobia with fatphobia.

Wouldn’t it be more timely to showcase a study on how damaging homophobia is? Oh no wait, fat people are bad always, acceptable targets always.

Indirect death threat #1.

Fatties marrying is gross and reprehensible and is totally an argument against straight-only marriage somehow (though I’m pretty sure there are like, loads of gay fat people) #1.

Indirect death threat against fatties #2, also implying they’re stupid/unevolved.

Ha, cuz only fat people eat fast food and fat bigots are worse than thin bigots. Get it? So that’s why saying fat bigots is a zinger. Fat. Faaaat.

Hahaha fatties and their diet Coke, get it? This person is apparently a comedian, and she can’t come up with anything less shopworn than that?

Hahaha, fatties can’t stand for things, they don’t have values or opinions. They’re just obsessed with food, food, food. Not only are you a bigot, you’re a mcfatty fat bigot with a fat-clogged brain. Fatty!

Wow, way to both hate on fat people, fat gay people, and police gay people’s bodies at the same time. Quinto, I wish you were as logical as the character you play in the movies. Alas…

Indirect death threat against fatties #3. Whew! (can I just ask when death threats against any group are a good way to advance a cause? Anyone? Bueller?)

Who’s “we” here? Did I suddenly become a hivemind with my other fat Americans? Because I didn’t get the memo. Probably because I am fat.

Hurr, they’re fat, hurr!

Here are some excerpts of current top tweets for the “@chickfila obesity

And “chick-fil-a obesity“:

Way not to nakedly scapegoat fat people while you were trying to make your point, guys! Except, that’s exactly what you did.

Thank goodness there’s a Jezebel article by Lindy West on this: I Know You’re Mad at Chick-fil-A, But Stop Taking It Out on Fat People

New study: Being fat does not make you die earlier

Please read this and pass it around:

Mortality risk for overweight and obese is no greater than for ‘normal’ when hypertension and diabetes are controlled for, (Anthony Jerant, Peter Franks. “Body Mass Index, Diabetes, Hypertension, and Short-Term Mortality: A Population-Based Observational Study, 2000–2006″ J Am Board Fam Med July-August 2012 vol. 25 no. 4 422-431)

It’s been added to the Truth About Fat page.

A quote:

Methods: This was a population-based observational study of data from 50,994 adults aged 18 to 90 years who responded to the 2000 to 2005 Medical Expenditures Panel Surveys. Cox regression analyses were employed to model survival during up to 6 years of follow-up (ascertained via National Death Index linkage) by self-reported BMI category (underweight, <20 kg/m2; normal weight, 20-<25 [reference]; overweight, 25-<30; obese, 30-<35; severely obese, ≥35), without and with adjustment for diabetes and hypertension. Survival by BMI category also was modeled for diabetic and hypertensive individuals. All models were adjusted for sociodemographics, smoking, and Medical Expenditures Panel Surveys response year.

Results: In analyses not adjusted for diabetes or hypertension, only severe obesity was associated with mortality (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.26; 95% confidence interval, 1.00–1.59). After adjusting for diabetes and hypertension, severe obesity was no longer associated with mortality, and milder obesity (BMI 30-<35) was associated with decreased mortality (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.68–0.97). There was a significant interaction between diabetes (but not hypertension) and BMI (F [4, 235] = 2.71; P = .03), such that the mortality risk of diabetes was lower among mildly and severely obese persons than among those in lower BMI categories.

Conclusions: Obesity-associated mortality risk was lower than estimated in studies employing older BMI data. Only severe obesity (but not milder obesity or overweight) was associated with increased mortality, an association accounted for by coexisting diabetes and hypertension. Mortality in diabetes was lower among obese versus normal weight individuals.