I Recognize My Own Thin Privilege: a letter to my marginalized bodied friends

I  can shout self love and body acceptance from the roof tops all day every day…  and I do. 

I can talk about how much I love my body these days. I can talk about how I overcame my eating disorder and how I don’t just respect and trust my body… but adore it. I can talk about how I don’t restrict or under-eat or over exercise anymore and how I’ve made peace with myself. 

And these are great things and I never want to negate them. They were HUGE successes in my life. Especially in light of diet culture and societal expectations. And I know many others share the same struggles and victories that I do. Let’s celebrate that and continue to spread this message of body positivity, self love, and intuitive eating to all. It’s life changing I tell you. 

But that is not the purpose of this post. 

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There are some things that I cannot speak to or pretend to fully understand. Because some may say, “Good for you, but you live and have always lived in a thinner body. You do not have societal discrimination working against you all day, every day.”  

And to that, I say, “Touché.”

With this post, I simply want to acknowledge my own privilege- even in my own struggles. I live in a thinner body… and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a privilege in an of itself. 

I never ever want to pretend that I can empathize with or understand the struggles of someone living in a larger body. Not because they should struggle- but because society continues to suppress and stigmatize larger body types.  I want to openly acknowledge the biases and ignominy that marginalized bodies unjustly endure on a daily basis due to the current paradigm of fat-phobia. I want to acknowledge that I can never pretend to know the full extent of the body positivity movement as it was meant to be. 

 

Because the body positive movement was not created for me or those ascetically similar to me. And that’s okay! Thinner body are shown in a positive light ever place we turn- TV, magazines, clothing sizes, social media etc. Even the structural landscape of our world is catered the thinner body type. Thin bodies are celebrated everywhere. I didn’t necessarily need a body positive movement in order to be more convinced that my body was okay and that I should love it. I needed (and experienced) a self revolution- not a societal one. 

But you know who is deserving of a societal movement? You know who is deserving of a movement that challenges the current societal paradigms around body size? You know who needs to be celebrated and told- YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and are deserving of self love exactly as you are. You do not deserved to be stigmatized or treated or thought of differently or led to believe in any way that you are less deserving of respect, adoration, and love.  It is those who live in marginalized bodies.

Even as a person in a thinner body, I feel the weight of fat-phobia. None of us are immune to this. Even though I have not personally been a direct victim of societal fat-phobia, I’ve been a victim of my own internalized fat-phobia. (In the form of an eating disorder.) This has shaped the course of my life and the person I am today in a very big and real way. If this is the case for me and others similar to me, can you imagine the burden that those who live in larger bodies bare? 

Because for someone in a marginalized body, it is not just their internalized fat phobia that they have to overcome in order to extend self love and embrace body positivity, but they have to continually refute and battle societal expectations that are telling them that they are wrong for being the way that they are. 

Hear this: we have all been brainwashed to believing that thinner equates to healthier, better, and more “ideal”. Diet culture, fat phobia, and the social “ideals” … they are all interconnected. They are all barriers to progress and paradigms that need to be acknowledged and broken down. These barriers leave us short sighted and subconsciously full of prejudice. And for those live in marginalized bodies, they lead to wrongful shame and judgment.

This is HUGE issue. Our socially conditioned fat-phobia is so ingrained that the majority of us do not even recognize it. It is so ingrained in our psyche that it affects almost every aspect of our lives and how we think about and perceive ourselves. Even the wellness community is dripping in unacknowledged fat-phobia. Heck, even my profession is! The current paradigms is that- if you have extra weight, it is right to want to loose it. Our profession is taught to calculate the “ideal” body weight of an individual and help people get back to this “ideal’ weight by restricting calories. THIS IS DIET CULTURE. THIS IS FAT-PHOBIA. 

What about individual set points? What about genetics? What about the fact that some people live in larger bodies- and that should be celebrated! Why are we trying to extend our fat-phobic preferences and change that?! Why are we extending judgment to marginalized bodies and just assuming that they should want to loose weight?! Who are we to calculate someone else’s “ideal” body weight?! To use a calculation to determine what your body should be doing in this way is just asinine. What about self compassion and body diversity? What about individuality? What about the fact that someone’s body weight is not in any way a reflection of their self worth? 

What if instead of extending our own biases and judgements, preconceived notions, and meal plans, we started to challenge the paradigms that cause us to think so narrowly? What if we all acknowledged and taught that:

Self love and intuitive eating is attainable for all people in all bodies. 

My biggest fear is to water down the body positivity movement. I am not a marginalized body. I do not need society to celebrate thinner bodes any more than they already do. I do not want to take ahold and claim a movement that was not mine to begin with. But I do, my marginalized friends, want to have a voice along side yours because I do not feel that the oppressed should have to defend themselves alone- when the is at large- a societal issue. I want to help speak on your behalf and do what I can in my small way to break down down the current paradigms around fat-phobia and spread the message of fat acceptance for all people in all bodies. 

I’m not saying that we are not all deserving of this body positive movement! Not in the slightest. No one is immune to diet culture or body shame. We all have our own struggles and every one of us are victims of fat-phobia and societal “ideals” and expectations. We all stand to benefit from this movement and this message because thick or thin- we all have internalized fat phobia that needs to be addressed and broken down. 

But I want to write this…. maybe more as a self reminder… or maybe as a letter to my friends who live in larger bodies. That I SEE YOU. And your struggle is not lost of deaf ears. I am not so ignorant to not recognize my own privilege.  Even though I have had my own struggles, I cannot say that I’ve had the same experiences of someone is a larger body. I never want to speak out of place or speak louder than my friends in marginalized bodies but I just want you to know that I am on your side. I am for you and I will do what I can to propel this movement forward. 

EVERYONE IS DESERVING OF SELF LOVE. EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO LIVE WITHOUT SOCIETAL JUDGEMENT AND OPPRESSION.