Un-packing Thin Privilege

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We live in a world that has created the “ideal body type,” an unrealistic norm that leaves practically no-one unscathed. However, the degree to which you feel weight-related discrimination is very dependent on your size.

Society Tells Us that Overweight is “bad” and skinny is “good.”


Here are some examples of institutionalized oppression experienced by overweight girls:

1) Seats in restaurants, movie theaters, and planes are often not made to accommodate overweight girls and they are often subjected to shame and additional costs.

2) They can only find a limited supply of clothes in few styles and fewer stores.

3)  They are blamed for the bullying and oppression they experience and are told the it will all end if they just become thin.

4) Overweight girls are often discriminated against in the job market. Currently there is no federal legislation that protects the civil rights of overweight workers and only one state, Michigan, bans discrimination on the basis of weight.

5) They are made to feel guilty about their food choices whereas thin girls can eat anything they want without comment.

6) The stigma that overweight girls experience can lead to chronic stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical ills, many of them associated with obesity.  

Thin girls do have privileges in regard to weight-related discrimination.  They do not have to deal with the 6 examples of weight-related discrimination listed above.

Thin girls do feel some thin-shaming from society by this cultural stereotype of beauty.  They may experience comments like, “she needs to eat a sandwich”, “chicken-legs!” or “real women have curves.”  And those comments really hurt sometimes.

However, thin girls do not have to deal with weight-related discrimination that larger girls have to deal with on a daily basis.  We can refer to this freedom from weight-oriented oppression as Thin Privilege. 

Thin girls do not have to worry about walking into an interview and immediately being denied because of their size.  They don’t have to book two seats on an airplane.  They do not have to experience chronic stress and high-blood pressure associated with hearing cruel comments from their peers.

We have only begun to un-pack thin privilege, we encourage you to read more:

Let’s talk about thin privilege 

For obese people, prejudice in plain sight 

Why thin women should care about fat activism 

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