I just saw this article on Jezebel where this woman said this: “I feel sorry…for people who’ve had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them,” she writes in her book. “I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren’t their idea of beautiful and therefore aren’t their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself.”
I’m not particularly familiar with Beth Ditto (I’ve heard of Gossip), but I was just dumbstruck at this statement. Just like the time I read Anne Lamott who said something like I had never understood that a B was a good grade. It’s revolutionary to me, but in a way that I’ve always known it and just haven’t heard it before.
I think that a lot of the reason that my relatively recent fatness is so disturbing to me is that I’ve had “skinny privilege” most of my life. Even when I thought I wasn’t too skinny, I look back on pictures of me and think “oh, what I wouldn’t give to look like that again.” And I realize that my own internal fat-o-phobia is always there, lurking, challenging me. “I’m not as big as she is;” “I don’t have that kind of lump or bump;” “I don’t have those particular issues.” But judging people based on their weight in comparison to mine is not helpful to anyone. Especially when the thoughts run something like this: “I would kill to wear what she’s wearing now;” “I can’t believe how good she looks (read: her life must be amazing);” “I hate myself so much because I don’t look like that.”
And let’s face it, there is skinny privilege. Just like older people have trouble getting jobs over younger people, fat people have trouble getting jobs and doing things over thinner people. And I’m not talking about being a fireperson or something that involves a ton of physicality (although there *are* plenty of overweight people who can rock the shit out of some physical shit). I’m talking about office managers or clerks or a myriad of jobs that wouldn’t require any difference between a fat person and a skinny person.
I use the word fat, because I’ve read quite a bit about “fat acceptance.” A theory designed to counteract all the images and cultural stereotypes about fat people. That we’re lazy. That we’re stupid. That we have no ambition. That sort of thing. Even that we’re not as healthy. I struggle a bit more with that one, but there are people who put out there that there are obese people who just don’t have health problems associated with their weight. Their hearts are good, their cholesterol is fine, they don’t have elevated blood sugar/diabetes. Also included *is* the idea that just everyone has the ability to lose weight at will. Some people have metabolism issues. Some people are on meds. Some people truly are genetically born disposed toward being heavy.
I don’t know what other obese women think about themselves. I just know that a lot of the time, my brain is obsessed with how much I weigh and how much I fucking hate it. That as against plastic surgery as I am, I would definitely accept it to get rid of this shit. That when “regular” women complain about “how fat they are,” I want to literally slap them (totally fits in with my non-violence thing, right?). That maybe people that I like or crush on or am interested in would actually think about dating me if I weren’t so. fucking. fat.
These thoughts are nearly constantly with me, and I know they’re no help. I’ve read in countless places that the way to start to come to terms with and deal with weight (and weight-loss), is to unconditionally accept myself the way I am and rejoice in the fact that this is where I am, and that my higher power is completely in love with me right now. Not right skinny, or back then. But I won’t sit here and lie to you and tell you that’s where I am or that’s what I do or that I don’t desperately wish that I looked like so many of the people I hang out with. I do, and I can only wish that I could be back in the group that has “skinny privilege.”