the skinny supremacy

January 18, 2017 Roobs Leiser

TW/CW - food, weight loss, ED
as someone who has always been slim (and also white, cisgendered, able-bodied, socioeconomically advantageous etc), my social privilege is astounding. i’m not entirely sure i actually have any right to be trying to voice my thoughts on this. is a thin person talking about fatness just as inadvisable as a white person educating on race? i’m not trying to educate, nor am i trying to trick anyone into thinking that my stance on the subject is a) correct, b) all-knowing, and c) deserved. i simply realise, now, the extent of my ignorance - and want to share what i have started to understand.
we are conditioned to think that fatness is unacceptable. that is what society tells us, regardless of where we look or how it is packaged. the same companies who employ christmas marketing campaigns encouraging us to over-indulge, treat ourselves, splurge, then tell us in january that we need to make up for it by detoxing and eating ‘clean’ and dieting. how many times have you seen the term ‘guilt-free’ applied to healthier options? how often is it implied that there needs to be a quid pro quo attitude towards eating? that enjoying a meal is contingent upon exercising first, or eating less the rest of the week? there is no such thing as deserved food. 
january is saturated with triggering, damaging talk about food. companies either go down the route of pseudo rebellious camaraderie “we’re just as lazy and gross and slobby as you, aren’t we cool and unique, buy our stuff”, or down the shaming, fatphobic, triggering road. missguided are currently selling exercise gear with the caption ‘it’s a babe’s right to be the very best version of herself. time to get active’. because the best version of yourself must be the skinny version...
diet talk is not only guilt-inducing to those who aren’t participating, but is also deeply triggering for those with eating disorders. dealing with christmas is tough enough for someone with a historically difficult relationship with food, never mind factoring in the endless barrage of ‘self-improvement’ (because getting thinner is getting better) propaganda in january which aims simply to cash in on easily manipulated insecurity. 
talking about needing to diet, calling yourself ‘obese’ post-christmas, posting throwback pictures and saying ‘need to get this body back’ are all acceptable behaviours afforded to women who are thin. the internet is awash with thin women using their thin privilege to talk about weight, while simultaneously our society is so fatphobic that we would attempt to erase the experience of fat women altogether. why is it that so often, when seeing fat women calling out fatphobic rhetoric, they’re trolled about being bitter? are we that obsessed with the supposed superiority of thinness that we refuse to accept the experience of fatness from the perspective of fat people? when plus-sized women tell us that it is frustrating for them to see plus-sized ranges which start at sizes 14/16 being modelled by women who are a size 12, why do we put this down to hostility arising from not being a smaller size themselves? 
the skinny supremacy has saturated so much of our social experience that sometimes we can’t see how prevalent it is. my latest gripe - and the inspiration for this essay - is the new trend of women, specifically fitness bloggers, posting side-by-side pictures of themselves in flattering & unflattering poses. one of them tensing and one of them sitting down. one of them on a good day and one of them on a bloated day. i understand the meaning behind it. i understand that they’re aiming to ‘expose’ themselves as ‘normal’ for all these hundreds of thousands of followers who see only the well-lit, carefully engineered poses that best show off their physique. which is great. but, really, what they’re doing is saying ‘yes i look fat in this picture, but it’s ok because i’m not really’. what they’re saying is that, yes you can have stomach rolls or you can get bloated, but you can also hide these things and that makes them ok. they’re posting ‘bad’ pictures because they have comparatively ‘good’ ones. they’re posting pictures where they look fat because right next to it is a picture that proves they’re really not. what they’re saying is that looking fat is normal but they’ve found a way around it. looking fat is ok because it isn’t the permanent reality. what they’re essentially disregarding altogether is the thought that actually fat women always look fat and that, by extension, they can’t also have good/bad days - days when they love their bodies, and days when they hate it. what these comparison pictures are saying is fat is ok as long as you’re not actually fat. 
and, i’m sorry, but fuck that. 

1 comment

  • Katrin

    Jan 19, 2017

    Hey Roobs,
    I am fat. I am fat in the sense of I am living in a 24 sized body all day long, I can’t hide it (I also don’t want to hide it anylonger) and I am so fucking tired of thin people ignoring their privilige. I love your work and your eloquent posts and honesty, but for a long time it felt (from the outside perspectiv and as someone who doesn’t actually know you, I am sorry) like you didn’t realise how much privilege being thin gives you, so reading this makes me very happy, because it’s true, being fat is just okay as long as it’s not a permanent state, as long you are still working on yourself, trying to lose weight, as long as you are a “good fattie”, someone who tries, who works out, who wants to be less to take up less space in this world. Fat is okay as long as it’s called curvy, as long as it comes in a sexy packaging that caters the cis hetero male gaze and as long as it’s not too much, not too fat.

    Body positivity should be for everyone, it should include everyone, but over the course of the last two years it’s been ripped apart from fat positivity and turned into excatly what you described, a culture that constantly tells you to treat yourself, because apperently that’s how you love yourself, but essentially forgets about everyone who is not thin, white, able bodied and cis…

    Keep up the good work, we are all learning every day, we all need to stop and look at the other persons perspective from time to time. For a very long time I had a hard time accepting that thin people feel bad about their bodies too, because I was caught up in the thought that as soon as I am thin my life would be dreamful and without any problems…

    Cheers and greetings from Edinburgh!

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