Skinny privilege is a thing.
Skinny people are treated differently than fat people.
Most of us don’t know that because we get used to how we’re treated. Most people don’t go from a size XXL to a size S (or vice versa) in 5 months. I did. And one thing I was completely unprepared for is that I would be treated so differently.
If you’ve always been skinny, you may not realize you’ve been accruing the benefits of skinny privilege all your life. In fact, if you’ve never been skinny, you probably know more about skinny privilege than skinny people do. But it turns out I was clueless.
Here’s 5 ways I have experienced skinny-privilege since being paleo:
- When I was fat, I was invisible. I could be walking through a crowd and no one would notice I was there. I wasn’t so fat that I stood out. I was just regular fat. Invisible. Now that I’m skinny, people see me. As an introvert I have found this to be disconcerting.
- When I was fat, I was deemed a capable matron. If I was carrying 15 bags of groceries, I would never hear an offer of help or a ‘may I hold the door’. When I was skinny, suddenly I was a helpless damsel. If I was carrying one (1!) cup of coffee and my purse, some magnanimous fellow would rush to open the door for me, and wonder if I needed any help getting to my car. Bizarre. At first it made me mad. I actually wanted to flip the first couple of guys the finger, just for all the times I actually could have used some gallantry, but I just smiled a little sarcastically instead.
- When I’m exercising, as skinny person, I don’t have to work as hard and I look better doing it. You know that fat chick dying at the back of the yoga class? That was me. Now I’m that 40-something yogini in short shorts up front. And I know from experience that fat-me was working ten times as hard as I do now, without doing any of the asanas very aesthetically. When I was fat and jogging I would be preoccupied with weird things, like maybe people could hear my breathing. And then I’d be trying not to breathe so loud, which is actually really counterproductive when you’re jogging. Now when I’m running I just meditate and breathe deeply and love how it feels.
- As a skinny person, I get the benefit of the doubt. Nobody will look derisively at my grocery cart, no matter what kind of crap I have in there. If I pay for my food with $20 in change, the cashier assumes my life is just so glamorous that I simply don’t have time to spend all those pesky dimes. I actually don’t know if that’s what the cashier is thinking, but the truth is I now get great customer service all time, even when what I’m doing is annoying.
- As a skinny person, my clothes are almost free. All those smalls and mediums in the thrift shops and at clothing swaps were the story of my life when I was an XXL. As was the futility of achieving panache, or even funkiness, at the plus-size stores. I used to look longingly at the little clothes in boutiques, but now that they fit me I (mostly) ignore them and hit the thrift shops instead. Turns out all those surplus smalls and mediums are still the story of my life, and my closet is abundant.
In my mind, privilege=responsibility.
If I get something handed to me (a privilege) then I’m responsible for doing something great with it. Even if I worked hard for it, the benefits I receive are still a privilege because they aren’t available to everybody. I don’t yet know what I’m going to do with all the privilege I’ve been reaping since I went paleo, but I do know that the overarching characteristic of this privilege is ease.
My life is just way easier now. Not harder or more complicated because I can no longer shove frozen pizza into the oven, but easeful, despite the commitment that paleo requires. And that ease has freed up a bunch of energy for other things.
For example I woke up at 4 this morning. Full of zip & vinegar. I’ve already cleaned my house & written this blog post and it’s not yet 6.
So one thing I am doing with my privilege is writing this blog, not for the promotion of skinniness, because I am very aware that our current partiality for skinniness is an unstable social construct, but because maybe something I write will help someone else to find ease, too.