11.30.2023 • Body

Navigating Thin Privilege: What It Is and Why It Matters

What is thin privilege, who has it and how can you be an ally?

Two thin women shopping for clothes
TS Blog > Navigating Thin Privilege: What It Is and Why It Matters

Ever heard of thin privilege? It's a hot topic these days, shining a spotlight on the perks that come with being thin in a world that often equates a smaller body with success and beauty. But what exactly is thin privilege, who has it and how can you be an ally in a world that moralizes body size? Let’s talk about it.

Unpacking Thin Privilege

Thin privilege is a concept that originated within discussions of body positivity and fat acceptance. It refers to the societal advantages and preferential treatment that individuals who are perceived as thin or within the societal norms of beauty and body size experience. The term is often used to highlight the ways in which people with smaller bodies may face fewer obstacles, biases and discrimination compared to those with larger bodies.

Think of it as an invisible bonus card for those whose bodies fit society's beauty standards. It's the extra goodies you get just for being thin. But what does that really mean? It means some folks get perks in places they might not even realize, like job opportunities and how they're treated at the doctor's office.

The concept aims to draw attention to the unfair treatment and systemic biases that people with larger bodies may face, promoting inclusivity and challenging societal norms regarding beauty and body size.

Who's Riding the Thin Privilege Wave?

The 'Ideal' Body Crew

Thin privilege is basically a golden ticket for those whose bodies fit what society deems ideal. Think models and influencers who check all the boxes. If your body aligns with those standards, you often get afforded certain privileges, like the assumption of good health and wellbeing, access to fashion and better treatment out in the world for being smaller.

It's Complicated: Intersectionality and Thin Privilege

Thin privilege isn't a one-size-fits-all deal. Throw in factors like race, gender, and where you fall on the economic scale, and things get complicated. A thin white woman might experience thin privilege differently than a thin woman of color. It's like a complex puzzle where everyone's experience is unique.

Thin Privilege in Action

The Media's Beauty Standards Game

Ever wonder why all the models seem to have the same body type? That's the media playing favorites. Thin privilege struts its stuff on every runway and in every photoshoot, reinforcing the idea that beauty only comes in one size. It's time to hit pause on these unrealistic standards and celebrate the beauty of diversity.

Job Hunt Blues

Believe it or not, thin privilege even sneaks into the job market. Studies show that thinner folks often have an easier time landing and advancing in their careers. It's like having an invisible boost in the professional world. As an ally, it's crucial to be aware of this bias and advocate for a level playing field.

Doctor's Office Discrimination

Healthcare should be a safe space for everyone, right? Unfortunately, thin privilege can cast a shadow on those experiences. Thinner individuals might get more positive treatment, while those with more curves might face judgment and delays in getting the care they need. It's time to flip the script and ensure everyone gets the care they deserve.

A thin woman in a doctor's office

Access to Fashion

Can you walk into almost any mall or store and know you'll find something that fits? Then you have the privilege of having access to fashion. Thin individuals often have more options when it comes to clothing choices, as many fashion brands design and produce clothing exclusively for smaller sizes. This contributes to a greater sense of self-expression through style.

Easier Navigation of Public Spaces

Public spaces, including transportation, seating and amenities, are often designed with thinner individuals in mind. Those in larger bodies may face challenges or discomfort in such spaces, requiring them to plan ahead, pay more money (especially when it comes to plane travel) or skip going out altogether.

Less Bullying and Stigmatization

Individuals in larger bodies may be more susceptible to bullying, stigmatization and discrimination based on their appearance. Thin individuals often face less scrutiny in these regards.

How to Be an Ally Against Thin Privilege

Celebrate All Bodies: Spread the Love

Being an ally starts with celebrating all bodies. Whether you're naturally thin or not, it's time to embrace and appreciate the beauty that comes in every shape and size. Share that love with friends, family, and on social media. Let's redefine beauty standards and make room for everyone.

Three women of different sizes in Thigh Society shorts

Educate Yourself and Others

Knowledge is power, and being an ally against thin privilege starts with education. Take the time to learn about the experiences of those who don't benefit from thin privilege. Share what you've learned with others, spark conversations, and challenge outdated beliefs. The more we know, the better equipped we are to create change

Speak Up and Advocate for Change

Don't be a bystander; be a vocal ally. Speak up against size-based discrimination when you witness it. Advocate for policies that promote inclusivity and protect individuals from bias, especially in the workplace and healthcare. Your voice matters, so use it to make a difference.

Thin privilege is a real thing, and being an ally means acknowledging it, understanding it, and actively working against it. By celebrating all bodies, educating ourselves and others, and speaking up for change, we can create a world where everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, regardless of their size. It's time to be part of the solution, one ally at a time.