This past week, I created some chaos on my social media feed – particularly Instagram. In my post, I talked about choosing not to use the words ‘thin privilege’ because for me, it is not a label that should ever be used. I feel the same way about any words that describe someone else’s body in a negative way – even if trying to be positive (i.e. ‘fat positive’).
When I think about what ‘thin privilege’ means, I think about what ‘thin’ means and what ‘privilege’ means individually. Thin, in definition, means to “have little flesh or fat, being of smaller body size.” I can’t help but think about so many of my former and current clients who are thin, not by choice, but because of their illnesses (i.e. cancer, Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, and so many others), their struggles, or simply because that is the way their bodies are. I can’t imagine them being labeled due to the size of their bodies and that because of the size of their bodies, they still have a ‘privilege,’ despite their struggles and hardships. Then I think about the definition of privilege – “a special right only to a person or group of people.” These individuals, who didn’t choose their life’s paths are still considered privileged because of their smaller body sizes? It just leaves me confused and breaks my heart to think about them still having a ‘privilege,’ when they don’t have the privilege in their health.
By saying that I do not agree with thin privilege, I am not dismissing weight stigma. Weight stigma is real – very real. As are so many stigmas – stigmas of skin color, race, ethnicity, economic class, gender, etc. However, if we are trying to create more inclusivity as the human species that we are, why are we continuing to categorize people for things they cannot control? I do not take away that there are advantages – not privileges – of being in a smaller body and even of being of lighter skin. However, I can also think about all the ways I do not have advantages as a Latina, as a woman, as a mom, as a business owner, as a former Eating Disorder patient, as an abuse survivor, and so many aspects of my life. I know, deep in my heart, that so many others feel the same way.
Stigmas exist. I cannot walk in someone else’s shoes, but I can try to resonate with them, empathize with them, and find ways to help them on their health journey.
I choose not to label and use terms such as ‘thin privilege,’ ‘fatpositive,’ ‘fatphobic,’ ‘diet culture,’ or ‘anti-diet,’ because they are all negative terms to me. I understand that other practitioners or individuals, the terms bring about conversation, education, or social justice, and that’s okay. However, I want to always say, “I work with and find ways to empathize with people of all shapes and sizes.” I want to say, “If a diet has worked for you and it has been positive for you in your life, there is nothing wrong with that. Let me now help you with a Mindful and Intuitive Eating approach.” I want to say, “I am here to guide you to keep looking forward in your health journey in any way that I can.”
The purpose of my Instagram post and the purpose of this blog post was to remind you all that our bodies never ever tell our own unique stories. Only we can.