Hi, friends. I’m Jude. Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite uncomfortable thing to discuss: privilege within the body positive/fat acceptance communities, yay! I know the word “privilege” is loaded and seems to have very nasty connotations, but I am using it because some fat bodies are more privileged than other bodies. Make no mistake that a thin person has more privilege than any fat person; this article is not to discount that at all. And I know it may sound weird and warped, but I promise it will make sense in the end.
Here’s why we’re doing this: It’s important to recognize your privileges in the communities that you serve because everybody has a different lens. Your lens is how you see the world and that is impacted by a number of different things, but for this particular post, we’re talking about our size. How does our size impact the way that the world sees us and the way that we see the world?
So let’s start with identifying my size privilege: I’m a size 16-18 in U.S. women’s* clothing. (not a woman, definitely non-binary, but not the point, ANYWAY). The average sized woman in the U.S. is an 18, so I am below average. I am a small fat when we are thinking about the small fat-mid fat-superfat-infinifat range. I can walk into a lot of stores that serve plus size customers, sometimes even Target, find clothes that fit me. Some fat babes can’t do that, and they must shop exclusively online, therefore my ability to find clothes that fit me and fit me well is a privilege.
Second privilege – I don’t have to think about having issues on airplanes. I don’t have to worry about buying a second seat. I don’t have to worry about preboarding. I don’t have to worry about possibly getting kicked off of a plane because a thin person is upset that I am sitting next to them. I don’t have to worry about the seat belt not fitting me.
Our world is built with thin people in mind. The closer you are to how this world is built, the more accessible it’s going to be for you. Which leads us to my third privilege, I don’t have a lot of trouble in theatres and movie theatres when we are thinking exclusively about my size. I have chronic pain, so that seating is hard to be comfortable in, but when we are exclusively talking about my size, I fit. The same thing applies for when I go to amusement parks. For the most part, I fit in most of the rides without a struggle.
Acknowledging your privilege in a small fat-mid fat body doesn’t take away any of the pain and oppression caused by fatphobia. Fatphobia hurts all of us, and your experience of oppression is valid. I’m inviting you to take stock of your privileges where you have them.
It’s hard to think about privilege and confront your privilege when you are the biggest person in your friend group, or even in your family. It’s hard to deal with that, I hear you. However, I need us to put the superfats and infinifats in the center of this movement. This movement is for them. It’s about justice and accessibility for them and their bodies.
The body positive movement is about much more than size 10-12 women getting likes on instagram. It’s about making sure that we are all able to live happy lives and the only way we’re going to get there is if we’re fighting for everyone.
So, how do we fight for everyone?
Support apps and movements like CanWeAllGo, an app that is working towards having a database for people of size to check when thinking about accessibility.
Support creators of size monetarily and with your follows on social media. Uplift their voices and learn their stories.
Call out companies that only carry clothes up to an XXL and want to call it “inclusive.”
Remember that the body positive movement should be serving the most marginalized.
Fight to cultivate your feeds for more diverse bodies. If you are following all size 10-12 white women, you need to fix that.
Tip your favorite fat creators and show them to your friends.
It’s okay to recognize that you have more privilege than other people in our community. It doesn’t mean that you don’t belong, and it doesn’t mean you’re being pushed out. As someone who has spent the past three years of her life fighting for the right to exist, I have to remember that there are other people who have also been fighting that fight and are met with much more hostility. It doesn’t take away from the hostility I’ve faced. It just means that my lens needed to be shifted. I am a palatable fat, in the grand scheme of things. This world can still accommodate me. So, what are we doing to change our world so that more people can be accommodated?
Just keep swimming, sigue nadando, xo Jude
Jude Valentin (she/her or they/them) is a NYC based content creator, actor, and photographer. She spends her time screeching on the internet about body positivity, queerness, and pop culture. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.