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Five Myths About “Thin Privilege”
[By Katrina Conte] Lately I've been reading a lot about "thin privilege" and why it is less painful for thin women to endure teasing because "at least we're skinny". I believe that this is a faulty argument. I think many of us would say that we hardly feel "privileged" when directed to the kids' department for a bra, or when we are told that we are not feminine because we lack curves. Here are five myths about "thin privilege":
1. Clothing is made for thin women. Thin women shop and find things immediately that will fit.
False. In America, a missus size "small" will fit the average size 6-8 woman. For those of us who fall into the size 0-4 range, this is simply too big, and I am finding that many department stores are eliminating "extra-smalls" from their racks altogether. Finding well-fitting jeans is a nightmare, and so are extra small well-fitting tops. Even when extra-smalls are found, they usually measure 32"-33.5" around the bust, leaving a lot of extra room for those of us who wear 28 or 30 band sizes! (Oh, and try finding a size 28A or 30A bra in a department store that isn't made for little girls!)
2. Thin women can eat what they want. And they're never questioned by doctors about their weight.
False. If you're an extrasmall.me regular, I'm sure you've heard your doctor get all concerned over your low BMI and immediately start talking to you about your perceived lack of eating habits. I am fortunate enough to have a doctor that recognizes that I am a naturally small woman, but I have heard horror stories from thin women women who were harassed and even guilted by their doctors for being thin, especially when a pregnancy was involved.
Naturally thin women might not gain weight when they eat a lot, but that doesn't justify eating unhealthily. We can still get high cholesterol, heart problems, and any other problem linked to unhealthy eating - our bodies just won't show the warning signs on the outside.
3. Thin women don't have people commenting on their figure or eating habits.
False. I believe many of us can attest to comments we've received from friends/waitstaff/strangers in a restaurant setting. "That's all you're eating? No wonder you stay so skinny!" or "You're ordering a salad? Please. You need a steak, with two desserts afterwards." I read a story from a thin girl who heard two women ridiculing her at a bar after she only ordered a diet coke. (She was the designated driver).
4. Thin women always feel pretty.
False. The thing that really bugs me about the idea of "thin privilege" is the idea that all thin women fit into the weird high-fashion standard of beauty. Many of us do not. We all have imperfections. Being thin as a teenager did not prevent me from having terrible acne. Being a thin woman doesn't mean I never have bad hair days, bad skin days, bad fashion days. Sometimes I feel no amount of concealer in the world will hide the dark circles under my eyes. Being thin does not mean we don't have a feeling of inadequacy, and it doesn't mean we never see a beautiful woman and think "gee, I wish I looked like her".
5. Thin women are high-maintenance, self-centered, obsessed with their looks, and mean.
False! These attributes are in no way correlated with size. I was on a pretty well known facebook page that calls for a wider diversity in modeling and the use of only healthy models. In one discussion, a woman said that because she was teased by a thin girl about her weight when she was growing up, she now sees all thin women as "mean girls". I feel this is very unfortunate, and I feel that labels are unfair. You can never paint any group of people with a broad brush, nor should you let one experience dictate how you feel about others. Just as anyone can be an unpleasant person, anyone can be a kind and gernerous person.
Furthermore, I think while many of us may have a body-image issue or two, we are not always "obsessed with our looks". I don't know about the rest of you, but I do not want to spend my entire day at the gym! I have things to do! My life is too full to be counting every calorie just so I can turn it around and burn it off on the elliptical. I'm sure there are women who do live that way, but I can't imagine it's enjoyable. An just as I said in #4, none of us roll out of bed every day looking perfect! And it's ok to be ok with that!!
How do you feel about the "thin privilege" idea? Have you experienced any of the above situations or attitudes from others?
Confessions of a Toothpick Girl
[By Guest Blogger Katrina. I hope that many of you will find this post hopeful and encouraging! Please feel free to ask me any questions concerning this post or my story.]
Being obsessed with looks: big vs thin
Women in privileged cultures have the luxury of being obsessed with how we look. Every time I’m in the checkout line at the grocery store, I see at least a dozen magazines telling women that they have the secret solution to becoming a thin woman. Dropping the pounds, and therefore, the dress sizes has become an obsessive topic for women and the media that caters to them. We have become a generation of women defined by the number on the tag of their dress. This definition affects some women more than others; if you’re into that 6-12 size range, you’re pretty much golden. Those of us on the other ends of that spectrum will usually end up feeling defined by our weight. (I’m talking U.S. sizes here. If you’re in Europe, Asia, or Australia, your sizes will actually run smaller than American sizes.) What these magazines don’t tell you is that being a thin woman comes with its own set of issues.
When losing 7 pounds is not a good thing
I have always been a small person. I was a small baby. I was a relatively small child (though I think I may have been the tallest girl in my class in fourth grade). I was a small teenager, and after marrying and then starting to work a physically demanding job, I became a smaller adult. I was wearing a size 3 at college graduation; I found myself barely fitting into a size 0 at the age of 22. The simple loss of seven pounds on a normal person is usually celebrated, though not always noticeable. It was very noticeable on me. And people noticed. I had always been uncomfortable in my own skin; I had bad acne into my early 20s, chipmunk cheeks, and was what some people refer to as “boy-shaped”. With the weight-drop came a suddenly definable waist and a more womanly face, but now I was very aware of the fact that people were looking at me a lot, and not always nicely. People suddenly became comfortable with making comments as well.
“Get that girl a cheeseburger!” One coworker loudly announced on a day when I dared to wear shorts to work.
“My goodness, you are so small! Do you eat?” A middle-aged woman asked upon meeting me for the first time in a college course.
“You really should buy an extra box of paczkis; you look like you could really use the fattening up,” said the salesguy at the grocery store on Fat Tuesday this past year. (I left with one box of delicious pastries, and one is quite enough!)
At first I felt ashamed of myself; after all, people thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t feel pretty or feminine and I could not for the life of me understand why women so desperately wanted to be thin. Everyone made my weight their business. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want that.
How the Japanese Kimono grew my self esteem
My confidence perked up when I started collecting Japanese kimono. The silhouette the kimono created is so different from what western clothes do for the body. The kimono creates a sleek, cylindrical shape. An hourglass figure is not an ideal body type for wearing the kimono; women who have one usually have to do a lot of padding and binding to get the correct shape. I can skip this step entirely when donning my kimono; having very small curves; I have an ideal body type for kimono. The kimono was perfect for me because its purpose isn’t highlighting décolletage (which on me is somewhere between very little and non-existent) or long, shapely legs (my legs are long in proportion to my height, but they’re still short by beauty standards). The kimono highlights the neck and the wrists; it creates an air of mystery. The kimono isn’t about the wearer’s body because the kimono, along with the obi that is worn with it, is a work of art. The wearer enhances the kimono, not the other way around, like western-style clothes. A woman doesn’t have to have a perfect body to pull off wearing kimono; anyone can do it and that’s why I love it!
Getting offended is making a choice
My comfort level in my own skin has gone up enough that I actually bought a bikini this year; I used to be so afraid of being judged that I haven’t even worn a bathing suit in the past three years. I’ve grown up mentally in the past few years. It doesn’t (or at least it shouldn’t) matter what others think of me. I may not feel like I have much control over my looks, but I do have control over the kind of person I am. Getting offended is making a choice, after all. Yes, it still gets me riled up when people say things like “real women have curves” or “only dogs go for bones”. And while I usually interject when these statements are made to let the person know that these statements are false and hurtful, I can choose whether or not they get to me. I try not to let them get to me. I may not have Marilyn Monroe curves, but I am a real woman and a real person. I am not defined by the number on the scale or the number on the tag of my jeans. I want to be defined by my character. One doesn’t need Marilyn Monroe curves to have good character, just like one doesn’t have to be supermodel thin to be beautiful.
Find what makes you feel good
If there is anything I want you, the reader, to take away from this story, it’s this.
-Find what makes you feel good. Don’t focus on hating yourself because you don’t meet a certain beauty standard. What good does it do? Beauty standards are constantly changing, and superficial attractiveness doesn’t last forever, anyway. Find a positive passion!
-Be able to differentiate between rude comments and genuine concern. Some people will make comments about you (no matter what you look like!) just because they are a Jerky McJerk Face. But with sudden weight loss or weight gain will come questions from your loved ones who are worried about you. Even if their worry is unfounded, don’t fly off the handle. Getting super-defensive doesn’t help.
- Be in tune with your own body. If you’ve suddenly lost a lot of weight, ask yourself if it is normal. Do you feel alert and energetic or lethargic and fuzzy? As a thin woman who lives a fairly active lifestyle, I can tell you that it is extremely important to keep a healthy diet. Having a fast metabolism doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want all the time. Healthy fats and proteins are key. Three balanced meals a day plus a few healthy snacks should be what you strive for. I get it; leading a hectic work schedule, being a mommy, etc can lead to skipping meals. I’ve done it but it’s not good! If you don’t think you’ll have time to sit down and eat, at least keep some trail mix or a protein bar somewhere close. If you want to get your weight up because you feel unhealthy, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. We live in a world where most people want to lose weight, but your doctor will be able to give you tips for gaining, too.
-Most of all, love yourself! No matter what size you wear, you are a real woman. A real person with feelings, thoughts, and talents. The only person in this world you have any control over is YOU! So chose to be positive, to like yourself, and to be a force for good in the lives of others.
Do you have a passion or hobby that builds your self-esteem? What is it?
Finding your style…
When I go shopping, I often have trouble finding clothes because I don't know what kind of style is 'me.' It's hard to find clothes that fit well, and so often I just buy whatever fits -- even though it might not necessarily be 'my style.' Well, I came across this cool quote-thingy on Pinterest today that I just had to share :) Oh, and don't forget to follow my ExtraSmall pins for cool clothing/accessories for naturally thin ladies!! Have a great weekend everyone! xx Pelpina