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Image / Editorial

What is ‘thin privilege’ and why is everyone talking about it today?


by Grace McGettigan
23rd Jul 2018
What is ‘thin privilege’ and why is everyone talking about it today?

New York-based writer Cora Harrington has spoken out about ‘thin privilege’, the idea that a person’s life isn’t made more difficult because of their weight. She shares examples of the things people with ‘thin privilege’ take for granted; she wants thin people to realise that even if we aren’t happy with our bodies, we’re still a lot more privileged in clothes shops than people who are overweight. Since talking about it on Twitter, some people’s eyes have been opened to the sartorial and social struggles of people who are overweight and obese. However, others have criticised her tweets, saying thin people have weight-related struggles too.

Cora runs the Lingerie Addict, the world’s largest lingerie fashion blog. She founded her website on the idea that “lingerie is for everybody; no matter their size, race, sexuality, age, ability, or gender.” It’s a “body snark-free zone”, which means body shaming comments of any kind are not allowed. “In a world full of magazines, blogs and books telling you to change who are you are to fit in, we at the Lingerie Addict believe you’re fine just as you are.” Given her stance on inclusivity, she’s particularly aware when certain groups face exclusivity.

Cora HarringtonPhoto: Cora Harrington, photo taken by Nomi Ellenson

Yesterday, Cora tweeted, “You don’t have to ‘feel thin’ to have thin privilege. Thinness isn’t a feeling,” she said, “If other people perceive you as thin, you are thin. If you are able to walk into any clothing store and expect to see a wide range of options in your size, you are thin. My job involves looking at photos of models who are much thinner than me, so I rarely ‘feel’ thin. But I can walk into almost any clothing store and expect – without even thinking about it – to buy something in my size. That is thin privilege.

“No one looks at a photo of me online and tells me I need to lose weight or sees me out and about, eating a cookie or an ice-cream cone, and sneers at me in disgust. No one groans or rolls their eyes when they have to sit next to me on a plane or a bus. In fact, no one comments on my body at all. The ability to move through life without people insisting you need to be a smaller size… if you don’t have to think about that, it’s privilege. And this is something that I really need ‘body positive’ influencers and fashion bloggers to understand. If you are getting gigs AT ALL, it’s because you closely align with fashion industry ideals. And it is what it is, I guess. What’s not okay is pretending you don’t.

“Once again: all thin privilege means is that your life isn’t made more difficult because of your weight. It means you aren’t defined by things like pay raises, healthcare, and airline seats because of your weight. It doesn’t mean your life is easy or that no one ever made fun of your appearance, or that you can find everything you want in your local Target. It means societal discrimination and prejudice does not target you for being thin. It means your weight/body type is seen as ‘normal’.”

thin privilegePhoto: Pixabay.com

However, Cora has faced some backlash. “I’m thin and tall. Clothes are always too big and too short for me. But please, go on about my privilege,” one person replied. “I’m thin and I usually struggle to find clothes that aren’t huge on me… it’s not any easier,” another said.

A third Twitter user said, “I’m lost as to where the privilege is? I find it hard to walk into a shop and find my size. In fact, shopping is quite an upsetting experience for me. People look at me in the streets because I’m ‘too thin’. I get called anorexic, told to eat a cheeseburger… I’ve been told I’d be ‘marriage material’ if I put on five kilos. I have a very high metabolism but people assume I’m sick or don’t eat; when actually I eat like a pig. The curvy, thicker look is more desirable now which unfortunately not everyone can achieve.”

To see the full debate, which is still ongoing, click the thread below:

Photo: Pexels.com


Have you heard about our new PodClub? On Tuesday 31st July, we’re meeting for pizza and gin to discuss some of our favourite podcasts. Want to come along? Register your attendance here.

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