Why is being the right weight seen as a privilege?


Why is being the right weight seen as a privilege?

The assumption is that slim people are healthier, hardworking, disciplined, committed to a healthy lifestyle and resilient, and that overweight people are considered lazy, undisciplined and have a lack of commitment.

Why being thin is seen as a privilege?  

This preference towards slim people culminates in thin privilege or skinny privilege. This is an ideology that people have special rights or immunity when they are thin. Thin privilege is very dominant in our society and people are rewarded for their weight-to-height ratio. This also means that thin privilege will afford varying levels of immunity from certain harms in society because of a person’s body size and receive advantages that they may not even realise. 

Thin privilege represents all forms of social, financial and practical benefits a person gets because of thin body shape or size. People who have it may not even realise this privilege as they may not have to think about finding the right clothing sizes or being stared at in public spaces or being remarked for their body size. There’s research that shows that thin people are perceived to be kinder, more clever and hardworking compared to peers who are sometimes considered as having aggressive and rude behaviours based on their body size. 

Thin Privilege  

  • I can expect to find clothes that fit in me in most stores and when shopping online for most brands 
  • I have been told I have commitment to better physical health because of my body size 
  • My mental health has not been affected by my body size 
  • I have never really experienced body shame or been subject to fat shaming by others 

Stats Don’t Lie 

  •   24mn people suffer from eating disorders in the United States (Addiction Center, 2021) 
  • One in five adults (20%) felt shame, just over one third (34%) felt down or low, and 19% felt disgusted because of their body image (Mental Health Foundation – UK, 2021) 
  • Just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image (Mental Health Foundation – UK, 2021)

What to do next?

Avoid making assumptions and comments about someone based on their weight and/or external appearance. Share your own experience of weight to encourage others to do the same. It creates a safe space where people can let their guard down and be open about the highs and lows of just being human! Together, we can reduce stigma around weight across society, one conversation at a time. If you’re interested in starting a journey to overhaul this imbalance, then join the Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Weight privilege from our summer event.