What is ‘Thin Privilege’ and are you benefitting from it?

Yesterday, The Lingerie Addict founder and blogger Cora Harrington (@lingerie_addict) stirred the twittersphere with a now-viral thread on “thin privilege,” the idea that society rewards lean people with special treatment, like the ability to walk into a clothing store and find many options that fit, eat an ice cream cone without being judged, or sit on a plane without the person sitting next to you sneering in disgust.

In the thread, Harrington suggested that the phenomena persists regardless of whether you classify yourself as thin — an argument that launched a conversation about the systematic discrimination and difficulties that plague people on both ends of the straight-size spectrum.

Here’s the thread in its entirety:

Hey, you don’t have to “feel thin” to have thin privilege. Thinness isn’t a feeling. 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 that 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 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 are seen as “normal.”

Harrington’s commentary was retweeted more than 3,200 times and liked by more than 13,360 people, hundreds of whom jumped in to share their own stories about issues they’ve encountered as a result of their size.

Many people who identified as overweight agreed that the characteristic can lead to discrimination, judgement, and discomfort, whether you’re seeking healthcare and have to put up with a doctor’s weight-shaming speech, going to the gym, or interviewing for a job.





Some participants argued that thin privilege doesn’t extend to people who are deemed “too thin” by societal standards.

1) yes I’ve been gawked at while eating and told I “need to eat more” and many other variations regardless of the actually amount of food I’m eating

2) yes I’ve been not only looked at but told I’m too underweight and unhealthy to play sports or strenuously workout +

— Kayli Coburn (@spookybluekay) July 23, 2018

There was also debate regarding whether all thin people are privileged—like, for instance, those who are plagued by illness or people who put enormous effort into staying in shape.

In sum, there’s no better time to practice self-acceptance and size-sensitivity. Hopefully, the rest of the world will catch up soon.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content