Thin Privilege

0004d67b-470c-17ff-e34d-644d1cce8200_958Yup, I totes have it.

To give you some background, I’ve always been skinny. Well sometimes I had puppy fat, but I think we all had that. However my background is one of intensive water polo playing as a teenager, then into a career teaching various sports to kids. I did lots of outdoor pursuits including climbing, multi-day hiking, mountain biking and kayaking. I was a qualified personal trainer, I took up cycling for a bit, then I did some powerlifting, some more cycling, some rowing/coxing and now I do some running and some more cycling. And to finish it off, this picture is pretty much what I’ve always looked like since I grew out of my puppy fat at about 20.

I’m not saying that I don’t work hard for this. Quite the contrary. Despite having a semi-split quadricep I manage to row in my lounge several times a week, and when I’m not in copious amounts of pain I get out running or on the bike. My goal is to do the Henley Triathlon when I graduate, so I have a long term plan to work towards. I also eat pretty cleanly and healthily and I don’t drink at all mostly due to the volume of calories that alcohol has. While I am naturally particularly small and slim, I do have to try to maintain it as I creep ever closer to 30.

But where am I going with this?

I am privileged. I admit it. I don’t know what it’s like to be ‘fat’. That means that I can only ever write from the point of view of a thin person who is probably addicted to keeping trim. I’m also unlikely to ever get ‘fat’ because I’m just incredibly small boned, I enjoy sports far too much and food/alcohol isn’t a top priority of mine. (Barring serious medical condition, of course.)

On top of all that I also suffer with a reasonably mild (but I guess still serious) body dysmorphia thang. One of my main reasons for my support of the No More Page 3 campaign is that I feel it very seriously damages the mental health of young women. I made my living as a naked model for some time and it really did cause me all kinds of problems with regulating what I see as a ‘healthy’ image. I’m better now than I used to be, but there were once times when I used to even refuse a sweet or a glass of squash because I couldn’t work out how many calories were in it.

But yeah, I’m privileged. Along with my white privilege, my middle class privilege and about a million other privileges. As far as alot of people are concerned, I’m one of those irritating white women who just doesn’t get it.

On the weekend I wrote this post about my experiences with an anonymous email from a colleague asking to pay me for sex. I was… well… I was… I don’t know how I was to be honest. I can tell you one thing, I don’t remember ever feeling as low as I did. What I do know is that the next day I sat flooding my laptop keyboard with salty tears while I wrote my story and then sent it out into the world. Fuck me, I thought I was going to kill my laptop from the amount of crying that went on. I wrote quickly and I wrote from the heart. I wrote and edited over 3500 words in less than 90 minutes because I just had to get it out while I was still so angry, because I knew that otherwise I’d just shrug and not bother.

At first the comments that I got were undeniably positive. Then I started noticing that a few had started to say that I was overreacting. That was fine. Then I started finding posts pointing out my fat shaming. Eventually it started to get a bit silly and I was being messaged by friends to say that people that they knew but I didn’t were saying I was fat shaming. And some people really got quite nasty about it towards me.

Well, I’d like to apologise. As much as I hate people, I would never want to feel like I’d upset someone or put them out. However unfortunately the criticisms (and some of them really were quite nasty) got to me on top of already being asked to have sex for money by an anonymous colleague. It was a really shit weekend when everything started to stack up.

But genuinely I’m sorry if I made you feel a bit shitty. And that is an honest statement.

However I’d like to contest that I was ‘fat shaming’.

 This is what I wrote (edited for brevity):

I’d like to list some key phrases that came out of my mouth last night on the drive back from site and during the reassurance-based-hug-fest that followed:

      • If I could put on ten stone in weight for an event and then lose it straight afterwards, I would.
      • I sometimes want to deface my body and face to the point where no one would consider flirting with me. 

Now, I did highlight that these were phrases that fell out of my mouth while I was incredibly upset. I’m not saying it was right to say those things or that I fully believe them. But we all say things that we don’t quite mean when we’re upset and I assumed that people would take my statements in the spirit that they were intended; trying to highlight the fact that being ‘lrp fit’ means you get undesirable attention.

I don’t think that anyone could contest that if I weighted 18 stone, I would get hit on less at an event. I’m fairly sure that people would treat me far more as a person with a personality and be less likely to objectify me as a sex object. I never said that fat people were ugly or that they couldn’t get laid or any of those things. I was saying that if I weighed nearly twenty stone, I would be less likely to be hit on, on average. I’m reasonably sure that you can’t disagree with that statement.

For the record, I think it’s shit that our society has such a narrow view of what people are supposed to find attractive. I genuinely wish it wasn’t the case. However I also occasionally like that being the case because I can do things on purpose like shaving my head and not wearing make up so that less people find me stereotypically attractive. Unfortunately, those things don’t seem to work on a LRP field. I wish they did. Mostly because then I could do it and not be told I’m bald shaming or make up shaming.

I notice with interest though that no one accused me of ugly shaming. I mean because after all, I did say that I wish I could make myself disfigured so that people didn’t hit on me. Nor was there any mention of things like self-harm shaming or mental-health shaming with reference to the defacing of my body. Both arguably far more important than fat shaming as a concept. Or maybe people are ok with me cutting myself up to stop people hitting on me, as long as I don’t remind people that our shit society finds ‘fat’ people stereotypically less attractive.

Unfortunately, as happens on the internet, it only took one or two people to mention it and soon it seemed to get out of control and nasty with the commenting. Anyone would think that the only thing I wrote in my post about how fat chicks are ugly, from the comments made. Which of course wasn’t what I said at all.

Remember who the real enemy is.