This is not like my other posts, where I am relentlessly positive even in the midst of self-doubt, where I end up feeling somehow triumphant in some way. This is actually a repost of a Facebook post I made a year ago, and repeated the other day. (So if you saw it on my page, no need to read it here again.) I’m posting it here because it’s still true, and it’s important to me, and because I hope this might widen the audience who sees it and who maybe will understand, people who never thought about such things before. Indulge me this momentary departure, please.
A year ago, I came upon a blog post by Melissa A. Fabello that really hit home with me.
It was this: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/10/lets-talk-about-thin-privilege/
(Yeah. She wrote this in 2013 and nothing’s really changed.)
For me, the point of it is that I *could* talk for years about what I’ve felt, gone through, been treated as, told, etc. There’s no point, so I don’t. First world problems and all that. It’s just me, whinging and bitchy, and that’s not constructive at all, so get over it, brat. So when I saw this article, it was finally something that takes it out of the personalization sphere. Whether you agree or not with the premise, it’s a sociological discussion, a cultural debate, part of a larger one about the meaning, trappings and form of privilege in our society (and subsequently, perhaps, what does one do about it). It’s not just Valerie being whiny or bratty or woe is me, which I try not to be, at least not publicly. I’d rather retreat and disappear than do that. I hope I never come across as this wounded or broken. I hope I come across as confident and happy and fun and usually I am… but this is always there, like the backdrop of the stage that is always resting at the very back when the other ones are pulled away and used up.
I have never heard this described so well as in this article… and maybe it explains why, no matter where I go, what I do, what happens, why I just can’t seem to climb all the way out of this damn self esteem hole, even when I’m happy or good things happen (and I’ve had well more than my share!) I eventually get sucked back in. Because I have grown up with this as a moral issue. That I am bad because I am big. That I am undeserving of love, respect, simple acceptance. That last part… I struggle with that, it continues to this day. That’s hard when you are an off the charts extrovert. The happiness with my body – or with myself, IN my body – and the amount of power I let it have over me (because it gets tiring lobbing self-empowering messages at yourself all the time in the face of overwhelmingly negative ones) is a constant struggle.
To add to the article, the loud, vocal, in your face shaming messages as well as the silent but obvious reminders that you don’t fit in, literally: To be ridiculed while running or exercising. To be told by a doctor that you obviously don’t exercise, and if you protest that you do, that it’s not working and why bother. To be told by a doctor that your size is the culprit for your problems (problems: ear infection, strep throat). To never know if you will find clothing to wear, and if you do, whether you will have to pay more for it, whether it will lack style or quality control, or whether you will be relegated to the “special” area of the store or to mail order – because the store will sell its cheap, crappily made (and yet, much more expensive) stuff to you, but it doesn’t want to see your size in its actual stores. Double this for exercise wear, where if you are female you are probably relegated to buying ill fitting men’s clothing. (Why are women’s running clothes so small, so that a 100-lb. woman needs to wear a large and they only go to XL, maybe? Why do race shirts go to 2x for men and only xl for women? Why is there no acknowledgement that runners come in all shapes and sizes? Because we do.) To be in a group of friends and they talk about food, or nutrition, or being overweight, and you don’t even know how to respond or what to say so you clam up because anything you say in any direction comes back to point the finger at you as… one of the things they are all trying to avoid. Do they even realize this, do they think of me as their fat friend?
Again to quote my friend, who said it better than I ever could: If you’re one of the lucky ones to have not lived with this or other size-shaming shit, you are likely the recipient of “thin privilege” and I envy you. I wish that were me.