Thin Privilege, PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!!

Thin Privilege, PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!!
I got teh fats
Cut by: Davita Cuttita

Anyone who denies the existence of thin privilege is hopelessly ignorant.

I wonder how I came to recognize it. Being Black, I suppose it’s not as difficult to see when you’re getting a leg up instead of a kick down. Also, no doubt my dappling on the fatosphere has something to do with it. So let’s talk about it.

Let’s talk about thin privilege and not live in denial or with our head in the clouds anymore!

Two years ago, in fall 2006 at age 19 I began University. During that oddly cool summer after my first year was over, Grandpa Dinosaur and I worked at an amusement park. We both got plenty of exercise. I didn’t eat well most of the time—I ate anywhere between one to two (or three) cheeseburgers a day (I hid them in my big sweater pockets! Weird/gross, I know), a bottle of applejuice and if I was in the mood, some onion rings. I had cakes for dinner.

Before I go any further, let me put some things into perspective really quickly. The average Canadian woman is 5’3.4″ (161cm) and 153 pounds(69.4kg). The average American woman is 163 pounds (74 kg) and 5′ 3.8″ (162 cm) (more stats here, including males & the UK at wonderquest).

Despite all my junk food gorging, I remained 135 pounds (58.96kg) at a height of 5″7 (170.2cm).

I’m a freak

My job was fairly demanding, with me running up and down bleachers and throughout the park on a daily basis, 5—7 days a week for eight hours and I also had to walk to and from work each day (30 minutes there, 30 minutes back). Grandpa Dinosaur did the same under far more strenuous circumstances (sans junk food habits) and shrank down to under 115 pounds and became a size 3, with a height of 5’1 & 1/2.

She was a size 16 when she started.

One day, there was an Employee Desert Day! and everyone was encouraged to bring in deserts to share during lunch/break. I ordered a big ol’ cheesecake from a bakery and left it in the staff room. When I returned for lunch, the table was covered in an array of deserts and I just dug in; eating everything in sight while the managers and two of my co-workers I was on break with laughed and cheered me on. As I was ploughing through cakes and cookies; I stopped and saw something I didn’t recognize.

“What’s that?” I asked a manager.

“Apple crumble,” she answered.

“APPLES!?” I exclaimed. “Too healthy!” and grabbed some more cheesecake instead.

To this day, that sentence is a running joke with my old co-workers whenever I hear from them.

After work was over, we all decided to go to downtown Toronto and chill. We changed out of our baggy uniforms and into street clothes. As I walked out of the bathroom wearing light blue jean capris and a tight, sleeveless bright yellow shirt with part of the chest cut out exposing my popping collar bones and a bit of cleavage; the boys whistled and clapped as one of my female co-workers’ mouth dropped in shock. Suddenly, her expression turned to sadness. “What’s wrong?” I asked her, concerned. My clothes weren’t too provocative, were they? I blushed.

“How do you eat so much cake…and still look so good?” she asked.

Dumbfounded, I said “I dunno. I just think I look OK, I’m nothing special.”

During our gallivanting in the big city, my co-workers, male and female alike, showered me with compliments as cars honked and men cat-called. I felt a little bad—as far as I was concerned, everybody looked good. Why did they single me out? Plus the cat-calling was embarrassing. What about the other girls, like the 5’10 size 16 blonde girl on Jenny Craig? What about the short brunette? What about the black girl with an awesome punk hairstyle and size 12/14 figure? They were beautiful, too. I kept saying we all looked great but everyone ignored me. I asked them to stop with the compliments (I’m painfully shy at times; I don’t know how else to handle a compliment past saying “thank you”).

During that summer, I was in an accident. I had complete amnesia and to this day; am still in treatment for what I’ve suffered and take various medications to reduce various symptoms. One of the medications I was on (I’d rather not say what it was) disrupted the chemical in your brain that makes you feel full—consequently, I felt like I was starving all the time. So much so, that I was on the brink of tears from hunger pangs if I couldn’t eat and no matter how much I did; I was never satisfied. The doctors kept me from going back to school and said I was in no condition to exercise or do much else anymore (I used to ride an exercise bike sometimes). Consequently, I gained weight and in about three months time; I weighed 154 pounds; just three pounds behind my skinny Dad. I had to buy size 9 clothes instead of size 7s or 5s. In layman’s terms; I was now fat.

Yipee! What happens next, Davita?”

Well, dearest reader, my adventure through Fat Land began!

I went to visit Grandpa Dinosaur and her family. Her sister-in-law who used to compliment my thinness; suddenly went behind my back and told G.D that she thought I was “fat” and “smelly”. I was fat but smelly? Bitch, please–I shower regularly and can keep things cleaner than you do.

I went in to see the doctor and he commented on how I looked “bigger” compared to the first time he saw me. Well, he knew that these pills made people gain weight (but he never told me this; no one did, I wikipedia’d it) so what was he expecting?

My one pack-cum-slight-two-pack belly was now plush and Santa-like. My old size 7 jeans were a pain in the ass to wear and I was literally; bursting out of them anyway. I didn’t even understand how I fit into them in the first place; who bought clothes in this size? It seemed insane.

I wore Spanx beneath my jeans to keep myself in denial of my fatness.

I remember brushing my teeth one morning, my gut protruding ironically like a malnourished African child. My Dad opened the bathroom door. “Wow, you really gotta lose some weight!” he said “Don’t you care about yourself?” I can’t really remember what I said to him; at this point in my life I was so depressed. I couldn’t work, go to school, exercise, go to parties or the movies (the noise provoked my newly-acquired migraines from the accident). I was afraid to go outdoors. When you have amnesia, it’s like the whole world is new again—I remember screaming as I walked through a forest when my one of my best friends came to take me out as I was too scared to leave the house at all. The sounds, the smells, the sensations—what the fuck is that thing!? A BRANCH? What…WHY IS IT TOUCHING ME!? AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (I’m serious!)

Eversince then, whenever my father tried to guilt or shame me into going back to my regular size I would grab onto my stomach with both hands and shake it around. He’d cry out in disgust and scamper off like a little girl as I laughed deeply.

When my medication changed, and the months passed, the doctors gave me permission slowly but surely to go back to normal, young girl stuff. I decided I wanted to control something. I wanted to get a part of my past back, the little I could remember. Of course, I aimed this squarely at my body. I took up running, vegetables, brown rice and salmon steaks. I even took up hydroxycut (which I stopped shortly thereafter ‘cuz I felt like barfing when I took it) I hated running at first but I grew to like it in time.

I’m not going to lie—I’ve done unsafe things at times to achieve my goal. At one point, I was exercising for an hour and a half to two hours per day and eating only 800 calories. The weight came off, the weight came back on. I hated myself for “failing”. Just in time, I discovered the fatosphere (namely, The Rotund), read, read, read, discovered Shapely Prose; read, read, read, punched myself in the face and ate normally again while still running and biking–now for enjoyment and as a means of challenging myself—to gain endurance, to run farther so I could see more birds and trees, to smell the grass, to realize I was still capable of doing things, to realize I could control my body by making it move to new heights and strengthen itself rather than fit into size 7 jeans. I exercised to realize how lucky I was to still be alive. I ate food I thought would nourish my body and brain in an attempt to somehow try and “heal” myself. I ate food that tasted good. I ate food I could cook as I re-learned the skill and you know what? The weight still slowly came off…and stayed off. Now, I am back to square one although slightly thinner at 130 pounds.

Now my sister (drinking age is 19 here in Canada so nothing illegal is going on!), friends, and I go dancing and drinking; coming home at 3AM and quell the alcohol with drunken binging on Chinese chicken fried rice or I’ll eat half a tub of black cherry ice cream by myself. No one says anything about what I eat or when anymore, especially my father. I was finally allowed to re-attend University after a year off recovering and one day as I was getting ready to go to school in the morning, I crossed paths with my Dad in the kitchen and he said “You look so good now. You look like how you’re supposed to look.”

I love my Dad to pieces, despite his faults and ignorance. But…I couldn’t help but feel sad at his comment. I wanted to say something, anything to counter that as I recalled my belly-jiggling days a year and a half earlier; but failed. All I said was “Thanks, Daddy.” as the thin privilege ate away at me…what was wrong with me before? How does he know what I’m “supposed” to look like?

Grandpa Dinosaur’s sister-in-law now compliments my thinness, my appearance; everything. I remember when I returned to her house (I was living with her family during the school year that just ended in April and the one before) and her sister-in-law took me over to a friend’s place; showing me off. The girls complimented my skin and figure; telling me how beautiful I was and marginalized Grandpa Dinosaur (who doesn’t care about appearances for good reason!). During the year I was fat, she was painfully thin and gained back the weight (as I lost mine) in an attempt to not feel sick anymore—much to everyone’s disdain; especially in her Cambodian culture where thinness is the ideal.

I recall going with G.D. and her parents to pick out clothes for her college graduation: I was ecstatic my best friend was graduating. My joy was quelled by insults from her parents, comparing her to me. “She lost the weight, she’s thin, she can control herself! Why can’t you!?” they’d say. I didn’t feel proud, I didn’t feel better than her when they said this. I felt like shit because she’s my best friend; no one deserves to be treated so harshly. I tried to console her later when we got home but all she could say was “that’s ok, I’m used to it”.

No one should ever get “used to” that kind of shaming; that kind of abuse. I wish I could tell everyone who thought that being thin was the only way for someone to be pretty to blow it out their ass.

Thin privilege, back for another chunk of my humanity–how does it eat so much and still keep that trim figure?

I’m back into the world of the thin privileged now. With each diminshed pound, I lost my “should you be eating that?” badge and now hold “have you eaten?” and “would you like some more?” licences.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a size zero or a super-model to taste thin privilege.

How so, you ask? Easy:

I’m comfy riding on the airplane next to strangers, I fit into car, bus and train seats, restaurant booths and various other nooks n’ crannies with ease where strangers do not hesitate to sit next to me or squirm uncomfortably, grumbling when they do. No one hollers insults or throws garbage at me as I walk down the street. I go to and fro with the occasional catcalls and guys asking for numbers. I shop anywhere I want to and can usually find something in my lovely size 7 so long as it isn’t sold out. I eat like a horse. I dine out at restaurants with friends and my Russian lover-la-dah fairly frequently and it’s always the same…

The servers smile, they’re very courteous never eyeing my appearance or suggesting salads or diet whatever (like before). No one wants to ban me from dining out. I’ll order the biggest meal they have and pack it away; appetizer and desert included. My Russian lover-la-dah is thrilled of course; and so are other men I’ve dined with before him who saw my voracious appetite as an either an allegory towards the sexual (they didn’t score, don’t worry!) or just really liked knowing they didn’t have to order a small meal too and could eat and be full with a girl. Other dining experiences I’ve had include some servers even refilling my sugary drink of choice sans charge without me even asking.

At an all-you-can-eat pasta place the server once looked at me and exclaimed “Where does it all go?” after I packed away 4 plates of shrimp pasta in less than an hour and ordered a slice of triple chocolate cake to go. When I paid the bill and went to leave, I remember her saying “I wish I could eat that much and look like you.”

People use me as a tool to show off now. My family, my (gay!) friends, Russian-lover-la-dah. “Oh! She’s in university learning French! She’ll make so much money when she gets out. She’s smart, she’s funny, she can dance, she’s pretty and she eats so much but just LOOK at her! She’s {insert generic compliment here}.”

One of my friend’s is gay and as we were walking to a party last summer, he suddenly asked me to laugh really loudly as though we were having great conversation then said he was going to put his arm around my waist to “make that guy jealous” as he spotted an old co-worker he hated (that didn’t know he was gay). The guy saw us too as we laughed like jackasses and to say that his mouth dropped is an understatement. This guy looked at us as though we were made out of gold. “You’re so hot now,” my friend said, satisfied with the result of our facade. ‘I should do that more often!”

I know that this blog is called Pregnant Drug-Dealing Prostitutes, but at that point I felt fairly close to being a prostitute—“renting” out my appearance for the gratification of others.

In the office I worked in last summer, the women (my Boss and Manager) were painfully envious of me. They admired my frame juxtaposed by ample T&A. Clients wanted to take me out to lunch meetings with my Manager although I was only the receptionist and barely had anything to do with them.

I was concerned at my drop to 130 despite all the junk food I was eating like crazy. Some say it’s my exercise habits turning fat to muscle; burning it all up…maybe. I asked my doctor, worried I may be close to becoming underweight. “Are my pills making me lose weight? I read it might be a side-effect. I exercise but this seems a little excessive,” I said. He fanned my words aside. “Most people would be happy to eat whatever they wanted and still be slim, especially if pills were responsible for it,” he replied in his odd old man English “You’re not too skinny and you’re not underweight. If you want, I can give you pills to gain weight,” he joked. I seethed with rage at that point, remembering the year before and his prescription that did just that and left the room, staring at my reflection in the elevator all the way down…breathing hard, totally wanting to totally fuck someone up. I think I might’ve gotten a taco or something instead.

Thin privilege, you asshole, back for more Davita, huh? I see you trying to sneak a bite; not this time!

When I was fat, I was suddenly “smelly” and “disgusting”. Now that I’m thin again I’m “sexy” and “beautiful”.

“Thin privilege doesn’t exist” MY ASS. It does so exist, been there, done that, LIVING IT.

It’s so wrong. Fat people, I know what you’re going though. It’s bullshit but please, please stay strong and keep living life to the max—never, ever give these assholes the satisfaction; have more courage than I did.

Eat, drink and be merry. I’ll join you!

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~ by davitacuttita on May 3, 2008.

14 Responses to “Thin Privilege, PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!!”

  1. I love you even more now : )

  2. As someone weighing 400 pounds, it’s so nice to hear a thin person ADMIT this. Your post moved me, made me laugh and made me cry. I’m sorry people treat you like some sort of less-than-human sex object when you’re thin and some sort of less-than-worthy human when you’re not so thin (though to me, 153 is SKINNY – and at your height, it’s not even considered OVERWEIGHT, geesh people suck).

    Thank you for sharing that. It’s hard to feel beautiful when people treat you like a freak of nature.

  3. Bri–Thanks for reading! I love ya too! ^_~

    Juliet–Thank you very much for reading as well. As you can imagine, it was very hard to write. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it moved you…I hope other people can have the courage to admit and condone thin privilege as well. (and I loves you too!)

  4. Good post- it’s something I’ll be more aware of now. Thankyou for your writing 🙂

  5. They linked you at The F word, and I loved reading every word. Thin privilege is very very real, and I have seen it in my life, through people I love who don’t fit the mould, even if they are just a little out. Society teaches us to be so cirical, particularly women to other women, and the way people get more isolated, abused, ignored and hated the heavier they get is just wrong.

    I was already in a habit of examining my privileges, but thanks for yet another excellent post reminding us how real privilege is, and how much it affects us all.

  6. Oh wow, Anne Onne; thanks for reading and thank you so much for that wonderful comment. ^_^

    Yeah, thin privilege is incredibly real and prevailent. I felt bad for not being able to do anything about it since everytime I say something pointing it out the reaction is usually “…but you’re not fat! Why do you care?”

    I’m really glad I was able to reach some people and others (like you) see it for what it is–a very serious matter that shames and dehumanizes people.

  7. Thin privilege definitely exists. I feel like I can’t go home until I’ve lost about 100 lbs.

  8. i stumbled across this blog looking for posts about toronto and amnesia (the party)…so glas that i did. i’ve gained 12 pounds this year and it was ruining my life. it is precisely because of the privilege you describe. unlike yourself i have no T&A privilege – i have a flat chest and ass, but felt better when i used to be able to say “at least i am skinny.” i don’t know if i can ever change that about myself.

  9. Hi B,

    Thanks for reading. I know EXACTLY how you feel because I used to think the exact same way. You know what? Life’s too short—you might not be a size x but you are alive. Sometimes we have to start changing our attitude and perception of ourselves before we change anything else. Being skinny isn’t everything; isn’t that great? Live your life to the fullest and if people don’t like it; too bad so sad for them; they’re missing out.

  10. I know alllll about thin privilege…I’m well over 400 pounds now, and hell, even at 247 pounds, life was different! Men seemed to be interested. Co-workers spoke to me more often. Now, I’m invisible again until I drop the weight of course. This world really does suck more than most of the time, but all you can do is make the best of it. Thanks for the blog. I’ll be sticking around.

  11. Hi, “Yep That’s Me”!

    Glad you enjoyed the post! I had to write it to call shennanigans…on myself, hahaha. Now that we know about it I propose a day of cheeseburgers!

    Never stop making the best of life. If anyone gives you a hard time, just call me and I’ll throw hamburgers through their window…the kind with the secret sauce that gives people the shits.

  12. […] Thin Privilege, Please Don’t Eat Me! by […]

  13. I have to disagree.

    I am very thin, though healthy (you know the type…wire thin, hyperactive, fast metabolism type) and I certainly don’t find that privileges come with it. On the contrary, I find that certain types of people use it as an excuse to direct their own negative feelings at me.

    I have people, usually fat people, or normal build women who wish to be thin, act very negative to me and even bully. I’ve had people insinuate that I’m ill or anorexic and need help. (Yeah, right. Because anorexic girls can easily bench their own body weight, and squat near 2x that.) I actually had a (overweight) female friend tell me not to exercise because I was ‘already skinny, and killing myself’. I have people come up to me and ask invasive questions about how much I eat, how I stay so thin, is it healthy, etc. I’ll never forget walking into a shop aged 13 and the owner commented on my thin frame and started asking all sorts of invasive questions about what I ate, down to whether I ate many carbohydrates and did I diet.

    I also get assumed to be very physically weak and need help with even minor things. I was actually forbidden to lift plastic chairs in high school in case I hurt myself. *Plastic chairs*.

    Nope. No privilege here.

  14. Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

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