Let’s Chat: Fat Phobia & Size Privilege

I was scrolling through Instagram trying to decide why I bother to utilize the app when I stumbled upon the following post:

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Going from a size 28 to 18 has given me a tiny glimpse into how fat phobia has affected me my whole life. Here’s an example:
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First, for those of you who are new here, I have a video called “about my weight loss” where I talk about losing over 100 pounds while staying body positive. I was terrified to release the video but I knew I had to. You can watch it at CeceVlogsHere.com
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Now, the example:
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I have never felt comfortable “dressing down”. I was scared of looking sloppy
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In the early 2000’s, I didn’t bother to look for a plus size velour sweatsuit like JLO because I felt the the outfit wouldn’t be seen as “sexy” on my fat body
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Am I making sense here?
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Even for casual BBQs, I’d wear a dress. Never a T-shirt/shorts
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Because we are conditioned to celebrate weight loss, I think it’s easy to forget how unfair life is in a bigger body. I’m determined not to forget… my work depends on me not forgetting
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Having been a size 24, 26, 28 through most of my life, I’m a size 18 for the first time and I’m seeing that somehow this size is more “acceptable fat”
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I have to call this out because I have privilege now that I didn’t have before and this is not okay
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I now feel a lot more comfortable wearing a cute sweatsuit on a Friday night or to brunch and because my body is smaller I know I won’t be perceived as sloppy
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I’ve worn this sweatsuit to establishments where I SHOULD have been turned away at the door for breaking dress code… and I was let in
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When I was a size 28, I would serve LOOKS in certain spaces and no one complimented me. Now at a size 18 I wear a simple turtleneck tucked into jeans to those same spaces and people GUSH over my outfit
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I always say that white people have to use their privilege on behalf of those of us who don’t have it
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I don’t have thin privilege, obviously. But being in this smaller fat body does allow me access to things/people that I wasn’t getting before
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Fatphobia is very real
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I’m fighting harder for us now that I’m seeing that it wasn’t all in my head. Just wanted to let you know… I ain’t forgot
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Am I alone here? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

I immediately scanned the comments and wasn’t surprised to see the outpouring of women who could relate; on the smaller and larger spectrum. I was  even one of those women who could relate.

 

I used to be an “acceptable plus body” not too long ago. I was able to shop in stores and wasn’t relegated to the world of online shopping. As someone who’s weight has fluctuated up and down my entire life; I am all too familiar with the differences in privilege.

 

My experiences consist of being applauded for my confidence for simply doing things that straight size body people do like breathing, wearing shorts, leaving my house etc. The oxymoronic nature of these compliments speak volumes to how people systemically view fat bodies.

 

I am applauded for simply existing comfortably in my body because society is ingrained to believe that when you are my size you are somehow unworthy of the luxury of loving yourself. People will applaud me but in the same breath cringe at the thought of ever having to be in my shoes without so much as an inkling of what my medical chart looks like.

 

When you exist in a body like mine, you are assumed to be unhealthy, an over eater, lazy and you must absolutely have low confidence; anything else is a false image you portray in order to mask the the misery you must truly feel on the inside.

 

 Some of the worst offenses though, stem right from the plus industry.

 

These brands that preach inclusiveness while only showcasing the least offensive bodies possible. Proportioned women with smaller waist hip ratios, minimal fupas and just enough cellulite to be considered “plus”.

 

They include up to a 3x and believe that going so far as to include a 26 is an innovative notion and worthy of a social media campaign including a hashtag!

 

And the plus community eats it right up singing along their “yaasss” choruses. And if you fall into that acceptable plus body range why wouldn’t you? But for those of us who are in extended sizes with “unacceptable” plus bodies; these wins don’t include us 90% of the time.

 

The plus industry is consistently sending us the message that bodies like mine are not tolerable.

 

There are a million bloggers out there these days; many claiming the plus size label because it gives them a platform and an angle even if their plus size is a 12. When you call them out for their masquerading and privilege they hide behind the “body positive” language quick.

 

I appreciated CeCe’s post because she understood her privilege and is using her platform to call out the differences which makes her an ally. That is what I want to see more of in the plus industry- ALLIES.

 

Yes every woman who is past a size 10 can claim plus size; but in doing so can you claim your privilege too? Stop acting as if you are fighting the same war of equality as those  who are on the larger end of the plus spectrum because you are not.

 

If you can walk into a store, find your size, see representation of yourself in campaigns then perhaps it’s time you invest a little of your privilege in ensuring your larger counterparts receive the same.

 

Don’t get me wrong, even at my size I understand I have a privilege. I’m considered reasonably attractive and have been told at varying weights I “carry it well”. This makes my size more palatable to some people and I understand that. So I don’t hesitate to utilize my privilege to give a voice to those who feel silenced within the spaces that are supposed to be safe for them.

 

If you’re reading this, here are some takeaways I’d like you to retain:

 

  •   Avoid applauding fat people for daring to exist
  •    Use your privilege to help others get equal footing
  •    Stop using the plus size label as a trendy way to become an influencer
  •    Support your extended size bloggers and influencers content
  •    When your family or friends engage in fatphobia call them out

 

As long as society feeds into the standard of beauty being synonymous with being of a smaller size, fatphobia will always exist; but that doesn’t mean you have to participate.