I benefit from thin body privilege. That is the raw truth. I can't sit here and write an article about the "struggles" I have faced because it is a known fact that society caters to thin to average body types, while disregarding anybody past that. For example, seats on a plane—need I say more? Southwest Airlines requires people that cannot lower the armrest, due to taking up more space than given, to buy a second seat. They call this policy "Customers of Size."
Furthermore, the daily language we use tends to fat-shame without us even realizing it at times.
We may not be bluntly saying, "hey, you're fat!" but maybe we are saying, "just work out," "you're not fat! You're beautiful," "I lost weight!" or "you have such a pretty face!" Statements like these are triggering for many, and unfortunately we have been socialized to see the world through a thin-body lens, believing that's the only way to be healthy, pretty, and socially acceptable. I have done it, you have done it, we've all done it, and it's time to do better.
I have always been skinny, and petite since the day I was born. My parents joke about being able to carry me with one hand because I was so tiny, and I still am. I was looking through pictures of when I was child, and I looked more unhealthy rather than just regular skinny. It was weird, but nobody ever shamed me about it. What if I would've been anorexic? Or would have been going through an eating disorder? Many would not have realized it because I was naturally so skinny, and it was not seen as a bad thing, whereas with my younger brother it was the total opposite. He was a 12 pound baby at birth and he always received messages from family members that dealt with needing to lose weight if he wanted to "get a girl" and be liked by someone one day.
These messages are in our everyday lives via language, culture, and the media.
However, I did not always want to be thin. As an Afro-Latina woman, I internalized that womanly curves are what men wanted. They are seen as more "desirable," although the con is that they cannot have a tummy, because, according to European beauty standards, body-shaming culture, and patriarchy, beauty is only a pretty face, C-cup breasts, 23-inch waist, big hips, big butt, and thick thighs. That is more of a struggle than I would ever go through. While this type of woman definitely exists and ought to be celebrated just as much, the way my body is set up—I'm never going to get there. And that is okay.
It took me a while to realize that the craze for thick women was somewhat faulty, because even plus-sized models are not allowed to be real. If they have love handles, sagging skin, cellulite, or stretch marks, then that's not the type of "thick" men want. It always returns to "what do men want," and that annoys the living heck out of me.
Can we literally just LIVE?
While body-shaming was not my struggle, I dealt with cystic acne as a teenager and in college, which in turn caused me to have crater-like scars on my cheeks. I continue to be very self-conscious about my skin, however, I have gradually learned to love my flaws because who else better to love me than myself? I have my "today I feel pretty" days and my "I don't feel pretty today" days, and that's okay. I'm human, and I will write my own story.
I do acknowledge that both ends of the spectrum can get body shamed (i.e. "real men like curves, only dogs go for bones"), and that is uncontrollable, but saying that I "struggled" seems more whiny to me. Similar to light-skin privilege, thin people have the ability to still be accepted in a world that sees the skinny end of the spectrum as preferable than being fat, regardless if that thin individual has a low self-esteem or is self-conscious of his or her body.
Beauty standards suck, and because of that I will forever love and celebrate the imperfectly perfect woman.
For more on Irma's Body Positive journey, follow her on ig!
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