Wikimedia Comons lingerie_addict/Twitter (Fair Use) Remix by Samantha Grasso

Here’s how to check if you benefit from thin privilege.

The body positivity movement is in a perplexing place right now. While the use of the term “body positivity” continues to grow in mainstream visibility, the movement itself seems at an impasse amid corporations trying to boost their outward inclusivity with conventionally attractive “plus-size” models. Meanwhile, in real life, people of size are still being discriminated against in interviews, doctors’ offices, and physical spaces.

On Twitter, however, one leader in inclusive attire is putting the conflation of these agendas on display, calling on people with thin privilege to analyze the ways in which their thinness continues to be approved societally, and how it also acts as a detriment to anyone who doesn’t get that same reinforcement.

In a Twitter thread, Cora Harrington, founder of the Lingerie Addict, the world’s largest lingerie blog, wrote about thinness and the opportunities that were open to people because they’re thin: Even if they themselves didn’t feel thin, they are signaled thin privilege by the way that the rest of society accommodates their bodies.

“Hey, you don’t have to ‘feel thin’ to have thin privilege,” Harrington wrote. “Thinness isn’t a feeling. If other people perceive you as thin, you are thin. If you are able to walk into any clothing store and expect to see a wide range of options in your size, you are thin.”

Harrington went on to write that she works with women thinner than her and rarely “feels” thin, but she’s reaffirmed of her thin privilege by being able to walk into any clothing store and expect to be able to purchase something in her size.

Thin privilege is also manifested in the way that other people treat people who are thin—thin people aren’t told to lose weight by strangers online, or are looked at disdainfully for eating a cookie or an ice cream cone. People with thin privilege aren’t treated negatively by strangers who have to share a space with them, such as on a plane or bus, Harrington wrote.

Corporations, too, signal the acceptance of certain bodies over others with whom they select for their edgy-but-not-too-radical “body positive” campaigns. Even if this person is someone of size, they can still have some semblance of privilege over larger people based on how well they align with the fashion industry, Harrington wrote.

Of course, this is never to say that people with thin privilege don’t face oppression in other respects. Considering intersectional identities, you might be thin but be discriminated against for your race, gender, or sexuality. Harrington, for example, said that her thin privilege allows her to find a bra her size at a store, but she still finds trouble finding a nude bra in her skin tone.

And thin privilege certainly doesn’t mean that people haven’t bullied you for your thinness, or have put you down for your size.

But it does mean that, societally, you’re still valued for the body that you have.  You can see a body like yours represented in media, even if you too face societal pressure to be even thinner. Many factors, such as the size of seats in a restaurant, or a doctor taking your health issues seriously without trying to correlate them to your size, reinforce the idea that your body is acceptable. That you have a “good” body, and that your reward is to be affirmed as such.

“It means you aren’t [denied] things like pay raises, healthcare, and airline seats because of your weight,” Harrington wrote. “It means societal discrimination and prejudice does not target you for being thin. It means your weight/body type are seen as ‘normal.'”

Harrington told the Daily Dot that she thinks it’s important for people who benefit from thin privilege, herself included, to be willing to discuss the topic openly. Particularly within her blog, talking about lingerie cannot be done without also talking about size, she said.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that if you’re a smaller size, your experience of living in the world is going to be very different than someone who’s a larger size—often in ways you don’t even realize or take for granted,” she said. “It’s not about judging people or shaming people or making people feel guilty. It’s simply recognizing that ‘OK, there are certain things I don’t have to think about when I’m living my day-to-day life, so how I can be more empathetic to people who don’t have that experience?'”

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While her tweets received thousands of reactions and were turned into a Twitter Moment, she also received negative comments from men telling her she needed to lose weight, and one that she needed to hang herself. However, she’s focusing on the positive, such as messages from plus-size people expressing relief that a thinner person understands, and from thin people who say her tweets have allowed them to think about their thinness differently.

Harrington was also adamant about her role within elevating this concept, stating that she didn’t invent it. She credited other writers, bloggers, and podcasters such as Lindy West, Gabi Fresh, Nicolette Mason, Ariel Woodson, and KC Slack, for having explored thin privilege before.

Despite the vitriol, however, many people took Harrington’s thread and added their own reflections, some elaborating on what thin privilege means for people of size.

Harrington said she hopes her thread will lead to other people shifting their perspective, recognizing their privilege, and uplifting people who don’t have the benefits of that privilege.

“I’m not trying to change the minds of people who responded to me with insults,” she said. “I wrote those tweets for the people who never thought about thin privilege and who are ready and willing to consider the idea. And I hope it helps to open their minds.”

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is an IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.