So recently the actress Kat Dennings, who is, depressingly, considered “not-thin” by Hollywood standards, made the following remark to Nylon magazine:
People are obsessed. Like, do you have anything better to do than not eat and go to the gym, you freak? I mean, ask any size zero twit if she’s read a book lately.
Not that anyone really should give a rat’s ass about social theory emerging from the mouths of 22-year-olds anywhere (ooh la la, ageism!) but as soon as I saw she said it I knew people would probably overreact, because nothing seems to annoy thin people more than people generalizing about them. (About people generalizing and stereotyping fat people they have less to say, because it doesn’t affect them.) And this commenting thread? Proved me right. A sampling?
Ok, if we as a country decide to stop stereotyping non-size-zeros, we also need to stop stereotyping size zeros. I couldn’t grow a decent set of curves if I tried, and it’s not because I starve myself and work out all the time. So piss off, Dennings, and let me finish my honors science degree.
“If we as a country”! So cute! When are we voting on this, 2012?
Oh, STFU asshole. I am a size 0, eat normally, and rarely go to the gym. I also read books, and hold a job that is substantially more intellectually demanding than appearing in such fine cinematic masterpieces as Big Momma’s House 2, The House Bunny, and The 40 year Old Virgin. Get over yourself.
Nothing is more effective than the old, “I’m smarter and MUCH LESS OF A SELLOUT than you” defense.
Fair warning: if you found yourself nodding in agreement to either of these comments you might want to stop here, because I’m about to go a bit hardline.
As the veins in my forehead began swelling I was reminded of how twitchy I got recently when SarahMC and I did this post about thin privilege. (FYI, we were later informed about this post, with a similar title, and I think I speak for both of us when I say it’s recommended reading.) What was I annoyed about? I felt like I had been hijacked. Being a white ciswoman from a privileged economic class, it ain’t all that often my hackles get raised in this specific way by anybody who is not in possession of a penis. Usually, with some exceptions (I’m lookin’ at you, Palin) women can be counted on to be on my side. But I gotta tell you, from this side of the fence, it really sucks that when I complain about the way society shames me and makes me feel about my body – on the “objective” grounds of “science” and “health” – the response I get from thin women is almost universally, “oh, but let me tell you about the time I totally hated this bikini I tried on, that happens to everybody.”
No, it doesn’t. Correction: no, it goddamn doesn’t. You tried on the bikini. I didn’t even bother. It wasn’t going to fit me or look in any vague way flattering. Even if I liked the way it looked, it would be irrelevant, because people would still goddamn stare at me on the beach for having the audacity to wear it. You have the privilege of believing beauty to be subjective; every experience and run-in I have had with the culture tells me I cannot get there at the dress size I am now. You can watch movies about eating disorders where people with body shapes that have been societally identified as “healthy” develop eating disorders. You can identify with them and say “ah, I have body dysmorphia!” Whereas I just see those movies and know that I am, indeed, fat, by any standard of the term. My seeing myself as fat, if it is a delusion, it is a collective one: it is not in my head. I am not fat only to myself. I am fat to the store clerks who eye me up and down and ask, “Shall I get you an extra large?” I am fat to the men who will never date me even if they think my face is pretty. I am fat to the designers who have no idea how to make clothes that suit my shape. I am not only fat in my head.
And no, you are not being a sufficient ally to the not-thin when your only response to them – when they raise their voices in legitimate anger about the fact that it is they who are expected to behave differently rather than the people who use their size against them – is to think about yourself. To get offended on behalf of thin women everywhere when the comment was clearly not directed at you. Or to generalize the problem (“all women should love their bodies”). Sure the problem exists at a general level. Sure this is a feminist issue. But it’s not a feminist issue only because you happen, yourself, to feel some of its effects. It’s a feminist issue because, goddamnit, it should make you angry to see me put down this way. It should bother you independently of any injury to your sense of self. I wish I had some vague clue as to why it doesn’t seem to.
And you know, even now, writing this, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to read the comments on this thread without getting extremely upset. Because I know that someone is going to come in and tell me that I am starting the oppression Olympics by maintaining that this society’s specific and targeted oppression of fat people is a problem worth acknowledging. I know that I will contrast them with the supportive comments my fellow Harpy sarah.of.a.lesser.god deservedly got on her ED post. I know that someone will say, “The important thing is health,” as if I didn’t know that. And I know that it will feel like you don’t give a shit about what fat people go through, every day, often at from your own mouth whether or not you actively bodysnark. Because when you say nothing about the general condition of this society, which is to say that thin bodies are privileged over fat ones, you are silently aiding and abetting its continued hegemony.