I’m white, I have an upper-middle class background, I have a college degree, and I even have health insurance.  I know privilege.  (Don’t get it twisted; I’m not high above the poverty line, either, but I’m not one to play the “I work at a non-profit and I have black friends, so don’t you dare call me privileged!” card.)  But there’s an element of privilege that is often overlooked because it’s so ingrained and so subtle–at least for people who are on the right side of it.  I have thin privilege. I don’t weight much over 100 lbs, I have a small frame, and I can wear single-digit sizes in both regular and juniors’ clothes. And I don’t really do anything to be that size other than live with a decent metabolism and genes from generations of small people on both sides of my family, and occasional workouts. I could go into a senior thesis’ worth of my philosophy of fat acceptance, but suffice to say that I realize that no one has any more or less control over her body than I do.

I practice yoga constantly, and the other night, I was enjoying a grueling practice with 15 or so other yogis. The teacher opened the studio windows so that the Georgia night could join the class, and I felt ridiculously strong in my warrior II pose. I also felt ridiculously sweaty. I rolled my pants up, sorority-style, in one large cuff that extended up to my thigh. My forehead was sprouting droplets of sweat that trickled and tickled down my nose and onto my rapidly saturating mat. The hem of my poor tank top couldn’t keep up with the brow-mopping in which I employed it. I gave thanks, though, for my short hair, a cut that I got partially because of yoga, and slicked it back with my sweat. You’re right–it was a gross scene. And in the midst of all of that perspiration coordination, I noticed that not one of the other 15 practitioners was nearly as sweaty. And as gross as I was, I have no doubt that I was less gross and more acceptable than I would have been if I had weighed fifty pounds more. It’s not my belief, but I’m not blind to the fact that a fat person exerting herself to the point of excessive sweating is far less kosher than a thin one. I was lucky enough to acknowledge my abundance of sweat, enjoy my effort, and go on with my practice. Even if no one else actually cared or noticed, I had the luxury of not even concerning myself over whether my perspiration was offending anyone.

The same thing goes for crunches we do in yoga. I hate doing crunches. The logical side of me knows that I need to do them in order to have a holistic practice, and while I don’t care whether I can do a sit up, I do care if I can do a standing-drop back (which I can’t, because I don’t do crunches). But I’m not always logical, and yoga is about being where you are, so sometimes, I just lie there quietly while the rest of the class does their crunches. And let’s face it; I can get away with it because my stomach is relatively flat as it is. It’s easy to assume that I have ab muscles. Just like it would be easy to assume that a fat person had none whatsoever, and was skipping crunches out of laziness. In reality, there are probably a good deal of fat people who have more ab strength than I do and who are far less lazy than I am. And they probably coulnd’t always escape judgement or not doing crunches. (Yoga is also about non-judgement, but human nature is pretty much about judgement.)

Following another recent yoga class, I had to stop by Target to pick up a prescription. And because I was exhausted and starving, I also picked up a bag of Archer Farms mesquite BBQ kettle chips, and I ripped them open as soon as I got into my car, and I literally stuffed my face for the entire drive back to my apartment. And I loved every minute of it. And I probably don’t need to go into a deep analysis of why this wouldn’t be quite so easy for me to do if I were fat. And I’m not saying that each and every fat person is a victim of what I’ve enumerated, nor am I saying that not one person ever judges my sweaty and gluttonous self, but I am saying that I have it relatively easy, and I don’t agree with that.

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