So, since yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and everyone parties and overindulges, and today is the first day of Lent, and you’re supposed to give something up, I figured I would dub it “Skinny Wednesday.” Because for some of us, we’d have to give up an awful lot to be “skinny.” And I see a lot of people saying they’re giving up sweets, desserts, refined sugar… hmmm… so are they giving it up to prove how strong their wills are, how devoted to Jesus they are? Isn’t there some secret part (or not-so-secret part) of them that’s thinking that an added benefit will be: WEIGHT LOSS. Woohoo! Skinny jeans for Jesus! Yippee! What could be better, more exciting than losing weight? Well, I can tell you, as a former weight loss junkie, there is no greater high. Watching the number go down on the scale was the best drug I ever took. Until it destroyed me, of course.
So, I ranted on Fat yesterday. Today, I rant on Skinny. Just as Fat was my own personal demon, Skinny was my dream girl, what I believed to be my true inner self – as soon as I lost enough weight, that is. Those who know me already know this, but those who don’t, I even wrote a play where the three female characters (all based on me) were named Fat Girl, Skinny Girl & Sexy Girl. (The play is called Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door and it was produced at the Psychic Visions Theatre in the summer of 2006, and again in the summer of 2009).
I remember one man I dated for five years saying to me, “Sigh – (that’s him sighing, he didn’t actually say, “sigh”) Skinny doesn’t equal sexy.” I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Of course skinny equaled sexy! Every image in the media said so. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that as soon as I was skinny enough, true happiness would be mine. And I learned the hard way that there is no such thing as “skinny enough” when you need it to provide all of your happiness, and the fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams. I mean seriously, that’s a lot of pressure to put on “skinny” – even as awesome and empowering as you might think Skinny is.
So, how awesome and empowering is it to be SKINNY? Well, I think it’s pretty awesome. I’ve been thin enough in my adult life to wear clothes I bought in the little girls’ section. Shopping IS WAY FUCKING EASIER if you are thin. Trust me on this one. My weight has fluctuated in a 70+ pound range. I know what I’m talking about. It’s easier, when buying modern clothes, to be skinny. It just is. Any skinny woman who tells you differently is lying, has no idea how hard it is to buy clothes when you’re not skinny because she’s never been fat, or doesn’t actually realize she’s skinny. (Although I will say that there is sometimes an exception if you are trying on vintage clothes from the 50s and 60s. If you are very thin, you can’t always fill them out. Shows you how much times have changed and how much our perception of “the perfect body” has changed).
So, that has me thinking about privilege. I’ve recently read two articles (don’t remember where) about privilege. One was about “white privilege.” The article was basically like, “White people need to acknowledge their white privilege.” Holy crap, I thought. I’ve already got white guilt, now I’ve got to acknowledge my white privilege? How the hell do I that? Is it okay to just say “I acknowledge my white privilege. I understand that the color of my skin makes life so much easier than it would be if it were any other color, especially here in America.” Okay. So who do I say it to? Do I bring it up at parties? Do I send an email blast to my “friends of color”? Do I approach ethnic people on the street and announce my deep, true understanding of my privilege?
Dictionary.com defines acknowledge as:
verb (used with object), -edged, -edg·ing.
Okay. So I admit it. I guess. Isn’t it kind of hard to acknowledge my white privilege when I really, truly cannot begin to acknowledge what it’s really like to be anything else? Can I show appreciation and gratitude for “being white?” Doesn’t that make me a racist? I mean sure, I can say I “recognize the existence, truth, or fact of my whiteness and its privileges” but then what? Have I made ethnic people feel better? Have I eradicated racism? Have I accomplished something? I’m left feeling as if I should apologize for the color of my skin, but that it won’t really matter in the end or change anything in the world. I’m left wishing the color of my skin, your skin, our skin really didn’t matter. If people would just stop being fucking racists, no one would have to acknowledge their white privilege, because it wouldn’t exist. Wouldn’t that be nifty?
So let me walk a mile in some shoes I understand. Fat shoes. This brings me to the other thing I read, which was about “Skinny privilege.” Same basic point: “Skinny people – i.e., those with high metabolisms that don’t have to worry about every morsel they put in their mouths because they are naturally skinny – need to acknowledge that they are privileged.” Okay, now I get it. Even when I was relatively thin, I had to torture myself to stay that way. But I still experienced a certain – freedom of movement. Like I said, shopping for clothes is easier. But no one assumed I was just this “privileged” skinny person. If they weren’t negative and critical assholes, they might ask how I stayed in such great shape, or say things like “you obviously take care of yourself.” (The irony is that I’m “healthier” now than I was then because mentally, emotionally and physically, I’m not as self-destructive. But most people would probably think the other, thinner me looked “healthier.”)
So, with my sluggish metabolism, which is partly genetics, made even worse by years of bingeing and purging, and now middle-age and hypothryoidism, I don’t have to eat very many calories to maintain my “voluptuous” body. Lucky me. And yeah, sometimes I want to stab skinny women right in their prominent rib cages when they talk about the bag of Oreos they ate for dinner while pointing out how baggy their size 4 jeans are fitting them lately. So, what should I do? Force them to acknowledge their skinny privilege? Acknowledge it bitch! Just admit it! Come on! What if they do? If all the skinny people just come up to me and acknowledge how privileged they are, will I feel better? Maybe for a second. Hey, thanks for noticing I’m fat and you’re not! But then what? Will it raise my metabolism? Will it take me down a dress size? Will it mean I can eat as much as I want without gaining weight? No.
If by “acknowledging” one’s skinny or white privilege, one is somehow implying that “it’s better to be white and/or skinny” then aren’t we taking a step back from true progress by doing so? What if Fat and Black became the new White and Skinny? What if no one had to apologize for their appearance anymore?
As empowering as it is to say “No” to any more dieting or self-torture to maintain what is for me, an unrealistic and impossible body type, I can hazard a guess that “skinny” has its privileges. So does “white.” That’s just the way our world still is.
So, to the Black/Latin/Asian/Middle Eastern/Native American/Eskimo/etc community: I acknowledge my white privilege.
To the “skinny” community: You owe me an acknowledgement.
I guess if you are skinny & ethnic, we can call it even.
But seriously, if “skinny” wasn’t treated better than “fat” we wouldn’t need to acknowledge that “privilege” either.
Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I hope we can just get past all this stupid shit someday, and just “imagine all the people.”
That’s it. Just imagine them.
What do they look like?
Happy Skinny Wednesday, all you people who are privileged enough to be breathing, right…. now.