„Thin Privilege“ – Welchen Unterschied Schönheit macht

Eine Anhängerin der Privilegientheorie hat plötzlich Privilegien, und zwar „Dünnen-Privilegien“. Sie hat stark abgenommen und die Umwelt nimmt sie anders wahr.
Hier einmal ihre körperliche Veränderung:

Frau von Dick zu dünn

Frau von Dick zu dünn

Sie sieht auf meiner Sicht wesentlich besser aus. Das obere rechte Bild dürfte ihren dicksten Zustand wiedergeben, das untere rechte ihren dünnsten Zutstand.

Was daraus folgte beschreibt sie hier:

At the age of 29 I had already traveled the world, successfully pursued several degrees in Women’s Studies, was in the process of developing a meaningful career, married the love of my life, and had three beautiful daughters. Yes, I was obese –morbidly obese according to the doctors’ charts – but I had never let my weight stop me from pursuing my dreams. In fact, my weight was part of who I was and had been part of my journey up until that point. I have always believed that beauty can be found in all sizes and spent many enjoyable hours styling my plus-sized self.

My weight eventually settled at 125 pounds – a size 2 – with what one of my doctors unprofessionally referred to as a “Barbie body.” But it wasn’t just my appearance that changed. My entire life began to change as well.

Around the time the weight settled, we moved several states away and I began a new life as a thin person. My speaking and teaching career began to take off with flying colors. Suddenly I was much “better” at a career that I had already been in for over 15 years. I began to notice an acceptance and approval in people’s eyes that hadn’t been there before. And wouldn’t you know? My trip leader reviews on the next trip I led to Israel – only 18 months post-op – showed drastic and remarkable improvement.

After having spent the first 30 years of my life working on my own self-esteem to try to be the most fabulous plus sized lady I could be, now as a thin person I began to discover the cold truth of obesity discrimination. I’d been good, but I’d never been “the best” because I was fat. The more I succeeded in my new body the more I wondered how often I had not succeeded in my old one. How many opportunities had I missed because of my weight? How often had my weight really held me back? As an adult, the only life I’d known had been as an obese person, so I had no idea how badly I was being treated and judged until I was given the chance to “pass over” to the other side. Now strangers smile at me more on the street, grocery clerks call me “sweetie” and “honey,” even my student reviews and classroom registration numbers have drastically changed. Just this past spring semester my “Biblical Hebrew 2” class held the highest registration on record at my university for a second semester of this very niche subject.

I am no longer invisible or ignorable. When I step on stage or in front of a microphone and smile at the audience as my Speech 101 teacher taught me to do so many years ago, I can feel a difference: I’ve already won over the crowd before I begin to speak. It wasn’t so long ago that I had to work hard to win over my audiences and it was a challenge that I loved; slowly drawing in the audience with my wit, personal stories, and knowledge of complex subject matter. I still work hard to engage my audiences and students as I always have. It’s the only “me” that I know how to be. But I’m still consistently amazed by the instant approval that I feel from my audience as I watch them give me the once over. Thin is instantly acceptable, fat needs to prove itself. I’ve always been a woman with a lot to say, but now everyone appears to be more interested in listening.

Another drastic change was in the way I was treated by healthcare professionals. As a morbidly obese woman, any sort of doctor’s appointment created several weeks’ worth of anxiety, mostly at the thought of being weighed and the resulting fat shaming and insulting conversation that was sure to follow. Oh really? At 5”4 I’m not supposed to be 265 pounds? I had no idea! I have had doctors sneer at me, call me lazy, roll their eyes at my explanations for my obesity, and more. Worst of all, I have had some doctors use my vulnerability and desperation to lose weight to try to convince me to shell out hundreds of dollars for their special weight loss “supplements.” Since the gastric bypass, doctors have given me nothing but warm congratulatory smiles at my continued weight loss success. You are such an inspiration! Good for you!

I’m intrigued, but as a professor of Women’s Studies I am also disgusted and bear tremendous guilt at what opportunities “thin privilege” has opened up for me. Worst of all, I’m not even sure that our society is conscious of the discrimination that is inflicted on obese individuals every single day. It’s no coincidence that so many people become involved in the “size acceptance” movement after successful weight loss surgeries. The only way to change what is commonly referred to as “the last acceptable form of discrimination” is through exposure, education, and self- love. Weight loss surgery may not for everyone, but size acceptance is.

Der Text enthält einiges interessantes:

  • Die hohe Bedeutung eines guten Partnerwerts auf die Bewertung eines Menschen: Hübsche Menschen schneiden in allen Bereichen besser ab, werden besser bewertet, erscheinen sympathischer und selbst in einem sehr Umfeld wie „Biblisches Hebräisch“ kann man damit Punkte machen. Diese Wertung ist relativ unlogisch, ihr biblisches Hebräisch wird nicht besser geworden sein, aber sie passt gut zu unseren evolvierten Kriterien, die eben gerade in diesem Bereich bei Frauen auf Schönheit abstellen. (Zu Schlankheit als Schönheitsideal und deren mögliche biologische Hintergründe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Das macht deutlich, welche unterbewußten Prozesse hier ablaufen: Wir bewerten Leute gerade nach solchen Kriterien wie etwa Schönheit und übertragen das auch auf andere Bereiche, ohne das dies in der heutigen Gesellschaft wirklich Sinn machen muss. In den für unsere Evolution interessanten Zeiten hingegen kann das anders gewesen sein: Gerade schöne Frauen locken mächtige Männer an und stehen üblicherweise auch hoch in der weiblichen Hierarchie. Das alles sind gute Gründe dafür, sich mit ihnen gut zu stellen.
  • Sie ist „Angeekelt“ und fühlt „eine enorme Schuld“, weil sie ihre Privilegien nutzt und die Gelegenheiten annimmt. Ich sehe erst einmal wenig Bemühungen ihrerseits, ihre Privilegien wirklich zu hinterfragen. Sie geht nicht etwa zur Universitätsleitung und lässt sich dort einen „Dünnheitsbonus“ abziehen, damit dickere Konkurrenten im Verhältnis fairer bewertet werden. Statt dessen scheint sie – wobei wir da ja nur ein Photo haben – eher figurbetonte Kleidung zu tragen
  • Dennoch zieht sie aus meiner Sicht die falschen Schlüsse: Ihre Meinung muss richtig sein, alle anderen sind ignorante Fat-Diskriminierer.
  • Es wäre interessant, ob sie selbst dünne Leute nun auch anders einschätzt.
  • Trotz all ihrer Mühen und trotz des Umstandes, dass sie als Woman Studies Professorin auf viele Leute getroffen sein sollte, die ebenfalls die Grundprinzipien der Fat-Akzeptanz kennen, hat sie diese gewaltigen Unterschiede erfahren.