Sunday, 27 September 2009

Fat Privilege

When Peggy MacIntosh decided to unpack what she calls the knapsack of white privilege, it was her knapsack. Twas an insider's view. That original inspiration has morphed into people unpacking other people's knapsacks. The results have sometimes not been pretty.

For the same reason that some emit the edict to "check your privilege", it's not just the 'privileged' who have to check themselves out. It's those who are calling it out. They too are as capable of being full of shit and plain wrong as anyone else. Being disadvantaged/oppressed doesn't purify your character or mind OK? Nor should be expected to.

Peggy Mac's version of the concept has some use. But like any there's a point when it disintegrates and is overly or misapplied. Then it serves to obscure more than it illuminates. As I have said before, I feel that "thin privilege" is a brilliant example of where that line occurs. Whatever you feel about this kind of privilege-that of unfair, unearned advantages (whatever that means) as opposed to the Derridan sense of it as a certain condition or state that is accorded certain status over and above others, I wondered what about fat people, do we have any unearned advantage over others?

Now please do not think I'm doing this merely to be mischievous. It is a legitimate thing to consider. And as so many are telling others, privilege is nothing to get the hump about. So, what could possibly be the point of such a seemingly absurd proposition as fat privilege? Well, it's occurred to me for a while, but I've struggled to find a way to express that despite or sometimes because of  the way society dogs fat people, there are things about it and the experience of it that are worthwhile.

The underlying problem I have with putting the fat experience into the category marked, oppression is-apart from the fact that I don't believe that we are, yet- and I think they should be named in case we do.

The fat as oppressed, takes us down a road that I can tell is not a good idea. It doesn't represent us realistically and I think after succumbing so long to the convenient lies of others, we not only deserve better. I do not believe that fat people are the poorest of the poor, disproportionately, I think that we are more likely to be the working or aspirant poor and a bit more.

So, back to a prospective list of fat privilege; physically is its potentially stabilizing effects on mood. From alleviating depression to an anti-psychotic effect etc., weight gain seems to stop or slow you from sinking into a mire. Without the side effects of alcohol and drugs which mess up your chemical balance and ability to function. This might be part of the reason why we are less likely to commit suicide than other weight groups.

It also seems to have potentially stabilizing effect overall in terms of life in general, though this could be partly repression. That smothers bad as well as good behaviour.

Having had less access to the product of the labour of today's version of indentured servitude- i.e. sweat shops, we have less of a burden of guilt about that kind of capitalist exploitation. We are more likely to be seen as approachable and non threatening. Less likely to be seen as a threat in terms of looks, less likely to be a recipient of that kind of hostility. Our gender identity is more likely to be seen as distinct, therefore convincing than thin people's. We are more able to be seen as an experience sexually, due to our size. We can be perceived as more responsible, solid citizens, especially at a younger age, when it maybe counts more. Less prone to niggling ailments, such as colds etc., More likely to be seen as a nicer person.

More likely to know the futility of the weight loss diet canard, therefore more likely to be liberated from mindless obedience to authority. Less likely to be an alcoholic =less likely to be an illegal drug user, therefore, less likely to have trouble with the law, be in prison.

There's a quality about fatness that can be hard to replicate, hence the french saying that a woman should look thin, but feel fat.

More likely to be seen as a force to be reckoned with, more intimidating. By this I mean that if your body instinctively uses it's capacity to gain weight to either help stave off potential or actual mental crisis, those who can't call on this option may have to pay for it.

Now for the reverse I'm speculating from what I've managed to glean from less fat people themselves. So it's up to them to correct me on this. They think, we're freer, from being liked for ourselves. Freer to eat what we want (projection). Freedom's a theme here.

No comments:

Post a Comment