Ask Aunt Fattie: Why was I left out of the fat girls’ weekend getaway?

Dear Aunt Fattie,

Last summer one of my best friends (we’ll call her K) spent the day at the beach with another group of girls we hang out with. I was unable to go, but would normally have been there. That day they had a great time hanging out, drinking Bloody Marys. The three of them came up with a name for their group: “Big Girls Beach Club” or BGBC for short. K, the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities. Fast forward to this summer…this weekend they have plans to go again. Since K and I invite each other EVERYWHERE (the laundromat, the mall, out to dinner EVERYWHERE), I assumed I would be invited as well.

After having lunch together at work today, I brought up this Saturday. I was not so politely reminded it’s “the BIG girls’ beach club.” After a minute of my silence and clearly looking hurt, K not so sincerely told me I could come “if I wanted to,” but if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.

This is a woman I spend 40 hours a week with at work, never mind social time. She knows I’m struggling with my OWN body issues. She knows I’m trying to work through accepting myself and my body for who I am. Beyond the insensitivity, i just don’t know how to handle the situation.

- Not-So-Big Beach Bunny

When people first learn about privilege, they tend to feel personally taken aback. “But I don’t try to profit from being white, or male, or able-bodied,” they say. “Why are people taking it out on me?” Perhaps unfortunately, you don’t have to feel like part of the dominant culture or mean to be part of the dominant culture for people to react to you as part of the dominant culture. That means that you’ll get special treatment from some people, while others — the ones without privilege — might be inclined to circle the wagons.

As a thin woman, you are a member of a dominant culture, and what’s going on here is that a member of an oppressed group sees you trying to impinge on a space she’s carved out for other members of that group. She may worry that you’re slumming, or just that your presence will change the tenor of the weekend. (Even the most feminist man might not be welcome at a girls’ night out.) She handled it badly; she should have been more gentle and communicative, and most importantly, she should not have included you in plans last year only to break them this year. She is not being up front and she is not being true to her word. But once you glimpse the root causes of her defensiveness, her actions, however ham-handed, are understandable. What’s going on at the BGBC is not just a bunch of women having a good time on the beach. The moment they acknowledged their mutual bigness, it also became a protective enclave. Aunt Fattie can’t say whether your friends see the “Big Girls’ Beach Club” as a place to encourage each other to lose weight, a place to bond over the difficulties of living in a fatphobic society and encourage one another to stay positive, or just a place to feel unthreatened by the bikinis of their compatriots. Most likely, it’s some combination. But it does not occupy the same emotional space for them as it would if it were just Girls’ Beach Club.

Your friends, or at least K, felt threatened when you invited yourself along. This doesn’t mean that you were acting in a threatening way, or that you are in any way a threatening person. K knows about your struggles with body image, so she knows that you would be compassionate (though she might also worry that, consciously or unconsciously, you would be using the presence of fat girls in bathing suits to bolster your own self-esteem). But what got her hackles up was the worry that simply sharing her safe space would make it not safe anymore. In this case it’s just not about you — it’s about your friend rushing to defend something that felt safe, if insular, in a world that frequently feels hostile.

This is obviously an important friendship, so there’s no harm in talking about your hurt at the way she handled it — “I understand why you would rather not have me along for Big Girls’ Beach Club, but I wish you hadn’t been so abrupt when I asked. It made me feel unwelcome. I still want to spend time with you guys, though, and it sounded so idyllic last summer. Can we do All Girls’ Beach Club some weekend?”

If you’ve got your own questions on fat, fatshion, fatiquette, self-esteem, or body image, send them to auntfattie@gmail.com.

287 thoughts on “Ask Aunt Fattie: Why was I left out of the fat girls’ weekend getaway?

  1. Right on, Aunt Fattie. I just want to add, too, that since we don’t know much about NSBBB’s size, it’s possible that she has never thought of her body as small before and that there might be some cognitive dissonance going on, too. This is just speculation, obviously, but it can be hard to remember that even though all women are oppressed by fatphobia and the beauty ideal, being oppressed by and having privilege according to that ideal are not mutually exclusive.

  2. Even my best of friends do things without me sometimes. Isn’t there anybody else that the poster can go to the beach with?

  3. There is nothing that hurts my own struggles with my body issues more than a skinny friend struggling with her body issues aloud and to my face.

    That is not to say that my skinny friends’ struggles are not valid. The majority of women have a hard time accepting their own bodies. Unreachable standards of beauty in our society make it so even gorgeous girls think they are fat and hideous. This is horrible and wrong.

    For some women it isn’t just that they themselves think they are fat and hideous, it is also that society at large thinks they are fat and hideous (And doesn’t hesitate to remind them at every conceivable opportunity.) So not only are they struggling with their OWN body issues they are struggling with everyone else’s issues with their body too.

    And sure you can feel that way too even if you are skinny, but that doesn’t make you actually fat. The experience of being actually fat versus “I think I’m fat” may be similar, but it is not the same. And I think maybe your friend just wants to be around some girls with the same experiences as her for a while. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t value your friendship, but people need more than one friend, and sometimes those friends need to be kept separate.

    Besides, can you imagine sitting around on the beach with three big girls in swimsuits and joining into the conversation with complaints about the size of your thighs or whatever? They would likely just want to forcefully submerge you in the nearest body of water.

  4. Ugh. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree here. What her friend did to her was RUDE and totally unacceptable. If she had simply said that it was just a weekend for her and her other friends, FINE. But to tell her that she must be THIS FAT to join, hell no. Do we fat chicks have to hate ourselves THAT MUCH that we have to put down people who are thinner than us to try to make ourselves feel better?

    Just because someone is fat, does not give them carte blanch to be size-ist to everyone else. If I were the letter writer, I would no longer associate with someone who felt it was OK to treat me so poorly, and find some new friends who accepted me no matter what my size.

  5. Do we fat chicks have to hate ourselves THAT MUCH that we have to put down people who are thinner than us to try to make ourselves feel better?

    I disagree that’s putting her down – it’s not saying “We don’t want to hang out with you because you’re thin,” it’s saying – well, everything Aunt Fattie said, about wanting a safe space for their size.

    Not to say the friend dealt with it perfectly and wasn’t a bit rude in her conveyance of the message. (Sounds like she was taken aback by her friend wanting to go and didn’t have a polite explanation of the weekend prepared, to me.)

  6. Great explanation of the emotions behind these kind of things, Aunt Fatty. I’ve felt the sting of being left out, but this reminds me that it usually is about more than just “not being liked.”

    We can’t always be in be in sync, even with loved ones. The best relationships make room for that. Her friend handled it clumsily though, and should have talked to her and been more sensitive about how it would make her feel to be excluded.

  7. They would likely just want to forcefully submerge you in the nearest body of water.

    Heehee!

  8. I guess as an ethnic minority who “passes” for white, maybe I can shed a bit of insight on the situation. By ancestry, I am a person of color (PoC). My maiden name is such that before I took my husband’s name, I would receive mailings and telemarketing calls in Spanish. Two generations ago, all of my ancestors on my father’s side were born in Mexico. However, by skin color I look “white” and am afforded white privilege accordingly. As much as I would like to associate with others of my ethnic background and other PoC, I have to accept that I don’t belong in their non-white safe spaces because at least by skin color, I am white. Doesn’t matter where my ancestors are from or that I don’t come from socioeconomic privilege (which carries its own issues), I still have white privilege and need to respect PoC’s need for a safe space.

    I see a very similar situation here. No matter that the OP is struggling with body image, she still benefits from thin privilege and doesn’t belong in a safe space created by and for those who do not have thin privilege. That said, her “friend” behaved very rudely and I’m not sure I’d keep her as a friend if I were the OP.

  9. “I disagree that’s putting her down – it’s not saying “We don’t want to hang out with you because you’re thin,” it’s saying – well, everything Aunt Fattie said, about wanting a safe space for their size.”

    How is saying “After a minute of my silence and clearly looking hurt, K not so sincerely told me I could come “if I wanted to,” but if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.” NOT putting someone down? It’s one thing to be taken aback and giving an awkward reason for not inviting someone, but it’s quite another to say “if you do this we’ll un-invite you.”

    THAT is what really irked me. Rude, and probably showed her true colors very clearly, IMHO. Having a “fat girls weekend” is no excuse for acting like a b*tch towards your other friends.

  10. I’m with evilsciencechick: having a safe space is a fine desire, but the way they went about it was just plain rude. It came across to me as “we’re so glad you weren’t able to make it before – we found out just how nice it was without you and so we’d like to keep it that way”. Yep, there’s nothing like knowing for sure you’ve been demoted to the B list.

  11. I’m with evilsciencechick. While the friend has a perfect right to hang around with her fat friends if she wants to, and even to exclude her thinner friends if she thinks there’s some point to that, there was no excuse for the rudeness and hostility described here.

    In fact, to even let someone hear about a social event to which they are not invited is, as the great Miss Manners says, rude, rude, rude. That may have been unavoidable in this case, but then the fat friend should certainly have been as kind and civil as possible about the policy change, and understand that hurt feelings are entirely reasonable.

    It sounds like the larger women took a time when the letter writer happened not to be around to make size a qualifier for inclusion in their group. This is their prerogative, as I say, but they have no right to be surprised or indignant that it is hurtful to a person who, through no fault of her own, was a regular part of a group and is now excluded.

    And, though I understand the point about the dominant culture, it seems odd to battle for inclusion by excluding people. I haven’t been thin since I was 8, but I don’t imagine that being thin or thinnish is enough to make up for being abruptly dumped by people you thought were friends.

  12. I’m with evilsciencechick here – I was actually surprised to see Aunt Fattie give the fat friend so much slack. If they had all discussed going to the beach together before, and then decided that NSBBB would make their day less fun, they owed it to their friend to explain that in a kinder way. That’s part of the whole “friend” thing – caring about other people’s feelings. Being thin does not provide some magical protection against hurt feelings, and “thin privilege” shouldn’t be used as an excuse to treat a skinny friend like crap.

  13. ha! that was so not planned, I swear. I started typing “I’m with evilsciencechick…” before any of the other comments posted.

    evilsciencechick, it looks like you have a posse.

  14. I have to concur with evilsciencechick. I don’t see this as an issue of privilege. This was flat out rude. The trip to the beach, according to the letter, began life as a group thing with no one excluded. The author couldn’t go because of another commitment. It was perfectly reasonable for her to expect to be included in the future. She didn’t “invite herself along,” she thought she would be welcomed as she would have been before.

    Then this “friend” tells her in a move worthy of a kindergartener, “We don’t want to let you into our club.” The author seems to have not been aware of this feeling until it smacked her in the face. I’m going to assume she’s mentioned the beach trip before this and never been told that she wasn’t welcome until this point, which is exclusionary and cruel.

    I’m not devaluing the importance of safe spaces or the comfort involved when you feel as though you are among your peers and not being judged. I remember the first time I encountered a group of people who were “like me” and how that made and still makes me feel. It’s important to have that and if these three women can carve out a safe space together occasionally, that’s wonderful.

    But what I am valuing here is not being an asshole to people, and this “friend” K? Was being an asshole.

    This strikes me as less about fat acceptance and safe spaces and more as the “We don’t like her, let’s not let her hang out with us anymore” bullshit women learn to do at a frighteningly young age, hone to a razor’s edge in junior high school and then continue with the rest of our damn lives in various forms.

  15. I’m not going to argue that the friend wasn’t rude (and certainly should apologize for it), but I don’t think that makes the idea of a big girl beach trip in and of itself rude. It doesn’t mean she’s dumping her other friend to not invite her on a single outing in the year.

    Of course, she shouldn’t have told the friend about it (I kind of suspect maybe she assumed the friend wouldn’t even have wanted to come to something identified as a “Big Girl Beach Trip”; a lot of women wouldn’t dream of associating themselves with it). And of course she shouldn’t have responded so ungraciously. But that doesn’t mean that it’s somehow awful to have a trip that not all your friends are invited to, particularly for reasons like this.

  16. Aunt Fattie fully acknowledged that the friend was being rude — she just also explained where the friend might have been coming from in her rudeness. I think it’s great that people are reinforcing that the LW doesn’t need to accept that kind of treatment, but I also think Aunt Fattie’s advice to talk to the friend is potentially more useful than just cutting her off. And I KNOW Aunt Fattie didn’t mean to imply — and didn’t imply, far as I can tell — that thin privilege = being impervious to the hurtful actions of friends. Come on. I thought this response was compassionate both to the LW and the friend in question, which is not easy to do.

  17. (In order to clarify, I guess I think there are two issues here:

    a) having the beach weekend that the letter writer wasn’t invited to.
    b) the friend being rude in her dealing with the weekend as regards the letter writer.

    Disagreeing with the friend’s handling on (b) doesn’t necessarily invalidate (a).)

  18. I’m hopping on the EvilScienceChick band wagon.

    The very fact that NSBBB knew what weekend this was taking place on and DIDN’T know until shortly before the weekend it took place that she was not invited means that she needs to reevaluate her friends.

  19. Wow….have to agree with EvilScienceChick also. Why would someone “safe space” be threatened by a FRIEND? That’s what I would have issue with – the fact that just by being thin (or thinner) I am all of a sudden “unsafe”.

  20. I’m also with evilsciencechick about the rudeness of the friends’ behavior. But – and this is a pretty decent-sized but – I do agree with Aunt Fatty that NSBBB would do well to approach the situation with a quiet, private discussion with the lady who was rude to her. After all, they work together and have apparently had a perfectly pleasant friendship for some time. In the interest of a good workplace atmosphere and perhaps in the interest of salvaging the friendship, should that prove both possible and desirable, I think a private talk is a good place to start.

    I know there have been times when I’ve been caught off-guard and said things that make me blush scarlet when I think of them. The moment I said them, I regretted them and everything they said about me and wanted to find a way to make amends and be a better person. I do think it’s worth finding out if this was one of those situations or if the friend really is a gigantic assweasel who passed for a human being for a while.

  21. Dude, y’all are harsh. People make mistakes, particularly in what they assume people want to be included in. Is this really reason to throw away a friendship so close they go to the laundromat together as a general rule? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have a single friend left if I adhered to that standard, and not because they aren’t wonderful people who don’t generally make an effort to include people, but because they slip from time to time like everyone else.

  22. This feels to me like two separate issues being discussed. One is the right of an oppressed group to have a safe space, which is important. The other is etiquette. NSBBB would have been there at the original meeting, and they discussed plans with her for the second one. Suddenly declaring it a “safe space” and therefore off-limits seems, well, rude. So I think framing the OP’s hurt as being confronted with privilege was off-track, but the explanation of why her friends might exclude her was useful.

    Still, I think the actual advice was spot-on — discuss the hurt, and suggest an inclusive weekend for everyone.

  23. “The very fact that NSBBB knew what weekend this was taking place on and DIDN’T know until shortly before the weekend it took place that she was not invited means that she needs to reevaluate her friends.”

    Yeah, that’s the part where I question how good a friend this person is to the LW. If you’ve already invited a friend on a beach weekend and your friend knows it, you don’t uninvite her. You go with her and then plan a separate beach trip for your Big Girls’ club- and don’t rub that one in your other friend’s face.

  24. I’m still giggling at the coincidence that we all started our responses the same way! Just a lot of minds all in sync, I guess!

    It’s been my experience that an unsafe space cannot be made into a safe space without burning a lot of bridges and hurting people. It’s better in the long run to start over with a space that is defined from the first as “safe” so the expectations are set properly. If not, there will be consequences of the change in policy, many of them unexpected.

    And while understanding WHY someone was rude may be useful information, it only explains it, not excuses it. When you’re dealing with friends, even if you’re influenced by the dominant socio-political models, you’re still dealing with individuals first and foremost.

    I don’t disagree with the need for safe spaces. But I think there are far more effective ways to go about creating them. Because people may not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

  25. And on reading more of the comments, I don’t think the LW should dump the friendship entirely based on a rude comment and the lack of an expected social invitation, but a heart-to-heart talk is clearly in order.

    I’m also curious whether NSBBB is still socializing with K in other ways, or if the laundromat/dinner/mall trips have stopped too.

  26. Yeah, that’s the part where I question how good a friend this person is to the LW. If you’ve already invited a friend on a beach weekend and your friend knows it, you don’t uninvite her. You go with her and then plan a separate beach trip for your Big Girls’ club- and don’t rub that one in your other friend’s face.

    Possibly, unless by discussing it in the context of the Big Girl’s Club the friend assumed that her friend would assume it didn’t involve her and not something she’d be interested in. Obviously a terrible assumption, but it’s one I can see someone – particularly someone just discovering an alternative to internalized fat phobia – making. Some combination of “I have this shiny new toy of a group and can’t help discussing it,” with “Why would a THIN girl want to associate with us FAT girls.”

  27. I thought this was a great explanation of privilege to someone who is (unconsciously) enjoying privilege. I don’t dispute that the “friend” was rude and insensitive. I believe that is a separate issue from the protectiveness toward a safe space.

  28. Why would someone “safe space” be threatened by a FRIEND?

    This happens all the time when friends aren’t all exactly alike demographically, politically, culturally. Here’s an example. I’m queer/bi, and when I was in college, I had a sexually diverse group of friends and usually felt very comfortable and loving with them. I didn’t happen to date any men in college (why would I when there were so many awesome women around? ;) ) But I can remember vividly several times when I would find myself at, say, a lunch table that happened to be filled with straight women, all of whom were friends of mine, and conversation would suddenly turn to hetero sex and how awesome it was (c’mon, we were in college, it still felt like a new idea to us!). I felt instantly uncomfortable and unwanted, like I wasn’t allowed to speak — and through no one’s intention. It wasn’t that a sign had been put up saying “Only sit here if you want to talk about cock” — no one was deliberately excluding me, but I felt distinctly unwelcome.

    The point is, friendship and safe spaces are related but by no means inextricable concepts.

  29. “And I KNOW Aunt Fattie didn’t mean to imply — and didn’t imply, far as I can tell — that thin privilege = being impervious to the hurtful actions of friends.”

    And I didn’t mean to imply that she did – that was my own interpretation of K’s behavior, not Aunt Fattie’s response.

    It goes something like: “NSBBB can’t understand what we of the BGBC experience, and so can’t be part of it [true enough] and therefore won’t care if we exclude her and won’t be hurt by the exclusion because she has the Perfect Thin Life [obviously not true.]”

    Of course I have absolutely no idea what K was thinking and maybe she was just having one of those embarrasing thoughtless moments that everyone in the whole wide world of sports has now and then. Back in Ye Olde Days when I was thin, I was the target of this sort of thing on more than one occasion (admitted to by my very own version of K), so that’s no doubt why I jump to that conclusion.

  30. Jeez, guys. I’m with Aunt Fattie on this one. I think it’s a wee bit harsh to label the friend as ‘acting like a bitch’, ‘rude, rude, rude’, and ‘being an asshole’. I hope my friends are more forgiving than to ditch me for the occasional unintentional rudeness. This is a long-term close friendship, and NSBBB admits she and K go everywhere together, and of course K comes off badly in this letter because it’s NSBBB writing it, and NSBBB’s feelings that were hurt.

    So Aunt Fattie’s response rings true to me. I can see K’s actions as a less-than-tactful response to a passive-aggressive guilt-trip by a friend (silence and looking hurt? come on, my mom used to pull that on me when she wanted me to do the dishes).

  31. To sum up: I call this miscommunication, and I think NSBBB and K need to have a nice open talk about it.

  32. I thought by “K, the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities,” the letter writer was saying she was initially invited on the trip in question and then excluded. Am I reading this wrong?

  33. Joining the evilscience chick posse!
    That was all so “mean girls” and like others said, that kindergarten method that teaches women to find social power in belonging to a group that pointedly excludes others.

    Now, I can totally understand if the three friends wanted to get together again and, yes, adding a particular person can change the character of a gathering. No one has exclusive rights to a best friend’s free time. It is entirely plausible that K has been driven crazy by NSBBB’s issues and doesn’t want to hear about it.

    But the answer to that is to TALK about it with this friend who you spend so much time with, instead of saving it all up and pouncing on this opportunity to cut her to the core. It really doesn’t sound like K cares about her at all! The caring thing would have been to not make plans around her and if you couldn’t help it, just say, “I’m gonna do some bonding with X and Y this weekend, but let’s you and I plan something else later.” These type situations come up in friend groups and it’s always fraught, but can be gently handled.

    I am just floored by the meanness of what was said and a need for a safe space is no excuse. This is her close friend, at least from NSBBB’s perspective, not some random interloper who has no reason to expect to be part of the group. Maybe K is trying to break up with her?

    Confused on this point: is the “1xx” the reason that NSBBB is assumed to be a thin person with thin privilege (and I guess the “not so” which I took to mean not as fat as the others) ? But don’t many of us considered “fat” by society and treated accordingly have numerical weights of 1xx?

  34. Not to say anything about priviledge and what’s right and what isn’t but I have a question doesn’t the: “if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.” ring to the “You’re fat but you’re not fat enough to be a in our Big Girls club?”

    And in creating a “safe place” how is it fair to exclude someone who could be experiencing discrimination. Everyone seems to have assumed NSBBB is actually thin… what if she’s a size 12 or 14 or 16? Which means well when she goes to the beach people still call her a fat ass, or “oh my god she should NOT be in a swimsuit”

    Even if we talk about “thinner” people there is a lot nicer ways to handle it then the “You’re not BIG enough for us” attitude… I keep wondering though when I see this where is it we draw the line at a “fatty” and a “normal”/”thin” girl… Does one have to fall into a certain BMI category… just saying.

    But judging by that attitude, I understand the hurt but she has to think “Gee you know what I really don’t want to go if I’m just not “big” enough for you guys” Don’t cut off the friendship, definitely talk to her after the weekend and say “It was really hurtful, I understand your feelings…” don’t go off on her though you’ll want to. She’ll feel justified in her rude behavior if you react that way. Tell her your feelings she’ll probably understand and may have an explanation… and an appology for you.

    Sorry about my rank just as someone who is fat but has been told I’m not fat enough more then a few times stuff like that hurts.

  35. I was totally in evilsciencechick’s posse before this, so pthhhhhhhblth!

    I think the friend was rude. I also think there was no easy way out of that situation for her. Lose/lose. She could have been a lot more tactful. The disinvitation bit was tres uncool.

  36. Not to say anything about priviledge and what’s right and what isn’t but I have a question doesn’t the: “if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.” ring to the “You’re fat but you’re not fat enough to be a in our Big Girls club?”

    I had a different (entirely unsubstantiated) reaction to it, and wondered if that was the letter writer’s “goal weight” or the weight she often talked about getting down to.

  37. I’m with Aunt Fattie on this one. The way K communicated was rude, but there is nothing wrong with wanting a safe space, and this sounds like something that could be quickly resolved with a little heart-to-heart, and perhaps plans for a different Beach Trip or other outing.

  38. I think it’s a wee bit harsh to label the friend as ‘acting like a bitch’, ‘rude, rude, rude’, and ‘being an asshole’. I hope my friends are more forgiving than to ditch me for the occasional unintentional rudeness.

    While I totally agree with the last bit, it doesn’t change the fact that the friend WAS rude. She WAS acting like a bitch/asshole/insert adjective here. Unintentionally, maybe, but intentions can’t re-write history.

    If it were me, I would definitely be hurt. And I would hope that I would be able to sit down with the friend at some later date and talk about how the situation made me feel. Having a friend act like a total bitch isn’t going to make me stop being her friend, but I’m sure as hell not going to let it go unchecked.

  39. Here’s the thing, guys. It’s not much of an advice column if Aunt Fattie just says “She handled it badly; she should have been more gentle and communicative, and most importantly, she should not have included you in plans last year only to break them this year. She is not being up front and she is not being true to her word,” with no suggestions about how to put that into context. It’s not really Aunt Fattie’s job to diagnose whether the friend is a bitch; it’s her job to help people understand and thus deal with each other.

  40. I had a different (entirely unsubstantiated) reaction to it, and wondered if that was the letter writer’s “goal weight” or the weight she often talked about getting down to.

    I guess I could kind of see that but I got the idea that the the girl is trying to cope with the body she has now.

    I just got hurt by the thought that 1xx automatically = thin when it doesn’t. Just look at sweetmachine or Kate 2 bloggers at this very site. They’re both 1xx girls, I think if it were either of them being excluded people would be a little shocked by that. Why doesn’t this girl get the same benefit of the doubt?

  41. my first thought: wouldn’t everyone here be utterly outraged if it was a thin girls beach club and the friend was told that she would be un-invited if she went over 1xx pounds?

    my second thought: what evilsciencechick has written and so on and so forth.

    I am someone who thinks any type of exclusion, no matter how noble and well-intended is a bit poop.

  42. I also think that this whole exclusion issue isnt just about the girl’s size. Definately something fishy in the friendship waters, and she would do well to talk about it and clear some air.

  43. Let me amend my previous arguments to add that I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with having a “safe space” to hang out with people like you. I think we all need that. My objection was to how K treated someone who was supposed to be her friend.

    My objections were all about the way K handled the situation, and the way it seemed (in my mind, which is, btw, a highly imaginative and fantastical place) that excuses were being made for her bad behavior. Yes, NSBBB should have a heart to heart with K at some point, and let her know how much her comments hurt her. But if K continues to make a habit of treating her friend so poorly, NSBBB should break off what would become a poisonous relationship. There is NEVER an excuse for treating a friend so poorly – NSBBB is owed a HUGE apology from K.

  44. I know the situation is not analogous, it was a first thought. A thin girls club most likely isnt about a ‘safe space’ for starters.

    But you know, one type of exclusion isnt solved by another.

  45. Apricotmuffins, of course we would be outraged, because members of a dominant group would be excluding her on the basis of not belonging to that dominant group. It’s not the same when members of an oppressed group are trying to carve a space out for themselves where they can not feel oppressed for once.

  46. It sounds like there was a lot of miscommunication. But K, may also have been a little annoyed that the LW tried to invite herself along to the beach. (Because that’s what she did.) If you’re not invited or included in something, no matter how good a friend you are to someone, you have to respect that they are going without you.

    That’s not to say that K was right to be so incredibly rude.

    I have to wonder if the LW’s struggles with her body are affecting their relationship too. Especially if K perceives the LW as thin, and LW tends to want to discuss these things at great length.

  47. Jeez, guys. I’m with Aunt Fattie on this one. I think it’s a wee bit harsh to label the friend as ‘acting like a bitch’, ‘rude, rude, rude’, and ‘being an asshole’. I hope my friends are more forgiving than to ditch me for the occasional unintentional rudeness.

    Meghan – you’re making a significant assumption that it was “unintentional rudeness” on the part of this person, when there’s not much proof of that and some details that, it could be argued, are evidence that this was intentional, or at least not just the result of a momentary slip of the tongue. (For starters, if it had been an accident or a miscommunication, I imagine this K person would have apologized as soon as it happened, instead of expressing what sounds like a guilt tripped “Well you can come if you really want to…” [but please don't because we don't really want you there] response.)

    I’m also not saying Aunt Fattie’s advice about how to handle the situation was in any way wrong. This relationship seems important to the letter writer, and worth investing some effort into fixing this problem. But at the same time, the severity of K’s actions shouldn’t be whitewashed either.

  48. I just got hurt by the thought that 1xx automatically = thin when it doesn’t.

    The way I interpreted that was that K had said a specific weight there (130, 150, whatever) but NSBB replaced it with 1xx because she didn’t feel comfortable divulging her weight.

    my first thought: wouldn’t everyone here be utterly outraged if it was a thin girls beach club and the friend was told that she would be un-invited if she went over 1xx pounds?

    Read Aunt Fattie’s post again for an understanding of how that is not even close to the same thing. If you still don’t understand, try running a google search for “privilege”.

  49. FJ, I think if you had put that paragraph first, I would have had a different reaction to the advice. As it was, starting off with privilege and safe spaces felt like LW’s hurt was being written off, while K’s rudeness was explained away.

    It also seems like about half the people reading the letter interpreted it as the LW inviting herself along, while the other half thought she had been invited to begin with then uninvited later. I bet that makes a big difference in whether you agree with Aunt Fattie’s advice.

  50. I also agree with evilsciencechick. Discrimination is just that, discrimination. We know how it feels to be excluded for our size, I would think based on the presumed idea that the friend who didn’t invite her to the beach, also was treated poorly cause of her size.

    She would know that excluding someone because of their size is being a major hypocrite. Size is not a choice. Her friend can’t help being thin, anymore than she can help being fat. It’s exclusion based on something that cannot be changed. No different than excluding someone for their skin color, or other visible characteristic.

  51. DRST, from the way I read NSBBB’s letter, you’re making a significant assumption that it was intentional rudeness. Neither of us knows the parties involved well enough to assign motive from a few sentences, so I err on the side of not labelling people assholes.

  52. My husband and I are both bi. We hang around in a predominantly-queer crowd, with a lot of gay and lesbian folks with same-sex partners.

    Generally speaking, we socialize in a very mixed way, with gender and orientation not being anywhere near an issue. And we do a lot of generically queer activities, too: Pride weekend parties, community groups, etc.

    In almost every circumstance, it is accepted that we, too, are part of the overall queer community, and we belong within it.

    However, there are definitely privileges that we have because we’re opposite sex and therefore often assumed to be straight (our frequent deliberate outings notwithstanding.)

    And if there were social circumstances with our friends in which having a same-sex partner or being a Kinsey 6 made a difference, we’d have no problem staying home.

    We, of course, would detest being excluded from something arbitrarily–from things in which specific orientation or partnering status really don’t make any difference at all. But in those rare circumstances when folks want gay-only space (or, more frequently, when some of our lesbian friends want lesbian-only space), that’s fine.

    What would most definitely NOT be fine, however, is if we were excluded from a given social gathering with a snide, rotten comment about how we’d have to get divorced or not express any PDA or otherwise lie about who we are and what our relationship is in order to be part of the Gay Club.

    I’m not the kind of person who brings my husband to a gay bar and makes out with him in the corner. But if people think I shouldn’t even talk to him or sit next to him in order to “belong” there? They can fuck completely off. I’m well aware of the privilege I have in being mistaken for straight, but that doesn’t excuse being rude.

    Or, in short:

    Wanting a big-girls-only weekend? Fine.

    Being a total asshat in the process of telling your friend why she’s not invited? Most definitely not fine. In any way.

  53. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t LW friends with all of the BGBC, not just K? Maybe she should ask one of other girls if it’s an issue with all of them or just K having a ‘they’re MY friends now’ moment.

    Also, there’s NO WAY I could spend all week at work with a friend (no matter how beloved), plus social time, without needing some space from that person to do my own thing with or without other people. Just sayin’…

  54. [...]I could come “if I wanted to,” but if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.

    This was the part of the letter that struck me the hardest. I mean, really. How many people would tolerate being told that they couldn’t go somewhere or do something unless THEY were weighed beforehand and were the appropriate weight.

    Exactly.

    You can’t rise above by putting others down.

    I had a different (entirely unsubstantiated) reaction to it, and wondered if that was the letter writer’s “goal weight” or the weight she often talked about getting down to.

    I suppose that I can understand that. However, how are we to know that the person writing the letter wasn’t just the smallest in the group? Wouldn’t Kate be considered in the 1xx group and she isn’t automagically deemed “thin”?

    This focus on weight and size does nothing to join anyone together but does everything to pull people apart from what I can see.

    Maybe I’m just dumb and can’t parse all the information.
    Sorry.

  55. And I didn’t mean to imply that she did – that was my own interpretation of K’s behavior, not Aunt Fattie’s response.

    Gotcha. And your interpretation does make sense to me.

  56. I don’t think the letter writer was in any doubt about whether her friend was rude, you guys. And it’s a big internet, so I’m sure there’s an “Am I Rude or Not?” site that she could have written to if that were her question.

    The issue is how to deal with it, how to react. And at that point, it becomes important whether her friend was just being randomly, wilfully hurtful, or whether she put her foot in her mouth because she was taken aback. The “if you drop below this weight you’re disinvited” line in particular reads to me as a totally backfiring attempt to cover up her dismay at having to reconstruct her image of what Previously Big Girls’ Weekend was going to look like. She realized she was hurtful in saying “you can’t come,” and managed to be even more hurtful trying to cover it with a joke. I can’t say I’d dump a good friend for having a boneheaded moment.

    At least, not if I understood and respected where the boneheaded moment was coming from. Which is of course the point of the column.

  57. Hey everyone, NSBBB is not writing to Aunt Fattie because her friend was rude:

    Beyond the insensitivity, i just don’t know how to handle the situation.

    She’s writing because she wants to know how to move on and how to deal with her feelings of exclusion. It’s fine if you think the friend was unforgivably rude; apparently, NSBBB doesn’t.

    Just look at sweetmachine or Kate 2 bloggers at this very site. They’re both 1xx girls, I think if it were either of them being excluded people would be a little shocked by that

    Actually, I’ve been thin, fat, and in-between at 1xx, and I can definitely understand that at my current size (which is pretty thin) I wouldn’t necessarily be part of a safe space in person.

  58. It also seems like about half the people reading the letter interpreted it as the LW inviting herself along, while the other half thought she had been invited to begin with then uninvited later. I bet that makes a big difference in whether you agree with Aunt Fattie’s advice.

    I agree. I also think that there are inferences being made about the LW’s size, and those who believe that 1xx (or 130, or 150) means “thin” are viewing the situation differently than those who are imagining a woman who is big enough to be the object of fat hatred but not as large as the other women in the BGBC.

    I wonder if the LW is being assigned privilege where it may not exist. What is the magic number at which someone becomes unsafe for the BGBC? It seems that K amended it downward, begrudgingly, to “1xx”. But can there ever be a hard line? If the LW has insults hurled at her from cars, is she fat enough to be “safe”? If she can wear straight sizes, is she automatically too thin?

  59. I agree with those who want to separate the issues of rudeness and safe space. It was handled very very badly by the friend, especially considering the safe space aspect of it seemed more accidental the first year and not initially the point of the trip. I can totally understand then why she didn’t get how the trip had morphed into something else.

    Also, it sucks not to be included. Period. I remember in Camryn Manheim’s book, she related a story about going to some BBW party and getting a lot of attitude and rude comments because she was ‘just mid-sized’ or something and her feelings of…confusion and sadness that these women didn’t see her as one of them.

    And I don’t know what size either of these women are, but I do know that I don’t feel ‘safe’ with women who are a size 16 or 18 or sometimes even with women who have more socially acceptable body shapes than I do…and I’m not sure that it’s not sometimes a form of exclusion rather than an issue of safety. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it is something I think about.

  60. I guess I support the right to peaceful assembly.

    The whole time I was reading this, I was thinking “goodness, isn’t it a bit unhealthy to experience such jealousy or sadness upon hearing about the wonderful experience a friend had?”

    Isn’t that a little co-dependent? Just a little?

  61. A thin girls club most likely isnt about a ’safe space’ for starters.

    Could be, if it was an anorexic girls club wanting to hang out in their bikinis without anyone telling them they look scary.

    I’m really hesitant about the concepts of privilege and it’s-okay-to-exclude-if-you’re-minority. Safe space, yes, that I understand, and handled politely, it’s reasonable to request that people stay out of your safe space. But sometimes, minority-only groups appear to promote separation rather than helping people to all get along and respect each other.

    If you’re going to request that someone stay out of your safe space, you need a better approach besides just “now you know how it feels! Get lost, wasp!” or you come across as a jerk. If people want to express friendship and solidarity, it’s better to find a way to incorporate them in some subordinate role than to just throw them out. A Not So Big Beach Bunny could be declared a MINI Big Girl and provided with some other way to show her friendship and support (possibly a different outing).

  62. I wonder if the LW is being assigned privilege where it may not exist

    Privilege is relative. A person who wears a size 12 has less thin privilege than a person who wears a size 2, but she still has a lot more thin privilege than someone who wears a size 24.

    But can there ever be a hard line?

    There’s no hard line: “Here you have thin privilege, here you don’t.” But there is a point at which an individual like K will start feeling uncomfortable talking about her fatness to another person. For K, the LW is below that point, so she didn’t feel comfortable having the LW at her fat girls gathering. Personally, I’m (barely) in the “1xx” range and I definately consider myself fat but if a group of considerably fatter women wanted to have a gathering and felt uncomfortably having me around… I’d be hurt but I would understand. Of course I would hope they’d be more sensitive about it than K.

  63. Wow… I’m baffled at the direction most of the comments are taking here. I have never been thin, was always “the fat kid” (and in case I should forget, there were always mean kids around who were happy to remind me). I’m 38 now, so I’ve had time to gain some perspective on the situation, but still…

    Reading these comments, I suddenly feel as if I have nothing in common with many of the people who read this blog – do they truly not understand, or at least want to understand, that thin privilege, like white privilege and hetero privilege, is REAL, and has dramatic effects on the lives of many of us every single day?

    I agree that K did not handle the situation tactfully, but I’m astonished that the emphasis here (in the comments) has been put on “rude rude rude” and not on why K felt the need to have this one day away from thin privilege and those who benefit from it.

    Sorry if I’m reading too much into this, but these comments really did take me by surprise.

  64. Sign me up with the K was rude posse. However, I am very socially inept and totally can understand how someone could be unintentionally rude in that fashion. It sounds to me like NSBB and K spend an awful lot of time together, and maybe she just wanted some time away from her and this was a very stupid and rude way to get it. So I agree that the productive thing to do is to have a conversation about the issues, including maybe setting some boundaries for the relationship.

  65. Privilege is relative. A person who wears a size 12 has less thin privilege than a person who wears a size 2, but she still has a lot more thin privilege than someone who wears a size 24.

    I’m so glad there are people who understand this.

    While all of us who don’t weigh what the Body Enforcers say we should have some similar experiences, there really are some major, MAJOR differences in life experiences in the different classes.

    People who can buy clothes in the “normal” section of most stores often don’t grok what life is like in the plus sizes. And people who are in the plus sizes, but who can still find their size at an average department store often don’t grok what life is like beyond size 24. And people who can at least fit into a dressing room at Catherine’s to try on something ten sizes bigger don’t grok what life is like when you have to special-order all of your clothes because you can’t even navigate between the racks.

    There are similar issues facing all of us: The notion that our bodies have anything to do with who we are as people affects all of us, no matter what our size.

    But I really, really wish that more women (and men, for that matter) who are fat but not “that fat” really understood more of what privileges they do have, and do their best to not flaunt them in front of those of us whose lives are considerably more complicated.

  66. I see the letter writer as HAVING BEEN invited in the first place, and then re-invited on the return of the friends from the initial weekend, and then being kept in the loop on this year’s plans.

    At what point can anyone reading this say that she’s inviting herself along? She isn’t.

    And only recently ,when she’s firming up the weekend’s plans, does she get told off by K.

    That’s not a friend, that’s someone looking for a companion of convenience. Feh.

  67. I was reacting to the rudeness because the size aspect of it didn’t seem as important. (Stay with me here.)

    As other commenters have pointed out, NSBBB was invited to last year’s trip, couldn’t go, was invited to a later trip, and that later trip is scheduled for this Saturday. NSBBB knows the date and expects to go. Then K replies with rudeness and revokes the invitation.

    Would last year’s beach trip have created the Big Girls’ Beach Club with NSBBB along? Are there other interpersonal issues happening between K, the other friends, and NSBBB that make NSBBB unwelcome in the group? I can’t tell from the letter, though other commenters have excellent points re: doing something alone for a change, working and socializing with someone and needing a break from that person, NSBBB’s guilt trip with the looking hurt but not actually saying so, and possible codependency. None of these points is explicitly about size — just the reason given by K (that NSBBB isn’t “big enough”). We don’t even know if NSBBB is thin, or how much smaller she is than the rest of the group.

    I disagree with Aunt Fattie jumping directly to K et al. needing safe space. I think K is using that idea to cover up wanting to spend some time with friends other than NSBBB. I get that just saying “ur frenz, they iz rude” is an insufficient response to an advice letter, and that by writing it to a fat-positive agony aunt makes us want to see that fat is an issue in the letter. Personally, I think that NSBBB may have written to Aunt Fattie to avoid non-responses advocating only weight loss from mainstream advice columnists, and that fat (or lack thereof) is not the key issue in this letter. I think that something else is going on between K and NSBBB, they need to talk privately and honestly about it for the sake of what sounds like a solid friendship, but it won’t be solved by projecting thinness onto NSBBB and telling her to let K be ’cause she’s oppressed.

  68. But sometimes, minority-only groups appear to promote separation rather than helping people to all get along and respect each other.

    Well, but minority-only groups are not about “helping people to all get along.” They’re (often) about having an experience where you get to feel “normal” and not have your lack of privilege glaring at you constantly. Underprivileged people don’t have a responsibility — and frankly wouldn’t have a way to — *make* privileged people respect them; privileged people have a responsibility as ethical human beings to be respectful of other people.

    The BGBC is not an advocacy group, at least from how the letter writer described it. It’s a group of women who discovered they loved going to beach with each other because they shared a certain type of experience. That doesn’t mean they have to be fat ambassadors.

  69. There’s no hard line: “Here you have thin privilege, here you don’t.”

    I think this is where I personally have issues trying to wrap my head around the whole situation. Sweetmachine said above that thin women having a gathering excluding fat women specifically on size wouldn’t be the same thing because they are the dominant culture. But where are you considered far enough outside the dominant culture that it’s ok to want a safe space away from it? It seems somewhere beyond the slippery slope. (I freely admit I have personal issues with nebulosity – I’m one of those “plan the work, work the plan” people. So that’s why I’m asking.)

    And it looks like the debate is coming down to whether you see that rudeness trumps need for safe space, or need for safe space trumps privilege. And it’s very interesting to see the points made on both sides.

  70. But we don’t know how the inviting or non-inviting worked from the letter:

    K, the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities. Fast forward to this summer…this weekend they have plans to go again. Since K and I invite each other EVERYWHERE (the laundromat, the mall, out to dinner EVERYWHERE), I assumed I would be invited as well.

    The first sentence says they all made plans to do it again (how vague? Just a “We should all to the beach next year?”), the last sentence implies that there was no direct invite but an implied one. I don’t think we know what went down – and I imagine LW and K probably would give very different accountings if asked – but it could have been anything from an offhand comment a year ago about how it would be fun to go to the beach followed by what K saw as separate plans developed around the club, or the specific public disinviting people are assuming.

    Given that K probably isn’t evil, or the LW would have mentioned similar happenings, why jump to the worst possible conclusion about her (she specifically and deliberately disinvited LW)? Not doing that is part of why Aunt Fattie’s advice seemed so good to me – if LW has that talk with K, suggests another weekend, and is rebuffed, sure, that says a lot. But if K’s response is “I’m so sorry! I was thinking X, didn’t think about your feelings, and was hoping we could all find a different weekend to go to the beach,” that says a lot too.

  71. No Sharp Edges – Privilege can be a very hurtful word, and it’s not always helpful to communication.

    Is someone who weighs 200 pounds going to have an easier time of it in mainstream society than someone who weighs 300, 400, 500? Of course! And the 200-pound girl probably knows that, too.

    But imagine that this 200 pound girl has grown up being subjected to constant harassment by her family about how pretty she’d be if she just tried a little harder. Imagine that she’s been the fattest one in her school class since puberty. Imagine that she’s never dated, because no one’s ever expressed interest and in her head she thinks she’s disgusting and no one would want her to express interest in them. Imagine that she ends every shopping trip in tears because the clothes in the shops she like stop making things RIGHT before her size… so she keeps going, and hoping, and being disappointed, again and again and again.

    Now tell her she can’t hang out with you because she has Thin Privilege.

    It’s just not a very good word to use. It would probably make her feel betrayed by you – that her life and her pain is completely beneath your contempt. It certainly wouldn’t help her to understand what the bigger girls are going through.

  72. I agree that K did not handle the situation tactfully, but I’m astonished that the emphasis here (in the comments) has been put on “rude rude rude” and not on why K felt the need to have this one day away from thin privilege and those who benefit from it.

    Honestly? I think it was because Aunt Fattie’s response really did gloss over the rudeness issue.

    There are two people in this situation, and BOTH have failed at Basic Niceness:

    NSBBB, for being ignorant of her privilege and the need for safe space

    and

    K, for being utterly nasty in informing NSBBB of the privilege she has.

    By essentially ignoring K’s rudeness, Aunt Fattie is basically ganging up with her on NSBBB. Trying to punish her for being clueless about her privilege? I don’t know. But whatever the reason, it’s really disconcerting.

    No one is arguing that K and her friends didn’t need the safe space. We’re arguing that K was being really, really shitty to her friend about it.

    Mere ignorance does not deserve meanness in response. Does anyone here REALLY think that NSBBB was deliberately using her privilege in a way to hurt her friend? Because I see nothing whatsoever in her letter to indicate that.

    And because of this, K’s response to her ignorance, and Aunt Fattie’s condescending lecture about privilege, while leaving K’s rudeness more or less unaddressed, is, IMHO, far beneath the intelligence and compassion that Aunt Fattie is otherwise known for.

    Don’t get me wrong: I have absolutely no problems slapping people around when they’re being jerks about their privilege. But I just don’t see that here. NSBBB simply didn’t earn the snark she got in return for her honest ignorance.

  73. And it looks like the debate is coming down to whether you see that rudeness trumps need for safe space, or need for safe space trumps privilege.

    Actually, it seems to come down to whether you think rudeness deserves a complete write-off of the friendship, or whether it helps to understand where rudeness is coming from.

  74. Aunt Fattie’s condescending lecture about privilege, while leaving K’s rudeness more or less unaddressed

    Wow.

  75. People who can buy clothes in the “normal” section of most stores often don’t grok what life is like in the plus sizes. And people who are in the plus sizes, but who can still find their size at an average department store often don’t grok what life is like beyond size 24. And people who can at least fit into a dressing room at Catherine’s to try on something ten sizes bigger don’t grok what life is like when you have to special-order all of your clothes because you can’t even navigate between the racks.

    I totally agree with this, btw. I just don’t think that the people in one group yelling at the other to quitcherwhinin is a useful way of dealing with it. :)

  76. Tal, wtf?

    You say:
    But I really, really wish that more women (and men, for that matter) who are fat but not “that fat” really understood more of what privileges they do have, and do their best to not flaunt them in front of those of us whose lives are considerably more complicated.

    And not 15 minutes later you call the post Aunt Fattie’s condescending lecture about privilege?

    I repeat: wtf?

  77. Also, I’d like to remind people that we have addressed the “you’re not fat” issue before here many times. We can speculate about the size of the letter writer, but since she didn’t include that information, Aunt Fattie did not make any assumptions either way.

  78. I totally agree with this, btw. I just don’t think that the people in one group yelling at the other to quitcherwhinin is a useful way of dealing with it. :)

    Nor do I.

    Which is why I think K’s response and Aunt Fattie’s dismissal of the impact of that response are both unwarranted.

    I’m all about the bitchslapping when it’s earned. Goodness knows I do it plenty myself. But I don’t see any real purpose to doing it if the problem is mere IGNORANCE and not deliberate insensitivity.

  79. It’s not that I’m disagreeing, Tal. It’s just that I’m not really sure that K’s response also wasn’t born out of ignorance rather than deliberate insensitivity. Or maybe ignorance is the wrong word and it was temporary inelegance or inarticulateness. I mean, we’re not given any indication that K has spent much time thinking about privilege or fat activity or size acceptance. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a sense of how it operates on an instinctive level. And I can very much see a comment like “Just don’t drop below 1XX” not as deliberate exclusion but as a fumbling way to explain the safe space but without quite grasping the right way to do it.

    Maybe I’m projecting – I know there have been many, many times when I’ve lashed out defensively as an instinctive way to protect myself when I felt threatened. Later, when I thought more about the issues I realized I could have sat the person down and explained why X comment about eating or appearance threatened me, but I couldn’t do it at the time; all I could do was perceive the threat and try to remove it from my presence, and I invariably regretted the way that came out. Why couldn’t K be in the same sort of space?

  80. Aunt Fattie did not make any assumptions either way.

    Nono, she did. The assumption was that since the letter-writer said nothing whatsoever about the fat hatred she herself faces, her self-identification as a “big girl,” or having any sort of fat experience, that she was reacting as a thin friend with body image issues, not as a fat-but-less-fat friend. It is certainly true that fattish people can still weigh under a deuce. But in that case, like many of the commenters above, they say something like “I am thinner than some fat people but I still experience fat prejudice” — not “I’m dealing with my own body image issues.”

    Aunt Fattie does try to limit her assumptions, but sometimes logical leaps must be made, and in that case Occam’s Razor applies.

  81. And not 15 minutes later you call the post Aunt Fattie’s condescending lecture about privilege?

    I repeat: wtf?

    No one here is suggesting that NSBBB doesn’t have privilege or that she doesn’t need to be educated about it.

    We’re pointing out that there are constructive and non-constructive ways to deliver that education.

    Being a rude asshat and glossing over said rude asshattery are not constructive.

    As I said above, there were TWO people who screwed up in this situation: NSBBB and K. Both actions deserved to be fully addressed, and they weren’t.

    NSBBB was seriously hurt by what her friend did, and now she’s basicallyu being told she should just suck it up and deal because she’s in a privileged class. How, exactly, does this do anyone any good?

  82. There are two people in this situation, and BOTH have failed at Basic Niceness:

    But there’s only one person asking for advice, and presumably only one person at whom the advice is directed.

    Pretty much the number-one guideline for advice is “Only give advice to those who ask for it.”

    It would be completely unhelpful for Aunt Fatty to start giving advice to K, because K did not write in for advice.

    And it would be completely silly of Aunt Fatty to start giving advice to K, because we have no idea what K’s side of the story is and so everything we’re getting is framed through the letter writer’s lens. Which is certainly a version of reality, but I doubt it’s the entire story.

  83. I focused on the “K is rude” aspect because that seemed more interesting to me. People needing safe space in which to be “normal” seems like a given to me. Of course people need safe space, and of course there’s nothing wrong with staking out that space. I see from the comments that it’s not as much of a given as I thought.

    Aunt Fattie’s advice – talk about it! – is the best possible in the situation, without knowing more, but K’s rudeness is interesting to me because of all the assumptions that might have gone into her not wanting NSBBB along. Of course we don’t know the real reason, but K’s insensitivity to her friend seems tied up in assumptions about the experience of different body sizes. That’s the interesting part. “Needing safe space” just seems obvious to me. We all need safe space.

  84. Pretty much the number-one guideline for advice is “Only give advice to those who ask for it.”

    How is something which boils down to an excuse for K’s rudeness “advice”?

    The only advice Aunt Fattie gave here was, essentially, “acknowledge your privilege and stop expecting your fat friends to be polite to you when explaining why they need some space of their own.”

    That’s not advice. That’s piling on. And I really would like to think Aunt Fattie is above that.

  85. now she’s basicallyu being told she should just suck it up and deal because she’s in a privileged class.

    Tal, if this is what you hear Aunt Fattie saying, I suggest you reread the post.

    Maewyn, you’re right — I misspoke. Aunt Fattie did assume that the letter writer was thin.

  86. How is something which boils down to an excuse for K’s rudeness “advice”?

    It reframes her friend’s actions in a way that makes sense and in a way that can preserve the friendship, which seems to be what the letter writer wants to do.

  87. Tal, if this is what you hear Aunt Fattie saying, I suggest you reread the post.

    I did. Several times.

    An excerpt, from the beginning, which sets the tone for the entire response:

    When people first learn about privilege, they tend to feel personally taken aback. “But I don’t try to profit from being white, or male, or able-bodied,” they say. “Why are people taking it out on me?

    This immediately characterizes NSBBB as a whiner. Not exactly a kind response.

    But then it gets worse:

    As a thin woman, you are a member of a dominant culture, and what’s going on here is that a member of an oppressed group sees you trying to impinge on a space she’s carved out for other members of that group.

    This? Is scolding NSBBB for not being aware of her privilege.

    75% of Aunt Fattie’s response was an apologia for K’s rudeness and a lecture about privilege. The actual advice in it didn’t come until the very end, by which time, we can probably assume that NSBBB is probably so humiliated and doubly hurt that she’s not even reading anymore.

    Did anyone learn anything from this? Somehow I doubt it.

  88. Nono, she did. The assumption was that since the letter-writer said nothing whatsoever about the fat hatred she herself faces, her self-identification as a “big girl,” or having any sort of fat experience, that she was reacting as a thin friend with body image issues, not as a fat-but-less-fat friend. It is certainly true that fattish people can still weigh under a deuce. But in that case, like many of the commenters above, they say something like “I am thinner than some fat people but I still experience fat prejudice” — not “I’m dealing with my own body image issues.”

    fillyjonk, thank you for the reasoned response. While I think your points are valid, I did read the letter quite differently; perhaps because to me, “not-so-big” reads as “(big, but) not-so-big.”

    I know I’m new here, but it hurts to be called out as a troll for disagreeing. I thought my post was perfectly polite and within the rules. Not only am I aware of the “you’re not fat” issue; my awareness of the issue is what prompted my comment in the first place. Since I did not make the same assumptions that the LW was indeed thin, the “safe space” business read, to me, as “you’re not fat (enough).”

    That said, I can now see why my conclusion may have been erroneous.

  89. perhaps because to me, “not-so-big” reads as “(big, but) not-so-big.”

    Oh… just for clarification, I usually write the names (and I don’t spend much time on them, and was going for alliteration here). Nobody would have had any way of knowing that if they hadn’t had a question answered, though. I missed where you were called a troll… sorry about that, sometimes well-meaning people who are unwittingly saying things that are very close to Standard Troll Moves get accidentally caught in the crossfire.

  90. Did anyone learn anything from this? Somehow I doubt it.

    I did. I learned that, at 230 lbs, I am seen by some as having “thin privilege.” The thought seems ludicrous to me, since I would never feel that way about someone who weighed 160 lbs, but I am trying to work my head around the idea, as I know that part of the very idea of privilege is that those who experience it are the ones for whom it is the most invisible.

    Something for me to think about.

  91. But where are you considered far enough outside the dominant culture that it’s ok to want a safe space away from it?

    It’s not that it’s not okay for her to want a safe space. The fact that she’s writing to Aunt Fattie indicates that she’s probably a member of Shapely Prose, which is a safe space for fat people. It’s that the members of this particular safe space don’t feel comfortable having her in it. There’s no line except for the ones we draw ourselves, and I’m sure it’s hurtful to the LW that she ended up outside of this one, but I think she needs to respect K’s feelings on it.

    now she’s basicallyu being told she should just suck it up and deal because she’s in a privileged class.

    Well no, Aunt Fattie told her to talk to her friend about it, not to suck it up. As for “a condescending lecture on privilege”, as you yourself pointed out, a lot of people genuinely don’t understand the concepts of privilege and safe spaces. I know I didn’t until a year or so ago. Sometimes it’s helpful to have them explained.

  92. It reframes her friend’s actions in a way that makes sense

    Actually, no, it doesn’t make sense. Because there’s no excuse for being a rude asshat to a friend.

    If Aunt Fattie’s response had been STARTED with a paragraph about how rottenly K reacted to the situation, the rest of the (valuable) information in there about safe space and privilege would’ve been better recieved. But as written, it’s three paragraphs of excusing K’s rudeness (including whitewashing it as “abrupt” instead of mean, which is what it actually was) and only one of actual advice.

  93. I learned that, at 230 lbs, I am seen by some as having “thin privilege.”

    And you probably learned that from Tal! How ironic.

  94. Because there’s no excuse for being a rude asshat to a friend.

    It’s not about excuses, it’s about reasons. And reasons are important, if you want to have a continuing relationship with someone and you want to try to understand why they do what they do and if you want to be compassionate.

    If you don’t, then yeah, the reasons don’t matter. But in that case, why write to an advice columnist?

  95. Oh… just for clarification, I usually write the names (and I don’t spend much time on them, and was going for alliteration here).

    Oh, whoops! I feel silly. I can definitely see where I was reading this letter with a different tone.

    I missed where you were called a troll… sorry about that, sometimes well-meaning people who are unwittingly saying things that are very close to Standard Troll Moves get accidentally caught in the crossfire.

    I get that, I really do; but I really think it was a stretch to think my post read as “you’re not fat” when I was saying the opposite. No one used the t-word, but I got the standard troll response, which I admit I am still bristling about. I’m a bit too delicate for the internet :)

  96. lot of people genuinely don’t understand the concepts of privilege and safe spaces. I know I didn’t until a year or so ago. Sometimes it’s helpful to have them explained.

    Oh, absolutely.

    But having this explanation framed in a way that essentially excuses K’s actions really diminishes the educational value.

    Again, this is about constructive and non-constructive ways to educate people about privilege. Glossing over someone’s rudeness just isn’t constructive.

  97. I’m a bit too delicate for the internet :)

    Wait until someone calls you rude and condescending, and it turns out they’re talking about a completely spurious interpretation of what you wrote!

  98. This immediately characterizes NSBBB as a whiner.

    It most certainly does not. It characterizes her as “taken aback,” which she was.

    You are really fighting this one, Tal, and I don’t know why.

  99. Christina,
    I don’t know how much this will help, but I do thing the weight thing is probably not the best way to go out defining who has thin privelage and who doesn’t. Height obviously plays a role as well, I way 330 but am 6′ tall, so depending on how tall you are we have comparable privelage.

    But anecdotally, until I went to college, I really struggled finding clothes , I wore an 18. (And weighed 230- 260) I thought I was going to die single and alone because I was so fat fat fat fat.

    Now I wear a 26, I can’t fit on amusement rides, I have to get a seatbelt extender on airplanes, I have trouble buckling belts in cars, I don’t fit into all the chairs in my office. I can’t get a bicycle because I”m over the weight limit for most.

    And I’m sure if I gain another 50 pounds I”ll learn all about the things that people fatter than me can’t do.

    It’s not that you have “thin privilege” it’s that you have SOME thin privilege. The closer you are to normal height and weight the more you have relative to others.

  100. (BTW, Christina, I can’t find the comment that was rude to you… but I think you raised an important point of discussion quite respectfully in your first comment on this thread, so I hope delicateness doesn’t drive you away.)

  101. whitewashing it as “abrupt” instead of mean, which is what it actually was

    Actually, it appears that point is open to interpretation. I don’t see meanness, just a boneheaded response to a friend’s question. Others clearly see intentional rudeness. Perhaps we’re all projecting what we expect to see?

  102. Wait until someone calls you rude and condescending, and it turns out they’re talking about a completely spurious interpretation of what you wrote!

    Pssh, I’ve been there! Then when I started yelling at my laptop, I realized that the internet and I are mortal enemies and yet star-crossed lovers as well.

    I don’t think the letter was rude or condescending at all, but I am left feeling sorry for the woman who is not fat enough for the fatties but, presumably, not thin enough for the thin (thinnies? I don’t know.) I actually felt the same way reading the post way upthread about the woman who felt that she should not intrude on gatherings of p.o.c., because she looked white. How do they find safe spaces of their own when they fall in the cracks?

  103. I realized that the internet and I are mortal enemies and yet star-crossed lovers as well.

    Now I love you.

    How do they find safe spaces of their own when they fall in the cracks?

    THIS IS SUCH A GOOD QUESTION OMG

    SERIOUSLY THIS IS SUCH A GOOD QUESTION

    I’d tell you to send it to Aunt Fattie but I don’t think she knows the answer. This question deserves an entire blog post just unpacking the question.

    (In fact there probably are some somewhere, if anyone has links.)

  104. Privilege is relative, indeed. My friends are either a lot larger than I am or a lot smaller- I’m one of maybe two in the mushball middle. So I’ve been the fat one and the thin one in the pack. It’s kind of strange either way. (But yeah, I’d NEVER talk about my body issues around anyone who’s drastically off from me size-wise in either direction. If I did that around my larger friends, I think they’d be entitled to slap me.)

    And if I were NSBBB, I’d be totally butthurt if my larger or smaller friends did something like this in my face. I would stop associating with them if I found out they felt like this about me. Safe space or no, it is NOT polite to disinvite someone from something they had every right to expect to be invited to (especially given the circumstances as to how the big girls club came about), and then be rude about it on top of that.

    Here’s what K and the safe-spacers should have done:
    (a) Leave original beach weekend alone, NSBBB is still invited.
    (b) Safe spacers create their own separate beach weekend without inviting NSBBB. I would dearly hope NSBBB didn’t hear about it because she would still feel kinda left out (though if she runs around with this pack, I doubt they’d be too quiet about it), but at least it wouldn’t be so rude and in her face that she’s Not One Of Us, and rejecting her from a longstanding event.

  105. It’s not that you have “thin privilege” it’s that you have SOME thin privilege. The closer you are to normal height and weight the more you have relative to others.

    Oh, yes, I see that (although your explanation is still welcome and helpful!) The idea is still alien to me, likely because I feel that My Fat Experience™ has been the same at 230 as it was at 160. (I’m 5’7″-ish, FWIW, with apple proportions.) I can accept, though, that it’s boneheaded of me to project that onto everyone. I just have to get used to the idea.

    (BTW, Christina, I can’t find the comment that was rude to you… but I think you raised an important point of discussion quite respectfully in your first comment on this thread, so I hope delicateness doesn’t drive you away.)

    No rudeness, really, just the “you might want to educate yourself” stuff. And I’ve been posting rather feverishly here, so I haven’t been driven away yet. Also, I have really appreciated your welcoming comments :)

  106. As a person who falls through many cracks be it in the fitness freak realm (I’m too fat for that) or that FA movement (I often feel a cliffhanger there, as well), I very much look forward to the answer to Christina’s question.

  107. Now I love you.
    Woohoo! We can be star-crossed lovers too!

    THIS IS SUCH A GOOD QUESTION OMG
    SERIOUSLY THIS IS SUCH A GOOD QUESTION

    I second Christina’s awesome question.

    Aww! I always feel awkward posting somewhere new — well, anywhere at all, really — and the feeling that I am saying something valuable rather than nattering away is really embarrassingly lovely.

    But yeah, I’d NEVER talk about my body issues around anyone who’s drastically off from me size-wise in either direction. If I did that around my larger friends, I think they’d be entitled to slap me.

    You know what? When you put it that way, it makes a ton more sense to me. I’m reading that, going, “well, of course.” And then I realize that maybe I get it after all. I guess part of me thought that this line of thinking was close to good fat / bad fat, but I can see now how it wouldn’t be that at all.

  108. Actually, it appears that point is open to interpretation. I don’t see meanness, just a boneheaded response to a friend’s question. Others clearly see intentional rudeness. Perhaps we’re all projecting what we expect to see?

    I honestly don’t see how specifically calling out a friend’s weight, and telling her that she needs to control it as a matter of qualifying to be “in the club” could be interpreted any way other than nasty and mean.

    In fact, when I was reading the letter, I assumed that Aunt Fattie’s response to it would include a fair amount of horror that ANYONE of any size would say something like that.

    It most certainly does not. It characterizes her as “taken aback,” which she was.

    Um, yeah. She was taken aback because someone she thought was a friend attacked her on a personal level when explaining her exclusion from an event.

    Sounds to me like a reasonable reaction.

    You are really fighting this one, Tal, and I don’t know why.

    Because I’m sick of the privilege game boiling down to “you have privilege, and therefore you don’t have to be treated with respect.”

    I’m the first to admit that I have a big mouth and I stick my foot in it regularly. But if I were to do something as low as what K did, I would expect to be called on it, and not to have my nastiness explained away as the privilege of the oppressed.

    Obviously, an insult coming from an oppressed person to a member of the privileged class doesn’t carry the weight of social hierarchy behind it, and therefore doesn’t have nearly the same impact.

    But that doesn’t make it right, and ultimately, excusing this kind of nastiness only makes things worse.

    K was absolutely entitled to exclude NSBBB from her gathering. She was not entitled to be so nasty about it.

  109. Bah. Sorry about the screwed up formatting tags. I should know better than typing these things while also trying to work.

    To which I need to get back, and I apologize in advance for not continuing.

  110. I apologize in advance for not continuing.

    Oh really, don’t trouble yourself to apologize for that.

  111. I think that K makes other fat women look bad. This kind of behavior is one of the reasons people are always accusing fat women of being jealous of thin women. As fat acceptance advocates, we should expect more from ourselves in terms of compassion, kindness, and simple politeness.

    I can’t help but think that if K really accepted herself, the presence of a thin woman on a beach weekend wouldn’t have mattered a whit. I generally think that if I can’t accept myself, it’s pretty much my problem and I shouldn’t take it out on others, even passive-aggressively.

  112. I can’t help but think that if K really accepted herself, the presence of a thin woman on a beach weekend wouldn’t have mattered a whit.

    Who says K is the epitome of the Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master? We don’t even know if she’s aware of FA.

  113. OK, I lied. One more:

    How do they find safe spaces of their own when they fall in the cracks?

    Damned good question, and one I ask myself all the time, being bi, and therefore stuck between gay space and “straight” space.

    And that’s probably, Sweetmachine, why I’m reacting so strongly to this. Because I HAVE been on the recieving end of some very nasty comments about my relationship status wrt whether I’m gay enough.

    Like I said in my first comment above, I absolutely understand the need for gay-only space, for instance. But I still wouldn’t be happy about being told, by someone I considered a friend, that I couldn’t go hang out with my gay friends unless I foreswore my marriage (which has happened.) And I would be even less happy about someone telling me that I basically deserved to be cussed out for the audacity of assuming that my friends might want to have me along.

  114. A safe space is what you make of it, IMO. My eating disorder therapy group consists of overeaters, binge eaters, anorexics and bulemics. We range in size from plus (me) to teeny weeny. Yes, when some of the 100 lb girls start talking about hating their fat bodies I do sometimes want to smack them and say “But you’re so skinny! You don’t get called fatass on the street!” Since it’s a safe space, tho, I can say those things and know it’s OK. I’ve gotten really pissed at some of the group members because they say “I know I’m fat and ugly.” I’ve told them, “Hey, at least that’s just in your head and you don’t have perfect strangers telling you you’re not attractive and unworthy. I get both my internal voices and the external ones of others.” It’s good for all of us to look at a different perspective on this concept of fat.

    I wish K could’ve taken NSBBB on the trip. When NSBBB started complaining about her fat ass/thighs/ankles/whatever it would be a great opportunity to start a conversation with NSBBB. Something along the lines of, “Hey, when you do that, it just makes me feel worse about my body, cuz if you’re fat, then I’m a beached whale. I know you don’t mean to, but it hurts me.” They could have had a real dialogue about what “fat” is, and why practically all American women hate their bodies.

    Yes, skinny women have privilege that fat women don’t. However, we need to tell people who supposedly care about us when they’ve hurt our feelings or made us feel worse. If fat women and non-fat (fat-free?) women don’t start talking to each other, we each just insulate ourselves in shame. We can’t blame people for hurting our feelings if we’re not willing to stand up and tell them to cut it the hell out!

    For me, the bottom line is that all women are looking at ourselves in a fun house mirror and don’t see ourselves as we really are. So how can we encourage each other to see ourselves as beautiful if we can’t tell each other when they make us feel ugly?

  115. Damned good question, and one I ask myself all the time, being bi, and therefore stuck between gay space and “straight” space.

    And that’s probably, Sweetmachine, why I’m reacting so strongly to this.

    Oh, I guess that your bi experience counts more than my bi experience. I’ll make a note of it.

  116. “I actually felt the same way reading the post way upthread about the woman who felt that she should not intrude on gatherings of p.o.c., because she looked white. How do they find safe spaces of their own when they fall in the cracks?”

    We don’t have safe spaces. I look white, so white people feel safe in venting racist views about PoC around me. This includes my white mother’s family, and in fact they’ve vented their views on “those Mexicans” in front of not only me, but my very obviously Mexican father (they’ve known him for nearly 40 years at this point and no longer “see” his skin color). I don’t feel totally safe with them, or with most whites. I’m always on guard and always notice when there are no other obvious PoC around. OTOH, as I mentioned above, I’m light enough that I’m “white” to people who really are PoC. Add to that the fact that my ethnic culture was stolen from me before I was even born (grandparents came here and raised my dad and siblings in the middle of the assimilation movement) and I have no idea where I belong and if trying to reclaim my ethnicity/get involved with PoC groups is cultural misappropriation.

    I understand that it’s much worse for people who are black/white biracial. They’re “too black” for many whites and “not black enough” for some blacks. Barack Obama is a good example.

    Sorry for the thread hijack. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  117. I’m honestly not sure it’s a hijack. I think it’s more central to the question-asker’s real issues than any question about rudeness or non-rudeness.

  118. Quick thought/question:

    But yeah, I’d NEVER talk about my body issues around anyone who’s drastically off from me size-wise in either direction. If I did that around my larger friends, I think they’d be entitled to slap me.

    You know what? When you put it that way, it makes a ton more sense to me. I’m reading that, going, “well, of course.” And then I realize that maybe I get it after all. I guess part of me thought that this line of thinking was close to good fat / bad fat, but I can see now how it wouldn’t be that at all.

    I personally am not sure what I think about this. I am a “tweener” so to speak, rather on the thin side of “tweenie.” I can shop at mainstream stores that do have higher ranges, although I used not to be able to (things changed, not really a “diet” situation). Anyway, I have friends who are much larger than me and when we’ve talked about size issues, and I was explicit in knowing that I had privilege, and when we were close enough to talk openly about these things, they were great people to talk to about this.

    I don’t think I was violating their space at all. And I have had great conversations with smaller folks about size issues as well, because they knew I was open to talking to them about it.

    Is it necessarily wrong/insensitive to talk to someone of a different size about size issues? Is that what’s being said? To me it seems very situational. In the LW’s situation, I agree with Aunt Fattie that she clearly was intruding on safe space. (But the letter is really inspecific and so it’s hard to tell if K was being as rude as some think or not, IMHO.)

  119. Because I’m sick of the privilege game boiling down to “you have privilege, and therefore you don’t have to be treated with respect.”

    Yep, you’re on to us. That’s the message of this site in a nutshell.

  120. That’s the message of this site in a nutshell.

    Just like the message of the Aunt Fattie post is “you deserve to be cussed out”!

  121. Because I’m sick of the privilege game boiling down to “you have privilege, and therefore you don’t have to be treated with respect.”

    Wha? What is this privilege game you speak of? Is it anything like that race and/or gender card game I keep hearing about?

  122. Redblossom, if you play the race card or gender card three times in a row, you have to yell “rummy.”

  123. shinobi, but what percent gay are you? Quite aside from the fact that a bi statistician should know these things, we need to know when dealing out cards for the Privilege Game.

  124. The point is, friendship and safe spaces are related but by no means inextricable concepts.

    Absolutely. A majority of my friends don’t “get” the FA thing, and certainly show no interest in it at all. They talk about dieting and their body-hating/Weight Watchering/TOPS/hoo-hah bleh bleh meetings and points and calories and whatever and I just stare at them like Nipper, the RCA dog, just like I stare at them when the topic of relationships come up. I’ve never been in one, I’ve never slept with anyone, I have absolutely no insight or tales to relate so it’s not unusual for me to sit in silence and pray the topic changes at some point while they yammer on about what wacky fuckin’ hi-jinks they’ve gotten up to with their partners.

    Safe space and friends have never been mutually exclusive in my universe. I feel like a safe space of one 99 percent of the time (save the Fatosphere, of course).

  125. I have to say, I too was taken aback when I thought that Aunt Fattie was endorsing K’s rudeness. Perhaps she should consider whether she unintentionally phrased her response in such a way so that multiple people misread it?

  126. Personally I think it sounds a lot like bullying. I probably wouldn’t if NSBBB hadn’t been invited on the original trip but whilst I think Aunt Fatty has a good point wrt safe spaces it is just soooo high school to have something fabulous happen when you couldn’t attend which means you automatically can’t stay in the clique.
    I’m willing to bet that nearly all the women on this thread can remember a time from when they were growing up when they were ill, or their Mum just didn’t understand how important it was that they could go, only to find the next day they no longer know the in-jokes/they aren’t wearing their hair right anymore (and aren’t allowed to put it right because it’s copying/they aren’t allowed to come. There are plenty of ways for them to carve out a safe space without being suddenly exclusionary.

    Also because weight is not a discrete thing it’s hard and perhaps a little unfair to draw cut-offs (though I don’t think they can help how they feel). Some of my friends have a coffee group which they jokingly call the 200 club, and being 10lbs short at the moment I’d be pretty upset if they said I couldn’t tag along when I’m in the area. Whereas I’d be less upset (though still a tiny bit) if they barred when my weight dips a stone or two during the rowing season. If you start playing whose fatter than who things get pointless. As has been said before on this site, there will be someone who is the fattest but why on earth should anyone care?

    I can’t quite articulate what I mean, but there is apoint in there somewhere, I’m sure (it’s buried deep).

  127. After a minute of my silence and clearly looking hurt, K not so sincerely told me I could come “if I wanted to,” but if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.

    Am I the only person who saw this as a blustering attempt at humour to cover an awkward moment? I’m pretty sure K isn’t actually going to get NSBBB on the scale and uninvite her if she’s the wrong side of 1xx.

    Also, to be honest, this isn’t like some week-long holiday that they’re only going to do once a year. It’s a day at the beach. They did it once, they said they’d do it again sometime, and she assumed that she was invited this time. Her friend could have made it more clear that it was a Big Girl thing from the start, but not inviting her is not necessarily a sign that the friendship is on the rocks.

    I’ll never argue that K couldn’t have handled the situation better, but I think Aunt Fattie effectively explains why NSBBB was excluded – and it’s not because they don’t like her or because they’re big meanypants pooperheads. Just insensitive.

  128. Jane wrote: have absolutely no insight or tales to relate so it’s not unusual for me to sit in silence and pray the topic changes at some point

    Maybe I have a different perspective on this, but I always thought this kind of interaction was just part and parcel of being friends? Especially a group of friends? Sometimes the topic of conversation is something I’m really interested in or affects me directly, so I’m right in the middle of things, and sometimes it’s a topic I know nothing about or doesn’t interest me at all or doesn’t resonate with me or whatever, and I get to sit it out for awhile. Yes, it gets kind of weird if it goes on for a long time, but it’s been my experience that the topic always does change. I know others may have different experiences.

  129. Where is anyone getting an endorsement of rudeness? I was under the impression that NSBBB understood K’s behavior as “insensitivity”, and wanted to know about why such a good friend would act so cruelly. Aunt Fattie delivered just the sort of explanation I would have wanted when I was figuring out that, in addition to the white, relatively wealthy, able-bodied, hetero, etcetera, privilege that I posses, I have also retained -gasp! – thin privilege. While there’s no such thing as a completely safe space, everyone should have some sort of refuge. I didn’t see Aunt Fattie condoning K’s behavior, just illuminating the most likely reason, and urging the LW to have a heart-to-heart with her friend .

  130. Am I the only person who saw this as a blustering attempt at humour to cover an awkward moment?

    NO YOU ARE NOT.

    I said basically this in a comment above, and I totally read it the same way you did. Hence “ham-handed” in the original post — I think K did a terrible job of covering her dismay, which she may not have completely unpacked herself (we don’t know that she’s got a history of fat-positivity or that she’s even heard of thin privilege, we just know that everyone’s affected by it). But, especially given that we’re privy to no other complaints about K and no indication that things were anything less than hunky-dory up until this point, I definitely read this as “major awkward moment leading to supreme foot-mouthing,” not “K is a bitch.” I know I said Occam’s Razor up there but sometimes things are not so black-and-white, you know?

  131. @redblossom – I didn’t say that Aunt Fattie was actually endorsing rudeness; I said that I initially read it as such, and obviously other people did as well.

    The fix would be as simple as putting a short sentence near the top saying, “It’s unfortunate that K seemingly panicked and replied in such a way.” Then maybe we wouldn’t have so much arguing going on down here, and could actually concentrate on discussing privilege. (The topic’s fraught enough on its own!)

  132. I’m a little flabbergasted that I hear so many people saying what boils down to “if you could have moved the part where K was rude a little higher, we would have read it.”

  133. I didn’t see it as an endorsement of the rudeness, either.

    Anecdote that may or may not be relevant. In college I used to go out to a lesbian bar (the lesbian bar, I guess) and had a straight friend who really wanted to go with us “to support us” (in picking up chicks? Dunno.) And she we could go with us, generally decked out in her “ally” gear with her “straight but not narrow” buttons and would loudly tell everyone how she was there to support her lesbian friends and this was the one place where she was the only breeder in the room–hahaha. I know she wasn’t being malicious but it was hard to go out with someone who viewed our friendship as a statement rather than just a friendship (not to mention her constant reiteration of her straightness I think indicated her desire to not be misinterpreted which, yeah…). When one of our friends said something to her she got very hurt and told anyone who would listen that we kicked her out for being straight. It was all a misunderstanding and a lot of weird social/personal issues getting in the way of communication. I think the whole talk it out from a position of trying to be empathetic is excellent advice.

  134. I’m a little flabbergasted that I hear so many people saying what boils down to “if you could have moved the part where K was rude a little higher, we would have read it.”

    @fillyjonk – That’s absolutely NOT what I said. What is actually happening is that you put the seeming defense of K’s actions at the top in a lengthy section, followed by a short part talking about how to discuss NSBBB’s hurt feelings with her. You a) never explicitly called it rude, and b) seemed to put it as a afterthought. I think if you think of it in those terms, you’ll see why so many people misread you.

    Why not just make the edit and clear up all of the confusion?

  135. Risha, can you explain the difference between what fj said and what you’re saying she should have said? This quote in particular seems to be putting across that message pretty clearly.

    “She handled it badly; she should have been more gentle and communicative, and most importantly, she should not have included you in plans last year only to break them this year. She is not being up front and she is not being true to her word.”

  136. She handled it badly; she should have been more gentle and communicative, and most importantly, she should not have included you in plans last year only to break them this year. She is not being up front and she is not being true to her word.

    I might note that this is part of the lengthy section up top. Is this not a clear enough condemnation of K’s behaviour for people or are they just not reading carefully enough?

  137. Sounds like K and her little group are being rather elitist. If K and the poster do practically everything together, it’s rather f-ed up that K would not include the poster. Maybe this is a case of reverse discrimination and the poster should start looking for a nicer friend.

  138. I’ve been having an extremely complex reaction to this letter and the ensuing comment thread.

    I think Aunt Fattie’s response was completely appropriate in addressing thin privilege and the need for safe space. I benefit from several types of privilege, and I’ve been working on being more aware of privilege and how it affects myself and my fellow human beings. The people who seem to be the most offended by the concept of privilege are the people who understand privilege the least.

    I think that K and NSBBB had different ideas about the nature of the BGBC. For K and the other women from the first beach trip, the BGBC may be a safe space for fat women (a safe space in which NSBBB is, for whatever reason, not welcome).

    But I think NSBBB saw it as an exercise in body-positivity. She mentioned in her letter that she’s struggling with body-acceptance issues. NSBBB may have viewed the trip to the beach as a fun and safe way to gain some much-needed confidence with people she believed would be non-judgmental.

    There is a difference in a safe space for people of an oppressed group and a space that promotes body-positivity regardless of size, and I think a lot of people–K and NSBBB included–have difficulty making these distinctions, especially people who benefit from privilege.

    That said, I was very hurt that the negative comments made towards NSBBB’s body were not addressed in Aunt Fattie’s response. While Shapely Prose is first and foremost a safe space for people of size, I also thought it was a body-positive space in free from negative comments directed towards bodies of all shapes and sizes.

    The “Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?” post states that fat people are human beings, and that human beings deserve respect. But thin people, and the people who fall between the cracks are human beings as well. Privileged or not, they deserve respect.

    I consider Shapely Prose a safe space in which my body–regardless of its size–will not be judged negatively by anyone (excepting trolls). I interpreted K’s judgment of NSBBB’s body as negative body talk, and I was surprised that Aunt Fattie didn’t address this in her response.

    (If I’ve made any false assumptions or used incorrect terminology, please let me know. I tried to voice my opinions clearly and appropriately, but I may have erred along the way.)

  139. @emilymorgan and @Becky – Out of context, that quote is exactly what I was saying she should put at the top. However, in the actual piece it’s buried halfway down between:

    “She may worry that you’re slumming, or just that your presence will change the tenor of the weekend. (Even the most feminist man might not be welcome at a girls’ night out.)”.

    and,

    “But once you glimpse the root causes of her defensiveness, her actions, however ham-handed, are understandable.”

    It’s part of the overall defense of K’s actions, not a separate thought. Some people really may have skimmed over it completely, since the thesis of the paragraph had already been established.

    I wasn’t intending this to turn into some sort of condemnation of the whole piece – I was just trying to be helpful, explain what people were misreading, and suggest a simple edit that could clear up most of the confusion. If a large number of people, despite your best intentions, misread what you wrote, why not rephrase it? *frustrated*

  140. Risha, I see what you’re saying, I think. My instinct is that fj felt that the problem with K’s actions was far more evident than the potential reasons for those actions, so she chose to focus on the latter (seeing it as more useful for saving the friendship). Where I disagree with you is that I don’t read it as a defense of K’s actions, per se, or as an afterthought. But I think on the balance you’re probably right. When someone’s that far out of line, maybe people want to deal with the outrage first and then move on to root causes.

  141. I’m late to the club as always.

    But I’m thinking, what if NSBBB isn’t such a great friend to K as she thinks she is?

    What if “1xx” means, not 190 or 160 or even 140 but 115 or 125?

    What if NSBBB is one of those thinner women who are “working on their issues with their bodies” but in the meantime can’t shut up about their feelings of subjective fatness and her dieting habits around actual fat women?

    We don’t know any of these things, but it might make more sense from K’s (un-represented) perspective. It was still quite crass of her to reference NSBBB’s weight and set a kind of weight requirement for going on the weekend, but perhaps the unspoken business that needs to be attended to here is less that K is being a rude jerk, and more that NSBBB is clueless (willfully or not) about how she comes off to her larger friends?

  142. I think Christina’s question regarding safe space for people with some privilege, but not perfect privilege is intriguing.

    In my own case, I have friends of all sizes. I have one set of friends where one is large, one is small, and two of us are kind of inbetween. Each of them except me is on a diet. When they talk diets, my eyes glaze over, but I don’t want to discuss politics with them when we’re out for drinks, so I let it go. I’ll make body acceptance comments where I can, but their self-loathing is palpable and I am not their psychiatrist. There’s only so much I can do.

    I have another set of friends where one is large, one is tiny and I am inbetween. None of these girls is on a diet, and we are always complimenting one another’s appearances and outfits and eating good food together – some eat less, some more, but no one cares who takes home a doggy bag and who doesn’t. I won’t ask you to guess which group of friends I enjoy my time with more.

    So! In the case of FA, I think a safe space for people of varying sizes can be achieved as long as everyone has the same mindset. It’s less about size than mentality. I would not hesitate to wear my swimsuit to the beach with my size 2 and size 24 friends. Why? Because I don’t expect them to be judging my body; after all, they aren’t judging their **own** bodies.

    Aunt Fatty is right to answer the letter writer’s question as she posed it, a request for help on how to handle the situation. Auntie suggested a discussion which is likely to be enlightening for both parties. The explanation of thin privilege is not intended as an excuse for K’s fumbled joke/likely unintentional rudeness, but as a springboard for the letter writer to think about as she discusses the issue with her very good friend.

    I heart Aunt Fatty.

  143. Emmy – your comment Privilege can be a very hurtful word, and it’s not always helpful to communication is so condescending it kind of hurt my back teeth. And your Straw Fatty who is just such a good little fat girl so why won’t the bigger fat girls let her play fat girl games is, um… what were your words? “Not a very good [example] to use.”

    Nobody operating from an oppressed identity has it in their job description to pick nice fluffy words that always make less marginalized people feel good. Sometimes you just gotta say what’s going on, and sometimes that word is PRIVILEGE.

    Also, I’d like to play Privilege Rummy please. May I have a hand appropriate to a white middle-class employed bi femme size 18 with an hourglass shape, a PhD, and health insurance?

  144. I can’t stay for all the comments, so sorry if I’m repeating something, but on safe spaces:

    Sometimes we like to trash the privileged group without having to coddle the feelings of it’s individual members. A safe space can be made fairly hostile by friends who want us to pull the conversation over every five minutes to discuss their hurt feelings. (See men on feminist websites who want to derail the conversation all the time to talk about their individual niceness, effectively silencing the women having the conversation.)

    Sure, it’s rude to say “You must be this fat” as opposed to something more tactful. It seems like the OP invited herself along, her good friend could have been trying to spare her a weekend of feeling like everyone hated her personally (as opposed to hating the entire concept of thin privilege).

    As someone who’s had to uninvite a lot of friends from parties, D&D night, and just hanging out on the weekend, I can tell you it’s not easy. Basically we have a “You do not talk about Fight Club” (Fat Club?) rule, where we move the night and don’t discuss it around the uninvited party. They know we probably went ahead without them, but they don’t have it rubbed in their faces.

  145. I agree with some other commenter, that to me reading it (though I may just be reading to much into it) it sounded like a case of someone not seeing themselves as thin as others see them.

    I have a post on my blog, as of right now the first one on the page, with pictures of me throughout my life and some experiences with fat through time.

    And looking back I have that “oh my gosh, I was so thin!” At the time? I thought I was HUGE!

    I’m still at the smaller end of plus size even. And despite how big I often feel, I still have a lot of size privilege over larger women.

    And I remember a time, at the beach actually (though not in swimsuits or swimming, just chillin), when somehow stomach size came up and I made some comment about having the largest stomach of anyone there. I forget exactly what my friends said, who clearly was larger in that area than me, but she was clearly annoyed with me. And I realized after how that may have been very hurtful to her.
    But the thing is, when I said that- I believed I was right. When corrected I realize “oh yeah…” But at the moment it was stated, I saw myself as so large that of course none of my friends were as big as me!

  146. I didn’t mean the post itself, I was talking in general to the comments that were being posted…

    But I’ve fallen into exactly what NSBBB situation before kind of, slightly different but in a shopping situation… that’s why I made the comment I made. She asked the question because she’s hurt;

    I agree with what was said by Aunt Fattie, my comments were to the comments posted, everyone assuming that the whole 1xx = thin or at least a good deal thinner.

    @sweetmachine: My point of bring you up was only to prove a point, it’s different because well it would be you… people would react differently.

    Again though I say this from the stand point of someone who is “thin” or “fat” depending on who it is I’m around, what bug someone has up their bum that day.

  147. There’s irony in counter-grouping in general. I’ve found that most counter-groups innately feel the need to have a solidified “enemy” or “oppressor” to fight back against.

    Your friends like you but since you’ve lost weight you’ve now fallen into the “enemy” category by their own definition of those terms. This doesn’t mean your no longer their friend it seems. There are times depending on the group/situation where that’s exactly what it would mean or worse; however, it DOES seem that the other girls now view you as “not fat enough” to be a part of their cause which is almost an instinctual quality to their kind of “group”. How you consider yourself is unimportant as they feel it would defeat the purpose of an “enemy” being present at the even which symbolizes their views on their own fat and other’s as well.

    This is in fact the downfall of many counter-cultures. They end up ostracizing you much in the same way they were when you are mentally and emotionally their comrade in ideology, or are simply trying to help.

    In my opinion while your friend’s actions are “understandable” from the point of view that this is her knee-jerk self-protective reaction, it’s still ignorant and hypocritical of not only her own pain of being set aside as not good enough for things because she’s fat, but also ignorant of your friendship and good intentions as well.


  148. msruth, on June 30th, 2008 at 9:48 pm Said:

    Personally I think it sounds a lot like bullying.


    (Gee, I hope the html tags work…)

    To be honest, I was a little shocked to see what looks like bullying behavior against Tai by fillyjonk, sweetmachine, and others, including kateharding. As a newbie, I may be misinterpreting their remarks as being snide, when instead they may be meant as just friendly ribbing of an accepted member of the Shapely Prose group who has a different take on Aunt Fattie‘s latest column.

    But personally I agree with Tai‘s assessment of the basic issue: the group invited the LW to the first beach-trip, and she had to decline. Now, having had a fabulous time, they’re going again, and they not only told the LW all about what a great time she missed, they’ve told her they’re going again, and also when. Only now she’s not invited, and the person she thought was her Very Good Friend told her so to her face, and was rude and irritable and resentful about her a) assuming she was included, and b) having hurt feelings about it.

    I don’t pretend to know what the dynamic is there: whether K was having PMS and just feeling cranky, or if the LW is a human sticking-plaster whom K would love to get out of her hair, or what. But I, too, read Aunt Fattie’s answer as being more concerned with K’s right to exclude the LW than with K’s rude manner of doing so. Having been on both sides of the question in the past, I have to agree with Tai: the rudeness was inexcusable.

    Forgivable? Maybe. I’ve both forgiven and been forgiven of rude, clueless, inconsiderate, and sometimes really pissy behavior. But there honestly is no excuse for making another person feel way the LW was made to feel. It’s just rotten and rude and inexcusable.

  149. your comment Privilege can be a very hurtful word, and it’s not always helpful to communication is so condescending it kind of hurt my back teeth.

    Gee. My words caused unintentional upset to you? Must mean that you need to re-examine your position, because it couldn’t possibly be that I was thoughtless or insensitive, now, could it?

    And your Straw Fatty who is just such a good little fat girl so why won’t the bigger fat girls let her play fat girl games is, um… what were your words? “Not a very good [example] to use.”

    … Ooo, made of straw, now, is she? Hope that’s not flammable.

    There’s nothing straw-man about a realistic description of a lot of people reading and posting to this blog.

    As I said very clearly – the point was NOT that the Good Little Fat Girl has it worse than the people who are twice her size, the point is that the 200-pound girl generally does not consider herself to be in a position of thin privilege, because she feels herself constantly oppressed and abused by thin society. How in the world is throwing “You’re so privileged!” in her face supposed to achieve anything positive?

    Oh, right. You don’t want to accomplish anything and you have no interest in being accepted by mainstream society, who are all a bunch of skinny bitches anyway. You just want to sit around and moan. (There, NOW I’ve made a straw man.)

    Nobody operating from an oppressed identity has it in their job description to pick nice fluffy words that always make less marginalized people feel good. Sometimes you just gotta say what’s going on, and sometimes that word is PRIVILEGE.

    Personally, I would like the minorities I belong to to be accepted and tolerated by the mainstream, and therefore I’ll take all the friends and allies I can get.

  150. Gingembre, I agree. I read all the comments before saying the same thing because I figured I couldn’t be the only one seeing that. It doesn’t make up for the fact that her friend felt hurt, but being the sarcastic woman that I am, I’ve definitely made some faux pas (ex-french major can’t figure out if that counts as being plural, too…). My attempts at humor, whether to dissipate a tense situation or to ‘play,’ often fail miserably. Probably more so when I’m feeling stuck or between a rock and a hard place.

  151. Guinnevere, we fully admit to getting snarky when our patience runs thin here at SP. If you see that as bullying, I am not going to try to change your mind.

  152. Personally, I would like the minorities I belong to to be accepted and tolerated by the mainstream, and therefore I’ll take all the friends and allies I can get.

    Emmy, that’s fine that you want that, but not everyone sees making nice as the way to gain acceptance. I think Elusis’s point was that calling out someone’s privilege does not worsen a problem — for instance, you’re not being sexist if you point to something and say “that’s sexist” (though a lot of antifeminists like to pretend you are).

  153. Catching up here…lots of interesting things to think about regarding safe space! I three thousand and twelve-th that Christina’s question about safe space for those who fall into the cracks is an awesome one.

    Also, what hthr said,
    In the case of FA, I think a safe space for people of varying sizes can be achieved as long as everyone has the same mindset.
    really made me think about whom I consider to be ‘safe’ from an FA perspective. The first thing that came to mind was eating a variety of fried things with cheese at a diner with a couple of my thin friends. The zest and enjoyment that they brought to the meal and expected that I would too was incredibly refreshing. No talk of calories, just of NOM. So at least for me, safe is not always dependent on size.

  154. Maybe I’m the stick-in-the-mud feminist (sarcasm), but this comment, “whether K was having PMS and just feeling cranky” – ick. If I weren’t so tired & typing one-handed due to nursing my littlest babe, I’d explain. My guess is that I don’t really need to. I’m not trying to call anyone out – it just rubbed me the wrong way (as so much does anymore… :-D).

  155. I think Elusis’s point was that calling out someone’s privilege does not worsen a problem — for instance, you’re not being sexist if you point to something and say “that’s sexist” (though a lot of antifeminists like to pretend you are).

    Definitely. However, pointing something out and saying it’s sexist is informative and actually helpful to the clueless outsider (especially if you can explain why). Whereas “you wouldn’t understand, you’re a man, get out” isn’t.

    I’m being slightly obnoxious about the issue because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. There are an awful lot of dividing lines out there and for some I’m on one and for some I’m on the other (as far as whether I’m privileged or not). I’m trying to work out some sort of general principles to deal with people from one side wanting to “show support” to the other. I’m not sure yet what I think is appropriate.

  156. @ Godless Heathen – You know, that’s exactly the comparison that popped into my mind when I was reading the original letter, the hijacking of a feminist discussion to be all about the menz. Of course, that doesn’t excuse K’s downright mean-spirited response (I can see it being a horrible foot in mouth joke, but, yeah, intentions don’t mean shit in the face of hurt), but…you know, at this point, I have no idea. I feel myself typing, “oppressed people have no obligation to blah blah blah”, but then I’m like, “wait, this is a trip to the beach, not an FA event…” Which is just making Aunt Fattie’s advice that NSBBB actually talk to her friend K sound more sensible by the minute.

  157. Risha, I see what you’re saying, I think. My instinct is that fj felt that the problem with K’s actions was far more evident than the potential reasons for those actions, so she chose to focus on the latter (seeing it as more useful for saving the friendship). Where I disagree with you is that I don’t read it as a defense of K’s actions, per se, or as an afterthought. But I think on the balance you’re probably right. When someone’s that far out of line, maybe people want to deal with the outrage first and then move on to root causes.

    @emilymorgan – Thank you for clarifying something that I knew instinctively but was having trouble articulating. :)

    Also, your comment about fj feeling like K’s problem was evident made me think. It could be that a lot of the miscommunication happening in this thread is because it’s not necessarily evident to the people she is talking to, which is of course the people who need to hear it the most.

  158. De-lurking.

    Count me as someone who initially felt like evilsciencechick. I think the reason people have been commenting so feverishly on K’s rudeness is that they’re recalling similar experiences of being excluded in a very innapropriate way. I personally remembered a high school incident where I got in a argument with a friend on Saturday, and by Monday all of our friends were ignoring me because they had known this girl longer. The situation is completely different from the LW’s; the only reason I bring it up is that feeling cutoff from a group can be devastating, particularly if you’re really close with the other members. It challenges everything you thought you knew about your friends and can be a bit of a mindjob.

    That said, I like Aunt Fattie’s response. The safe space concept is insightful and valuable to the LW, who seems to think her own body issues are being regarded as trivial. Even if a friend’s actions are inexcusable, it’s comforting to know they resulted from the inability to articulate complex emotions rather than intentionally hurt. (It turned out my friend ignored me so she wouldn’t blow up in my face, she was so angry (I hadn’t thought our fight was a big deal and didn’t realize how badly it affected her) while the others were just being cronies. With that knowledge we gradually repaired the friendship.)

    Of course, anything could be possible. K might just trying to be getting rid of the LW by devising a Big Girl’s Club, who knows? That’s why Aunt Fattie’s advice about talking it over, I think, is the best advice that can be given. Until then it’s just speculation.

  159. I don’t deny nor do I wish to minimize thin privilege, but I know, for me, it’s really not simple. As I said above, I don’t feel that sense of safety around women who are only a size or two smaller than me or who have, what I perceive to be a more acceptable shape. What bothers me is that I’m not sure how to separate the body hatred that might just be my neurosis (neurosis lovingly supplied by a fat-hating society) and the desire to be in a safe space.

    For example, if a woman is the same size as me, but has a more hourglass shape, can I say that she is, in a way, privileged? Is it reasonable for me, in that situation not to want to invite her to a fat shop-a-thon because I don’t feel quite as happy with myself when she’s around. What if she sees my thinner legs as privileged and feels bad if we’re at the beach together.

    Maybe that’s why this letter is getting so many responses, almost anyone can put themself in either situation since the letter is rather vague about the details.

  160. “I can see it being a horrible foot in mouth joke, but, yeah, intentions don’t mean shit in the face of hurt”

    I disagree, i think clarification of intention can mean the world in the face of hurt.

    People can be hurt by incredible things, I’m generally considered to be abrasive by friends/family. Some of them appreciate the attached benefits of that abrasiveness and some of them martyr themselves to counter it. The difference between the two usually lay in whether the person understands the seeming abrasiveness or not. Personally, I think I’m a pretty sweet guy :-p.

    To conclude quickly, I think you’d be amazed at the amount of control someone can establish upon another person by claiming to feel insulted/hurt/emotionally disturbed by something you do/say with all the right intentions at hand.

    It’s been my experience that both the offender and the offended are equally at blame for the promotion of ignorance if neither can sit down and explore the what’s why’s and how’s. It’s that temperament of exploration and the earnest desire not to offend and to grow in whatever social structure your operating that ever solves anything at all.

    So in that sense, I think intention is almost everything.

  161. the tangent most relevant to me is to do with being bisexual but as it happens married to a man. on the outside i look like a heterosexual woman and as such i am given the privilege that comes with that.

    sometimes i don’t want it such as when it includes homophobic comments such as casually talking about the “dyke policewoman” etc

    however unless i am prepared to wear a t-shirt saying
    “my husband just HAPPENS to be a man, HONEST, I would love him just as much if he had a vagina” then i am receiving whether I like it or not, the benefits of being perceived as a heterosexual woman.

    i have to accept the truth of that. the truth is that if I feel strong I can tackle that stuff, but it is my choice, and that choice is a privilege even when I choose to be strong and choose to not let the comments pass unremarked and to challenge them etc. because if I was feeling weak and vulnerable I could just let it pass, that’s my choice and my privilege. if my beloved was a woman and not a man, I wouldn’t have that option.

  162. Heh. This is rather close to home for me. I’m an inbetweenie, and two of my dearest friends are fatter than I am. I sometimes have to fight the urge to chime in on their fat-related discussions–my experience is NOT the same as theirs, and pretending otherwise will only get me a well-deserved smack on the head. It would be swell if they could stop referring to me as a “skinny bitch,” though.

    And granted, I can shop in some of the places they can’t. But when one of said fat friends got married, she found a lovely dress that fit her perfectly, whereas I had to pay an idiotic amount of money to get my bridesmaid dress altered. There was nothing available that came anywhere close to fitting my G-for-Goddamn boobs. Can we talk about Normal Sized Rack privilege, please? :)

  163. “There was nothing available that came anywhere close to fitting my G-for-Goddamn boobs. Can we talk about Normal Sized Rack privilege, please? :)”

    And I thought my triple-Ds-for-Dreadful (times 3!!) were bad. I mean, they’re awesome, but goddamn does nothing ever fit right. I practically have to tape myself down for a slow jog.

  164. Howsabout too short for petites, too busty for Victoria’s Secret, too wide (chest) for regular sizes, too narrow (shoulders) for plus sizes?

  165. To be honest, I was a little shocked to see what looks like bullying behavior against Tai by fillyjonk, sweetmachine, and others, including kateharding. As a newbie, I may be misinterpreting their remarks as being snide, when instead they may be meant as just friendly ribbing of an accepted member of the Shapely Prose group who has a different take on Aunt Fattie’s latest column.

    Tal has proven herself to be a shit disturber on several threads. She derails threads with whatever she feels like talking about, including things that clearly violate the spirit of this site. And in this thread, she’s taken up a lot of real estate bullying Aunt Fattie, while purporting to be an expert on how to give advice non-condescendingly, which is pretty rich. So yes, we get snide when she pulls that shit yet again.

  166. I’m being slightly obnoxious about the issue

    That’s one way of putting it, Emmy…

    How in the world is throwing “You’re so privileged!” in her face supposed to achieve anything positive?

    You sound to me no different than white people who cannot tolerate having their privilege brought up without having to turn criticism into fists. I don’t see anyone here advocating “throwing [anything] in [anyone's] face,” not Aunt Fattie, not No Sharp Edges, not me, not anyone. There is a world of difference between having privilege pointed out to you, and experiencing the discomfort that sometimes comes along with it, and being OMG tormented, shamed, abused, victimized, excluded, whatever dramatic comparison you want to make.

    Gee. My words caused unintentional upset to you? Must mean that you need to re-examine your position, because it couldn’t possibly be that I was thoughtless or insensitive, now, could it?… You don’t want to accomplish anything and you have no interest in being accepted by mainstream society, who are all a bunch of skinny bitches anyway. You just want to sit around and moan.

    And all that hyperbole and drama up there you’re doing in “replying” to me? I see what you did there. Nice try.

    Guinnevere, where are you getting the impression that K and friends “told the LW all about what a great time she missed, they’ve told her they’re going again, and also when”? In NSBBB’s letter, she clearly writes “this weekend they have plans to go again…. I assumed I would be invited as well.”

    That right there is, I think, the heart of the problem: the assumption that NSBBB has, that K is her BFF and thus must invite here *everywhere*. Sometimes, as many people in this comment thread have pointed out, you want a little space from a particular friend. Or you want to hang with a different crowd. Wanting to go to a women’s yoga retreat doesn’t mean you reject your boyfriend. Wanting to be on the queer volleyball team doesn’t mean you hate your straight friends. Wanting to have a blog carnival for fat people of color doesn’t mean that anyone’s oppressing white people (ahem…)

    But NSBBB just “assumed” she had an all-hours pass to K’s entire social life, and her assumption put K in an awkward situation, to which she responded, go figure, awkwardly.

    It’s a real leap of logic to go from “they made plans and I assumed I was included but then it turned out I wasn’t” to “THEY WERE TAUNTING ME WITH THEIR FUN TIMES AND MAKING ME FEEL BAD!”

  167. And what I meant to conclude with was this: It’s amazing how this particular letter is serving as a kind of psychological projection test for people’s personal issues with inclusion and rejection. It’s like a freaking Rorschach – you see what you’re primed to see.

  168. This thread has been fascinating, with folks bringing up “reverse discrimination” and “fat people should be nice because if they aren’t that’s why society thinks fat women are mean!”

    That’s what I kinda hate about being a so-called special interest person. I suddenly represent Every Person Like Me and thus have to act nicely or I’m Letting Down The Team.

    Whereas a “normal” (read: white, male, able-bodied, straight) guy just represents himself.

    I think everyone here knows this, but I’m always surprised when it comes out again to play, you know?

    *plays her disability card* 21!

  169. lol hadn’t even noticed the Tal offshoot but now that I have it’s sort of funny.

    Tal, you try so hard to demonize her friend it’s almost shallow in nature. If you remove her friend’s ability to be “excused” (which she wasn’t afaik) for legitimately human reasons, you are no better than her friend, and probably worse since you understand her emotional perspective and choose to instead of recognizing it and evaluating it fairly, demonizing her.

    In short, stop being purposefully stupid in order to start drama. It’s transparent and you could do better.

  170. Wow, lots of responses. Hmmm, I don’t really know what to say coz I’m flummoxed by all the different perspective. Everyone seems to be correct as I read each response which is rather inconvenient for writing a response. Since I can’t remember where all the various responses goes with whom, my summary of my impression of the situation is that we don’t really know what’s going on with these people. Everything everyone has posited as a possibility could be accurate. Aunt Fattie’s conjecture could be correct too but we don’t know. The only clear thing that we can all agree upon is that these people/friends need to talk to clarify what the hecks goin on in their relationship. Maybe nothing or just maybe all the stuff we have brought up here in this thread.

  171. Forgive me for my assumptions about the letter, but one thing that jumped out at me was perhaps the letter-writer used to be bigger and had lost weight in the past year. The fact that she was invited last year and seemingly was included in immediate plans after the event seem to be a sign. As well as the fact that K immediately jumped to the “well, don’t drop below “x” weight before the trip and you can go.” Like a poster above said, perhaps 1xx was a number that had been flaunted as a goal weight or a ticker mark of something more long term. The fact that K knew the writers weight also seems to indicate that there may be a lot of body-talk occurring and I know the pain/annoyance that comes with listening to someone 4 sizes smaller than me whine about the shape/size/whatever of their own body.

    If this was the case I can certainly see why K went on the defensive. She could have been more tactful, but I could understand the possible hurt and threat of a safe space being invaded.

  172. I think Aunt Fattie is spot on, but I’m in that camp that doesn’t think there’s any reason why NSBBB should have thought herself invited to the beach. Unless, of course, they’d all planned the year before for That Specific Date; if not, then the assumption of universal inclusion seems a little – uh, clingy?

    Adult relationships are complex. There could be any number of other interpersonal things in play. To be sure, I think Aunt Fattie’s analysis of K’s response is dead on; this is about fat women feeling safe amid the fat.

    But I find the conversation strange when it gets to “we shouldn’t exclude it’s a bad thing to do”. Agreed, in halls and institutions of power. Agreed, in access to legal services and social services and career training and bank accounts and basic human decency. But friendship isn’t democratic in quite the same way.

    How we relate, honestly, is exclusionary. I read SP because I like the folks writing here, in exactly the way I’m NOT reading any number of other blogs.

    And I’ve certainly had friends for years and years who have developed personality conflicts with others of my friends: over the years, these “groups” have segmented.

    Universal inclusion in matters of hangin’ out with the chawsome just isn’t honest or fair, some of the time, to the people involved — whether it be safe space for reasons of ‘identity’ sorts of things, or it just be that that person rubs this person the wrong way.

    I’ve also been on the left behind side of things, and that can smart. Whatever the reason is – whether it’s personal or not – it takes a while to negotiate exclusion. To honestly admit you’re hurt is hard to do in the moment, so I feel for the writer: but I feel for the friend, too – it’s hard to tell a friend they’re overstepping. Neither reacted like trained psychologists parsing someone else’s relationship dynamic: I cut them both a little slack, here, and I thought Aunt Fattie did too.

    (Also, if you get below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days strikes me as there a possibility of dieting being in the mix?)

  173. There are two things about this letter that really get me.

    a) “the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities”

    To me, this means that the LW was invited…even though the plans were made a year ago, it seems to me that she was to be included.

    b) if I got below 1xx pounds in the next 2 days, I was uninvited.

    I can’t help but think of the kind of flak the LW would have gotten if the roles were reversed and K was told that if she got above xxx in weight, she would be uninvited. The other thing is, we don’t know if the LW is 125 lbs, or 199 lbs. If we assume she’s thin, it’s maybe a little more understandable. However, if she’s simply fat but thinner than the other women…at what point does this imaginary cut-off point occur? At what weight is the LW no longer considered fat enough to be in this BGBC? It all just sounds a bit arbitrary to me.

  174. anna (playing her disability card) amused me – thank you!

    yes, this thread is amazing as everyone is bringing Their Shit to the table.

    which is fascinating, always

    I love it.

  175. also i should say up front that i was so impressed by Aunt Fattie’s reply as within the space of reading her reply I was persuaded from one position (So rude!) to another (less reactive, and dare-i-say wiser) position, completely, without reservation

    Aunt Fattie is a wise aunt, I say

  176. SL-

    it is arbitrary. This is to me on the part of the friend a case of intuition contradicting what is productive to the ideal and gathering in the first place.

    If the LW is “too skinny”, yet she considers herself overweight, and supports the ideals behind the gathering, why should she be unwanted from attending?

    if the LW is “too skinny”, but used to be too fat, shouldn’t she qualify once more by having the same ideals/emotional trauma?

    If the LW is “too skinny”, but a supportive friend who has been to the event before, why should she be discluded?

    Unless the LW is annoying in some other way I don’t see why her friend would disclude her from attending barring some other unmentioned dynamic.

    On the hand, the LW doesn’t HAVE to be invited to social event, as well as she doesn’t have to see her friend as intelligent enough to consider the pain of ostracizing her for no good reason. Her personal reaction to it all is a very different story altogether.

    It just seems to be a case of short-sightedness on the friend’s part. I think the advice was spot on, she should take the step to be understanding toward her friends concerns and talk to her about her own. Demonizing her like some people leaving comments would suggest is definitely not the answer.

    People hurt other people because people are hurt themselves…

    Usually, anyway.

  177. on another note, can anyone direct me to information on this blog’s opinion on the entire “Privilege” Ideal?

    Or any opinion on it at all since I’ve never really explored the concept under an appropriate name and categorization.

  178. a) “the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities”
    To me, this means that the LW was invited…even though the plans were made a year ago, it seems to me that she was to be included.

    1) Seriously? From *last year*? Even if one of my absolute best and most organized friends said to me this week – “Hey, do you want to go to the beach the first weekend of July 2009? That’d be totally cool” and then I went home and pencilled it into my … uh, computer — well, come July 2009, if she ended up making plans with even our MUTUAL friends and chose not to include me, I just don’t see the “contract”.

    Maybe my friends are all just too old and forgetful these days, and we often talk hopefully about things we’d like to do together that do not come to pass.
    I’d be a little wigged out if a year ago’s golden talk after a good time made for a social contract, to tell you the truth — because we all change, our circumstances, all the time.

    Maybe this time next year, my best friend won’t feel quite so close to me. Or she’ll be discovering something new of herself with other people. That’s part of what I like about people I like. We’re interesting and we grow. Sometimes, that doesn’t include me; sometimes it doesn’t include them. I’m even an introvert…

    2) Is there only one beach day all summer? (This may be the case if finance and geography are prohibitive, yeah.)

    Those things said, and I understand why it hurts and why the letter writer is looking for some help. I’m just a little surprised at this “a-year-ago-plan-makes-for-commitment” thing goin’ round.

    @Elusis – That’s a funny link. I remember being a bit like that, actually, when I was younger. But I like A! And I like B! They MUST be friends!
    Oooh. No. Ouch.

  179. As far as the original post goes–

    I also read it a bit as Aunt Fatty deciding to take up her pet issue (thin privilege, safe spaces) to a person to whom it might not exactly apply. I also read it as the friend assumed that since she was invited to the previous beach thing and was told about the date of this one, that she was invited. Since, you know, these people are her friends.

    You can recognize your privilege and still recognize that you are a person worthy of being treated with respect and consideration, especially by those whom you consider friends. K hurt her friend’s feelings, for what I’m assuming are many, many complex reasons, and some I would assume to be jealousy of her size. Getting to the root of exactly what her feelings are about NSBBB, including her size, are what will solve this problem, not NSBBB simply recognizing her privilege and her friend’s need for a safe space. Her friend’s need for a safe space should never have come between two friends this way, but it did, and the whys and wherefores of that have to do with their specific relationship, not society at large. This may partially be about weight and privilege and prejudice, but it’s between two specific people, not everyone.

    I did feel like NSBBB was scolded for something she didn’t do. Aunt Fatty sent her to the principal’s office for reeducation.

    I think what may be happening is a combination of K wanting time away from NSBBB, and possibly some resentment over her size. I’ve had similar things happen with my fatter friends and also my thinner friends. I’ve had friends refuse to go to the beach with me, insisted other people besides me lay down next to them on the beach, or refuse to take any pictures of the two of us together, because I was making them look fat by comparison (so they said). It made me feel hurt and also uncomfortable. Yet I could see where they were coming from, because I have had the same thoughts about my own thin friends. Such as I don’t want to go out with S, because guys always hit on her and suddenly ignore me. It’s a lot more complicated than just privilege vs. minority, safe space vs. unsafe. I had to come to terms with the fact that I AM OKAY, and I am just fine the way I am, and other people’s issues about their size and mine have nothing to actually do with me or who I am or how I see myself. And I had to learn not to be threatened by my smaller friends, because otherwise I would make myself miserable by constantly comparing and see them judging me when they actually weren’t at all and just wanted to spend time with me. I would have poisoned some of the most rich relationships in my life. And that would, quite simply, suck.

  180. I can’t speak for the blog, but I can speak to my concept of privilege. Often, people seem to get get frustrated with the idea of privilege – “but I’m white/male/hearing/thin/rich and I have to work for what I have, it’s not like a club where they hand me everything on a platter, I’m competing too”.

    But privilege isn’t about having stuff completely handed to you. To my mind, it’s about 2 things:

    1) The stuff you don’t have to think about. Until I was pushing a stroller, I simply wasn’t aware of what was or was not wheelchair accessible in all the areas of my life. I am white, and so the fact that a black friend of mine always buys pockets with zippers so she can zip them shut so she doesn’t get accused of shoplifting — well, that’s a fear that I just don’t have.

    2) Normative standard and how it “brands” roles in our society. Think of these phrases:
    “I was talking to an investment banker”.
    “I was talking to a woman on the bus.”
    “I was talking to a house-cleaner.” (Pshaw. We’d say maid, wouldn’t we? And gender it right way.)
    I was talking to a gospel singer.” — if any of those gives you an image of a particular person, you’ve found a normative standard. That normative standard helps in a few ways positive and negative, but I think the most powerful is how it helps you contextualize your failure. Did you fuck up and therefore “are not a REAL X?”, Did you fuck up because “X’s aren’t good at that thing?” Or did you fuck up because you are learning and you’ll do better next time?

    And people need to talk about that in order get over it.

  181. I apologize if this point is now exhausted but I had to stop reading comments 4/5 of the way down or my eyeballs were going to dry up and fall out.
    First, I heartily commend Christina for coherently verbalizing the issue that was gnawing at my brain. What about us in the cracks? I’m just barely 2XX but even if I dipped down to a high 1XX I would still consider myself sanctioned by society for daring to get-my-beach-on. No need to go over the spectrum of privilege, I get it. No need to rehash the desire for safe space among a group of like-experienced individuals (although the comment that referred to weight “classes” is disturbing). What about the weekend’s plans meant NSBBB would threaten that space?

    Perhaps there were legitimate concerns that the desired dynamic of the group would be altered if she came (we just don’t have all the facts there) BUT the response that she couldn’t fall below a certain weight or else… is preposterous. I know this was a beach and beverage–light hearted–gathering but just a little key re-framing of the safe space would allow less-fatties, fatties, and fattiers to participate together. The “rules” for membership could be “no discussing our bodies, period”, “no shame, no full-body swimsuit covers, we’re going to be out and proud in our full glory”, and “get over yourself and have some fun”. This is fun, this is irreverent, and most importantly it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of size or shape… which is kind of the point isn’t it? That is all.

  182. on another point, and I’m not saying they should or should not have their “Fatties only” beach getaway, but I think it’s counter-productive to disclude people on weight or have weight focused get aways just because you’ve been discluded on the same principle.

    Wouldn’t “lets go out as friends to the beach regardless of our weight.” be a much healthier attitude?

  183. I might not have the best perspective on this as a thin Shapeling, but if me and my friends had made plans for a big, fun event and I’d had ALL YEAR to look forward to it, and then at the last second my best friend told me I wasn’t invited because of the way I look, I’d probably spend about four days nonstop crying. Unless the LW unintentionally makes her friends uncomfortable about their bodies, which I doubt because K’s reasons were only based on size. Discrimination against fat and against thin (or less fat) are not the same thing, but it still hurts, especially since the LW was dealing with her body issues at the time, and maybe she needed a safe space too.

    Having said that, she needs to talk to her other friends to see if they feel the same way. It might have been K alone feeling uncomfortable about having the LW at the party, and in that case they need to work out their issues without dragging their other friends in. A friend of mine once recieved a text message from someone she thought of as a friend that basically said that he and his friends didn’t want her around anymore. It turned out that his friends had no idea he said that and did indeed want her around, and he was just a big ol’ jerk.

  184. ChooChoo Bear:

    She ASSUMED she was invited. ASSUMED. Because K invites her to everything, therefore NSBBB thought she had an automatic “in.” Whose fault is that?

    As I wrote just a few comments above, “NSBBB just “assumed” she had an all-hours pass to K’s entire social life, and her assumption put K in an awkward situation, to which she responded, go figure, awkwardly.”

  185. I feel for the LW because she clearly was hurt by her friend not including her on a trip she assumed she’d been invited on. I also understand her friends perhaps wanting a safe space. I’m not sure if there’s a complete right or wrong here, not when both people’s feelings are involved.

    I do wonder whether K made the comment about it being the BIG girls’ beach club’ because she felt the LW knew her well enough not to take it badly, believing that the LW was a close enough friend to see that K and her large friends wanted their safe space, without realising immediately that the LW would take it differently. In other words, L could be saying, “You will understand this because you’re a really good friend” and LW could be hearing “You can’t come because you’re not my friend.” They really need to sit down and discuss it, and perhaps have a non-exclusive fun day out.

    Perhaps the LW would also benefit from other friends: if she had a few more with whom she did things without K, she’d find it less hurtful when K wanted to do things without her.

  186. There is a world of difference between having privilege pointed out to you, and experiencing the discomfort that sometimes comes along with it, and being OMG tormented, shamed, abused, victimized, excluded, whatever dramatic comparison you want to make.

    Um… when did I ever say that they were being tormented, shamed, abused, or victimised? I said they might be upset. I don’t think that’s a particularly unrealistic thing to say, especially considering the link you’re posting there.

    Pointing out someone’s privilege by merely saying “you have privilege” does not help them to understand, and may offend them. Is it your job to be non-offensive at all times? Probably not.

    But I personally would rather foster understanding. And I would like to figure out how best to do that, from both sides of the line.

    to Anna:
    That’s what I kinda hate about being a so-called special interest person. I suddenly represent Every Person Like Me and thus have to act nicely or I’m Letting Down The Team.

    Whereas a “normal” (read: white, male, able-bodied, straight) guy just represents himself.

    Well, the straight white guy still has to put up with ‘see, that’s what I hate about men, they’re all X’ every time he does something boneheaded in front of a woman. :)

    I don’t think Straight White Christian English-Speaking Monogamous Suit-Wearing Fulltime-working Men are free from stereotype, it’s just that their stereotypes are often more beneficial to them.

  187. The worst thing about the “Straight White Christian English-Speaking Monogamous Suit-Wearing Fulltime-working Men” is that there are people who revel in this stereotype.

    Corporate world working citizen here speaking, It’s a hell of a lot easier to be ignorant when the ignorance is generating joy and profit for you.

  188. *plays her disability card* 21!

    And wins!

    Anna, I’ve started to flinch with mortification every time I read a comment on the tubes to the effect of. “Hey, if we had a WET channel; white fat women’s carnival, National Association of White People… whatever.” Progress of a sort, I suppose.

    And I think there’s a lot more to think story than we’re getting from a single letter. I hope that these two friends actually talk about it and sort out their feelings and assumptions without anyone getting hurt again.

  189. And I think there’s a lot more to think story than we’re getting from a single letter.

    Absolutely. And the thing is, that’s true about every letter; everyone on this thread is imagining an elaborate backstory for this situation, but the truth is, Aunt Fattie can only respond to the information at hand. I think most people recognize that but I’ve been a bit surprised that some people are particularly invested in one scenario or another.

  190. “And granted, I can shop in some of the places they can’t. But when one of said fat friends got married, she found a lovely dress that fit her perfectly, whereas I had to pay an idiotic amount of money to get my bridesmaid dress altered. There was nothing available that came anywhere close to fitting my G-for-Goddamn boobs. Can we talk about Normal Sized Rack privilege, please? :)”

    Oh good grief does this sound too familiar. “Normal Sized Rack privilege.” BWAH!

    How ’bout normal-sized rack AND ribcage privilege? I wear a size 30 band and a G cup in US sizing (F cup in UK sizing)- thanks, Mom. US companies don’t make size 30 bands unless they’re in the training bra range so ALL of my bras are imports and cost at least $50 each. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go to Target and plunk down $15 on a 36 C.

    Still shuddering over my own bridesmaid dress tailoring nightmare. I remember the look on the seamstress’s face when I modeled the unfitted dress for her, and she replied after a moment with “Well, I’m not sure what I can do but we’ll see.” Then the bride’s mother’s post-alteration comment of “Is that the same dress that Liz picked out for you to wear? It doesn’t look like the same dress.” Well, dear, your 5’7″, B-cup, size 6 daughter picked this skinny-strap no-dart empire-waist dress out for the 5-foot-tall girl with rack o’doom to wear. To get it to fit over the boobies at all, I had to go up a few sizes everywhere else. What did you think would happen?

  191. As a man with extreme bias I propose the rack privilege issue be solved with the banning of all bra’s.

    Equal lack of support for all!

  192. @Arwen

    “1) Seriously? From *last year*? Even if one of my absolute best and most organized friends said to me this week – “Hey, do you want to go to the beach the first weekend of July 2009? That’d be totally cool” and then I went home and pencilled it into my … uh, computer — well, come July 2009, if she ended up making plans with even our MUTUAL friends and chose not to include me, I just don’t see the “contract”.”

    See…that’s just the thing…you’re making it out as though it’s just some random beach day, but it’s not. It sounds to me like this was a special girls day out with a certain group of friends. LW was invited to the first annual trip, but couldn’t make it. It’s not wrong for her to assume she’d be invited to the second annual trip, especially since “the group and I all made plans to head down to the beach again and repeat the festivities”. And these are all working women, it seems. They may have kids, families, other obligations, so yes, this might actually be the only beach trip they all have time for.

    I wouldn’t call it a ‘contract’ no. But, if my BFF and mutual friends planned, say, a th of July trip to the beach a year prior, and they STILL planned on going to that 4th of July trip, but suddenly I was uninvited because I wasn’t fat enough…well, that would be pretty crappy.

    I’m just thinking, what if LW *had* been able to attend the first one. Would they still have called it BGBC? If so, then LW would be a member of said club and automatically invited.

  193. @crossbuster I don’t know if I want to laugh at that comment or rage… that very much rings a “woman’s bodys are property” to me but I haven’t been around long enough to know if you’re a regular

    @everyone else: >_> I think a lot of this is my fault…. I feel bad now =\

  194. Erin –

    It was a joke. You should want to laugh, I hope anyway.

    “woman’s body’s are property” <—-

    No idea how you came up with that out of my joke though?

    You could say I’m inconsiderate to female underwear needs. you could say I’m a disgusting objectifying pig.

    I don’t really see how my joke implied ownership of a woman’s body though?

    I’m honestly stumped. Sorry if you couldn’t appreciate the humor lol.

    Tough fucking crowd :-)

  195. If the LW is “too skinny”, yet she considers herself overweight, and supports the ideals behind the gathering, why should she be unwanted from attending?

    Honestly, to me, a thin person who considers themselves fat (rather than a thin person who is more or less happy with their body) feels the least safe of all. If my friend is disgusted by her own barely touching thighs, how is she going to feel about my enormous ones visible in my bathing suit, or when I talk about my inner thigh chafing? If she is freaking out about wearing a size 8, what is she going to think when I tell her I shop in plus sizes or talk about my experiences trying to find cute plus sized clothes? I would worry she’d be disgusted, horrified. I don’t feel comfortable talking about fat issues or being too uncovered in front of my thin friend who think they’re fat. I hide, hide, hide in front of them. In front of everyone to a certain extent, because we live in a fatphobic society, but especially in front of those friends. And I can’t tell you how much it would mean to me to have a space where I didn’t have to hide (besides this one, but virtual space just isn’t the same).

    also read it a bit as Aunt Fatty deciding to take up her pet issue (thin privilege, safe spaces) to a person to whom it might not exactly apply.

    Pet issue? Aunt Fatty is an advice columnist at a fat acceptance blog. If the LW didn’t want an answer from a fat acceptance perspective, she wrote to the wrong person.

    As a man with extreme bias I propose the rack privilege issue be solved with the banning of all bra’s.

    You will pry my bra away from my cold dead hands =)

  196. Women’s bodies are property => Women’s bodies aren’t their own to dress for their own comfort, they belong to men to dress for their viewing pleasure.

    Erin, you were hardly the only person to bring up those concerns, I don’t think you have anything to blame yourself for.

  197. @crossbuster: I meant in a general societial way. It came off as “Hey ladies lets see those tits with no bras!” … and I think that’s how you meant it, which is exactly what Becky said..

    Thank you Becky too. I just felt a little bit of guilty people go very upset about it on both sides, I guess this stuff is all really sensitive for everyone =\

  198. If we are to believe LW, K was pretty tactless in her response. But LW also gives off a very clingy vibe in her letter. Sometimes always being with friends wherever you go isn’t healthy either.

    But there’s more to the story that we don’t know. When LW says she has body issues, is she constantly being fatphobic in front of K and the other women? It’s extremely difficult to be positive about your body when others around you can’t stop criticizing theirs and equalling fat as something immoral. Perhaps K is tired of hearing this negativity and wants time away from all that and her rudeness was a deliberate attempt to sabotage her friendship with LW (in other words, if LW is hurt, she will leave me alone and I can spend more time with people who don’t care about their fat).

    In the end, both women need to sit down and discuss their rift honestly.

  199. Erin, I’m with you. Crossbuster’s pretty new around here, actually, and the bra comment was over the line. I know you were just joking, dude, but jokes about how much you like to look at boobies aren’t cool here.

    As for your question about privilege, this is the best primer on the concept.

    And here’s an example as it relates to the fat/less fat question, taken from my own life this morning. I’m making plans to have drinks with four friends — one 1XX, one 2XX, two 3XX, and me, at either 19X or 20X, not sure anymore.
    I suggested that we go to a bar with a great patio, and friends 1XX and 2XX were like, “Awesome, let’s go!” Then the 3XX friends pointed out that if that patio only has flimsy plastic lawn chairs, they’re screwed. And that patio does indeed only have flimsy plastic lawn chairs — something the rest of us had never had to think about, even though two of us are Officially Fat.

    To me, that’s the essence of privilege: not ever having to think about or even notice all the roadblocks that are out there in the way of people who don’t share your privilege. Not being able to go to one particular patio (or, realistically, MANY particular patios) for drinks isn’t such a huge deal, maybe, but it’s a disappointing pain in the ass, and it’s one of a million little things I never have to deal with because I’m on the less-fat side of fat.

    Moreover, this is a crowd of fat acceptance activists, so it was no biggie for someone to say, “Hey, those chairs won’t hold my ass,” and the rest of us to go, “Oh, duh! Where else can we go?” Imagine the same scenario, but with a 300-lb. woman who’s ashamed of her fat and doesn’t want to bring it up. She has two options, then: 1) try to angle for a different venue for vague reasons, which is uncomfortable when 3 out of 5 people have already voted for the flimsy-chair venue, or 2) Suddenly decide she can’t make it. I know too many women who would just choose option 2 as the path of least resistance — so now it’s not just that she can’t go to that particular patio, it’s that she feels she can’t go out and have fun with her friends at all, because she’s too fat. And the friends, despite being fat themselves, never even realize it.

    That would be thin privilege as it applies to fat people, right there.

  200. “woman’s body’s are property” <—-
    No idea how you came up with that out of my joke though?

    Dude, you have no idea precisely because of male privilege. That’s it right there — you haven’t heard 8 bazillion variations on “Show us your tits” all your life, so you don’t see how your little joke plays into a larger pattern of men feeling entitled to leer at women’s bodies — something women are all too familiar with. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you someone who doesn’t see that shit because you don’t have to see it. Get it?

  201. After all the above, I wholeheartedly agree with a few points….NSBBB already knows K was insensitive. Rudeness really isn’t the issue. I believe Aunt Fattie did an excellent job of giving NSBBB talking points to discuss the situtation with K. NSBBB now knows where K may be coming from before they discuss the problem. OR, if K blows NSBBB off or gives her a base answer, NSBBB can ask, do you have a problem with me, my privilege, etc. Aunt Fattie educated and armed NSBBB to deal with the situation gracefully.

  202. Dude, you have no idea precisely because of male privilege. That’s it right there — you haven’t heard 8 bazillion variations on “Show us your tits” all your life

    Yup. Privilege in action! The next step is to a) not get defensive, b) not freak out, and c) think seriously about why that kind of joke is not funny to the audience here.

  203. Crossbuster, you just stepped in some Feminism 101 cliches, right down to “but it was a joke”! It’ll be ok, I’m a mid-thirties woman and I’ve just recently learned about a lot of it. There is actually a Feminism 101 blog if you google it that explains a lot (and contains a lot of debate, for better or worse).

  204. Sort of a side comment on making plans a year in advance….yes, some of us do make plans with friends that far out. In fact, a week or so ago, friends of ours held their annual summer blow out party. Shortly afterwards they started talking to us about plans for next year, about how they want to scale it back some and probably trim the guest list because they’re having a baby in between then and now.

    I’ve encouraged them to make only tentative plans until after the baby arrives, but I’ve been assured that should this party happen, we’re on the guest list :-).

    So I guess that yeah, some of us do make plans that far out which are more than the vague “we should get together sometime” kind of plans.

  205. hello all… this is LW / NSBBB,
    I was away all yesterday and am just now catching up on the comments. I thought it would be beneficial to provide a little more information since there was a bit of confusion regarding my letter….after sleeping on it, I realize that Aunt Fattie had analyzed the situation pretty dead on balls accurate. K can be a jerk. This is one of things I always like about her (that fuck you attitude). When this attitude was directed at me, I was caught unawares. I hadn’t realized that her safe space wouldn’t include me. Aunt Fattie was completely right when she spoke to my privilege, regarding this shock.

    Regarding my body type…I am most definitely an inbetweener. I could never be described as skinny, nor thin. I’m also in the “triple D for dreadful” category, so the idea of a bathing suit makes me cringe. In my path to FA, I’m finding ways to describe myself that I can embrace. Recently I’ve taken to calling myself chubby.

    To clarify some confusion, I was verbally invited to both BCBG days. I’m certainly not “human sticking plaster”. I was merely trying to illustrate that K is not a casual acquaintance. I truly don’t think it was an issue of her wanting space from me as a friend. I think there was something deeper going on here. I think that Aunt Fattie got it right with the safe space suggestion.

    I apologize if I was too brief in my description of the situation. It may have seemed as if I was hurt over the exclusion. That was never the issue. I was hurt over the source of the exclusion. I would prefer it if someone didn’t want me to come because they didn’t like Person Me, rather than Body Me. I truly like Person Me. But when a friend shows you that Body Me isn’t welcome….ouch.

    Many thanks for all your insight so far…

  206. I want to like crossbuster because I think his user name is a Bad Religion reference, but he’s making that a little challenging.

  207. Wow, many of you, it seems, have a very loose grasp on the concept of privilege. It is not my, nor any underprivileged person’s responsibility to nicely point out your privilege to you, and then hold your hand while you figure it out. It is your responsibility to respect the fact that there may in fact be some things your life that you are simply not invited to. BIG DEAL!

    I think the fact that you all assume that it was NSBBB RIGHT to be invited is ridiculous (and is the VERY DEFINITION OF PRIVILEGE). The fact of the matter is that K planned an event, made the arrangements and chose who was coming. As far as I’m concerned K has the right to invite or uninvite whomever the hell she wishes for whatever reason she wishes.

    Seriously folks, your privilege is showing.

    PS Check thisis an excellent picture of privilege (it refers to white privilege, but the same idea still works)

  208. I just want to add that NSBBB might have always thought herself big because of her family/other people she hangs out with. I had friends that were all 100-115 lbs and petit at a summer internship, and I felt like the fat one by comparison, even though I’m below average size. However, at home, all my friends are taller/bigger than I am, and I often feel like ‘the small one’ in height and weight. Anyway, NSBBB may have also have always identified with bigger girls because she may be ‘the big one’ in her family or among her siblings. This could be a reason for her to feel excluded.

    Friends of mine have done this, too, actually, but not with size issues. It’s a thing girls often do, I think. We do feel insecure, so, when there is a safe space and everyone is feeling truly comfortable, girls will commemerate those moments in time with names like BGBC or other silly phrases (HRB, in a personal case, and no, not saying what it means). To not be in these ‘inner circles’ really hurts, especially when you feel like you always belonged. I strongly sympathize with you, NSBBB, but trying to butt your way into the BGBC isn’t going to work. I tried it, actually, withmy friends, and it just makes them defensive because they feel like you’re stealing those moments from them. In short, you’ll probably going to feel slighted for a while, and if it’s something K starts rubbing in your face, it’s purposeful exclusion, and she’s now trying to make herself feel better at your exspense. That is not something friends do, and you need to talk to her about it.

  209. The fact of the matter is that K planned an event, made the arrangements and chose who was coming. As far as I’m concerned K has the right to invite or uninvite whomever the hell she wishes for whatever reason she wishes.

    Actually no, she didn’t. We all discussed going to the beach together. And then we discussed it again after they went the first time. My idea that i had a RIGHT to go, was that I assumed since I was part of the planning discussion, i would be going. Somehow I don’t see that as privilege. I also don’t think this is the point that aunt fattie is making regarding my ignorance of my privilege.

  210. Wow.

    I must admit that I have not read all of the comments here, so if this was addressed, sorry to rehash it but I feel I need to say it.

    I am FLOORED by the responses of the Shapley Prose ladies to Tal. FLOORED. As a not so fat but always thought she was fat even when she was skinny(er) person, I have loved this site for the amount of respect and inclusion it contains. So, today, to read this and see all this snarky commenting back and forth is really sad to me. I don’t even know where to begin. The fact that both FJ and SM continue to comment on Tal’s comments in an increasingly rude manner – without even giving her any props for her well thought out (which is how I’m reading this) opinions – is, I can’t even describe it. I want to cry. Each of you keep responding to each of her posts – in effect simply egging her on and inviting her to continue to post to which you continue to respond. What is this? 3rd grade?

    I’m sure that I’ll get a lot of fun comments from my response but I honestly think the following: Tal is as entitled to her opinion, which she has written about eloquently and phrased as simply her opinion, as anyone else; continually and consistently disagreeing with her disrespectfully is neither what this page is about nor is it going to make her stop; privilege exists, but it doesn’t mean that any one person feels like they benefit from the privilege; just because one thinks that the other is smaller, thinner, whiter, more mainstream from whatever the outside group is does not mean that the other either experiences the privilege that one is saddling them with or believes it exists for them. It’s been said on more than one occasion here that neither being thinner or fatter than a prescribed weight either validates or invalidates someone’s right to their own feelings.

    I feel fat. I am under 200lbs. I thought that was ok and I could still be part of this group. I’m trying to come to terms with this whole idea (FA) and not judge people who are either bigger or smaller than I – because that’s what I thought this was about. Today, today it feels like I’m not allowed to be part of the club.

    And I just read what Kate wrote to someone else who expressed the same concerns as me. Which is all very well and good – that she’s a shitbuster and derails the thread…BUT Y’ALL ARE LETTING HER DO IT BY CONTINUALLY RESPONDING instead of leaving it be. It comes across as Shapley Prose being rude or even hateful when the whole idea is to be accepting. So, I’m going to leave the beginning of my post as my initial reaction and because it may be the initial reaction of many or a few or even just one who do not know the history here and then it makes Shapely Prose, Aunt Fattie, et al look bad and not Tal.

  211. Thanks, LW! I love it when the open nature of blog comments allows people to come in and shed more light on their questions — it’s happened on a few Aunt F columns so far and it is delightful.

    And as I mentioned in comments, to LW in email, and will mention again: there’s no question that K was rude. But when you’re talking about a good friend, knowing that she was rude is just not as important as knowing why she was rude. And putting things in cultural context is kinda why people write to Aunt Fattie in the first place.

    I would prefer it if someone didn’t want me to come because they didn’t like Person Me, rather than Body Me. I truly like Person Me. But when a friend shows you that Body Me isn’t welcome….ouch.

    This makes a lot of sense, but hopefully the context of privilege makes that easier. If K was rude because she was flustered over the idea of losing her safe space (quite possibly flustered in a way she couldn’t articulate), that has nothing to do with you as a person, you as a friend, you as a beach companion. Still, I can understand why it’s disorienting to basically be rejected for your semiotic value — yeah, it’s not personal, but it’s also depersonalizing.

  212. BUT Y’ALL ARE LETTING HER DO IT BY CONTINUALLY RESPONDING instead of leaving it be.

    Alyson, our policy on responding to troublemakers is made explicitly clear in the comments policy.

  213. I feel like I talk about my size at least half of my posts here because I feel like I don’t quite belong in the big girls’ club any more. I’m five feet tall and in my adult life have weighed 200 pounds and now weigh about 120-125 pounds. I definitely see myself as the weight where I spent most of my life though, about 180. Which is definitely viewed as fat by other people, and certainly has more privilege than someone who can’t buy clothing in any store but less than women who don’t have to head straight for the plus size department. Especially the women’s petite – finding clothes in 18P and 20P is no picnic. I recognize my privilege every single time I go into a clothing store now and can easily find something in my size, because for so many years it was so difficult.

    When my ex-gf and I were together, I ranged from about 170-190, and at 5’2″ she ranged from about 170-180. So I was always relatively a little heavier, but we and everyone else saw us as the two short fat dykes. I saw her a month ago after a two year absence. She knew all about my depression and medication issues and eating disorder issues and was a huge source of support via telephone long distance as I watched my weight drop from size 16/18 to 6/8. She knows I’m not proud. She knows that I still feel like a fat girl and I have terrible cognitive dissonance when people make comments about how thin I am, and that I get cold when people compliment me on my weight loss and want to know about my diet. And yet in our first conversation on the phone after I returned home from visiting her, she lit into me about how I made her feel bad about her having gained some weight since we last saw each other. In my mind, I did no such thing. I remember telling her she looked great. Did she feel bad about herself because I’m now so much smaller and she’s accustomed to me being larger? Did I say something that I don’t remember? Did I treat her differently? Was it some combination? Who knows. Weight is so emotionally charged.

    How I feel about myself hasn’t changed much, but I do recognize the change in how people treat me. Yesterday I met a few of my grandmother’s friends. One made a comment about the young girls with nice figures, and she meant me (age 34 – kind of nice to have someone call me young) and my 23-year-old cousin, who is about my size. I was really glad my beautiful sister, who wears a size 12, was in another room. This woman appeared to be smaller than a 12 herself, so I have a pretty good idea she would have excluded my sister from that category, and as she was there to pay her respects to our family after my grandfather’s death a few days ago, I just didn’t feel like getting into a discussion of size acceptance of any kind with her.

    We only heard LW’s side, but I can easily imagine what’s going on in each of their heads. I’ve been in both positions. Not with a vacation per se, but I’ve been the thin friend/sister and I’ve been the fat friend/sister, and both are emotionally-charged positions. One is easier from a privilege standpoint. Both are difficult from an interpersonal one.

  214. Linz said: “I’m an inbetweenie, and two of my dearest friends are fatter than I am. I sometimes have to fight the urge to chime in on their fat-related discussions–my experience is NOT the same as theirs, and pretending otherwise will only get me a well-deserved smack on the head. It would be swell if they could stop referring to me as a “skinny bitch,” though.”

    This is exactly why I say I can’t talk to my larger friends about this. Griping that my stomach and boobs are fat is not going to go over well when the rest of my body is not fat, compared to them who are round all over. If it is a bigger issue for them than it is for me, it’s not cool to whine about it, you know?

  215. Jennifer, exactly! The other thing is, with my fatter friends I always want to preach FA/tell them to stop dieting, but that’s only welcome up to a point, you know? Because if I push to hard, I get a response like, “It’s fine for YOU to love your body. If I was a size 14, I’d love my body too.”

  216. Moreover, this is a crowd of fat acceptance activists, so it was no biggie for someone to say, “Hey, those chairs won’t hold my ass,” and the rest of us to go, “Oh, duh! Where else can we go?”

    Just curious KH, if this is all about FA why didn’t you go there anyway and vocally request that they accommodate your friend by bringing out chairs (for the whole table, not just her–that might be marginalizing) that would support her greater weight? Maybe they wouldn’t have accommodated you and then you could redirect your plans but not until you had made a concerted effort to show your friend you are in full support of her and of FA in general? I’m just curious… it seems like the discussions here focus way more on the semantics and convoluted nature of identity than it does on straight-forward, proactive action. Not every second of our days can be focused on FA bu the more we stand up for ourselves and vocalize our needs, the less the general public can turn a blind eye to our travails. That is all.

  217. “Honestly, to me, a thin person who considers themselves fat (rather than a thin person who is more or less happy with their body) feels the least safe of all. If my friend is disgusted by her own barely touching thighs, how is she going to feel about my enormous ones visible in my bathing suit, or when I talk about my inner thigh chafing? If she is freaking out about wearing a size 8, what is she going to think when I tell her I shop in plus sizes or talk about my experiences trying to find cute plus sized clothes?”

    Indeed. During a recent drunken night with the girls, one of my more “normal” friends (in fact, not normal, but definitely beauty-deal; tall, slender, curvy, leggy and busty) commented that she was “getting fat”, prompting a giggling raising of tops by me and my fellow fat friends to show off our much larger, and much loved, bellies. The whole issue got derailed because my “normal” friend was shocked that we had stretch marks. She’d never had them, and thought they were just saggy skin. So we had to sit her down and explain what they are, showing the rest of the ones we had that had faded. It never even occurred to her that we might have them, let alone how that influences other aspects of our lives.

  218. Just curious KH, if this is all about FA why didn’t you go there anyway and vocally request that they accommodate your friend by bringing out chairs (for the whole table, not just her–that might be marginalizing) that would support her greater weight?

    Because the friend in question (who is a fierce street activist, I might add) did not want to go there, for starters. Because we thought of somewhere better to spend our money. Because I would bet you a million dollars that this particular bar, which is as low-budget as they come, does not happen to have a bunch of stronger chairs somewhere in back — especially since they also have flimsy lawn chairs inside. And because nobody’s obligated to be an activist 24 hours a day, or to practice any particular form of activism, of which writing about identity and politics is one, thanks.

  219. Well, I had a whole long-ass response I was working on, but then I refreshed the page and found out it had pretty much been covered by Kate, vivelafat, and others.

    But I do still want to say to Fillyjonk:
    Fully Ascended Fat Acceptance Master
    FA-FAM!
    That is AWESOME.

  220. Bunny Mazonas: It never even occurred to her that we might have them, let alone how that influences other aspects of our lives.

    Reading this made me glad in ways I am having trouble expressing, because what’s become evident to me not only from reading discussions online but through experience hitting me upside the head is how much we simply don’t know, and without someone saying “hey, lookee here!”, we may never know. It’s kind of like when I first learned calculus (once an engineer, always an engineer) – I’d heard of it of course, but until I was taught it, that whole way of looking at math just never even occurred to me.

    It also reminds me of when a thinner friend of mine was complaining that she’d been shopping all day and could not find one skirt she liked or that fit properly. Yes, part of me thought “kwitcherbitchin, you have so many more options”, but then I realized that maybe life wasn’t all skittles and beer at a smaller weight (which was, of course, the bill of goods I’d been sold). That even having more choices wasn’t any kind of guarantee, and maybe we did have similar frustrations even if they weren’t identical. It was pretty eye opening, and I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t said something.

    Sorry if I’m nattering off-topic, but the comments in this thread keep bringing up interesting points.

  221. TropicalChrome: That even having more choices wasn’t any kind of guarantee, and maybe we did have similar frustrations even if they weren’t identical. It was pretty eye opening, and I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t said something.

    TC, this reminds me of a time I shopped with a thin friend. I was dismayed at the sheer ugliness of the plus sized clothes out during one season. But then I went with said friend to Forever 21 and looked at the “thin-rack” clothes. I realized they were just as ugly. It was the popular designs at the time, not any sort of plus-sized-only pattern disgrace. Was briefly eye-opening to say the least.

    Where I think this topic gets muddled is that while privledge is an issue, it also co-exists with another human issue: bias. Bias goes both ways, skinny/fat, fat/skinny, fat/your-perception-of-what-is-not-fat, etc.
    While the priveledge issue is an important one, it’s also coupled with the possibility that many times the level of privledge perceived to be a person’s experience may not match with the reality. For instance, I know there will be a difference in attitude from a woman weighing 120 who came from a
    fat-phobic family vs. a woman weighing 140 who came from a family with body-neutral ideas. Both of these weights I consider to be “thin”, however the experiences and therefore the attitudes will most likely differ widely.

  222. Seriously, Kate, why don’t you DO anything about fat activism?

    Oh come on… you guys are really giving support for those commenters who feel your snark is incredibly self-defeating. I really would like to address this issue: when and how do we best confront the dominant culture in our day-to-day lives? Because frankly all my enjoyment of your posts here just perpetuates an insular world of FA unless we encourage each other to find new ways to engage in a wider societal dialog.

    Further: And because nobody’s obligated to be an activist 24 hours a day, or to practice any particular form of activism, of which writing about identity and politics is one, thanks.

    Kate, the rest of your comment was a totally appropriate response to my question. If an establishment just doesn’t provide the necessary amenities, that’s reason enough. You didn’t address that in your earlier comment… you focused on the reasons why an individual, even amongst otherwise supportive friends, might shy away from confronting the reality of her weight’s impact on her social life. But if my comment came across as condescending or snarky, that was not my intention. As I stated, I was curious to know what criterion you use when deciding when to confront these situations head-on and when you choose to re-direct your energies. Your snarkiness is just confounding. As I said: Not every second of our days can be focused on FA bu the more we stand up for ourselves and vocalize our needs, the less the general public can turn a blind eye to our travails… Can you condescend to give us lesser mortals who look to your example some concrete ways to achieve greatness (when it comes to FA activism in our lived-lives) without exhausting ourselves 24/7? I’d honestly appreciate that. That is all.

  223. I’m not sure why this seems to be a surprise on this thread, but consider this an official decree: we are snarky bloggers. We get snarky! We snark! If you want snark-free discussions, you will not find them here.

  224. Ami: “While the priveledge issue is an important one, it’s also coupled with the possibility that many times the level of privledge perceived to be a person’s experience may not match with the reality.”

    This seems like a good point, and it seems like it might be part of the problem in NSBBB’s case. Maybe K percieves that her friend’s life has been easier than it really is. Probably my favorite FA video is the Kate Nash video where she’s shopping with her skinny, flat chested friend. Both of them are trying on dresses, and each one asks the other how it is to live with great abs/great breasts. They both answer ‘perfect.’ None of our lives are perfect, no matter what our shape.

    I’m not out to get the people who are going to cry ‘priveledge!’ on my back. I understand what Aunt Fattie is saying about priveledge influencing the situation. K seems to be feeling insecure about her body, but finding a safe space doesn’t have to mean being a bitch to her close friend. What I’m saying is that 1) NSBBB seems to have given no indication she was provoking K by complaining about her body or comparing her body to K’s body and 2) not accepting someone for their size works in both directions. I don’t appriciate being called a ‘skinny bitch’ any more than I appriciated being called a ‘fat cow.’ (And I’ve been called both.)

  225. As the other 3XX person in this situation, I would really rather NOT make a big, public deal about something like CHAIRS when I can just take my fat ass elsewhere and give them my money.

    I realize that as someone involved in FA, I should be mouthier and stand up and shout and wave my flabby arms around and make a big fuss but considering the specific situation, what would that have done? Probably nothing.

    I’m just happy to have friends who consider things like chairs (because I tend to forget about things like that) and look out for each others’ well being, rather than using MY weight to make a point. I don’t need that, especially when it comes to just going out and having fun.

  226. Im just am not sure I agree. I can totally see your point about a safe zone. However if this thinner lady also feels issues about been fat then maybe she feels like she needs a safe zone as well. By not letting her come they are essentially telling her that her body weight problems are insignificant or not as important. Studies show that no matter how big you are the depression and anxiety you feel about been overweight are the same. Its a tough situation though.

  227. Now, I haven’t read all the posts, so please forgive me if I repeat someting or someone, but there are two things I would like to say.

    I absolutely agree that thin privilege exist and that it works in many the same ways as white, male and hetero privilege. But it’s not very accurate to assume that the thinner a person is, the more thin privilege s/he have. Privilige is about getting better treatment and more possibilities based upon certain factors. Therefore, whether you will receive this better treatment or not is based upon other peoples perception of you. Just as white privilege can transcend the actual skincolour, a woman who should reasonably be considered ‘normal’ or even thin can risk getting the label ‘fat’ in certain milieus (or even the society at large) and thus experience discrimination and personal attacks.

    And this leads to what I think is the most important in this case. What, exactly, is the motivation behind K. big-girls-only beachtrip? A safe space, okay, but safe from whom? The LA mentions that she’s dealing with body issues of her own, and frankly, to exclude her because she apparantly is a threat to them by her very thin-ness, is basically counterproductive. For me, the big thing is not about K. being rude, but about how that behaviour really resembles giving somebody a guilt trip because ‘your problems are not as big as mine/others’ or ‘you cannot understand our situation’, which is BS.

    I am familiar with separatist activities, formal and informal alike. I know the arguments and while I accept and use the idea of safe spaces, you really have to consider on what grounds you are including people. And the thing is, as long we live in a society where women are being taught to hate and punish their bodies, and being scared of showing confidence we should work in solidarity with each other. It is important to understand privilege and how it differentiates us, but it should NOT limit who we can fight or have fun with.

    Because frankly, a group of fat woman going to the beach to wear swimsuits in peace is not a safe space. A group of woman of different body types going to the beach to wear swimsuits and not caring about it, is.

  228. I’m not sure why this seems to be a surprise on this thread, but consider this an official decree: we are snarky bloggers. We get snarky! We snark! If you want snark-free discussions, you will not find them here.

    Wow. Its not like I think snark, better sarcasm, doesn’t have its place. It’s that you seem to be driving away people that actually feel invested in FA and appreciate your snark when its directed at the bone-headedness of mainstream culture. What I’m taking from this is that if I want to participate in a productive FA community I need to look elsewhere than Shapely Prose: duly noted. Much as I hate to malign by comparison (since I love Twisty), are you guys really gunning to be the Twistyfaster of FA? If so, Mission Accomplished on my part. If you feel the need to snark back at me for this rebuttal don’t bother, I’ll be finding my FA fuel elsewhere from now on.

  229. Because frankly all my enjoyment of your posts here just perpetuates an insular world of FA unless we encourage each other to find new ways to engage in a wider societal dialog.

    Kristen the isten, if you haven’t felt that this blog encourages you to engage in dialog outside of FA, then you’re probably right to say that this is not the blog for you.

  230. if I want to participate in a productive FA community I need to look elsewhere than Shapely Prose

    If you want to participate in a non-snarky FA community, where nobody will ever call you on anything and unicorns poop rainbows, you need to look elsewhere. I’m glad you’ve decided to, if coming in here to tell us that we’re Not Activisting Right was your idea of participating.

    Nina, I’m with you here, and I think this is an important point:
    But it’s not very accurate to assume that the thinner a person is, the more thin privilege s/he have.

    But I get confused here:
    Because frankly, a group of fat woman going to the beach to wear swimsuits in peace is not a safe space. A group of woman of different body types going to the beach to wear swimsuits and not caring about it, is.

    I agree if you’re saying that it’s not a perfectly body activist space. But I don’t think we get to dictate the spaces where other people feel safe, and there are certainly plenty of people on this thread who have acknowledge that they feel more “normal” and thus more secure when they get to briefly be in the presence of other fat women. Of course erasing size as a signifier would be great, just like erasing race as a signifier, but I think it’s unfair to say that in the meantime, people can’t find solace in communities and activities where they can worry a little less about oppression and privilege.

  231. I hate to respond again but I couldn’t help but see what the response to my comment was: unicorns pooping rainbows. Unicorns pooping rainbows? Planet Unicorn HEY? Pooping Rainbows F*Ck Yeah.

    I asked a question. It was an on-topic question about how you guys (Kate specifically) approached the kind of situations where the infrastructure of an environment impaired a friend’s ability to participate. I don’t expect you guys to be straight-up serious all the time but I can’t quite fathom the criterion you use when you sometimes respectfully answer the well-meaning questions of your audience vs. the times when you snark back at us for our ignorance. Maybe that’s just how you roll and you’ve maxed out your potential to further the cause you purportedly support but calling you out for being retroactive is not a sin. I’m still curious, Kate: what do you think about my earlier question? How can I maximize my effort when I’m confronting lame situations that exclude fatty participation in day-to-day life?

  232. I was always the fattest girl in my class. The one told to diet by family members, doctors, teachers, etc. Never had a boyfriend, etc. I would feel awful if I was excluded. I wasn’t accepted by thin society and here I am not accepted by ‘fat’ society. What’s a between girl suppose to do?

    I weighed between 135 and 140 most of these years and I’m 5’2″ I was never a plus size. The fat girls don’t see me as fat. The thin girls treat me as if I’m obese. Am I just a square peg?

  233. Filyjonk, I can see how it may have sounded judgemental and I’m sorry about that. English isn’t my first language, so sometimes I get all focused on the semantics and not on what I’m acutally saying ;)

    Of course it’s not up for me to decide where and how individual fat woman feel safe. My point is that a group of fat woman shouldn’t feel they have to eliminate thin people from their sorroundings, even if it’s just for a short while like with this daytrip, in order to create a safe space. What they want is a break from all the body-consciousness. I do not think the negative vibrations and insecure feelings are dependent on the presence of thin women, but rather on the attitude the women have towards their bodies.

    The thing is, while privilege is a very real and serious thing, I have a hard time understanding how it shows its ugly face on a innocent beach trip amongst friends.

    But I know about the worries one can have when being sorrounded by woman far thinner or prettier according to general beauty standards. I am myself a big (as in tall and ‘full-figure’) dyke in a social milieu filled with petité girls full of heterosexual attractiveness, and sometimes it bugs me and I feel akward, exposed and second-rate-ish.

    But it’s just that you have to remember that there is also a lot of points where fat and thin woman are victims of the same repression, the same culture of bodyhate, and that it can be seriously damaging to separate between us all the time.

  234. I do not think the negative vibrations and insecure feelings are dependent on the presence of thin women, but rather on the attitude the women have towards their bodies.

    But people aren’t perfect and they do have this attitude toward their bodies. And honestly, I think one of the best ways to decrease that attitude for individuals is often having a chance to see their own body as normal, even if for just a little while and that can be helped by similar-size groupings. We can’t forget that people are at different points; not everyone can be operating at 100% self esteem or self acceptance at any given moment and we need to be compassionate of that.

  235. I don’t expect you guys to be straight-up serious all the time but I can’t quite fathom the criterion you use when you sometimes respectfully answer the well-meaning questions of your audience vs. the times when you snark back at us for our ignorance.

    From the comments policy: “Seventh rule: I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t understand why your comment was deleted, your account was banned, I was nasty to you, or other commenters were nasty to you and I didn’t tell them to back off. The answer is, you were judged by the sole authority around here to be a troublemaking douchehound. No, really, that’s the whole answer and the only answer.”

    When your “participation” on this blog has consisted almost entirely of your complaining to Kate about her brand of activism, complaining about people’s responses to your complaining to Kate about her brand of activism, and complaining about people’s responses to your complaining about people’s responses to complaining to Kate about her brand of activism? While telling us not only how to be fat activists but how to be BLOGGERS? Then you, my friend, are a troublemaker.

    This clearly isn’t the blog for you, because you DON’T LIKE WHAT WE DO OR HOW WE TALK. Instead of whining about what we do or how we talk, why not go somewhere that suits you better? Or start your own blog, where your ideas about what is and isn’t appropriate will actually matter?

    I mean seriously, I hate to be all “our blog our rules” but actually I don’t hate it because that’s what it boils down to. We do not have to be all fat things to all fat people. If you have a problem with how we do things, there is a whole wide internet for you.

  236. My idea that i had a RIGHT to go, was that I assumed since I was part of the planning discussion, i would be going. Somehow I don’t see that as privilege.

    Thank you for clarifying this. It sounds like a very confusing situation, and I hope you and your friend can get over this. Best of luck.

  237. Oh, and I agree that since you were part of the planning discussion, then naturally you would expect to be part of the group. The whole thing sounds really, really weird to me, but then, friendship can be as weird as marriage. Again, good luck.

  238. ‘not everyone can be operating at 100% self esteem or self acceptance at any given moment and we need to be compassionate of that.’

    Agree. And again, I’m really not trying to say that fat woman are wrong if they do ‘big girls-only’ kind of things, but at the same time I do feel it’s problematic as a general model or strategy, for the reasons I’ve stated. And again, it’s regrettable if a woman gets excluded and possibly alianated from the movement, solely based on her waistline.

  239. something else that the privilege discussion makes me think of is actually the socio-economic/educational privilege that often is experienced by those of us who are familiar with the concept of privilege. A friend of mine once got vocally offended at something another friend has said, mentioning that that person was “so not acknowledging their privilege.” The thing that really got me thinking on that was the fact that the offended party was someone I had grown up with, who had learned a great deal about social justice and privilege in college, whereas the offending party was someone who was not financially able to attend college. When privilege is brought into the discussion so forcefully, I wonder how we might bring it up in a way that isn’t so educationally-privileged-person-giving-didactic-lecture to the uninformed.
    I understand it isn’t the job of a person without some sort of privilege to sugar coat things or use soft words to make it easier on the privileged party, but by not being considerate aren’t we not being thoughtful of our educational privilege?
    As others have said, let me know if i am way off base…

  240. also, clearly one does not need to attend college to be educated about privilege, I have just found from personal experience ( I know, data is not the plural of anecdote…) that most people familiar with the concept are college educated and have quite a bit of academic experience (or have a lot of academic experience sans college FWIW).

  241. As others have said, let me know if i am way off base…

    I heard nothing about privilege when I went to school, but that was comfortably in the last millenium. It is something that anyone who reads progressive blogs would be familiar with, however, and that cohort may very well skew to those who studied liberal arts post-secondary.

    But the concept isn’t a hard one to understand and we certainly discussed the ideas in my blue-collar home – mostly in terms of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”.

  242. I did not learn about privilege in college. Though I went to a fancy liberal arts school of the very liberal variety.

    I learned about it on the internet from other left wing blogs.

    So I think it depends also on what and where you study. I know it will shock everyone to know that racial and gender privelege did not come up in my linear algebra classes.

  243. I guess I’ve just known several folks who were certainly very kind and gracious and definitely into the idea of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes – who never felt privileged a day in their lives for whatever reason, regardless of whether or not they indeed had privilege. Often these seem like the kinds of people who have a hard time grasping the concept because they haven’t felt that way themselves and perhaps are not frequenters of blogs like these. When I thought about ways the concept can be explained without patronizing people I was expanding it beyond the LW or folks specifically on the blog.
    I too did not get the gender/race privilege thing at art school, but from other folks who were liberal arts majors at other schools.

  244. Can you condescend to give us lesser mortals who look to your example some concrete ways to achieve greatness (when it comes to FA activism in our lived-lives) without exhausting ourselves 24/7? I’d honestly appreciate that.

    So….discussions of oh-so-tasty snark aside, as the fatty who raised the question of patio chairs and their probable inability to support my gravity-defying ass in the real-life scenario Kate described…here’s how I did handle this situation, and how I might do it differently based on circumstance.

    In this particular vignette, I’ve never been to the place in question and am not currently standing in front of it. I am choosing to exercise activism by taking my business somewhere I don’t need to lobby for fat-friendly seating in the first place. Now, might I send an e-mail or write up a Yelp review expressing my dismay at the lack of fat-friendly seating? I just might.

    Now, were I standing in front of the patio in question and making the decision to drink their liquor or someone else’s on the spot, I’m much more likely to ask the management for alternative seating….or explain to them that I’m taking my business elsewhere because I’d rather spend my evening getting shitty drunk and not worrying that the chair I’d squeezed my ass into was going to shatter into pieces.

    Another concrete thing I can do? Speak up to my friends about this sort of thing, help them become more aware of how discriminatory this is, and take them out to places that have fat-friendly seating instead of dollar store plastic chairs.

    And, plus, in case it hasn’t been said (you know, like, fifty kazillion times), having a public social life while being fat is serious activism. It’s awesome when people can step into more than that, but just doing that one thing is pretty fucking radical. Not everyone is in the same place, and every little bit is just as important as every other little bit. Even if some of the bits are louder than others.

  245. My 2 cents With regard to privilege: I think everyone has some type of privilege whether it is due to gender, race, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, physical abiliity, family, language, country you live in etc… We all have our taken for granted status and felt or unfelt disadvantages. It is hard for some of us to feel our privilege when it is taken for granted and normalized.

    Most of us also have our own disadvantages due to personal traits or social disadvantages. Even middle class white males could claim disadvantages due to whatever – being fat, mentally ill, disabled, orphaned, too short, or even being too ‘pretty’ etc…

    I guess the only difference is the degree to which the wider society penalizes the person for their particular disadvantage. Perhaps it is better to realized how privileged each one of us is on a scale rather than who is and who isn’t.

    Having said that, let’s remember our privileges and try to be sensitive to others even if their disadvantage seems trivial compared to our disadvantages. It’s not very productive to compare who is more dissed by others and oneself. It’s like trying to say my discrimination is better than yours.

    Thin privilege is something obvious to anyone over a certain size but what is that size is something others have mentioned as well. Some size 18s wouldn’t have the same experience as someone who is size 24 or size 12 but they all can recount negative experiences or feelings due to their size. Many of us won’t know what it would be like to be 500 + lbs or be a minority or be a child soldier or whatever but most of us can empathize.

    The point is that each one of us has the right to express our feelings whether it feels trivial to others or not. And the more privileged on the scale can become more aware of others much much more difficult situation with empathy.

  246. The whole discussion here just made me cross eyed. That’s a lot of reading.

    I just wanted to say thank you to the LW for responding, and clarifying some issues. :)

  247. A bit OT; but Kate?

    As for your question about privilege, this is the best primer on the concept.

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been trying to find a concise primer to share with a group of people whom have been complaining about ‘being attacked because they’re in the majority’, and this is perfect. Thank you so much!

  248. This has been one hellava thought provoking discussion –

    My 2 cents… count me in the tweener-fourteener crowd we don’t fit in Perhaps the Ks of the world don’t feel safe with us, but as someone who cannot bear the thought of wearing a bathing suit in public, I would LOVE to be in the company of strong, big women as role models. I know making me feel better is not their job, but I really admire and worship women larger than me who flaunt it.

    However, it’s not the actual size of women that would make me feel comparitively good or bad, it’s their obsession with all things anti-fat that would. I’d rather hang with an FA/SA size 4 than a chronically dieting, point counting size 24.

  249. Tari: And, plus, in case it hasn’t been said (you know, like, fifty kazillion times), having a public social life while being fat is serious activism. It’s awesome when people can step into more than that, but just doing that one thing is pretty fucking radical.

    AMEN!! Thank you for that. It’s quite simple and really (sadly) true.

  250. I understand it isn’t the job of a person without some sort of privilege to sugar coat things or use soft words to make it easier on the privileged party, but by not being considerate aren’t we not being thoughtful of our educational privilege?
    As others have said, let me know if i am way off base…

    I think there is a huge difference between sugar coating things and trying not to use language that is mostly only understood by people with a college education. Of course sometimes such terms are best, and then I think you simply have to explain to someone who doesn’t know them. Which can be done.
    I think not knowing what “privilege” is, has more to do with exposure to anti-oppression movements than with education. I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t know what privilege means, even those without a college education.

    But I certainly do know some people who seem incapable to discussing oppression and privilege without using terms people without their college degree wouldn’t often be familiar with, and without making references to this writer and that philosopher et cetera. So I think the issue of using language that excludes people who for reasons of oppression didn’t get the same education, is certainly an issue.

  251. Told you she was a better activist than I.

    Whatever. Not better, just different! We’re all beautiful snowflakes here…

  252. I just wanted to say that I really liked Aunt Fattie’s response here because she simply, clearly, and kindly explained the dynamics of privilege in this situation, which can be really hard to do. I’ve been having difficulty dealing with some of the fatphobic things one of my friends has been posting in her blog recently, and I think the problem is that she refuses to see “thin” as a category of privilege equivalent to “white” and “male”, and when I say that she should be more compassionate when she talks about fat or try to engage her in a debate over the facts, she accuses me of attacking her (and at this point, I actually am just too irate to respond). It’s hard to point out someone else’s privilege without sounding either angry (if you do not share that privilege) or self-righteous (if you do), because you are basically telling someone she’s ignorant (even if you don’t phrase it that way) and it can be easy to unload a lot of baggage once you get going, especially if she initially refuses to acknowledge your point. And likewise, it’s hard to be on the receiving end of what might seem like a tidal force of anger over what seems to be a really trivial matter. Talking about things and letting each person say her piece is really important–besides resolving tensions in a friendship before they grow into resentment, it can lead to more social awareness and a better idea of how to handle such conversations in the future. It takes a pretty strong friendship to be able to do this, though it sounds like NSBBB and K have this :)

  253. If NSBBB was in on the original planning of the beach weekend thing then she should not be disinvited later, that just doesn’t seem right. I think there could be kind of a “grandfather clause” allowign her to attend even if it’s just the one time. I just feel uncomfortable with the idea of her being excluded based on weight alone when she would originally have been included before the “big girls” theme developed. I understand about safe spaces but this just seemed extreme to me, presumably these are a group of friends who are comfortable with each other so why exclude a person just because she’s not fat enough to count as a “big girl” in the big girls’ beach club. It would be understandable if that was the basis of the original trip but it seemed like it was a post hoc idea to define it as big girls only so unfair to disinvite people on that basis. Honourary membership could be extended to NSBBB to avoid hurting a friend’s feelings. I usually agree with Aunt Fattie’s advice but this time I keep thinking about the hurt feelings of the excluded person and I would err on the side of including her at least the one time.

  254. ‘Not-so-Big’ wasn’t invited to the festivities, so it was slightly presumptious of her to invite herself. However, it sounds like a genuine misconception made on NSB’s part, a misconception that people make every day. It often happens where someone believes they’re invited to somewhere when in fact they are not.

    And fair enough, it is a pretty awkward misconception for the people who are involved in the festivities to clear up. But for this K woman to bring up size an issue is disgusting. If size is really such an issue for her, then K should be ditched. Surely being called ‘not fat enough’ for festivities is equally as insulting as being called ‘too fat’?

    One of my best friends is a self-confessed ‘big girl’, and she wouldn’t dream of not inviting me along to somewhere using my weight as an excuse. There had to be a better reason than that. K doesn’t deserve friends if this is how she treats them. Sounds to me like she’s made some new friends because they are as big as she is: what a shallow foundation to lay for a friendship.

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