My Privilege: On Being an “Inbetweenie”

**I will be writing a series of posts examining the different ways in which I am privileged.  This installment will cover my privilege as a smaller fatty.

As I wrote in my post “Don’t Tell Me I’m Not Fat”, I have privilege because of my clothing size.  As a size 14, my shopping options are more varied and plentiful than women of a size 24, and compared to women who wear a size 32, my options are positively bountiful.  I can sometimes fit into an XXL in a straight sized store, and this gives me extra options not available to larger women.  Working on this blog, particularly my OOTD posts, has made my privilege glaringly clear to me.  I was aware of it before, but I was definitely defensive.  I gave lip service to my privilege in “Don’t Tell Me I’m Not Fat,” but I definitely hadn’t examined it yet.  The further I delve into the Fat Acceptance community, the more I worry about posting outfits that aren’t available to a wider range of sizes.  I won’t be cutting out my XXL clothes completely, but I will definitely be minimizing their presence and focusing more on clothes that come in a wider range of sizes.

I still maintain that I have a place in the FA community, but, like all privileged people, I have to be sure that mine isn’t the loudest voice.  It’s fine for me to celebrate my fat body, but I have to make sure I’m not taking space away from fatties who are deemed by society to be less acceptable than I am.  Just as I experience the world as a black woman, but a woman of light skin, I need to “stay in my lane”: I’m fat, but not nearly as vilified as fatter people.  I consider myself a fat woman, but I concede that larger women have the right to be frustrated by that assertion.

The Tumblr post “On “inbetweenies” claiming “fat”, a woman who is a size 14 talks about coming to love her body.  One person responds that they are “Kinda bored of these thin girls submitting to fat-pos sites.Maybe this girl is possibly a bit of an in-betweenie, but I’m actually kind of annoyed to see someone this thin claiming fat.”  The next reblogger agrees.  Then comes a long response from a person who discovered Fat Acceptance as a size 14, and who says they were welcomed into the community and without that support, “I would not be where I am right now. I would still be stuck in my own cycle of self hate, disordered eating habits and fucked ways of thinking, afraid of fat, in denial of it.”  The poster goes on to list the privileges a size 14 has, but adds, “My fat experiences are valid and they are my own but I can see how they are different and I can realize why those differences exist. I am sure [original poster] can see that, too. If she doesn’t, maybe we can give her an opportunity to learn rather than deny her inclusion.”  I think this is a great way of incorporating “inbetweenies” into the FA community.  The next person to respond elaborates on the idea of size privilege.  (Unfortunately, this person’s blog is no longer active.)

“Of course folks of all sizes (including our thin friends and families and partners and allies) should be part of the fat acceptance/liberation movement, but it is hugely important that more privileged members of the community hold ourselves accountable for minimizing the alienating and endangering effects that our presence and/or actions have on less privileged members of the community.
Part of doing that is letting go of the privileged entitlement we feel to access all spaces and understanding that not everything is for or about us. As such, POC-only spaces, supersized-only spaces, disabled-only spaces, trans*-only spaces, queer-only spaces, working-class-only spaces, etc. are vital to to the survival and growth of the fat acceptance movement.”

This encapsulates what I keep in mind when talking about fat Acceptance, when posting about clothing lines and my own wardrobe, and when interacting with other fatties.

At fatshionista.livejournal.com, contributor meestagoat wrote”On Fatness, Fat, and Inbetweenies“.  She talks about the various reasons she wants to be a part of the FA movement, what she has to offer and what she gets from her evolvement.  I find her idea that “As for inbetweenies, if it’s wrong for us to have to apologize for not being 20 pounds lighter to the rest of the culture, it’s wrong for us to have to apologize for not being 20 pounds heavier in this culture” interesting, but I’m not sure I agree with it, and I can’t quite articulate why.  I think that in the spirit of general body positivity, there are places where women of all sizes can celebrate their bodies; I’m not sure the same can be said for FA spaces.  I’m loathe to create some kind of “minimum requirement,” but I definitely have the urge to do so.  Ironically, a lot of people would create a cut-off that would exclude me from the movement.  In the interest of checking my privilege, I listen to what larger fatties have to say on the subject, and keep my opinions to a minimum.

For the record, I still hate the term “inbetweenie.”  I don’t feel in-between anything; I feel like a fat woman.  However, as someone who can literally wear plus sized clothes and sometimes wear straight sized clothes, I can’t argue with the term.  I get to choose my identity, but I also accept how larger fatties perceive me.  I may not use that term to describe myself, but I have zero argument with anyone who calls me an “inbetweenie.”

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2 thoughts on “My Privilege: On Being an “Inbetweenie”

  1. I hate the term “inbetweenie” though I guess technically it does apply to me. Though it does depend on what you are in between. I am in betweeen straight and plus sizing. But is clothing all that defines fat or fat acceptance? I’ve written about this in my blog and the weirdness of feeling like I can at once be “not actually fat” and also “the fattest possible!” Obviously I am not actually the latter. I don’t think I’m actually the former either though. But while I can fit in straight sizes at some stores and am at the bottom of plus sizing, I’m also considered “morbidly obese” by BMI standards, which aren’t irrelevant in the sense that I’m counted in every scary obesity statistic, and when people talk about how it’s ok to be a little overweight but not “morbidly obese”, and those BMI standards are still used by doctors. I’m fat enough for some doctors (thankfully none of mine) to think it’s safe for me to be put on a 500 calorie a day liquid diet. So while yes, there is privilege in my size, I have to wonder about why we would define “fat” around clothing instead of any of the other areas fat people face oppression from?

    I don’t think that fat acceptance in general should have a minimum entry size, though I think that more visible spaces can, and even should. For example, groups within fat acceptance that are focused on showing positive images of fat people, it makes sense to me to have a standard of what is “fat” there. I posted on your other post about finding fat acceptance when I was even smaller than now, and not even in plus size clothing, but coming from a long history of bullying due to being too fat. And while I wasn’t at first very aware of my relative privilege, I also didn’t expect to always have a visible place with groups focused on showing beautiful fat women. But I’d hate to see anyone not allowed to talk about things like being bullied for being fat or poor healthcare (my doctors have also considered me fat for as long as I can remember) because they don’t meet some minimum size.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I don’t think that fat acceptance in general should have a minimum entry size, though I think that more visible spaces can, and even should. For example, groups within fat acceptance that are focused on showing positive images of fat people, it makes sense to me to have a standard of what is “fat” there.”

    That is a really great idea!

    Like

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