Sexy privilege?

It’s widely assumed that thin women have ‘thin privilege’… the clothes, the doctors, the entire health system, insurance, people in general… I get it.  After reading Glosswitch’s latest piece on thinness, I recognize that I’m ‘that body type’ mentioned at the start. And it’s reminded me to say something about being ‘that’ body type.

You see I agree with Glosswitch, I realise my body type is ‘celebrated’. But I also realise it’s not celebrated because it’s superior, nor because it functions better. In fact it’s not actually anything to do with me. The only reason there’s any celebration is because my body fits the porn-look of the moment. Thin. Yay.

I realise I might be judged differently than bigger women, I have seen it my whole life. But it happens only in the context that my body type is linked to commoditisation. The thin body-type has been broadcast in so many prornos and so many billboards that it elicits a consumerist response. And that doesn’t mean thin women are desired or respected, it means we are a potential commodity.

Given the history of slavery and oppression that surrounds the sex industry, there is something very fucked up about ‘sexy’ and ‘desirable’ being defined by it. That context of sexual servitude is still being applied to judge women’s value today. It’s also especially fucked up that silicone was first widely used in the breasts of women forced into the sex trade, but I digress.

We need to be clear about what being ‘thin’, ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ really means. To a young girl in Asia it could mean being trafficked. But I can speak only for myself in knowing that being thin or ‘hot’ is a message that you have conformed. It means you have been marked as a target, as a toy, as a marketing tool, but not as a person. ‘Sexy’ sounds like your value might increase and maybe it does in some ways for some people, but its more likely that women will see you as a ‘mean girl’ and men see you as ‘grade A meat’.

Such a priviledge
Such a priviledge

 

Sexy is not empowering, women will never find empowerment by aligning to the look of sexual servitude. Sexy is nothing more than fitting the terms of subordination. Sexy is about obedience. Sexy is patriarchy patched up in foundation.
Sexy is supposed to divide and conquer.

I’m tired of hearing about what’s sexy, I’m tired of hearing about beach bodies. I’m tired of this shit tearing women apart when really, we need eachother. And no, Dove, we don’t need to be told we are ‘all beautiful’ we dont need ‘sexy feminist burlesque’ we need to throw the whole notion of sexy out the window. If you think that ‘sexifying’ bigger women will solve the problem, take a look at Brazil’s rates of cosmetic surgery – to plump up arses – and then get back to me. Research shows that regardless of how attractive (ie conforming) we look – women are just as dissatisfied over their bodies. No shit, we can’t win!

We should feel great about our bodies and about sexuality too, but feeling great doesn’t come by conforming to sexual commodification. We know this, empirically we know this. Yet somehow we are still fighting the same fight.
Over a century ago women were fighting for the vote, they may never have guessed that today we are fighting for our right to have different shaped boobs. How much farther backward can we go?

As Naomi Wolf said ‘you don’t win by struggling your way to the top of a hierarchy. You win by refusing to be trapped within one at all’.

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8 thoughts on “Sexy privilege?

  1. yes. and as a black woman i experience the phenomenon of “sexy” in a double way: where not only is my body seen as an object of sexual gratification, it is also targeted as a vehicle of continued genocidal erasure of black people because white men understand that “racial cleansing” can only occur through the impregnation of black women. so not only am i targeted as an object, but also as a weapon against myself.

    thank you for this important post. may you be free of suffering and the root of suffering. may all beings be free.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I just realised my reply did not process at the time.
      If you have any writing on the double objectification of sexualised and radicalised violence against black women I would love to read and link to it.
      Thanks again 🙂

  2. Hmm, glosswitch is glosswatch? I am not sure which blogger/article you are referring to, but, coincidentally, yesterday I’ve read one by glosswatch, and my thoughts were exactly the same as yours upon reading the lines: “It’s not that I believe our bodies are perfect in their “natural” state. We’re all of us mortal, hitting our physical peak pretty early on, after which it’s downhill all the way.” It turns out that she was talking about health (mea culpa for doubting her!), but thinking it was about beauty, my first reaction was: ‘Our natural bodies are not perfect – for what? The optimum number and intensity of erections on Earth?’ That should be a joke, but no, that is exactly what all of this is about. Erections. And through some form of mass cognitive dissonance women are led to believe that in return for those erections they will be given power, respect and dignity. Mindblowing.

    So I definitely agree that it doesn’t matter if those erections are granted to women because they were ‘luckily’ born thin, worked hard for ‘perfect’ body or had to be consoled that their ‘real’ bodies are erection-worty too (seriously, Dove?). The idea that respect can be channeled through some guy’s dick is idiotic either way. And I know women actually understand this, they must, if only on subconscious level. But I also think that many of them fear the scorn, name-calling and hate that non-conforming women face. It’s not only that women are taught to seek male approval, they are also punished if they don’t do it. So, I’d say that ditching beauty products, and everything they stand for, is absolutely No.1 way to smash the patriarchy, but supporting, praising and standing up for non-conforming women (not in a Dove way, but non-sexual way!) is a very close second.

    Anyway, thank you for writing this! It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughts.

    1. Hiya Hattori, sorry for my delay! It is indeed glosswitch/ glosswatch, I think they are different for her twitter and blog/NS pieces. I love this quote “it doesn’t matter if those erections are granted to women because they were ‘luckily’ born thin, worked hard for ‘perfect’ body or had to be consoled that their ‘real’ bodies are erection-worty too”, its still the male gaze, regardless of how we spin it. Its an old theory but still a good one.
      Thanks for your ideas 🙂 xx

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. When I hear “thin privilege”, the first thing I think of is anorexic girls. Yes, I get it, big women suffer a lot because they are seen as repulsive and unattractive, but how much of a privilege attractivness become of you are fucking sick? The whole reason the thinness is seen as attractive is because thin women are generally weaker! It is weakness that is attractive to men. It is sickness which arouses them.
    I am thin, yes, I do suffer from lookism mich less than bigger women do; however, my thinness is the reason and the consequence of many health problem I have. I wrote about it here: http://galla-bella.tumblr.com/post/79373346830/thin

    Thin almost always equals hungry. It is enough to look up the Minnesotta Hunger Experiment to get out that crazy idea of “thin privilege” out of the head. Women can’t win: either they are healthy but unattractive, or attractive but unhealthy. Or both sometimes. Beauty standards are set in such a way so that women can’t win. So why the hell are thin women announced the winners?

  4. Oh, and can I ask you for a favor? I have a Russian blog, can I translate you post and share it with my Russian-speaking readers? I’ll provide the link to the original, of course.

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