The Skinny On Skinny Privilege

woman closing her eyes wearing white tank top


The idea of being ’woke’ about the privileges you experience has become a key part within modern society. Whilst it’s beneficial for people to be aware of their privileges such as class and race to understand global societal issues, 2021 is adding more to the list, leaving no space for people to just be and live their lives.

The latest installment in privileges being the ‘Skinny/Thin privilege’, has looked at targeting thinner individuals not only by larger people but also the wider general public. Delving into the role of social media and society, does this privilege exist and what level of privilege do thinner people receive?


The term Skinny/Thin privilege relates to the benefits received by smaller people. Now I have only seen the topic discussed in relation to women’s bodies, which is a whole other issue on its own, but it supposedly refers to social, financial and practical advantages one receives for being thinner.


Whether through Youtube or TikTok, people are taking to social media to ask the question ‘Fashion icon or just skinny?’Relating to outfits worn by women such as Kendall Jenner and Olivia Rodrigo, people are questioning whether these stars are fashionable or whether they’re just skinny – resulting in the outfit looking good. Whilst I think this is a valid question as many of the outfits worn aren’t that inventive or ground-breaking, I think we need to consider their celeb status of being influential, adding to the idea of them being ‘fashion icons’.

I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’ve pinned an outfit or two by the above mentioned, adding to the idea of a ‘Pinterest Girl’ – a slender female wearing an aesthetically pleasing outfit – but I don’t coin that as iconic. And to be honest I don’t think there’s really been anyone in the last twenty years that can adopt the term of fashion icon. I think when referring to these stars we could say they have style, but wearing an oversized blazer with a pair of straight leg jeans isn’t exactly iconic – is it?


Believing the key accessory to an outfit is a flat stomach, being ‘thinner’ has been encouraged by the media for centuries with its most recent iterations from the androgynous 1920s to the 60s Twiggy, up to the 90s Heroin Chic. Thinness has been a Western ideal for centuries. The media has worked hard to make the ideal body unattainable to the average women, meaning in modern times smaller women deemed to have thin privilege are also experiencing similar issues larger individuals face.


An issue experienced by everyone is the difficulty to find clothing that fits correctly. There’s this idea that thinner people can find clothes more easily because they have more options, but that’s not the case. Larger people like to use this debate to justify their stance, but the real issue is the stores and fashion industry. Stores may not feature more options for larger sizes because they can’t sell enough to justify. In addition, the clothing industry generally doesn’t make clothing for ‘normal-sized’ people.


I think one thing we can agree on is that ‘Skinny/Thin Privilege’ is connected to ‘Pretty Privilege’ and that’s due to the Western ideals we’ve been fed over decades. Studies have illustrated the advantages of being thinner with a women’s weight affecting chances of getting a job. In 2018, a survey discovered that thinner employers earned $2,512 more than their larger colleagues.


Whilst there is evidence proving the advantages of being slender, people using this term are assuming thinner people skip through life easily. Just like larger people, thinner people can experience negative comments on their appearance – such as “you look anorexic” and “you need to eat more”. Some people are just naturally thin, or they work hard to stay fit and healthy – and those using the term to have a go at people need to take a step back. Don’t make people feel guilty for being healthy. Furthermore, skinny doesn’t always mean healthy. Just as there are health conditions which cause obesity, there is such for creating a thinner physique.

Fashion is currently made for skinny people. Slender models display the looks, they sell the looks and most importantly for brands, they wear them. I think having a thinner physique has its natural advantages, but I don’t think you can throw it into the pool of privileges alongside more pronounced factors such as race and class. Whilst privileges have been identified, I don’t believe that’s enough to justify the outcry of some larger people who believe the world is against them.

This article was written by contributing writer Malin Jones.

Malin Jones – Click on the link to see her LinkedIn.

More stories from Malin – 

Cancel Culture And Its Evolution

Weighing In On The Obesity Crisis

Social Media Influencers Are Taking Over The World And They Want More

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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