Take a second to think, what do you think of when I say that world, privilege? Do you think of a wealthy person, living in a beautiful home on the water, driving an expensive car, dressing in luxurious brands, sending their children to private schools? Is that what you consider as privilege? Because I’ll be honest, when I first found myself consuming resources in this community, I though the same. Now, however, my perspective on privilege has shifted radically.
I now understand that the most privileged people in this world are straight, white, able-bodied males. Straight white males who are in a lean or athletic body, who are well-educated and live above the poverty line, are even more privileged. Even women, who are straight, white and living in a smaller body, will find themselves so far below straight white males in the order of the world.
So, now imagine if you were a person of colour, who was gay or transgendered, fat, or disabled, how you would navigate through the world? What it must feel like to have media, politicians, influencers, and a large portion of the general public, believing that everything about you is wrong, and that because of that, you don’t deserve to be treated with the same human decency and respect. Because as much as we might not like to admit it, privilege exists in this world, for some people and not for others.
I talked about this in an Instagram post just last week actually, which I’m going to recap now, because I want to read out two very different responses to it, which show off the differences in the world we live in today:
I wrote the following:
I have privilege in this world. I am a white, able-bodied, slim woman. I have an education, and I am in a pretty good financial position. But I recognise that, even women who have all the same attributes as me, but are black, or who have all the same attributes but are fat, are categorized so far below me in the order of the world it’s ridiculous. While I recognise that I have this privilege, it makes me angry that I am seen in our society as “more” or “of higher value” than women who I see myself as equal to. This MUST change. How can we live in a world where such privilege exists, based on colour, weight, education, class and body shape
Why do these things matter? Who decided they matter? Who continues to decide they matter? Who is making money on telling us they matter? PRIVILEGE SHOULD MEAN YOU ARE LIVING. NOT FIT INTO A CERTAIN SET OF ATTRIBUTES.
So that was the caption on my post. And on one hand, I got this response from a woman of colour;
“As a black woman who is educated to a high level, able bodied, financially stable but quite curvy this means a lot. I still face discrimination and it can be tough for me, especially in the workplace. I work in a professional role and I’m usually the only black woman at work or people don’t believe I’m the psychologist that will be seeing them. I’ve been mistaken for the room escort before and denied a job as I don’t “fit” the area. Thank you recognising this as people often think I’m nuts.”
It made me so happy to read this comment, and to have my views validated by someone who experiences this discrimination daily, but I also got a private message from someone, a white male, that said:
“Can you give me an example of what you mean by this so-called white privilege?”
Now before I was silly enough to respond to this bigot, I viewed his profile, on which he had written captions that included racist, homophobic, completely bigoted remarks, at which point I decided that he didn’t belong in my following and blocked him, because unfortunately that is the kind of person whose mind will never be changed. I thought, in discussing the privilege that exists for some in the world, it was crucial to point out differing responses to my post.
And, in case you’re wondering how we’ve gone from speaking about body positivity and health at every size, to this, I can assure you they are all related. Because really those characteristics, white, black, male, female, straight, gay, trans, able, disabled, young, old, what do they all have to do with? Our bodies. And so I repeat, body positivity is far more than a social media hashtag, it’s a political movement.