I know I'm privileged. I'm white, I'm middle-class, I'm attending college. I have all my teeth and I use socially acceptable diction. All of these characteristics add to what anthropologists call "cultural capital," my ability to navigate power structures relative to others who aren't in possession of these.
And regardless of what I think on a given day, by most standards I'm thin - which, until recently, I didn't realize had its own privilege. Being thin has negative emotional baggage for me, so I tend not to see it as necessarily positive. This post by blogger Fatshionista! outlines common expressions of thin privilege. I recognized some of my own behaviors in the list - I'm guilty of assuming that large peoples' health problems probably stem from their size. There are a few I question, but then I've never been obese and looked for a job or tried to get health insurance.
The item that struck me the most was #18: "My size communicates very little to most people and is value neutral. That is, most people don’t assume anything about my values, morals, etc. because of my size."
I'm very, very guilty of attaching moral values to food and body size - but I always thought of it as destructive to my own well-being. There were times when every bite I ate was a massive failure, an indication of my lack of self-control, my worthlessness. I'm ashamed to admit that I was terrified of obese people - in them I saw reflected everything that made me loathe myself. I was very sick, but I'm still disgusted with the way I thought about people.
It's taken me a long time to understand that my size doesn't have anything to do with being a good person. I didn't realize that by condemning myself for eating, I was helping to perpetuate stereotypes about obesity. To a certain extent, the way you look might be able to indicate something about the way you live: Mr. College Muscleman probably spends more time at the rec center than at the library. Then again, you can't know for sure. And while you might get a hint about a person from their appearance, there's no way to make a moral judgment about someone based on their size.
The first step toward dealing with privilege is acknowledging it. So now I know, and so do you.