Scholar lectures about ‘thin privilege’ in effort to grow ‘fat acceptance movement’

Toni Airaksinen, DCNF

A PhD student at the University of Colorado-Denver recently filmed a TedX Talk criticizing the unfairness of “thin privilege,” and calling for more “fat acceptance” in society.

Madison Krall, an instructor and PhD student studying health and medicine, recounted the “unearned benefits” she received for being thin while she was thin and athletic at Pepperdine University, where she had been recruited to join the swimming team.

“Here’s the thing about privilege – it’s invisible,” she in her recent Ted Talk. “As an undergraduate, I realized I was receiving all these benefits for being thin, which I had taken for granted, not knowing the discrimination that fat people endure.”

In an interview with Campus Reform, Krall explained that fat stigma is harmful because it leads to bullying against fat people and “mental and physical destruction.”

“Most people have internalized fatism which leads to mental and physical destruction at the personal level and also shows up in the world in the forms of prejudice and discrimination we normally consider: name calling, bullying, body- and food shaming.”

To stop fat-shaming, Krall calls upon individuals to change the way they talk about fat people.

“Stop laughing at fat jokes,” she says. “Stop judging people for their food choices. Stop criminalizing food.”

At the community level, Krall called for more people to join the “fat acceptance movement,” but not the “body positive movement,” especially since the latter often is exclusionary of fat people.

“You cannot be body positive if you do not love fat bodies, and by fat bodies, I do not mean fat bodies that are determined to be ‘healthy’ by societal standards,” she told Campus Reform. “If you are a member of the body positivity movement, you should also be an advocate for the fat acceptance movement, regardless of your own outward appearance.”

While society continues to equate thinness with privilege, Krall hopes this changes soon. She yearns for the day when “all bodies are accepted as good bodies.”

“Weight discrimination needs to end, and I recognize it is an upward battle, but I am hopeful that in time more people will see the pervasiveness of fat oppression.

Krall concluded her TedX Talk by calling upon members of the audience to help make a change.

“The impacts of discrimination are far reaching, but we can create a society where all bodies are treated as equal,” she said.

In addition to her work as a PhD student at CU-Denver, Krall is also a research intern for the film Fattitude, and works at the University of Colorado Media Lab, teaching students and professors how to use Adobe Suite products and create videos. In the future, she hopes to implement a Body Positive campaign at her school.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

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