Finding the Others

Up until recently in human history, one of the big existential questions has been, “How do I find the Others?” Not Other in the sense of alien or inimical, but in the sense of The Others Who Are Like Me. Is there anyone else in the wide world who really, truly loves doing magic? Does anyone else feel as passionately that the Dewey Decimal System needs to be decommissioned? Is anyone else forging their own sword and reenacting medieval battles?

Science fiction author Zenna Henderson wrote a very popular series about the hazards of being different and the longing to reunite with the lost tribe of people who have the same abilities, understandings, values, and dreams. In these times, thanks to the Internet, anyone can find their affinity group, which turns out to not always be a good thing. With some groups, it’s probably better for everybody if they never connect. For others, online support forums provide salvation.

Where do uncomfortably overweight people go to talk about the discrimination that blankets their lives with misery, to vent about the hurtful cultural norm that offers godlike prominence to the slender? Gaby Dunn wrote,

On the This Is Thin Privilege Tumblr, overweight people gather to talk about how hard it is to find clothes, how their partners act ashamed to be with them, and how differently retail workers and authority figures treat them from their thinner peers.

Message boards in this genre have their share of critics. The main Thin Privilege trait is attitude, which falls into distinct categories. Some online commenters are self-aware and emotionally sophisticated enough to call out the nonsense uttered by not only others, but themselves.

For instance, it is unrealistic to expect every store to carry every item in every size. The fact that they don’t is not fat-shaming, it’s logistics. And there are specialty stores, and of course through the miracle of the Internet, clothes that fit can be found.

In other words, some Thin Privilegers are honest enough to admit that within these safe spaces, a certain amount of the communication is just whining. Individuals who tend to be impatient with this kind of complaint have often suffered deep, traumatic humiliation in much more invasive ways.

Moral superiority

One defense mechanism adopted by the terminally overweight is taking the moral high ground. They spread the idea that thin people coast, never developing either brains or personality. Since thin people can get by just on their looks, they never have to work for anything or develop desirable inner qualities. According to this school of thought, therefore, the obese are simply better-quality humans.

The proudly defensive Social Justice Warriors in this demographic are upholders of civil rights, especially the right to feel justified at all times, which can, according to their critics, lead to excessive and unnecessary defensiveness. In this mindset, for a person to be of normal weight is not just a privilege, it’s an aggressive insult.

According to one anonymous correspondent, such grimly self-righteous folks “do not see themselves as people with fat that is mutable, but actually consider fat part of their very identity; any attack on fat is necessarily an attack on them.”

Of course, that is a very extreme position. On the other end of the spectrum, the exceedingly fit Joe Rogan has mocked the Thin Privilege crowd:

The culprit is not their own lack of self respect or their own willpower or their own ability to discipline themselves or their own inability to educate themselves on proper nutrition. That’s out of the equation. It’s no longer their responsibility. Now instead they’ll concentrate on thin people having an ___ that fits in an actual airplane seat.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reddit’s sad network of fat-shaming,”, 11/22/13
Source: “Joe Rogan Destroys Fat logic,”, 11/05/13
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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