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Why the New Thin Is the Old Normal: Discrimination At The Community Pool

Dubbo swimming pool

We Blend Right In, Unless We Are Different: is the new thin the formal normal weight?

Skinny people aren’t allowed at the community pool. This is what I have been told. It is discrimination to exclude someone at a public place because of their weight, for being too skinny.

But before you shake your head in disbelief, do not worry. These rules aren’t written anywhere; they are half-said in a joke, or a look or a real compliment from another person at the pool.

“Hey, skinny people are not allowed to swim in the pool, haha! You need to leave.”

Yes, I was asked, completely jokingly and with amour (love) to leave the pool. I responded, laughingly:

“I am just lucky, you know?”

Honestly, I feel awkward writing this to you, because I feel half guilty to have this being skinny luck. I am thin. And so what? Back fifty years ago I would be part of the crowd. In France I am part of the crowd. But, having a what could be considered skinny body in 2012 makes me different in America. The fact that my weight is a trigger of comments during my summer in America makes me ponder on what is considered a normal weight. I am normal for what a person’s physical body looked like fifty years ago. But here we are 2 generations later in the midst of a eating and obesity crisis in America, and things are different. Being thin is looked at differently. The new thin is the old normal.

Now back to the pool crowd. You can really see a person’s physical shape in a bathing suit. (Not that I focus on a person’s body, but at the pool, it is just there). What do I think as I scan the crowd sitting on the chairs and swimming in the water? Overall, people look pretty ‘normal’ for what you see in America, (there are the exceptions of course), but yes, normal for 2012. Normal for an American crowd.

And on this hot summer day in America, if we took a black and white snapshot of this crowd and put it next to a picture of a crowd at a community pool fifty years ago, what do you think you would see? What would be your impressions?

The new thin is the old normal. The new normal is the old overweight. The new slightly overweight is the old fat.

Do you agree?

More on this to come.

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5 Responses to Why the New Thin Is the Old Normal: Discrimination At The Community Pool

  1. ~ The Lady in Red ~ September 27, 2012 at 13:15 #

    I completely agree with this article – and I live in America. I have experienced similar situations where if you are thin – for whatever the reasons – genetics, you take good care of yourself, etc. – some people feel they have a right to comment on your body type. It’s really rather rude. If these people would stop and think for one moment how they would feel if you said to them, “hey, looks like you put on some weight!” then maybe they would keep their mouths shut.

    I also remember times when I was a child other children said “You’re so THIN!” with a derogatory tone in their voice. Many times I felt like I should be embarrassed for being thin. As an adult I think how foolish I was and how I should have embraced the fact I ate well and wasn’t a chubby child. As an adult, I am grateful good habits were instilled in me and I no longer feel self-conscious about my body. I am NORMAL. I may be considered the normal of 50 years ago, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe if those of us who are normally thin show we are proud of our bodies then we can be a source of inspiration to others who feel the need to berate us because they may be the NEW normal, which is actually a bit overweight.

    • mbrighton September 27, 2012 at 23:10 #

      Hi Lady in Red, VERY WELL PUT and as usual an insightful and informative comment. Thank you! More on this subject to come, so keep reading :)!


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