Tebben Gill Lopez/ The Mirror

I believe that when one group is oppressed, another is granted “privilege” in the fact that they enjoy conditions and statuses that another group cannot achieve.  It is an unfortunate side effect of our society; you can blame it on capitalism, racism, societal norms or anything else, really. But the reality is: Inequality exists because we let ourselves believe certain things are better than others. However, what good does putting down privilege really do?

Take the issue of body image, for example.  Society dictates that being thin is the desired look and what everyone else should aspire to be. They brush up and Photoshop models to death until they achieve this supposed standard of being absolutely beautiful, encouraging other people to try and match their doctored appearance. The Body Acceptance Movement completely opposes this notion and feels that society should appreciate all of our differences in our shapes, sizes, curves, etc. They feel the “privilege” of being thin should not be perceived as superior to alternate body types.

And they’re right. People aren’t, or at least they shouldn’t be, as shallow as dominant culture would have us be. Since we were kids, we’ve been hearing, “It’s the inside and not the outside that matters” everything from “The Ugly Duckling” to Shrek. And that is an ideal that should be pushed and promoted more in society rather than making your appearance as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  At the end of the day, people will appreciate or hate you for who you are, not what you look like.

There’s also the issue where American racism inherently grants privilege to white people over minorities. There have been many instances where cops have abused their power to pick on black people, enforced by policies such as stop-and-frisk, where culpability is based on skin color alone. This privilege should not be specially held for white people; it should not even be a thing to begin with.

Capitalism holds the same reality, but I feel it is a needed system, despite its downsides.  Even though some people start off in worse socioeconomic positions, in theory everyone can climb to the top on their own merit and earn their keep. Some people are born into wealth and can indulge in their own privileges, but that money was earned from someone else’s hard work.

The problem with economic inequality is that modern society as we know it cannot exist without income disparities; that would be communism.  We need menial workers for maintenance, we need hierarchy for order and we need someone at the top to guide everyone below them. This is different from body image and racism because those pertain more to individual privilege whereas capitalism extends beyond that.

What can we, as a society, do about privilege?  A good first step is outlined in an article Vivienne Chen wrote called, “Polyamory is for Rich, Pretty People.”  We should expand and share privileges for everyone to have, rather than relinquishing them from people who already have them. Magazines should promote other images of healthy body living that does not all subscribe to the same mindset and people should treat and accept others based on who they are independent of their backgrounds.

Privilege should not be used as a derogatory term. All this does is create an “us versus them” mentality and promotes difference rather than unifying people from different backgrounds. We should acknowledge privilege where it exists, but we don’t need to put down people that enjoy privilege just because they were born into it. Call me an idealist, but I feel there has to be some way for us all to combat inequality without reinforcing divisions by making privilege into a derogatory term.

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