A great deal of understanding life involves understanding your own level of privilege. For example: Did you grow up the white child of married, college-educated parents in an affluent or comfortable neighborhood? Congratulations: You were born with a complicated and profound network of advantages that has helped you accomplish everything you've ever tackled since.
On a similar note: it can be difficult, at times, to remember that male privilege is a very real thing. Personally speaking, I spend a good 50% of my waking hours complaining at length about all the minor misfortunes and inconveniences that have befallen me, and I therefore tend to lose track of all the benefits that I wallow in daily. But then stories like this one come along: "Jennifer Lawrence Was Once Told to Lose Weight or Get Fired."
Here's the context: Oscar winner and blockbuster mega-star Jennifer Lawrence ("The Hunger Games") was once told that she'd be fired if she didn't lose weight, and the point was driven home using scantily-clad pictures of herself.
As a male, this hasn't happened to me. Ever. Even vaguely. And you might say to yourself (should you happen to be female), "well, wait – as a female, this hasn't happened to me, either."
Not with the explicit threat of firing and the explanatory photos, no doubt. But how often have you felt self-conscious about your weight, or judged, or under social or even professional pressure to maintain a certain look? Part of being a woman in modern American society (and others, too – but let's keep our focus at least somewhat constrained) is a feeling that appearances count, a lot, a feeling that is fed by the pervasive influence of Hollywood and television.
After all: If an by-all-accounts decent looking Hollywood actress can get bagged on and criticized for her appearance, what's to stop it from happening to almost any woman in any job? Ideally: the sensitivity of employers and peers. In real life: almost nothing at all.
There are a lot of things that I am worried about when it comes to raising my son, including but not limited to: whether he'll crash his bike into a car, whether he'll blow one or more digits off while playing with illegal fireworks, whether he'll use good judgment when it comes to drugs and alcohol, whether he'll drive safely or like a far-less-skillful Mario Andretti, whether he'll find a career he loves, whether he'll manage to do well in school or just muddle through like I did, and whether he'll stick around the Upper Midwest or ship off for distant parts.
But I'm not actively worried about his body image. I assume he'll be somewhere between thin and chunky, and ideally be fairly healthy and active, and he'll feel comfortable with himself. And that's about as far as I've really had to think of it, because I know for myself, body image was a much smaller part of the story than school, and friendships, and just generally figuring out life. And while that was also true for many of my female friends, it wasn't true across the board. And that, in a nutshell, is male privilege: the privilege to worry about something other than whether someone important thinks that you're a little too fat.