When It Comes To Job Discrimination, "Lose Weight" Is Crappy Advice


Shape Magazine has just become hip to the studies that show that fat women have a more difficult time getting hired and are paid less than their thin counterparts. They point out that this doesn’t happen to men and they acknowledge that it’s not fair. But then they start doling out advice:

It’s okay to enjoy a doughnut, just don’t do it at work.

Oh noes –- call the food police we have an PDF EWF (Public Display of Fatness: Eating While Fat)

Simply ask yourself: What can I do to make tomorrow healthier than today?

This won’t help –- I’m already very healthy and I’m still fat. So what you mean is: what can I do to make tomorrow thinner than today? While I’m at it, what else can I do that has no bearing on my job performance that will make my picture fit your frame? Get a nose job? Change my hair color? My skin color? How can I help support your bigotry and change myself to suit you? Just say the word, it’s all for you baby.

Just say, ‘I’m concerned. Is this is a factor? I know my weight is an issue and I’m working on it.’

Unless I’m applying for a job that actually has something to do with the size of my body my weight is NOT an issue, social stigma is the issue. So how about this instead: “I’m concerned because studies show that fat women aren’t hired as often as their thin counterparts and are paid less if they are hired. I know that bigotry and stigma can be an issue and I know it’s something people have to work on. Obviously I would never want to bring my talent and creativity to a bigoted, short-sighted, aesthetics-obsessed, unethical company. This company would never do that, right? Of course you’re hiring based on ability to to the job and not skin color, body size, or other superficial things, correct?”

As I say all the time, I believe that people’s choices about their bodies should be respected so if you want to lose weight I’m here to support your choice. I also know that not having a job is scary and I would never, in any way, cast disparagement on anyone who does whatever they believe they need to do to provide for themselves or their family. That’s not what this blog is about.

However, I also acknowledge that if we want change where this is concerned, somebody has to stand up to this.

If you are in a position to hire people obviously I’m looking at you. I hope to god that you wouldn’t turn someone down because of their skin color or because you didn’t think they were pretty or handsome. By the same token I hope that you wouldn’t pass on a qualified candidate because of the shape of their body.

If you are looking for a job consider bringing this up in the job interview. Obviously my scripting above is over the top but I think that some of the weight bias might be subconscious and bringing it to light may be just the thing to destroy it.

No matter what you decide, understand that IT IS NOT YOU!

Remember that the people who are spreading nasty rumors about fat people being poor employees are people who stand to profit from spreading these untruths.

Your size doesn’t say anything more about your work ability than the color or your skin or the style of your hair. This in incredibly bigoted and unfair. The word I’m looking for here is bullshit and we deserve better.

This post originally appeared on Dances With Fat. Republished with permission.

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Image via Lucie Lang/Shutterstock.com

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