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Obesity Discrimination In the Workplace and World

Weight discrimination was first documented in the 70s and still factors in to today's society. Here are some of the ways the overweight are affected by common perceptions

How would it feel not to be hired for a job just because of your weight? How would it feel not be promoted because you just didn’t fit the same body image as the other executives? Chances are you would feel angry and depressed over your inability to measure up with the healthier and more attractive individuals who are making it ahead in the career that you dream of being successful in.

The truth is that this weight discrimination is happening and it’s been going on at least since the late 70s. In his article titled, "No Fat Persons Need Apply: Experimental Studies of the Overweight Stereotype and Hiring Preference," author J.C. Larkin said that employers view obese employees as risks to companies because they are disorganized, make poor judgments, are less productive and are a health risk.

Larkin may not be far off base because a study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science found that people who were perceived as being more attractive were also viewed as smarter and more socially adept. In turn, these people had a greater chance of being hired and promoted.

Employers also feel that hiring individuals who are overweight and less physically attractive can decrease the company’s image, according to Roehling. To support this, a study by Dennis Clayson et. al found that participants did view a store more negatively than another store when the associate was obese.

How Weight Contributes to Attractiveness

Society’s view on weight has greatly changed across the world. At one time, an hourglass figure was viewed as a desirable shape on a woman. However, over time this has changed as anthropologists at Arizona State University have found. They asked 700 people in 10 countries which statement they thought was true, “Fat people are lazy” or “A big woman is a beautiful woman.”

The study found that a greater percentage of the people chose the first statement to be true. The percentage was particularly high in countries that used to feel strongly that larger woman were more attractive. What does this mean?

People view being overweight as an unattractive quality that leads to having many other undesirable qualities. This then leads to discrimination in the workplace and most likely in other areas of life.

Living a Healthier Lifestyle

What can you do about it? The message across the world is to start living a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight can increase your attractiveness, promote health and wellbeing and maybe even advance your career.

Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly will take your figure from unhealthy to healthy, from unattractive to attractive, and the way you are perceived will shift from lazy to hardworking. Turn your undesirable qualities to desirable qualities. It does amazing things for your self-esteem. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing all of the weight, you’ll see you and everything you have to offer your life and your company. You’ll see how far you’ve come from leading a life of eating whatever you want, whenever you want, to a life of control, balance and management.

Managing Your Life and a Successful Career

See, employers want to see that you have management over your life, because if you can’t have control over that, how can you have it over your job? Stepping into a job interview overweight gives off the impression that you have let your eating and exercising regimen go. Will you let your job responsibilities go too?

While it may take a while to shed the pounds, it all starts with the first step. Starting your healthier lifestyle today means that you’re one-day closer to that promotion or better job someday.


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