Weight Loss Support - Is fat hurting your career?




View Full Version : Is fat hurting your career?


NinaV
12-07-2006, 04:24 PM
I’ve recently realised that in addition to all the other “side effects” of being overweight, I have also been passed over in my job for a while now. It took me some time to figure it out, because they don’t just come out and tell you straight out: “We can’t have an unpresentable fat girl dealing with clients and representing our business.” Plus for a while I though it was the fact that I didn’t have a BA, but I just graduated this summer and now I do have a BA and 7 years of experience with the company. That’s when it hit me – I’m too fat to be on the higher-up levels. I’m a good enough “work horse”, but that’s it.
It probably doesn’t help that my self-confidence is suffering because I hate the way I look. And don’t get me wrong, I make decent money, I don’t hate my job, sometimes I even enjoy it. But it still hurts to realise that all the bull**** my bosses have been telling me about “you need to show initiative, get involved, blah, blah, blah” was just a pretty cover for “You’re too damn fat.”


JayEll
12-07-2006, 06:00 PM
Hi, NinaV,

I think that there really is such a thing as "fat discrimination," but I do hope that's not the whole story at your place of work and instead it's that they simply haven't had an opening to move you into yet.

Back many years ago, a friend of mine was turned down for a job at a Penney's as a data entry clerk because she was over their company weight limit. I think she only weighed about 160 at the time. But now she weighs more than that, lo these many years later, and she's a senior programmer analyst making good money (tho not with Penney's). So don't let it get you down! Success is still possible.

You know that the main reason to lose weight is for your own health and well being anyway, so please keep on with your plan!

I sure hope you do!

Best,
Jay
198/181/155

NinaV
12-07-2006, 06:05 PM
Thanks Jay for your kind words.
To answer your question, no, it's not because they don't have an opening. They have been promoting "The skinny people" over me for years now, I just always though it was because they had a degree and I didn't. But now I do have a degree and they just promoted another skinny person right over my head, so that't how I figured it out.
I know what you're saying, it's not the end of the world, it just still hurts that's all.


hourglass
12-07-2006, 06:12 PM
I'm sorry that's the world is like this -- I have felt it too, but have only realized that's what was going on AFTER I lost weight. (I started at 247lbs.) I know it's hard to not let it affect your confidence, but realize your worth and value no matter what size you are. When I was heavier, I thought I was a little overweight, but I still thought I was cute. I think you have to see your beauty before you can successfully lose weight. Since you are well on your way, I think you DO see your beauty and worth. Please don't let the negative attitudes get to you (trust me I know it's hard.) You can do it!

Get n healthy
12-07-2006, 06:15 PM
They miss out on a lot of hard working, smart people with fat discrimination. To me, to make it even worse, i dont think they would think twice about promoting a fat male...but us women, well we are "supposed to look a certain way". i have been privy to conversations that actually contained those words. They think of fat women as lazy, sloppy, and just not as smart as our thin counterparts. But an overweight man is still business savy. Go figure.

sept15lija
12-07-2006, 07:06 PM
Unfortunately, I totally believe this is due to fat discrimination. There is definitely a perception out there that fat=lazy, so why would a company want that representing them? And some of the clients will feel the same way. It's absolutely horrible and they are missing out on a lot of really good people this way as Get n healthy pointed out. I'm sorry this is happening to you, perhaps you should go to your supervisor and ask for specific things that you can do to get ahead at your company and see what they say. I have been at the wrong end of this too many times I believe when I was competing for jobs or looking for promotions. Luckily now the company I work for is small and very good to its employees, so everything has been OK. Good luck...let us know how it's going.

collegebride
12-07-2006, 10:29 PM
I don't know. This is such a darn touchy subject. I totally agree that people do treat everyone different based on their looks. But I also wonder if people such as myself are not successful in certain areas because we don't "sell ourselves". I mean that in a good way, as in be proud of yourself, hold your head up high. It is easy to blaim things on "being fat" but trust me, I know some women who would be termed overweight (medically) and they are very successful. I think that a lot of women just like to blaim everything on everyone else and that is why they never lose the weight. Because they don't realize "Hey, I did this to myself". They think, no, the guy that hurt my feelings made me eat all that ice cream. Believe me, I am working on the confidence thing myself, but if I know one thing about society it is that one needs to believe in themselves before anyone else will. And if you honestly 100% think that your job is "Fat Discriminating" you..then quit and find a new job. Because if you do end up losing weight and they do treat you differently..you would hate them for that!:carrot:

NotTheCheat
12-08-2006, 10:26 AM
For me now, I would definitely say yes, although in a way it is my choice. I finished my degree in Public Accounting about a year ago and want to wait until I get to a lower weight to try and get a job in a big accounting firm. I definitely think being the size I am will be a problem. I don't want to go to a client site and not be able to fit in their chairs and I want to be able to travel in planes comfortably by myself. I am also cheap and don't want to buy multiple wardrobes (I don't have to dress up now). I currently have a decent job and am relatively happy where I am, but I think it will be much more challenging to succeed in a Big 4 as a large woman than if I were closer to a healthy weight.

There was a recent article in the NYTimes about the financial cost of being fat, which is rather sobering.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/02/business/02money.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

fiddler
12-08-2006, 10:45 AM
I know it has hurt my career. And, in my case at least, it's not a matter of "selling myself." I have been told by several people that I'm one of the most self-confident women they have ever met.

NinaV
12-08-2006, 12:27 PM
Collegebride,
First of all, I don’t mean to offend you, but how old are you? Judging from your post I would say late teens early twenties? Well, thrust me dear, “selling your self” when you are 22 and 180 pounds is not the same as trying to do it when you are 298 pounds and in your thirties.
I absolutely believe that you know some women who would be termed overweight (medically) and they are very successful.****, by most people’s standards I am one of those women. Like I said earlier, the job I have is a good one and it pays well. That’s not what I was griping about. I was, however, noting that if I weren’t the size that I am I would have already been in a higher position than I am now and the worst thing – I hadn’t even realised that until recently.
As to your advise to quit and find a new job you might be a bit more optimistic about the world than I am at this point. What makes you think I won’t be “fat discriminated” in another job? At least here I am comfortable and I can pay my mortgage. To just set off in search of a perfect “non-discriminating” job at this point… well, let’s just say I hope you don’t have to learn your “real world” lessons this way once you’re out of college, it can be pretty costly.

Beach Patrol
12-08-2006, 12:36 PM
For years & years I have said that fat discrimination exists & is probably the ONLY "acceptable" discrimination in our society.

For some reason, it's "acceptable" to not hire a fat person for certain jobs. You can only "weigh so much" to be an airline stewardess, certainly you can only "weigh so much" to be a model, etc. But even in other career fields - such discrimination is blatant.

Were these same people discriminating others based on color or religion or sexual preference, even gender or age, there'd be **** to pay.

But fat people, I'm convinced, get the worst of the discrimination. It's very difficult to prove, and a sad but true phenomenon. Sometimes, we imagination discriminations where there are none, due to our low self-esteem & fear & prejudices that we, ourselves, carry against us.

But NinaV... you know what you're capable of doing & you know how good you are at your job. If you truly believe you've been discriminated against because of your weight, talk to an attorney. It's not right, it's not fair, and you deserve better.

Good luck to you... you know you have everyone here on your side!

:hug:

Mami
12-08-2006, 04:25 PM
I see it both ways. It is perfectly obvious that there is discrimination out there against overweight people, with it probably getting worse the higher one weighs. On the other hand, you should keep in mind that there are jobs and people out there who are not discriminatory, who know how difficult it is to find the right person for the job, and who wouldn't think twice about hiring an overweight person. We hired a woman who probably weighs about 275 at 5'2 without that ever being an issue. But we are a smaller place and maybe that has something to do with it. The point is that yes, it will no doubt be harder to find jobs and get promoted, but there are people and companies out there who simply do not discriminate. Maybe you can keep your eyes open for a different (less discriminatory) job while you still have the current one.

YP1
12-09-2006, 03:32 AM
I do think that it can affect your career, but it's not always as straightforward as it seems. For me (and this may not be the case for everyone) in addition to any potential discrimination from employers/potential employers I had the issue that my self confidence was low, and I almost assumed that it would happen before it did, meaning that I'd go to an interview assuming I wouldn't get the job - and I didn't. Maybe if I'd had a more positive attitude I'd have performed better, I don't know.

The interesting thing was that when I graduated university I had a very good CV and got an interview for most of the jobs I applied to. The only two I got offered were places where I'd done a one or two week placement (which there was no interview for), and where they saw what I could do rather than relying on interview alone. Was that because what they'd seen overrode my fatness or because I was more confident because I knew them? It's hard to say. Anyway, I accepted one of those two jobs over 5 years ago and am still there. I actually ended up in a team within the firm where I had a fat boss, so I was comfortable that there was nothing she could say or do to me. Well, apart from the jealousy that I'm now much thinner than she is after she tried Atkins, succeeded for a while and then had two kids that is ;)

Losingme
12-09-2006, 06:57 AM
It's out there and I'm hating it!! I am an unemployed administrative assistant. I worked for the past 3 years as a receptionist, but my skills are far beyond that of a receptionist. I have been unemployed for 3 months. I often wonder if my weight is a factor when the person I interview makes their hiring decision. I hate to think that, and have thought that maybe it was a self esteem problem for me as well, but I really do think it exists.

I have passed over several classified ads looking for a receptionist that clearly state that the person inquiring for the job must be presentable. I think that type of wording is placed in the ad by an ignorant person. They may have only meant that the person must be professionally dressed, but when you're a fat girl, to you it means, "Must be under 130 pounds." I don't even bother with such ads, even though they may be very good opportunities.

And while I'm ranting. How about when the media shows a fat person on the news and they only show them from the neck down? Do these people know that they've been filmed and that they will be used for a "fat" news story? I think that is so degrading and it disgusts me. It's as if we need a visual of what fat is. We all know, even the skinny folk. Alright I'm stepping off the soapbox. Thanks for reading my venting. :soap:

jillybean720
12-09-2006, 08:35 AM
I don't know...I KNOW it happens out there, but I think sometimes we, as fat people, jump the gun to blame our fat, ya know? Note the word "sometimes," as I am NOT saying fat discrimination does not exist. I can't say if this is the case here for you because I don't know you well enough, nor do I know the people who have been promoted above you. I CAN say that a completely incompetent, thin man was promoted above me in my last job. At first, I thought it was because he had been there longer than me, only to find out he'd only started there 2 months before me. Well, he was a major suck-up, and that's what got him the job. He was quick to blame other people for mistakes he had made and just as quick to take credit for the good work others (including me) had done. That doesn't mean they didn't promote me because I was fat--it just means they promoted him because he was a jerk (but a star employee in their eyes, since upper management didn't see all of this "behind the scenes" action).

I am young--I'm 24. But I've also been around 300 pounds since before I graduated from college. I had no problem getting the piddly part-time jobs while I was in school (and I had plenty of them...I worked in a shoe store, a movie theater, a fabric store, a self-storage facility, in a restaurant as a hostess and server, had a radio promotions internship...). When I entered the "real world," I had a full-time job starting at the beginning of January (I graduated in December). I had been on multiple interviews, but in this job market where literally hundreds of people can apply to a single opening, I knew I would have to apply, apply, apply. Anyway, I got a full-time job in my field (marketing) and was happy with my starting salary.

Then I decided to move to a new area. Now, if anyone knows anything about Northern Virginia, you'll know that a fat woman is probably pretty likely to be discriminated against. With a Macy's in every mall and the highest per capita concentration of Starbucks' in the world, it is primarily sales, high-tech firms, and government contractors. I did feel I was turned down for one job because of my size while interviewing. It was for a non-profit organization, and 2 women interviewed me. Typically, I'm more comfortable when women interview me than men, but these women were Barbie and Barbie's twin sister. They acted like rude sorrority girls during my interview, giving each other "looks" and occasionally giggling. But you know what? Thank GOD I didn't get that job, because I wouldn't have wanted to work with them every day, anyway!

The job I did get paid me more than my job back home (increased cost of living), so I was thrilled. Then after about 6 months, I realized that it wasn't enough $$ to be living on my own in this expensive area, so I started working part-time at a resturant as well. This tired me out like nobody's business, so I went to my boss and told her that I would be looking for a new job that would pay me more so I wouldn't have to work 2.
The next day, she came back and had spoken to her boss...they offered me about a $10k increase in pay. I stayed.

Well, come another 9 months or so later, I was angered to discover that someone who was hired after me with not much more experience and was doing even less difficult work started at a higher salary than me. Not cool. Was it because she was thin? As much as that would be an easy thing to blame, there were other, thinner women in the office who were also not making much money. And so, off I went on some more job interviews. I got a new job starting me at $10k more than I left my current job making. Score!

Well, this new job was the one with the aforementioned jerk guy who got promoted. I could NOT handle working for him, so I started the job search yet again. I got a new job (my current job) for yet another $10k increase in pay.

And so, here, I am, making more than double the salary of my first job in just 3 years (I graduated college in December 2003), and all in 3 years' time. I guess the moral of my story is that if you don't like your situation, then change it. YOU are the only one who can do anything about it. You can hide in your current job and say other companies will just discriminate against you also, or you can go outside your comfort zone and know that there ARE ethical, non-superficial managers out there. If you KNOW that fat discrimination is happening, I agree with hiring an attorney, but I also know that, personally, after sueing a company, I wouldn't want to work there anymore because if they promoted me at all, I would think it was out of FEAR that if they didn't, I'd sue them again, and that's just as bad.

I'm sure you'll just think that I am young and naiive, and that's fine...but at least I have a job I like with managers I love and a fabulous income, and if any of that changes, I know I'm strong enough to seek out a better situation for myself :^:

Oh, I've also worked in many places where obese women held very high-up management and executive positions (and they weren't related to the owner, either ;) ). Non-discriminatory companies DO exist--I hope you take the opportunity to find them :)

collegebride
12-09-2006, 04:04 PM
Hey, I am just putting another point out there, which is true is some cases. I am sure that fat discrimination is out there and every other kind of discrimination along with it. But some people do blame all their problems on other people and fail to take responisibility. I am not saying that this is any specific person, but some people are like that..I myself have done that at times. Secondly, I am 22. I may be young but I have achieved many things on my own. Yes, I am a college student, but I have had a job ever since I was 15 and I already am in the real world, so please do not use my age as a crutch, that would be what you call "age discrimination". My parents do not pay for anything, so do not assume that I am not in the real world already. I almost work full time during the school year and all I do is work in the summer. People are not at a healthy weight for millions of reasons. I myself, have not made it a priority in my life the last few years and I am trying to get back to where I was several years ago. :carrot: