Do Employers Discriminate Against Fat People?

Obesity fat girl with scale

Your appearance is important for making a great first impression and getting a job. But just how decisive it is and can the way you look – or rather how much you weigh – prevent you from getting a job you want? If you ask employers, the answer will probably be: “No.” At the end, it always comes down to the skills and experience, right? Nonetheless, studies found that employment discrimination against overweight people is as commonplace as race, or sex discrimination and that obese people are less likely to be hired for a job and get promoted.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

According to The Harris Interactive Poll, many obese people feel that they are being discriminated against because of their weight problems. This happens in various settings, including the workplace. Among the survey participants with obesity, 52% experienced discrimination when applying for a job or promotion. Many of them feel that they are being treated unfairly and their positive qualities are being overlooked – all because of the extra kilos. Furthermore, overweight people who do get a job feel more insecure about their career prospects.

From Stereotypes to Discrimination

Studies show that fat people are often perceived by others as lazy, unsuccessful, unintelligent and lacking self-discipline – qualities that are polar opposites of what every employer is looking for. Extra weight is frequently connected with stereotypes like low self-esteem, lack of confidence and incompetence. Most of us believe that fat people are solely responsible for their weight problems, thus, they have failed to control their own body and eating habits due to a personal weakness of character. No apologies are accepted! This collection of negative attitudes certainly doesn’t help in work environment.

Employers Prefer Fit Candidates

Even if managers don’t use weight as a factor when making a hiring decision, subconsciously it is still present. If job applicants have their own weight out of control, how can they be trusted with leading employees and completing important projects? Fat people are perceived to be less ambitious, or not as disciplined as their normal-weight counterparts, which again has negative implications for work. Overweight people often have low self-esteem and job related problems. Employers are also concerned that overweight people have poor health and will be absent from job more often than their fit colleagues.

Obesity is a major health issue in the Western world and the number of fat people continues to grow. At the same time, negative perception of fat people becomes even more prevalent. Moreover, weight bias, unlike prejudice against race, ethnicity or sex, seems to be socially acceptable and affects many aspects of employments, including hiring, promotions, career outlooks and pay increase. There are even studies that found correlation between weight gain and wage drop, especially by women. Attractive employees tend to earn 10 to 15% more than their less attractive counterparts.

Don’t Let Your Weight Affect Your Career

If you are overweight, don’t be afraid to address the problem during a job interview. Motivational speaker Steve Siebold in his book Die Fat or Get Tough suggests that people who are a bit overweight should show their potential employers that they are aware of their problem and are working on it. Point out that you are fit and don’t have any problems with physical activities. Convince your prospective employers that your extra weight will not prevent you from doing your job. For overweight people it’s especially important to come to an interview well-dressed. Good grooming and attention to detail may help create a positive first impression and will show that you care about your appearance. If you want to get rid of your insecurities, a simple exercise before the job interview can help you. (Read more here)

You don’t want your extra kilos to cost a new job or promotion, right? Get fit! Use it as a chance to prove everyone that you are motivated and disciplined enough to get your weight under control. You’ll have an extra success story to impress everyone during a job interview. Just the fact that your BMI (Body Mass Index) has always been normal will not impress anyone, but the fact that you have managed to overcome your obesity – most certainly will.




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