Discrimination against fat people

A pretty interesting article in the Star Tribune about workplace discrimination against fat people.

Meanwhile, in today’s competitive job market, bias against overweight people is commonplace, obesity-rights advocates say. The overweight are slighted in the areas of hiring, promotion, compensation and layoffs, according to Mark Roehling, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, who reviewed 49 studies on the subject.

Roehling has interviewed dozens of heavy people about their job-hunting experiences. One woman told him that she sat at a job interview and watched in horror as her interviewer wrote in big letters across the top of her résumé: “TOO FAT.”

Discrimination is especially acute in workplaces where a premium is placed on personal appearance, such as executive-level positions, sales, public relations and other areas where client contact is key, said Mary Story, a University of Minnesota professor who studies obesity.

In a 1990 study of several hundred people by University of Vermont professor Esther Rothblum, the heaviest were most likely to report they’d been denied benefits including health insurance because of their size. Many said they had been fired or threatened with dismissal for weight reasons.

Women suffer the greatest unfairness, she said. “They don’t have to weigh very much for employment discrimination to kick in.”

Rothblum once showed a set of identical résumés to a group of students. Half the résumés stated that the fictitious female job seeker was 120 pounds. The other half put her weight at 180 pounds. She asked the students to rate the woman’s professional competence and suggest her appropriate salary range.

The 180-pound woman scored dramatically lower. “The amazing thing about that experiment,” Rothblum said, “is that, actually, 180 pounds is not that heavy. Imagine what larger people experience. I think fat people underestimate how much of their daily encounters are different because of their weight.”

The article also attempts to justify the discrimination by pointing to a RAND study which found that obese people spend more on health care than smokers or chronic drinkers, leading to higher health care costs of hiring obese workers. From what I can tell, the Rand study in question is pretty flawed.

  • The study doesn’t account for ways in which obesity might be an effect of, rather than a cause of, chronic health conditions. Many health conditions can lead to large weight gains, either directly, as a side effect of medication, or through decreased exercise. It’s incorrect to count these instances as cases in which obesity causes disease, but that’s what the RAND study does.

  • Due to massive discrimination against fat people, it wouldn’t surprise me if obese people were more likely to seek treatment for depression. But if so, the cause may be prejudice against fat people, and not fatness itself.
  • Obese people are extremely likely to see doctors and take medications as part of weight-loss plans. This shouldn’t be counted as equivalent to the way smokers are more likely to need cancer treatments – but that’s what the RAND study does.
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143 Responses to Discrimination against fat people

  1. 1
    Mary Garden says:

    Don P,

    You had mentioned earlier that an employer should be able to discriminate against fat people as possible “health risks” based on the fact that they look fat. What about someone like me who has lost 100 lbs but still looks fat? Even for those who manage to lose enough weight to look thin, it can take years. Should people like me who are, by your lights, “making the right choices” continue to be penalized until no one thinks we look fat anymore?

    MG

  2. 2
    Elkins says:

    mythago wrote:
    Again, Don, “body weight” is not the real issue.”

    Don replied:
    Huh? What is the “real issue,” then?

    It was my understanding that the “real issue” was discrimination.

    Don, you seem to be proposing that if healthy fat people don’t want to be mistaken for unhealthy fat people (and hence discriminated against), then they ought to lose weight, in spite of the fact that this would likely transform them from perfectly healthy fat people into very unhealthy thin people.

    For some wacky reason, this seems kind of problematic to me. Not to mention kind of presumptuous.

    It should not be considered the responsibility of the people who are being discriminated against to pander to the preconceptions of those who discriminate against them.

  3. 3
    mythago says:

    Huh? What is the “real issue,” then?

    You are using “weight” as a substitute for “amount of body fat.” I’d say “cardiovascular fitness,” too, but that seems to be a secondary concern, sadly.

    Muscle weighs more than fat. This is why many women who exercise freak out when they stop losing weight, convinced they are doing something wrong or the exercise isn’t working. They fetishize the scale.

    Some people, a small minority, may really and truly have no reasonable way of obtaining inexpensive, healthy food.

    Don, you keep making claims about ‘the small minority’ and ‘no way.’ I’m sure that many of the working-class and poor could give up paying heating bills and so on to shop at Whole Foods in their copious free time, but really, it’s simply true that cheap food is fattening and unhealthy. So is food that’s quick to prepare.

    There just aren’t many organic farmer’s markets and daily deliveries of fresh veggies and fruits in the ‘hood.

  4. 4
    piny says:

    Actually, HIPAA is about protecting the privacy of your medical records from third parties. “Third parties” means “neither you nor your health care provider,” and usually _includes_ your employer.

    According to a fact sheet on HIPAA regulations I found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/consumer_summary.pdf:

    “Your health information cannot be used or shared without your written permission unless this law permits it. For example, your provider generally cannot give your information to your employer.”

    And from an article on nolo.com:

    “Once an employee is on the job, an employer’s right to conduct a medical examination is usually limited to so-called “fitness for duty” situations. If an employee has exhibited objective indications that he is physically or mentally unfit to perform the essential functions of the job — for example, by claiming that an injury prevents him from working — an employer may request that the employee’s fitness for the job be evaluated by a medical examiner.”

    “Although the medical examiner can take a full history of the employee and conduct any tests necessary to evaluate the employee’s fitness, the employer is not generally entitled to all of this information — only to the examiner’s conclusions about whether the employee can work. Many states also impose strict limits on the information a doctor may disclose to an employer or an insurance company without the worker’s consent.”

    “The ADA also requires certain privacy protections for the results of a medical examination. Data gathered in medical examinations must be kept in a separate personnel file available only to those with a demonstrable need to know, such as supervisors — who may need information about the employee’s work restrictions or reasonable accommodations — and first aid and safety personnel (if the employee’s disability might require emergency treatment).”

    So:

    –An employer is allowed to ask that you undergo a medical examination but only in order to determine your fitness for work. The fire department gets to make sure you don’t have asthma.

    –Your employer’s right to know is restricted to whether or not you can work, not the details of your health. Independent of the asthma question, the fire department doesn’t get to learn that you have HPV.

    –And even after your employer obtains health information, access to it is limited.

    So I don’t think that your employer gets to ask the doctor, “Hey, is he going to develop hypertension eventually, and drive up my insurance premiums?”

    HIPAA also protects people from health insurance discrimination on the basis of a pre-existing condition, i.e., “Americans who have some sort of health-related condition or characteristic that makes them vulnerable to exclusions, limitations and discrimination in group healthcare coverage….Cancer and high blood pressure are common pre-existing conditions.”

    “…In addition to protecting you from exclusions based on pre-existing conditions, HIPAA also protects you from [insurance] discrimination based on health-related characteristics. The Act prohibits health plans and insurers from excluding you from coverage or charging you more for coverage because of your health status.”

  5. 5
    Don P says:

    mythago:

    You are using “weight” as a substitute for “amount of body fat.”

    Yes, as I said, I’m talking about fatness and obesity. I thought this was understood. “Body weight” in this context means something like “body weight with respect to a person’s stature and frame” rather than body weight in absolute terms. Of course, the absolute weight does matter to some degree. Anyone who weighs, say, 400lbs is fat no matter what their stature and frame size.

    Don, you keep making claims about ‘the small minority’ and ‘no way.’ I’m sure that many of the working-class and poor could give up paying heating bills and so on to shop at Whole Foods in their copious free time, but really, it’s simply true that cheap food is fattening and unhealthy. So is food that’s quick to prepare.

    More nonsense. You don’t need to shop at Whole Foods to find inexpensive healthy food. In fact, Whole Foods is a relatively expensive boutique-type food store chain. Inexpensive and healthy food is readily available at all major supermarket chains. It’s also readily available at most smaller stores. It’s also available at chains like Walmart and Target. This claim that there are large numbers of people who simply cannot readily find cheap and healthy food is nonsense, utter nonsense.

  6. 6
    Don P says:

    Sally:

    See, this sounds great in theory, but I’m really skeptical in practice. Leave aside for a second the whole question of whether running is a good form of exercise for everyone. When I run, I sweat a lot. I’d need to take a shower before I could go back to work, and I’ve never had a shower available at work. Plus, I’ve usually had half-hour lunch breaks, which isn’t enough time for a reasonable run and a shower, especially if you’re assuming that I’d actually have to eat lunch at some point during my lunch break.

    Oh, for goodness sake, get real. If you really, truly cannot work some exercise into your commuting and work schedule, then get up 30 minutes earlier each day and work out on your exercise bike before heading off to work. Or do it while you’re reading the morning paper. Or do it when you get home. Pull up your exercise bike or treadmill in front of the TV or your computer and work out while you’re doing those things. The idea that people simply cannot reasonably be expected to organize their daily schedules to allow for 30 minutes to an hour of moderately vigorous exercise each day is absurd. Of course they can do it. What’s lacking is not the ability to do it, but the will.

  7. 7
    Mary Garden says:

    Don Pat,

    You still haven’t answered my question. What about the people who are complying with your advice and still look fat? Even if you succeed in becoming thin through these measures, you will likely look fat for a GOOD, LONG time in the process – probably for years. Do you think it’s fair to continue penalizing people who are doing what you suggest?

    MG

  8. 8
    Ilkka says:

    Just having discovered this thread, I am frankly amazed of Amp’s blind spot on how… silly his pro-fatness arguments are. Or perhaps they are simply obfuscation on purpose. Compare with all the pro-fat (really pro- fast food, of course) material coming from the libertarian and right-wing think tanks.

    If his political opponents ever used arguments equally flimsy in other issues, he’d trounce them in a heartbeat! For example, suppose that the conservative SUV owners took a cue from the fat acceptance movement and started claiming that their vehicles don’t use any more gas or cause a greater accident risk in traffic. After these fatness threads, how could you possibly respond to that whopper?

    Or consider the people who are deeply in consumer and credit card debt. Now, is it unfair to say that their problems are caused by spending more than they earn, and the cure to their problems is to reduce spending? Of course it is unfair to claim this, as the following modified pro-fat arguments show:

    - What evidence is there that a person, once they are near bankruptcy, can reliably choose to be wealthy? Studies show that 95% of people who are deep in debt and try to control their spending fail to do so, especially in the long term. So clearly cutting spending is not a working solution at all.

    - I know someone who spends a lot and still keeps getting richer, and someone else who tries to save but still goes deeper in debt all the time. So clearly you can’t claim that the spending habits have anything at all to do with the accumulation of debt. All generalizations are wrong.

    - Based on their personal reporting, people who are deep in credit card debt don’t shop any more or make any more impulse purchases than those who are debt-free, on average. So we can’t say that shopping is any issue here.

    - Many people with large credit card debt spend their entire lives attempting to pay it off – and the overwhelming majority make at least a couple of serious attempts – but nearly all of them will fail, over the long run. To you, that means, apparently, that nearly all big spenders are weak-willed and aren’t really trying (or at least, not trying hard enough) to pay off their debts.

    - There is more credit counselling available than ever, yet more and more people go in debt. So there must be some environmental force that these people cannot resist.

    - The debt-free people, or people in the 50s, didn’t have to go on a miser mode to remain debt-free. I did say that for many (not all) people already deep in debt to become and remain debt-free, they’d have to stick to a level of consumption that would be called “poverty” in ordinary people. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to expect anyone to be able to do – or a healthy approach to money.

    - If we tell people to pay off their debts, they will feel sad and bad about themselves and go consume even more.

    - Despite my massive credit card debt, I am a fabulous and valuable person. I shouldn’t feel any shame at all of what I am. Instead, everyone should completely ignore all their personal preferences and give me the exact same admiration and social benefits that they give to wealthy people. Otherwise you are just bigots.

    - The equation “debt increase = expenses – income” is simplistic and not accepted by everyone. The way that a human household functions is much more complex than that. This question cannot be reduced just to economics and accounting, whose laws I am besides completely exempt from.

    - If this “overspending”, whatever it is, takes you to debt, why does it take overspending to maintain it? The debt already exists; why couldn’t normal spending and consumption simply maintain a status quo among people in debt, as you presumably believe it does among the debtfree?

    - Some people live in an environment that forces them to consume a lot just to keep their jobs and social status. They cannot just cut down on their spending. Not that the spending has anything at all to do with going in debt, of course! But imo, we should avoid analysis which implies that being in debt or not is the appropriate measure of financial habits we should be talking about. And I also want to avoid approaches that seem to imply, “poor people can’t be blamed if they’re in debt, but well-off people in debt should be blamed.”

  9. 9
    Lynne says:

    I think that there are two issues here.

    One is that Americans probably are eating a diet that is more unhealthy than diets in the past and this is mostly a choice. There are healthy but cheap foods available everywhere but unless you know how to prepare them right (and have the time to do so), they don’t taste very good. So, poor people who don’t know how to make something like beans and rice taste good or even that it is an option will tend to buy foods that taste good that are cheap and most of those options are not especially healthy ones.

    The other issue is being overweight which is related to unhealthy eating but is not necessarily caused by unhealthy eating. For instance, if you took a random sample of the population and fed them the exact same healthy diet, there are some people who would be overweight at least according to the BMI standards we are all so familiar with. If you took that *same* group and fed them the exact same unhealthy diet, they would get fatter as a group but within that group there would still be a great range of weights.

    The point that Don P is missing is that not all fat people are unhealthy. People who eat unhealthy diets are unhealthy and probably fatter than they would otherwise be but that isnt the same thing as saying that all fat people eat unhealthy diets because that isnt the case. And when it comes to employment discrimination, fat people arent even the *most* unhealthy group in our society. Old people are. And while there is discrimination against people in their 50′s and 60′s in the work force, I know few people who would think that is ok even if it could be proven to save employers a few bucks on health care.

  10. 10
    Mary Garden says:

    Ilkka,

    Do you think the fact that someone is horribly in debt means they should be held in contempt by society at large? Will this help solve the debt problem endemic to our culture somehow? Should someone wearing a cheap crappy outfit that causes you to believe they are horribly in debt be subject to the same treatment, even though you know nothing about their finances?

    MG

  11. 11
    zuzu says:

    Let’s bring back debtor’s prison!

    Just having discovered this thread, I am frankly amazed of Amp’s blind spot on how… silly his pro-fatness arguments are. Or perhaps they are simply obfuscation on purpose. Compare with all the pro-fat (really pro- fast food, of course) material coming from the libertarian and right-wing think tanks.

    I really don’t get this idea that the only reason for obesity is fast food. Uh, Friar Tuck was fat long before McDonald’s came on the scene.

    Not to mention, look at all the chefs who wouldn’t dream of eating fast food who are overweight.

    Can we please stop assuming that only fast food causes obesity, or that all obese people must be cramming Big Macs down their gullets 24/7? Like I said on another thread, all it takes to gain 10 pounds in a year is 100 extra calories a day. Five years, and you’re talking 50 pounds. Those 100 calories can be coming from perfectly healthy food like brown rice and tofu and lean chicken.

  12. 12
    zuzu says:

    Oh, and I forgot to address the “pro-fatness” statement. I haven’t gotten the sense that Amp is “pro-fatness” so much as “pro-leaving-people-the-fuck-alone-about-their-personal-issues.”

  13. 13
    Ilkka Kokkarinen says:

    zuzu: “Can we please stop assuming that only fast food causes obesity, or that all obese people must be cramming Big Macs down their gullets 24/7?”

    I referred to the fast food only as the motivation of right-wing think tanks. Follow the money.

    “Like I said on another thread, all it takes to gain 10 pounds in a year is 100 extra calories a day. Five years, and you’re talking 50 pounds. Those 100 calories can be coming from perfectly healthy food like brown rice and tofu and lean chicken.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this claim, and in fact applaud you from stating this fact out loud. For every fat person who claims not to overeat since they don’t gobble down fast food, I note that you can overeat a lot and gain the weight in short time, or you can overeat a little and gain the weight over a long time. The end result is the same. Calories are calories, but of course some foods contain more of them.

    Certain well-known quote from Mr. Micawber would be quite appropriate here.

  14. 14
    Ilkka Kokkarinen says:

    “Do you think the fact that someone is horribly in debt means they should be held in contempt by society at large?”

    Regardless of what I think, they already are, in many important respects. Especially when the credit finally runs out.

    I would imagine that if everyone was allowed to go deep into debt and finally go bankrupt without any social consequences, we would see a lot more people doing exactly that, over and over again. Social shunning works and is an effective threat, which is proven by the fact that people tend to complain about it when it is applied to them.

    Of course, my original point to point out the absurdity of Amp’s arguments by applying them to defend an analogous and equally ridiculous cause, namely the idea that there is nothing wrong with being deeply in debt and if one is in debt, there isn’t anything that could realistically be done about it, the latter claim being the one that Amp makes of the fat people.

    So in that spirit, let me ask you (and all fat acceptors reading this) a little counterquestion: are people ever allowed to have preferences and act on them, or do they have to consider everyone and everything to be the same, and behave exactly the same way towards everyone else no matter what?

  15. 15
    zuzu says:

    I referred to the fast food only as the motivation of right-wing think tanks. Follow the money.

    Your connection wasn’t really clear. Though I would say that libertarians and right-wing think-tanks tend to be pro-business rather than pro-fast-food. Fast food makes money because it offers cheap ingredients cheap (I remember my sister, who worked at McDonald’s in high school 20 years ago, telling me that the packaging on the food cost more than the food itself).

    Of course, most of the think-tank focus has been on the lawsuits bringing claims against McDonald’s for childhood obesity. To that I say, yer damn right it’s a choice and there’s no legal basis to hold the corporation liable. Same with tobacco, at least once it became known it was a danger (I make exceptions for the suppression of information about the effects of cigarettes, because in the first half of the 20th century, they were pushed as healthful).

    I do think it’s dangerous to assume that everyone who’s overweight is so because of terrible, terrible fast-food habits. Like I said, it only takes a few extra calories over a period of time to make a difference, and given restaurant portions in the US and the way we’re raised (Clean Plate Club, there are starving children in India, etc.), it’s no wonder we’re disconnected from our hunger and satiety.

    Of course, does that mean some particular corporation is to blame? Absolutely not. Unless anyone can show that McDonald’s is putting crack in its food to make it as addictive as the nicotine added to tobacco, the suit’s just not going to fly. Perhaps states might have some success as they did with the tobacco litigation in recovering Medicaid costs due to obesity, but it’s unlikely, given that smokers tend to stick with one brand, while people who eat eat at different places.

  16. 16
    zuzu says:

    I would imagine that if everyone was allowed to go deep into debt and finally go bankrupt without any social consequences, we would see a lot more people doing exactly that, over and over again. Social shunning works and is an effective threat, which is proven by the fact that people tend to complain about it when it is applied to them.

    Except they are. Nobody has to disclose their bankruptcy to society at large, and bankruptcy laws do frown on multiple serial declarations. Hell, I remember listening to an NPR report on credit card debt where the reporter had asked people who worked for the FBI and CIA about their credit card debt while there asking questions about a national security issue. These people were willing to talk about national security on the record, but not about their own credit card debt.

  17. 17
    lynne says:

    Of course people are allowed to have preferences and to act on them. But I also think it is perfectly fair for discrimination in certain public arenas to be illegal. A person may dislike black people for instance and may choose not to associate with anyone with too much pigment and may even go around spreading that kind of hate on internet discussion boards (although not without a little bit of social pressure headed right back at them).

    No one can make you like gay people or black people or fat people or whomever. You may legally discriminate against all of the above as much as you would like in your personal life. But some of us would rather acknowledge that people are they way they are and unless their behavior is harmful to society (and being forced to see fat people in bathing suits at the beach doesnt count as “harmful to society”), we would just as soon treat them with kindness and respect.

    As a fat person myself, I hardly want to get into the argument of if it is a choice or not. Since there are proven methods of weight loss such as surgical options, it quite definately is a choice. Personally, I think that compared to weight loss surgery, staying fat is the healthier choice but others may disagree. Still, I have to wonder, what difference does it make to you?

  18. 18
    Mary Garden says:

    Lynn – I could not have said it better! Thank you.

    Ilkka – I absolutely think people have a right to an aesthetic preference against fat, but I think if they do, they should cop to their real reasons and suffer the consequences (ie, people thinking they are being rude and butting in) rather than resorting to an argument that implies they are primarily concerned about people’s health.

    Obviously, I prefer to be thin or I would not be working so hard to lose weight – but knowing how hard it is (and please consider yourself lucky that you found it easy), I would never presume to imply that someone else deserves whatever they get it they don’t do it too.

    If your main intent is to receive agreement that the physical process of weight loss is achieved by taking in less and expending more, you have my agreement on that – but it is an oversimplification of the problem.

    MG

  19. 19
    phil says:

    No, expending more than you eat isn’t actually good enough to lose weight on a noticable scale if a person has a slower than average metabolism or some other physiological reason that gaining weight is easier than losing weight, which must be something that the majority of fat people actually suffer from, along with depressions and various other severe psychological reason for ‘being lazy’ as I call it.

    Now I’m on the bad end of a weight cycle atm and I generally go by ‘intake is, you don’t realise when you’re busy eating but omg…). eating in a social way is inherent in almost every human culture, and a person starving themselves has to opt out of it of their own free will.
    Starvation also seriously affects your ability to work or even think, you’re constantly fighting off lethagy and you are Really irritable all day long.

    while at the same time you’re body should be acheing from the hour of exercise you’ve done before work, and will be aching even more when you go to bed after a few more hours of exercise after work.
    Plus the occasional cooking and preparation of healthy food when you do eat, so you have to wake up two hours or more before you have to leave for work so you can get the cooking time and hte exercise in before you even wash and rush off to work.

    A fat person isn’t merely someone who can’t contain their urges, it’s someone who isn’t quite able to win an uphill battle against their body, several million years of evolution and a society devoted almost purely towards consumption.

    If everyone can’t quite manage to do that, to have the often quite neccesary self hatred required to slog on through all that day in, day out, then fair enough, that’s your choice.

    I’d like to note that I have never actually been to a gym because when I feel fat I really get paranoid about people mocking me as ‘the flabbo on the treadmill’, that might just be me though…

  20. 20
    ane says:

    The manager at panada express in san diego vons areo drive mexican manager told the person he didnt hire me because i was huge this is big discrimination. Just cos i’m fat i didnt get hire i’m so madddddddd

  21. 21
    BJ says:

    I weight 260 lbs. I am a 21 year old female. I made some very unhealthy choices when I was 12-15. As a result my body produced more fat cells than the average person’s body. Fat cells never vanish. They only shrink. I was able at one point to slim down to 200. It was then that I was diagnosed with HYPERPLASTIC OBESITY.
    In other words, I will never be thin. Not by starving not by diet and exersize, (believe me, I know, I’ve tried. My 53 year old mother lost 60lbs on attkins doing 1/5 the amount of exercising I did. I was much stricter than her and i stuck to it longer. I lost nothing. Not one stinking pound) Not even gastric bypass can save me because it won’t rid my body of the excess fat cells. Only liposuction can rid my body of the extra 7-13 million fat cells my body has. And I doubt I’ll have the money for that anytime soon. so, basically, I am doomed to be hated, stereotyped, and ridiculed everywhere I go. Despite the fact that I live almost exclusively off of salad, oatmeal, and water. Sad isn’t it. I’m a nice person. I don’t deserve this. I was a very stupid thirteen year old.

  22. 22
    bob boy says:

    fat people should try every thing they can to lose weight becuase that would end thier discrimantion
    i know a fat kid in school we pick on him all the time and we give him titty twister but he is our freind one time he went out with a fat girl that weight 250 lb. i hate fat people they are disgusting.

  23. 23
    mythago says:

    BJ, what the hell could you have done to make you incurably fat from age 13 on?

  24. 24
    Morgaine Swann says:

    I’m a little late to the argument, but I have to comment. The idea that people “choose to be fat” is absurd. Given the horrid treatment that is heaped on fat people in every aspect of life, no one would choose it.

    I have spent a lifetime and a fortune losing weight and ruining my health. Most people are fat for genetic reasons combined with diet, but nobody ever mentions the real culprit – hormones in animal food. Notice that the woman above who exercises four hours a day also became vegetarian. America became obese at the same rate the cattle and poultry ranchers started raising franken-foods. It’s not about Big Gulps, it’s about the beef in the Big Mac.

    It would be great if we all had access to healthy foods, and the time and energy to exercise three or four hours a day. It would be wonderful if things like insulin and antidepressants didn’t make us gain weight. It would really be wonderful if people would have a little compassion for someone who isn’t as lucky as they are.

    Just because you don’t have to do anything special to be thin, doesn’t mean the same is true for me. People don’t work at being fat. It just happens to some of us, and making our lives harder by giving us lower pay, or no job at all, isn’t going to change that but it WILL prevent us from having access to the few things that might help.

    The ONLY thing that should determine whether one gets a particular job is that person’s ability to DO that job. Any other factor is discrimination.

  25. 25
    BJ says:

    I ate every piece of junk that passed under my nose at 13yrs old. If I had known any better. I would never have indulged. I also have a genetic predispoition towards it which is aggrivating the whole situation

  26. 26
    wookie says:

    mythago, I know I’m not BJ, but a good friend of mine was severly anorexic in her early teens, later became bulemic (I know I’m not spelling well, but I have a cat on th keyboard). In her early 20′s she finally sorted out her eating disorders, but in her 30′s, her metabolism seems to have been permanently screwed up from all the damage she did to her body in her growing years.
    I have no futher details, just one more antedotal, word of mouth story.

  27. 27
    BJ says:

    I was anorexic and bulemic for a while. I lost five pounds over the span of three months. I also lost a good deal of hair, most of my health, and any lingering self-respect.

    I was very sickly, I couldn’t concentrate, grades dropped, I was put on zoloft for depression. I also suffered from severely dried skin, difficulty on the toilet, trouble staying asleep, sleep apnea, abnormal sleep patterns, low blood pressure, disrythmia, and finally, due to severe vitamin/nutrient deficiencies, and a failed suicide attempt involving the ingestion of 2000mg of zoloft 1,000mg of resperidol, and one slit wrist, I was hospitolised for three weeks and thrown into a mental facility. Yet I still weighed 250lbs.

    So. Bob boy. I did try everything. Except maybe for sueing some bigoted jerk-off for lipo money. say… where do you live bob-o?

    -Myth… reread. Fat cells don’t go away. My body has 5- 13 million more than most people’s bodies. do a google search on hyperplastic obesity.

  28. 28
    BJ says:

    Oh yeah. I almost forgot to mention that I exercised like a maniac as well.

    5:AM aerobic biking for 30-45 mins. 30 min slow walk for cool down.

    2:PM Firm 45-60min workout, alternating weight lifting and aerobics (with my mother)

    9:PM 2-3hour moderately paced walk.

    Every single day for three years. This was my routine. I never sank below 200lbs. Even when I added bulemia and anorexia to the equation. I looked a whole lot better before I stared killing myself with pills and starvation. After the weight war I looked like a wet Shop Rite bag.
    The only benefit I reaped from the experince is the knowledge that I am much healthier in choosing NOT to torture myself trying to lose weight. My fat ass is my own damned buisness. If someone doesn’t like it they are perfectly able to look or sit somewhere else.

  29. 29
    Alexis says:

    To be perfectly honest… I am now 18 yrs old and I have always been overweight. Finally, I took a stab at getting into shape… it’s been three years and I have lost 56 lbs. I am still considered obese by the BMI, but it’s because I weight lift and workout. Looking at me you can tell that I’m muscular. What I’m trying to say is, if someone is considered obese mainly on just a chart with height and weight… then is refused a job, how does our country get away with saying “all men are created equal.” Unfortunately, size does matter in a world of people who buy magazines with models that weigh only 100 lbs on the cover. We also envy celebrities who on the average weigh less than normal. The problems lies with the society and when we endorse ideas that promote discrimination… like TV shows that crack jokes about “fatties” or show the negative stereotypes of a “fat” person, then what do we expect? How can we then blame the person who is hiring an employee with a sheet of paper and their phyiscal appearance? They don’t know that this person is going to work hard… and they believe in those stereotypes that we as Americans have accepted up until the last few years.

  30. 30
    lisseth says:

    im not fat , but im doing a research about discrimination and i fell very sad for the things that you’ve to pass . I hope that people can understand how they feel .

  31. 31
    Rex James says:

    Seems to me that employers of today DO discriminate against people being overweight.

    Rex

  32. 32
    Jessi O'Dell says:

    I am currently a student a fairfield highschool in leesburg, Oh and I am recently doing a report on discimination against obease people and I truely believe that due to all the discrimination against this innocent people should be against some kind of law and I do understand that you could publish some what of a record 0f this telling people who are overweight that people do care about them and understand how they are feeling. Although I am not overweight I still care and understand and have never disciminated against obease humanbeings because in my mind ” the looks” arn’t that all important to me because all people in my eyes are the same. Therefore should be treated the same by everyone! Thank you for your time….

    Jessi O’Dell

  33. 33
    littlem says:

    I’m REALLY late to this party, but I’ve been parsing the issue for years as I was an overweight child (all of a sudden, at 5; I remember feeling the change in my body with no idea what was going on), an overweight teen, an anorexic dancer in college due to what the dance-mistress told me (“you move very well, but we can’t keep you in the company if you don’t lose some weight”) … all of you in the battle with me know the drill.

    Mary and BJ, congratulations on your – yes – heroic efforts. Apparently they are doing some research on how the neurochemistry of different people – that’s genetics, for those playing the home game – cough*DonP*cough -affects how they metabolize those ol’ calories in and calories out. I’m not even going to get into the greater muscle mass or endocrinological differences that translate into a metabolic advantage for most men (as opposed to women) in the struggle to lose weight or the chemical additives in most commercially produced food – diet or not. Raw or not. Even USDA organic standards permit chemical alteration in the form of pesticides and soil additives.

    What I find most telling about the strength of your arguments is that DonP and Illka – known trolls to those of us who frequent progressive blogs – NEVER responded to your last sets of questions.

    Calories in and calories out.

    Blow me.

  34. 34
    Mendy says:

    Ampersand, I was required to take both a physical and a drug test as a condition of seeking employment as an EMT with a local EMS provider. In that physical I had to demonstrate that I was physically capable of doing the demanding job that emergency medical services entail. As a part of that physical, I was asked to complete a general health form about my medical history and family background as it relates to health.

    I realize that this procedure may only be the case with jobs that do have an active physical component. These professions may include firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical services, aviation, etc. I am not stating that this is the normal hiring practice, but that this is one case where a physical was indeed required before being hired for a position.

    I do agree that weight should not be an issue in the hiring of persons, except when their obesity may or does in fact affect their ability to perform the duties of the job being applied for.

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  36. 35
    Magis says:

    First of all, as an employer, you cannot give a physical on anything that is not job related. I know some do but it is not legal and has to do with ADA not so much HIPAA.

    In many minds, fat is equated with sloth. In many minds, fat is equated with sloppiness. Who wants an employee who is lazy and imprecise? Of course the stereotypes are not true but they are hard to overcome.

    According to my MD, some people convert food to calories more efficiently. Once this was a evolutionary plus. Now, it is not. Due to Reaganomics, people are working longer hours. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is not calorie burning work. Add to that, many people are too mentally shot at the end of the day to go to a gym or some such. In many rural areas, they don’t exist anyway.

    Dan P: You have a Yuppie view of the world. It’s not that you’re wrong it’s just that you cannot see the problems of others. “It’s easy for me so it should be easy for you.”

  37. 36
    Lee says:

    This whole notion that it’s easy to work 30 minutes of exercise into your day makes me giggle-snort. Researchers have recently discovered a metabolism-affecting hormone that our bodies make while we sleep, and we know that there is an epidemic of sleep deprivation, so why should we cut into our precious sleep time even more just so we can claim we have made the lifestyle change? Let’s do the math, shall we?

    Typical weekday: Arise at 5 am. Shower, dress, check the kids’ lunches (if it’s a brown bag day), double-check their planners and backpacks, check the most recent weather report, leave weather summary Post-It on bathroom mirror (so they can put on the right layers to walk to the bus stop and make it through the school day without freezing or roasting or getting soaked), move laundry from previous night from dryer to laundry basket and from washer to dryer (and moving any necessary items to the top of the stairs), check work and personal e-mail and voice mail for urgent messages (and act on any requiring immediate attention at some level), unlock the dog door and check the water bowl, make sure purse, briefcase, coat, keys, cell phone, ID, to-do list, mail, and shopping list are all present and accounted for, and walk out the door between 5:45 and 6:00. Drive to work. When we first bought our house 10 years ago, I had a 20-30 minute commute. I now have a 45-60 minute commute if there aren’t any bad traffic incidents. We can’t afford to move closer to my workplace, so now I use my commute to catch up on the news, eat my South Beach Diet breakfast bar, and make phone calls. I can’t take the bus, either, because the bus takes twice as long each way. Arrive in parking garage around 6:50, walk 4 city blocks to my office to arrive at 7:00. Sit in front of a computer screen for 8 hours, with a 30-minute break for lunch. This 30-minute break is barely adequate to walk to the nearest cafeteria that serves fresh salad and back and consume said salad, let alone run any errands. (Yes, I could pack a lunch, but I’m not allowed to eat at my desk, so I would actually get LESS exercise if I brown-bagged it. Come ON already.) Leave work at 3:30, walk back to the parking garage, climb into my car, and drive to the kids’ school (near my house, so another 45-60 minute drive) to pick them up from aftercare, because they are too young to be at home unsupervised. Then either run one or two errands or go straight home to prepare for various second-shift activities. Generally arrive at home between 5:00 and 6:00 pm and prepare dinner, check the kids’ backpacks and planners, bring in and go through the mail, and bring in or put out curbside bins for garbage, yard waste, or recycling (4 different pickups each week). Dinner is either at 5:30, followed by driving somebody to a lesson or a practice, or 6:30, followed by supervising practicing and homework while folding laundry and doing the dishes. Sometimes we go outside and do some yard work or take a bike ride before or after supper. Then bath time, story time, and bed time for the kids, with lights out (hopefully) around 8:30. Then I can deal with all of the things I need to do, including conversation with my husband. Or maybe I have a meeting at church or at school, so I leave the house after supper and return anywhere between 9:00 and 10:00. Ideally, I should be in bed between 9:00 and 10:00, but seriously, by the time I get done making sure everything is ready for the next day and taking care of any of a number of other things I need to do, I’m usually in bed by 11:00, which is 6 hours of sleep. And this is a normal day, without any serious glitches or emergencies, and with serious contributions to the household economy by my children and my husband. I didn’t notice any TV time in there, did you? When I do watch TV, it’s while I’m folding laundry or doing something else of that nature ALREADY. Other than reading, none of what I do in front of the TV can be done while riding an exercise bike. So, please, tell me where I can fit the exercise in. Seriously.

  38. 37
    Patricia says:

    That’s not fair. Some people are just bigger than others – it’s their business if they want to make an effort to slim down or not. Don’t tell others what to do.

  39. 38
    imfunnytoo says:

    What makes me the most crazy, is since fat *is* the last acceptable point and laugh excuse, is no *matter* the reasons behind it that the strangers don’t know, *every* fat person faces the same type of discrimmination, disrespect,humiliation and shame. Once one is fat, strangers feel the need to police what we eat, what we wear, they feel they have every right to lecture us about it.

    I’m a “dual eligible.” A person with disabilities that *predated* my obesity and still exist, *separate and apart from that,* that make excersize nearly impossible. (spastic pariplegia, asthma, etc) I do what I can. It isn’t enough.

    I’ve been able to give up high fat foods easily…in Overeaters Anonymous parlance I have *control* over fatty foods. I can take them or leave them. so I am not “powerless” over *all* foods.

    It’s my perception and belief (should apply to myself alone) that I’m a sugar addict. Not an overall food addict. Just sugar. Sugar is only one or two molecules away from the chemical composition of alchohol, and my family has a predisposition for alchoholism…so my own experience tells me that this is why a degreed, smart professional person feels helpless about ever being able to stop eating too much sugar. I’m better at it than say five years ago, but I cannot seem to completely stop eating the low value high sugar stuff.

    So what if it is an addiction for me? Alchoholics are told to simply stop drinking and given strategies to cope. Drug addicts to stop ingesting the drug.

    But if one is addicted to a food that is bad for them? We *still have to go to the grocery*

    It’s as if an alchoholic was told: You still *must* go to the bar every day…but only drink water while everyone around you is buying up the booze. Would any alchoholism counselor *reccommend* such nonsense? Of course not! But, for the subset of heavy people who percieve an addiction in themselves, this is precisely what society demands that we do! And if we cannot walk into a place full of the addictive things, and walk out with chicken, turkey, soy milk and salads and a small amount of fruit…Then, we’re “disgusting.” We have no “will power!” I wish everyone who points and laughs at fat persons would read about Health at Any Size, and about a medical root to a possible sugar/carb addiction…insulin resistance!

    I’m over 300 and 5’3…the disability has made me two inches shorter than my DNA says I ought to be, so a small percentage of my problem is directly tied to things out of my control.

    In order to survive cancer I had to take 50 mg of prednisone a day for nine straight months, that influenced me to eat more than I had before. I’m presently on a medication that has the single side effect of weight gain.

    When food addiction recovery programs exist in such a way that processed sugar isn’t hidden in almost everything, and that I can make a choice not to shop…in other words *remove myself* from the situation entirely…then I may be able to work towards getting smaller.

    Until then I won’t put up with anybody’s disgust or disrespect…To the strangers on the street “You don’t know how the **** I got here or have any idea of the difficulty of changing!” Respecting me as a person isn’t all that difficult, and frankly I demand it. That’s right. Demand it.
    I damn well don’t deserve it.

  40. 39
    jessica says:

    I have a question. I’m sure your familiar with the clothing store, Old Navy, well recently they have stopped selling clothes for bigger women. They do sell it online, but I still feel this is discrimination. Am I right? I understand when other stores, like abercrombie, or Gap does not sell to bigger people, because their clientel are skinny people. But when a store, Old Navy, does sell it, but only online, isn’t that discrimination? I am 5’1, 135 lbs. I’m sure you can put that in your mind, and then feel sorry or disgusted for me. Either way, I don’t want you to. Who wants to be overweight? I have tried many diets, and the only thing that seems to work for me is eating peanut butter all day, everyday. I know it’s not the healthiest, but aside from sergury, that’s the only thing that has ever worked for me. I can go on and on how past diets never worked, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all. And I can see how a person’s weight can bring on depression. But you have to realize, it’s not just their weight, like in my case, my weight has caused me feet problems, and back problem. I am what you would call a “Fill the hole” eater. When I’m bored, I eat, when I’m sad, I eat, heck, when I’m happy, I eat. The other thing that would bring on depression associated with weight, is family. For example, and this is a true story. As you know, I am very short, and very big, but if you were to look at my family, you would think I was adopted. (I’m not) Everyone in my family is skinny, fit, and no one is under 6 ft. So you can see where my depression is coming from. When people see me and my family, they don’t associate me as part of their family. Growing up, I was always the strange girl who hung out with the Welser’s. (that’s my last name if you havent’ guessed) So when you see a big person who is depressed, don’t automatically assume that the fact that they are big is their only problem. I am so glad that this blog is here. It’s so hard to find a place where people understand. Thank you.

  41. 40
    Nan says:

    Simple advice — Old Navy sells crap; find a place to shop that welcomes your business. Why support a retailer that doesn’t want to acknowledge you publicly as a customer?

  42. 41
    college student says:

    hey- im in college. we have to write an essay on a argumentative topic. i chose to do discrimination against fat people. What should my three points be and can anyone help me?? i was going to talk about getting jobs, health care, modeling and acting… can anyone please help me??

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