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How Weight Affects Discrimination in the Workplace

You ask for more responsibilities, you’re constantly seeking out opportunities to learn, and are always trying to better the company. All this and you still haven't landed that promotion! What gives? Turns out, your scale might have the answer.

News

How Weight Affects Discrimination in the Workplace

You ask for more responsibilities, you’re constantly seeking out opportunities to learn, and are always trying to better the company. All this and you still haven't landed that promotion! What gives? Turns out, your scale might have the answer.

From garnering less attention from healthcare providers to receiving more negative comments from peers, overweight people frequently endure discrimination. And as unethical as it may seem, this weight bias also plays a role at the office, according to a new University of Surrey and University of Oxford report. The psychologists behind the study discovered that weight and perceived attractiveness both play a pretty big factor when it comes to whether or not someone will land their dream job or score a promotion. Basically, they have found that the heavier the person, the lower their odds. It gets worse: If you’re an overweight woman, your chances of career advancement are even lower than your male counterparts. (Fuming yet?)

To come to this finding, the researchers assessed how male and female interviewers scored the attractiveness of potential employees. When women were doing the interviewing, they judged heavier men and women as equally unattractive. But when it was men’s turn, they judged their own gender far less harshly for being heavyset while expressing a distaste for larger females. A number of previous studies have found a negative correlation between BMI and attractiveness, but “this is the first study to look at this relationship […] from both genders’ perspectives,” explained study author Sonia Oreffice. “Weight is intrinsically linked to attractiveness," she summarized. "Women are the harshest judges and most harshly judged.”

While this study didn’t draw any conclusions about the repercussions a high BMI could have on employment, many previous studies have found that more attractive individuals have a greater chance of being hired. And when it comes to BMI and workplace discrimination, specifically, a review in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs indicated that people with high BMIs are often overlooked for initial job offers, supervisory positions, and promotions compared to their thinner colleagues. Ouch!

Unfortunately for those who struggle with their weight, negative attitudes towards overweight people are only becoming increasingly prevalent with each passing year, according to a study in the journal Obesity. While we’re all waiting for the world to become a less judgmental place, the best thing you can do is try to maintain a weight that makes you feel healthy and confident! Because the better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll be able to perform at work and sell yourself in an interview. To help the scale begin to tip in your favor, check out these 50 Best-Ever Weight Loss Tips!