Too Fat To Get A Job?

A recent conversation with a business journalist started with the bizarre comment that her research had uncovered that ‘Fatism’ didn’t really exist in recruitment.

I nearly spat my Gin & (light) Tonic out.

Fatism exists in life, and most certainly in recruitment. First Impressions count for everything. I blogged on this subject last year and it remains one of the top-10 weekly viewed pages on this site.

As the British nation has become ever more overweight, so our defence of being overweight has increased – as has our obsession with defending the obese person’s right to be overweight.

Statisticians agree that the number of obese people in the UK has rocketed in the last past few decades. A recent BBC survey stated that adult overweight/obesity in the UK is currently running at 68% (up from 64% at the beginning of this year!) against a global average of just 34% (up from 27% and 23% respectively in 1980). Predictions are that 80% of men and 70% of women in Britain will be overweight/obese by 2020.

A by-product (or cause?) of our increasingly overweight/obese nation is the increasing societal acceptance of obesity, and vilification of those who speak out against it. Few can make a coherent argument for obesity on health, wealth or social grounds.

The National Obesity Observatory, conducted by the NHS, placed the 31 million people in the UK classed as obese as likely to reduce their life expectancy by 5 years, with morbid obesity (c1.5m people in UK) likely to reduce life expectancy by 10-12 years. The latter being the same as a lifelong heavy smoker.

Bringing in social responsibility, consultancy firm McKinsey & Co calculated the3% economic impact of obesity to the UK as nearly £47bn, generating an annual loss equivalent to 3% of GDP (not dissimilar to the worst GDP drop from the 2008 recession). This places Obesity as more costly than “armed violence, war and terrorism”, and the second greatest economic impact to the UK behind smoking.

And yet, the defence of obesity has never been greater.

Witness two news stories this year:

Gary Chaplin - Elana Plus Size Beauty QueenThe first when Alan Sugar asked ‘plus-size’ Beauty Queen Elena Raouna (who stated her size as being between 18 and 22) if he could call her “Fatty” in response to her tweet to him asking if she could call him “Sugar”. It spurred literally 1,000s of comments demanding his dismissal from BBC The Apprentice and supporting Ms Raouna telling her how beautiful she looked, much better than the ‘stick-thin’ models the media usually favoured.

Picture that caused the 'too-thin' comments

Picture that caused the ‘too-thin’ comments

Conversely, last week, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was pictured on holiday with her husband, without make-up on and not looking like a ‘plus size’ beauty queen. She again got 100s of comments telling her how thin and ill she looked, how she was a poor role-model, how she needed to eat more and generally criticising her for her body shape.

Cheryl even reacted personally to one of the messages via Instagram:
Cheryl Instagram

From experience of this blog, first-person defence of obesity typically falls into two categories:


1)
Highlighting that the average UK women is a size 16 (and weighs 11 stone) anything around that is ‘normal’ ans had become the barometer. Ditto the average weight/waist size of men.
2) The even more sensationalistic argument that tackling obesity leads to body image which in turn leads to eating disorders which are on the rise and is a more costly issue to society.

What of those arguments?

1) The average UK man and woman has steadily increased over the past 50 years. The average UK man has gone from 11st 2lbs to 12st 6lbs with waist/chest going from 34in/37in to 37in/42in. His female counterpart has gone from a size 12 to a size 16 and from 9st 12lbs to 11st 5lbs. These growth statistics should surely not be a defence or a target, they should be a stark warning. Defending what would have been 20% above average as now ‘normal’ just because more people have likewise got bigger becomes dangerous. Accepting what has become normal becomes self-destructive. Had we accepted cancer survival rates of the 1950s, and not sought to improve on them, today’s 50%+ survival rates would have been a pipe-dream.

2) The Independent estimates that there are more than 600,000 people affected by a form of eating disorder in the UK [Feb 2015], with the NHS stating such figures might even be double that, breaking a million people if we include those who are ‘off the radar’ – just less than the 1.5m classed as morbidly obese. Two numbers we cannot ignore. Medical assistance levels have increased to 6.5%, up from 6.4% in 2007. Does tackling the 31 million people who are classed as obese really present a worse threat to the current level of 600,000 (or 1 million) suffering from eating disorders?

Regardless to the validity of the arguments, reasons and excuses; the number of obese people in the UK is increasing. Even if we reversed current trends and got back to obesity levels of just 20 years ago, the UK would avoid five million disease cases. [Source: Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England]

What we can read into the above is that moderation (and common sense) needs to be applied. The assumption that stemming the tide of obesity will automatically lead to an equally great societal problem with Eating Disorders is no closer to common sense than expecting every person to hit the gym 7 days per week, reach athletic levels of body-fat and have a six-pack by August.

Health, Fitness and Clean-Eating are close to my heart. Daily gym visits and a macro-Gary Chaplinnutrient calculated diet see me now maintain body fat levels below 10% and lifetime best muscle definition and ‘bumps’ to make me feel good on the beach. My obsession has undoubtedly tipped the other way, but such focus is not required to curb obesity. My health & fitness interest has become a lifestyle choice. Led by vanity, then health, but with huge positive impact in stamina, energy and cerebral performance, as well as not having a day ‘sick’ for over three years.

The glacial flow toward increased morbid obesity requires but a tiny part of that lifestyle choice, much of it coming from education, most of the rest coming from accountability and discipline.

Back to Recruitment

So as the number of overweight/obese people increase, and thus the average weight of people increases, so Fatism in the workplace and in recruitment is surely becoming a lesser issue due to its prevalence?

No. Fatism exists within recruitment, especially within the C-Level. Faced with two identical candidates for a senior appointment, the one with a sub-average body fat content, the other with a significantly over-average body fat content, the slimmer candidate is markedly more likely to get the offer.

Right from the moment a candidate walks into an interview setting, they are at a massive disadvantage if the overriding impression created in the first few seconds is ‘Big lady’ or ‘He’s overweight’. Or worse.

But the prejudice against obesity is not just about First Impressions. For the massive majority of obese individuals, their obesity is seen as a window into their lifestyle and their control over it. For executive appointments, a very often cited comment about overweight candidates is that If an exec can’t look after themselves, how are they going to look after my business”.

Beyond that, and health/liability issues, there are the implications from a client-facing executive acting as ‘the face of the business’. Few businesses would want the face of their business to be morbidly obese.

From a leadership perspective, many of my clients would question the comparative influence and leadership ability an overweight exec would have over his team(s) compared to his/her athletic counterpart…..in these two regards, overweight is just another aspect of visual appearance. The scruffy Vs neat exec would have the same issues. As would the exec with his dinner spilt down his suit jacket. Think of the world’s greatest business leaders in the modern world, few would be classed as obese; even fewer were overweight on their march to the top.

On the whole, during the recruitment process and in life, we are unable (or not allowed) to screen for a wide breadth of psychological and behavioural traits from depression, to alcoholism/drug addictions; to obsessions from eating, to fitness, to sex. Accordingly, rightly or wrongly, we judge on what we can see, and make life and lifestyle choices on that basis, especially when cultural and chemistry fit is so critical, such as in executive recruitment.

Despite the laws, guidelines and the promotion of positive discrimination promoting the less able because of their gender, age, marital status, disability, religion, sexual orientation etc, most business leaders still WANT the best person for the job. Skills, experience, ability and above all Chemistry fit will always be the most important attribute, but appearance, health and the (at least appearance of) well-being, both internally and externally, are ever more important. Humans rank heavily on visual appearance whether we like it or not.

Discrimination is wrong. Whether on a person’s age, sex, marital status, race, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation. Weight discrimination is not illegal (although it is in parts of the US, so watch this space within the EU!). That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take place, especially when well within the law.

Some people will perfectly justifiably not wish to work for someone who bases hiring decisions on anything other than raw ability. Others will fight for equality and fight for their right to be considered no matter what their BMI.

My recommendation is always to understand the world and environment you are within, and/or seek to be within, and maximise your chances of success within that environment. Body shape is just one of those factors. Maximise the odds in your favour.

Final thought

A good friend and very well-known, entrepreneur, when asked about this topic voiced To me… being fat and a poor work ethic, are inseparable. Followed closely by lack of appreciation of the importance of perception.”

Someone with their career goals on the C-Suite can choose to defend their right to be overweight, or they can take a moral stance of not wishing to work for someone who doesn’t share their brand of morality. However, the more reasons you find for not considering a career route or opportunity will increasingly limit the number of options open to you. Career development is almost always about priorities.

45 Comments on “Too Fat To Get A Job?”

  1. Brave blog Gary but such a true and accurate subject. Well done for speaking out where most are afraid to.

  2. Very good and very well written article. We are too accepting of fatties and their drain on the country. Your figures are alarming. We are paying more to compensate for people’s poor lifestyle choices than we are to fight terrorism. This is where Osborne should be cutting the spend in todays budget. £47bn is ridiculous, think of what that could do for our NHS or for those you really deserve and depend on social welfare. Its too easy to forgive and dismiss obesity and in some very rare occasions it is a medical on non life choice, but for the most of time it is personal choice and a lazy lifestyle that people don’t care about their weight and the knock on effect on the country and everyone else well being. To see over half the country now obese is a disgrace. I agree with your client, fat is a great insight into work ethic and personal accountability and responsibility. We need to stop defending fatties and persuade them into improving their lives and our lives and our country. Stop fatty spend and we would wipe out the deficit.

  3. We had this very discussion yesterday when deciding on a sales appointment. Client perception is so important and two of the people we considered, one internal and one external were very overweight.

    We all agreed that it was not in the organisation’s interest to have noticeably obese people representing our cause and seeking to develop our relationships with 3rd parties.

    It was an arduous process to make that decision, and it is vital that we are not discriminating against people that are only a little chubby or overweight, but we all agreed that those who were slim and athletic looking were far more likely to get noticed and be appealing at group events as well as have a greater chance of sealing the fight for a positive initial impression.

    Sarah (HR Manager)

    Incidentally, loved the first impressions blog too.

    • Thanks Sarah. It is a tough call, but getting the best fit means the best fit all round. Personal presentation and external perception is vital.

      Glad you liked the First Impressions blog – it follows the same theme, yet is automatically deemed less controversial!

  4. Good read Gary. Too many Fat apologists around. Take a look at just about any health spokesman or women on the media, most are overweight. What hope have we got? We excuse fatties and criminalise the health obsessed.

    The sooner tax, NI, and transport costs are based on BMI the better. Getting food manufacturers to decrease sugar isn’t enough. We need to get harder on obesity, start fat-testing welfare handouts. 80% obese by 2020? What a sad state this country is heading for.

    Force fatties to change. The only way is to hit their pockets.

  5. Enjoyed that blog but you miss the point. Isn’t a major factor in body shape and size down to genetics? Are we saying that people that are born with poor genetics which will make them fatter should be immediately reviled? And this lucky enough to be born to good genetics are automatically a super race and will get all the best jobs?

    It’s no different to the need to support those who are born to family in poverty. Why should they automatically lose out?

    This is why weight discrimination needs to be implemented.

    Becky

    • I’d disagree Becky. Genetics DO play a part, but it becomes an excuse not a reason. Every blood member of my immediate family is overweight, yet I am very lean. My genetics leave me predisposed to carry extra weight, it takes commitment and had work to make sure I’m lean. I’m the tallest in my family but also comfortably the lightest despite also having more muscle mass.

  6. Well said Chappers.
    Work hard in the gym. Work hard in life.
    Excuse led laziness. Excuse led life.

  7. Well researched and thought out blog and well written. Scary statistics with the increase of obesity and something i hadn’t realised but wrong to pen it as a UK issue when the world is following suit with its levels of obesity and some are far worse than the UK. Isn’t the notion of being overweight a misnomer though as it becomes based on weight which doesn’t automatically become fat.
    Also at some point though, we are going to have to redefine what is overweight. Over what weight? if everyone is overweight then the benchmark to be over will have to shift as will the bigoted views held by people that judge people who carry a little more weight than a professional athlete.

    Roger (13st 2lb, 36″ waist, can still run a 5k in less than 40 minutes)

    • You miss the point Roger. Even if every man as 20% body fat, and thus it becomes normal by way of statistics, it doesn’t make it healthy. Quite the opposite. There is also a huge gulf between overweight and a professional athlete!

  8. Great Blog. Cost of obesity is especially shocking in the context of today’s budget. Scrapping to find £12bn of savings when there is £47bn sat there. Must be some impact on productivity in there too.

  9. As a wise man once said to me…they are either fat because they are lazy or lazy because they are fat!

  10. Interesting opine. I agree weight and health is a huge issue in our country. The level of obesity we have seen over 20 years is a disgrace, but is discriminating against people the way forward? One really ought to ensure you are presented with all facts before making sweeping generalisations as to why someone is perhaps overweight before you judge.
    Interestingly, how would you as a headhunter respond if a client asked you for “no fatties”?

    • I partly agree Rachel, but you cannot ask why someone is fat!!! And for genuine reasons, it wouldn’t really matter.

      As for the question. If there as a justifiable reason, then I would adhere to it. i.e., I undertook a Commercial Sales role for a Sports Nutrition business last year. A morbidly obese person would not have been appropriate for that!

  11. Great article Gary. The only huge people you see in a suit (male/female) are likely to be working for the Public Sector . Take a walk around a hospital one day and you will see what I mean.Take a look at them when they appear on the TV. It’s not a coincidence .

  12. I agree with the article & yes I’m a fatty!

    I am not a drain on society though, that is far to general. I have never been unemployed or had any treatment related to my weight. If anything the reason I’m overweight is because I have put my work & long hours in the office before my health.

    I do more exercise than many of my skinny friends and colleagues, in fact I’m doing the Shine marathon in September!

    I’m not ignorant about 1st impressions though. I know when im preparing & dressing for & in interview I have to work extra hard to impress to compensate for that 1st impression from my size. It’s the world we live in & at the end of the day if somewhere doesn’t want me then I don’t want them! Their loss.

  13. Whole heartedly agree with this Gary, well done for have the balls to speak out. I was overweight and hated it, now after a year of hard work am back down under 8 stone and a size 8 and the difference is huge, not just in external perception but in my attitude and self confidence as well as my energy and zest for life. It is sore subject for most, but what you write is real world and needs to be said otherwise people assume ignorance is bliss when ignorance is just ignorance.

    • Thanks Rebecca, and well done on beating your own demons. Personal happiness is what is key. I know plenty of people who are overweight and are happier in life than I probably am – if you are comfortable with who you are, and what you are, that becomes key. I am happiest when I am fit, and I love the feeling of having the ‘six-pack for summer’.

      That feeling and the feeling I get as I leave the gym each morning gives me high energy and huge satisfaction, especially as my wife trains with me, and lives in the same way as me – our fitness routine has brought us closer. I get a buzz when people comment on how I look. It’s raw vanity, but my opinion is that vanity is a good trait and a more than worthy objective.

      Perception is a huge part of modern society. But that is me, it isn’t right for everyone. Once you are happy in who you are, fat or thin, you will naturally perform better in life, work and in interviews. What I don’t like is people telling me that my life and my lifestyle is wrong. I make my choices, and live with the consequences. Those who chose to be different to my lifestyle whether that is obese, scruffy, overly smart, overly straight etc need to be comfortable with it, and with the consequences of their choices.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  14. Controversial but well thought out blog Gary. It is an issue in the workplace, and at times a justifiable issue. Its a fine line between finding the best person for any job and wilfully discriminating.
    I confess to being fatist for client facing roles and for roles that require leadership or influencing. I am quite sure that makes me public enemy number one in many peoples eyes, and that isn’t to say that an overweight person that demonstrated outstanding skills wouldn’t be seen as outstanding, but weight and more specifically obesity does factor into the assessment equation.
    We can argue it all we like but highlighting the issues is important. Well done on bringing the matter into discussion and causing people to think about it. Well done also for keeping your own personal opinion out of the article, although I can guess where your opinion lies.
    I’m sure you have had some flak from many people, but as we can see from he comments above, an overwhelming number of people support your blog and agree with you.

  15. Well written blog Gary but anyone who thinks in anyway detrimentally about someone because of their body shape is deplorable. I wouldn’t want to work with a business who judges fellow humans on their body shape nor thinks that their customers would in any way rate or rank the business based on such fascist reasons. I work in a large department in a north west council, most of my colleagues are of average weight and average size. I am right in the middle of them all at a size 18, I am fit and healthy. I don’t need to go to the gym to maintain my healthiness, I don’t need to follow crazy diets and crash eating plans. I have never had more than 10 days sick in a year. I look around my colleagues right now, everyone is the same, healthy and fit. If the country is getting fatter and having a detrimental effect on the workplace then it isn’t affecting our department. We have just had an award dinner for reducing our average sickness days from 17 to 14, the lowest level in our building. We look like a normal office. That picture of Cheryl Cole/Tweedey/Fernandez/Versini or what ever she is called this week is far more damaging. For someone who is so much in the public eye she should be ashamed at promoting such a stick thin lifestyle. I bet she doesn’t eat, doesn’t live and certainly doesn’t look like she smiles much. That is a dangerous role model, not the normal sized 16-18 women the media doesn’t like to report on. She need a good feed and the media need to start promoting real women not these horrid scrawny things that cause our children to be anorexic.

    • Sorry Joanna, the notion of a department of size 18s being fine and healthy and 14 days sickness being something to be celebrated is a joke. Size 18 is fat. You might not like to admit it, but it is. If that is average in your department and you average sick days are 14, then you have just strengthened the case for fatism. It is highly unlikely to be a co-incidence.

      14 days sick. Assuming you get 30ish days holiday leaves you with around 200 workable days in the year, you are taking nearly 10% of the year off (7% to be exact). Speaking as someone who pays the tax that pays for all of that, I’m disgusted.

      Perhaps you DO need to eat healthy. And DO need to go to the gym.

    • Size 16-18 normal? Jesus, we all should be ashamed. Choice between those two pictures, Ms PlusSize isn’t getting a look in.

    • Joanna, your opinion fills me with dread. I run a normal department of over 30 females. Most do some form of exercise, all eat healthily. My average sickness days in the department is 2.7. My HR target is to reduce that to under 2. If any of my staff have over 10 days per year for two year, they get interviewed the the occupational health department and risk facing a disciplinary unless genuine sickness can be established.

      I don’t know for a fact, but I would estimate that the average size of the women in my department is 10-12. Most of them wouldn’t class themselves as slim, just normal. They just about all comment that they want to lose a bit of weight and/or tone up.

      That is normal. Your department of size 18s with 14 days sick is abnormal.

    • Is that a serious statement Joanna?
      18 stone is not normal, or is 19 stone the new normal now?
      14 days sick is not something to be proud of in a non public sector world. This is echoed by most of the comments. I’ve had fewer than 10 days off sick in my life.

      You may be healthy now but I suspect that the average life expectancy of your peers will be a lot lower than the national average.

      I know nothing about your working conditions but if you work above the ground floor I think a broken lift would probably be a good thing.

  16. Well said Joanna. This country is becoming obsessed with skinny minnies. Since when did skeletal women become attractive in anyone other than the media’s eyes? Look at any of the 1950s glamour hollywood starlet. No skin and bones there. Real women in the real world. 18 is a average for a reason.

    Sandra. Size 18 and beautiful.

  17. Very controversial blogpost Gary, and unfortunately probably very accurate. The problem is that to judge anyone, in any way based on their physical appearance is fundamentally wrong and xenophobic. Humans should be based purely on personality and thus this blogpost and your linked blog post on first impressions is setting a dangerous precedent. Suggesting that a less well presented person due to clothes, shoes, hair, weight, athleticism or any shallow physical means will be viewed as suggestive and you will fuel discrimination within the workplace. Appearance should count for nothing.

    • Easy to see why you have chosen to remain ‘anon’. Your comments as immature and smack of an unrealistic desire for a false utopian style environment, or dictatorship. To suggest when talking about human behaviour and human interaction that appearance should count for nothing is naive and infantile. As human beings we are programmed to assess the surroundings around us and make assumptions based on that assumption. When it comes to fatties, you have the right to be fat. You have the right to take no accountability for your fatness and then expect the rest of us to adjust our lives to accommodate your fatness and your slovenly attitude. But you do not have the right to insist that the normal people ignore and discount your fatness and bitch as soon as someone calls you out and judges you for being fat. Or to complain when we don’t want to see £47bn our OUR money lost because people can’t pass a chip shop without filling their face, or prefer sitting on their oversized derrières watching Jeremy Kyle rather than getting of those arses to do something.

      Fatness is not an illness, it is not something outside of your control. I am of mixed race and have had a lifetime of being judging and discriminating me, in many countries, for my ethnicity. For you to pretend that being fat is a similar level of discrimination is highly offensive.

      Time to close your mouth to stop infantile words coming out, and well as food going in.

      Yes I’m annoyed.

      Rachel Pickering (not anon)

  18. An interesting and challenging blog and probably mostly accurate. I have found 3 additional statistics for the average man of 50 years ago which may be relevant to give a more balanced interpretation. They were on average 2 1/2 inches shorter in height than the modern UK male (1954 5’7″ 2012 5′ 9 1/2″ ), had size 7 feet as opposed to the current size 9 average and shirt size 14 where as it is now size 16. There is therefore some logic for the increase in average weight and the BMI figure is obviously impacted by the additional height.

    Thought provoking and slightly controversial but hi-lights one of the many factors to be considered in candidate selection and candidate awareness. Well done for airing it.

    • Good and relevant facts Graeme. Although increased height, if matched with relevant weight, wouldn’t increase BMI though, only an abnormal and disproportionate increase in weight Vs height. And the increased height of men and women doesn’t and shouldn’t excuse the increase in waistlines and dress sizes. Ditto neck diameters.

      But thank you also for picking up on the prime objective of the blog, awareness of these issue.

      Appreciate your comments.

      Gary

  19. Great blog Gary and such a relevant subject. It’s bad enough that the UK is getting ever more obese, but the societal acceptance of obesity is a worrying trend. Your Statistic of impending 80% adult obesity is horrific and warrants huge nation focus. Instead it appears to bring nation defence of such dire unhealthy behaviour.
    Cheryl Cole is right to be offended, anyone being as judgement and vocally offensive towards someone being fat would be seen as being bigoted. Fatism DOES exist, but is become against those who are NOT fat, they only UK minority that seemingly has few rights.

  20. Picked up on this from your Jamie Oliver tweet. Horrendous statistics, we’ve become a nation of fatties and most people don’t see it, believe it or want to believe it. Well done for highlighting what has, for some reason, become a taboo subject.

  21. I’m conflicted about this. Fat people shouldn’t be tormented. Yet, acceptance only seems to have fuelled their motivation to normalise fat as a lifestyle by featuring more of them in the media and lessened their motivation to be healthy.

    All we can do is point out what they can do lest we be crucified or vilified for supposed ‘fat shaming’ when it’s really only common sense. Sigh.

  22. Since when has size 16 been fat? I am a size 16 and perfectly healthy. I spend my life living, not living in the gym. I spent my life happy and doing what I want, not counting calories and looking forlornly at the biscuit barrel.
    And in any regard, men prefer real women with a bit of meat on them rather than plastic skinny minis. My boyfriend wouldn’t want me to be skinny, he likes some thing grab on to! 😉

    • Sorry love. Your boyfriend is a lovely and very loyal guy to support you, but men do not prefer fat girls. Witness what is prevalent in beauty pageants, ‘sexiest women Top 100s, the porn industry, etc. We like slim girls. Size 8, maybe 10. More than that and we don’t like it. We might say your size 16 frame is beautiful, but we are lying.

  23. Great and brave article Gary. Looking at the backlash Jamie Oliver has had and more recently the number of people being horrified about that size 14 model being referred to as PlusSize shows how we are losing the plot again obesity. Size 14 IS oversize. At size 14 you will be carrying too much body fat in most if not all occasions. To sit an deny size 14 as being plus size is just denying the critical problem the UK faces with obesity and its only getting worse.

  24. Pingback: “Take Good Care of Yourself” | bonfiremarketerdotcom

  25. Thanks for this article. I just interviewed with for a great career opportunity with a large corporation. The recruiter chased me to set up an interview, practically felt like I would be the perfect addition. Then she moved quickly to get me a face to face interview and there was not a question asked that I couldn’t answer. I could do the primary functions in my sleep. I’m 35 years old with 10 years of progressive experience, a bachelor’s, two masters and a certification. This all spells out knowledgeable. Not to mention the numerous amounts of awards and accolades I’ve gained over this tenure. I’m funny, smile all of the time, positive, relatable, and humble. But the one thing I am not, is skinny or even average sized. I’m overweight. I’m also very healthy. However, when I walked into that room, they only saw my weight so everything that I have worked so hard for meant nothing. What they didn’t see is the commitment I’ve given to my current job so much so that I’ve neglected myself and often find it hard to exercise after working up to 12 hours a day. What they didn’t see was the fact that I lost my father, one of my best friends, seven months ago, and the emotional toll on it equated to binge eating and even more weight gain. I don’t want pity. I only want I’ve earned. I earned that job even before I walked into that building. Sad truth that the hiring manager didn’t see beyond my weight. No matter how hard we work for things, there is always someone that lets you know, it’s not good enough.

    • Thanks for the comment Michelle, sorry to hear of your experience. Whilst I’m comforted the Recruiter focussed on your skills and fit, your experience is still all too common within in-house teams. We can deny it all we like, but fatism does exist in recruitment. Good luck in finding a new role. Drop me a line if you think I can help! gary@garychaplin.com

    • Fair play for admitting you are overweight, most sit in denial. But I’m afraid it is down to you. Easy to blame 12 hour days for personal neglect, but anyone can find time to exercise and eat healthily if they really want to.

  26. Sorry to hear you didn’t get the job, but isn’t it possible that they simply saw someone who was just better? Or thought you were just all smiles and qualifications, and they wanted experience? We can all blame our failure on someone or something else, or we can just accept that we simply weren’t good enough and learn from it?

  27. “Defending what would have been 20% above average as now ‘normal’ just because more people have likewise got bigger becomes dangerous. Accepting what has become normal becomes self-destructive”

    Very poignant, Gary! No system in the human body (skeleton, skin, internal organs) was designed for obesity, so you could say “fat shaming” (although if you’re the one in control and not self-shamed into doing something about it, it’s hard to take that term seriously) is a form of evolution by social pressure.

    I wonder also, to what end the “love thyself no matter what” generation will end up harming themselves in the long run (in terms of obesity), while demanding everyone else is OK – despite the unnecessary strain obesity put on already stretched resources such as the NHS.

    Size (medical conditions aside, is one thing that transcends race, creed, sexuality, religion and all the things which usually divide us – we can all recognise someone who is morbidly obese – so I can’t understand why there’s so much sensitivity over it.

    Of course everyone should be allowed to be whatever they are, but equally so, others should be allowed to think or say whatever they want to, too. Provided they’re not abusive or denigrating, of course.

    I hate this go-to approach of banning words because someone/group is sensitive (or worse, offended) and wants it removed from people’s lexicon. It does nothing.

    Calling someone out for “fat shaming” doesn’t make the problem go away either – it just hides it. Elephant in the room, you might say (sorry, not sorry).

    Vilifying people for saying someone’s fat, when they are indeed fat is just weird. No shame in calling someone skinny even though that’s the other extreme, right?

    When was the last time you heard a Mum “skinny shaming” her daughter because she’s “young and skinny” and “can get away with” a certain look? Checking language just limits discussion. It just makes people “correct” their language and nothing else.

    Hence one of the examples in the comments about the sales job going to the thinner person. Just note how the decision was described with subtle undertones and vague language about “client perceptions”.

    No change in attitudes or action – just the language.

    I’ve rambled on and I’m sorry, but there’s not enough honesty in the world, and I think we’re all the poorer for it.

  28. Great blog Gary, and very valid comments on your Tweet about the Daily Mail/Plus Size model. Too much fat-defence.

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