Should Waistline Matter?
Expanding waist line is considered to be an indication of health risks, but now it is also found to risk one’s career. This issue is found to be more pronounced among women. A recent study conducted in the Western University found that women who are overweight were less likely to be hired and were more likely to be discriminated in the workplace. Similarly, in a survey conducted by Yale university survey shows that issue around weight discrimination has been documented for decades, but it is found to be prevalent in recent years. This may be due to the fact that the employers consider an obese person to be lazy and unhealthy.
The percentage of women’s employment has significantly improved in the recent decades. However, the issue around ‘obesity’ found to affect women’s labor market participation, hourly wage rate, and income. Experts say that the workplace is becoming an increasingly harsh place for obese women, this is because employers often think that, obese employees were not efficient in controlling their own weight and hence they may not to be efficient in their work. On the other hand university of Otago found that this was not true with obese men, where obese men with a BMI of more than 30, on average earned $140 more than men with a healthy BMI. In contrast, obese women earned an average of $60 less than women with healthy BMIs.
Discrimination and low income could also be a reason for higher rates of obesity among women. This may be because women with low income are more likely to shop at cheaper supermarkets and eat poorly, and therefore become unhealthy.
A recent study also shows that women who are highly qualified gets shortlisted for an interview, but they were denied getting a job during a face to face interview, just because they were obese. Even if they get employed, they are found to experience stigmatized by the co-workers and employers or being teased or harassed because of their weight.
Westernized ideas about physical attractiveness, such as “thinness” as central to feminine beauty, might be a reason for this issue. Women whose bodies deviate, even slightly, from physical beauty standards become vulnerable to body shaming. Since these ideas about “thinness” are deeply rooted in our society, it is not surprising to see the discrimination of the obese women.
Since there is no federal or provincial labour laws prohibit discrimination based on size or weight, it becomes impossible to legally complain about weight discrimination in Canada. Hence this issue may remain a ‘hot potato’ until changes are made in the laws.