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Does Being Overweight Affect One's Job hunting?

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:37pm

I don't usually write about weight problems but this headline caught my attention. I have a dear friend who is overweight and has been looking for a job for the past 13 months. I won't forward this to her, for fear it will hurt her feelings and I'm not convinced this is the reason she hasn't found work.


(Natural News) Does being overweight affect job hunting? The answer to the headline question appears to be an unequivocal Yes, obesity does affect job hunting. When it comes to career advancement or job hunting, it often used to be 'not what you know, but who you know'.

According to recent research undertaken by the State University of Detroit and the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology in San Francisco they suggest a current generational change to weight base bias, suggesting it's now 'how you look', not how good you are!

Findings presented to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in San Francisco indicate a major set of stereotypes associated with being overweight that affects other people's opinions and judgments in relation to the obese person's job performance.

An analysis of the considerable research data taken from the last 30 years show that people who are overweight are viewed more negatively in the workplace.

Basic stereotypes associated with being overweight include laziness, sloppiness, untidiness, lack of self-discipline and control. Overweight people are also labeled as being unhealthy, often smelly and lacking in motivation, which can affect any employer's decisions.

Being overweight also limits possible job choices. There are many trades and professions inappropriate to obesity. Good examples being the bias against weight in face to face interaction employment such as sales positions or jobs needing constant mobility.

The fact is that first world peoples, particularly Americans are just getting heavier, causing increasing stigmas associated with body weight. This issue is set to be more of an issue according to Dr Boris Baites, a psychology professor at Wayne State who agrees that employees are victims of stereotypes.

Research showed that weight based bias was stronger than race or gender. Dr Baites admitted surprise on the strongly negative test results and speculated that this was because obesity is generally considered to be within a person's self control.

These results are not really surprising. While there is occasionally a very real genuine physical medical problem, looking at the cause often shows a strong connection with the person's emotions.

Loneliness, relationship breakdowns, grief and constant rejection surely must create very low self-esteem, unfortunately creating over eating as a solace.

It is understandable that their problems are unlikely to inspire prospective employers.

About the author
Michael Cambray is a retired naturopath and has accumulated specialised knowledge of many alternative health subjects over the past thirty years. Michael has diplomas in many alternative subjects and has published 13 books on various topics plus a popular Australian monthly newsletter.

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