Too Fat to Climb the Corporate Ladder?

Caution HeavyCAUTION: Heavy Subject. Proceed with Caution
We see discrimination in the news all the time. Someone gets wronged simply for the way they look, or live. Whether it’s about race, sex, age, lifestyle, faith, education level or wealth, it’s clearly wrong. And, unfortunately, people also discriminate against people based on their size.

fat vs thin

Of course body fat doesn’t affect someone’s IQ or bank account, but that is often how people treat people who struggle with their weight. They judge a book for its cover – and there is no better example than in the workplace.

Even our media paints the picture of what a successful career person looks like, and it’s rarely someone who is obese. Even in Macintosh’s commercials, they use a fit, hip, young energetic guy to represent their product, and use the plump older guy to represent their “less desirable” competition.

Employers Judge a Book By It’s Cover

The truth is, someone’s weight does tell a lot about someone’s life. I always say it’s the one sin you can’t hide. When someone is not disciplined with eating and their activity, they wear it for all to see. Although it is not always accurate, and there are many skinny lazy people who eat crappy, but it just doesn’t show (hate them!), and who make horrible employees,  body fat does affect people whether they want to admit it or not – and it can affect their career.

Before I dive in, please know I’m not writing this as a skinny little thing that is clueless about weight issues. I’ve had my own set of issues, I’ve fluctuated from a size 2 to a size 12, and although I haven’t been morbidly obese, I know good and well how that extra weight affected me – and it ain’t pretty. Now, let’s get down to business!

First Impression: Fat vs Fit 

Fit BusinessAn obese person may find it a little harder to dress sharp, simply because clothes are not as tailored and form fitting than someone who is fit and trim. Carrying extra weight can make a person tire out quicker than someone who is lighter on the scale, which may affect productivity. People who eat larger meals are more likely to have a midday energy crash, where a fit person, who eats small meals and snacks throughout the day, is more apt to stay energized and alert throughout their entire shift. Many health issues also follow obesity – depression, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Consequently, people who are obese may find it more difficult to find, or keep, a job – or move up the corporate ladder.

A Healthy Investment

strong business woman

Unfortunately, if 2 individuals with the same talents are up for a position, but one is heavy vs one being fit, a company may pick the fit person simply because of their health and appearance. When an employer hires a fit person, they often see productivity, less sick days, more energy, fewer health bills, less risk.

It may seem like discrimination, but to a business owner, it’s more about the investment. Each employee is an investment to the company, and it’s up to the employer to find the employee who will produce the most, and cost the company the least. And, if someone doesn’t appear to take care of their body, an employer may think they won’t take proper care of their business either. While it’s not fair for the people who are the exception to the rule, and a head above their skinny competition, it happens – and it’s one more good reason to tackle a weight problem.

Healthy Career Requires a Health You

before and after

My mom experienced this firsthand before her weight loss. She had a hard time finding a job. She lacked the confidence she once had, and she even admitted that her fat actually mentally bogged her down. She wasn’t as sharp as she was when she was thin. She was tired a lot – and she just didn’t have her Julianne mojo that she new was deep below the layers of fat that she accumulated over the years.

Once she lost the weight, it was like she peeled off an outer thick layer of bitter rind and unveiled the sweet juicy fruit of amazingness. She began to think faster, be more energetic, gain her confidence back, stand taller, dress sharper and build respect from her professional peers. As a result, her weight loss success yielded business success too.

If you want to be your best in the workplace, you need to be your personal best. Take care of your body, get your weight under control, and manage your body like you want to manage your career – with hard work, dedication, determination, drive and desire – and ultimately a lot of success!

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


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