Weight stigma infiltrates work

Discrimination based on body size is a prevalent issue in American workplaces, yet it often goes unnoticed in diversity and inclusion training as well as employment law. This oversight carries economic consequences as individuals who are not thin face challenges in various aspects of their careers.

 Despite progress in reducing biases related to race and gender, negative workplace attitudes toward body size have remained consistent over the years. Even companies committed to inclusivity have failed to address weight bias adequately. Surveys reveal that many managers admit a preference for interacting with employees who are not overweight. Disturbingly, studies show that weight discrimination disproportionately affects women. Society's narrow definition of female physical attractiveness emphasizes thinness, leading to stigma when women deviate from these ideals. 

Although both men and women face discrimination when their BMI reaches obese levels, overweight men do not experience a drop in earnings compared to their non-overweight counterparts. It is worth noting that BMI is an outdated metric with limited relevance to health, particularly for women. For example, a mere 10% increase in body mass can result in a 6% reduction in a woman's salary. Weight bias persists at work partly due to society's belief in personal willpower and responsibility for body size, disregarding the influence of genetics, environment, and other factors. 

Unlike other forms of discrimination, bias based on body size is rarely discussed and remains legal in many parts of the United States, although policies are slowly changing. Several cities have passed laws prohibiting size discrimination in the workplace, and some states are considering similar legislation. Implementing such policies is crucial as their absence sends the message that it is acceptable to treat individuals differently based on their size. 

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