Weight discrimination existed ever since clothing was manufactured in a range of sizes. Anything beyond the Large or Extra Large size is considered 'abnormal'. Furthermore, the mass media widens the chasm between the thin and obese by excessively promoting slim men and women as successful people.
Weight-loss programmes are more pervasive now than thirty years ago. Famous talk show hosts like Oprah Winfrey often invites obese Americans to join her weight-loss programme. The end results were then broadcasted in her show and participants would boast how fit and energetic they are after finishing the treatment.
All these has led to weight discrimination. A recent British newspaper report showed that overweight women are more likely to lose their jobs than their thin colleagues. Moreover, the report also revealed that obese women felt more discriminated than their overweight male co-workers.
Reported discrimination based on weight has increased 66% in the past decade, up from about 7% to 12% of U.S. adults, says one study, in the journal Obesity. The other study, in the International Journal of Obesity, says such discrimination is common in both institutional and interpersonal situations — and in some cases is even more prevalent than rates of discrimination based on gender and race. (About 17% of men and 9% of women reported race discrimination.)There is a popular stereotype in the society that fit men or women are more productive in their work. Employers often have the false belief that there is a strong correlation between a worker's weight and his job performance. Such stereotype is inaccurate. An employer should never take his worker's weight as a prerequisite to applying for a job in his company. He can only do so if the work truly requires a high level of physical fitness, such as a firefighter.
An overweight person is also less likely to receive a promotion at work. In fact, they are likely to be demoted or disciplined. This is primarily due to the low self-esteem suffered by the fat person. When an obese person is subjected to continuous discrimination at work or in his community, he will gradually develop a mind-set that he has no hope in achieving greater success. And once he gives up, his health begins to deteriorate, therefore affecting his job performance.
Weight discrimination is a serious issue. If not tackled, the obese people may feel alienated from society in the long run. Society may have the false perception that an overweight person is unproductive and a burden to the community. If this is allowed to continue, the fat gets fatter, while the thin gets thinner.