Janey

Discrimination and being fat.

Finding a job is my main priority at the moment.  I am moving overseas in a year and a half, and need cashmonies so I can start my life there in a financially stable way. With that in mind, I have applied for sixty-two jobs since getting back on the 30th of January.  That’s a fuckload of selection criteria, my friends. After considering making some sort of artwork with the twelve rejection letters I have thus far received, I have landed myself a job interview on Friday next week. I really really -really- want this job, like you wouldn’t believe. Ninety nine percent of my brain is filled with “I’m awesome! My brain has great things to offer and I am loyal and hardworking and freakin great. You’re gonna be so lucky to get meeee!”

It’s that other one percent that is the real problem. Let’s face it: society discriminates against the obese. The incident regarding Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines’ shitty treatment has enlightened a lot of previously ignorant people to this fact. But it’s not enough.  I don’t know when it will be enough. When fats are given the same treatment as anyone else, I suppose.  

I’m just sick of magazines that are plastered with “Lose five kilograms in one week!” and fashion labels that consider size twelve a “plus size”.  When society ingrains this kind of thinking in us from such an early age, how are we supposed to change it?  I feel so demoralised sometimes when it’s assumed that fats don’t deserve to be treated decently. Because we “brought it upon ourselves.” Fuckers. I feel agitated when I see a fifty to one ratio of haters to understanding people. I don’t know how to stop this ignorant behaviour, especially when it’s been ingrained from such an early age in many people. It feels as though I am not doing enough. And I am often met with criticism for believing in Fat Acceptance, because “it’s just a way to justify being fat and lazy and eating like crap.” And I sometimes honestly don’t know how to come back at people who say such things. I can point them in the direction of studies, personal accounts, and numerous blogs around the net, but to them I’m always that fat lady with a sinister agenda to convert us all to being sloths. My bias as a fat woman takes away any credibility to them. My agenda to make children eat six cakes a day shines through.

I’m not a person with some sinister agenda, I promise.  What I want (and deserve) is to not be judged, restricted or hurt simply because of the way I look.  Basically, I just wanted to be treated like a human being. Because anything else is discrimination, and just fucking sucks. It’s like someone said, if a thin person had complained about airline seats then the seats would be called too small. If a fat person complains, it’s because they’re huge tubs-o-lard and need to eat less and lose weight.  It’s fucking bullshit, people.

While I am at this rant, I’m sick of everyone’s definition of what a “Real Woman” is.  What the fuck, man! Real women come in all shapes, sizes, and sometimes even genders. Real women have curves. Real women don’t have curves.  Real women are skinny, fat, tall, short, have small boobs, big boobs, fat upper pubic areas, hairy toes, long necks, and bad posture. Or not! They can be anything. You see here’s the real thing; We are all different: AND THAT IS OKAY.

I’m a little nervous about this job interview, because I’m afraid someone will overlook how awesome I am for the job because they are judging me based on my appearance. I will be well put together, wearing my investment piece clothing (oh black suit on sale at Myer, how I love you.). But I still (justifiably) fear that people will consider me lazy, slovenly, and/or disgusting because of the way I look.  And it happens to lots of fats. Every day. I know that logically I’ll be fine in the interview; the worst thing that could happen is that I don’t get the job, but I come out with more interview experience.  But that irrational fear remains, somewhat.

How can we (as individuals, as groups, and as a FA community) work towards changing preconceived notions of fat people? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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  • http://stayclassyla.blogspot.com JLopezCostume

    I think it starts at home. Someone has a baby girl. Raises them to believe that their worth lies within their looks, and thus thinner is worth more. The fat child is pressured to become thinner by peers, parents, and siblings. People are trained to hate themselves, and that it is okay to hate others that aren't all the same.

  • amplecurves

    Been there, have had several job interviews so far without any offer, and always at the back of my mind is the question….was there really someone better, or did they just discount me b/c of my size? I don't know and I don't know how to find out. Sigh. In any case, best of luck to you!!!! (I also, for the record, have been hired in the past after an in-person interview–it IS possible!!!)

  • http://www.kristiec.com/ Kristie

    I don't know that that's the task, honestly. I'm a great person, and I'm fat (among other things). If people can't see the former for the latter, I don't see any point in wasting my time trying to get them to notice me, appreciate me, and approve of me. I don't need that; it's nice to have, but I can live without it, and I think you have to, or you'll go insane. I think we need to make ourselves and our children strong, confident, quality people, regardless of our appearance. When we have enough people like that in the world (and we certainly do not), the issues we discriminate on, including fat, will evaporate. Discrimination is the result of fear and immature ego. If I am truly fine with myself, I don't really find it difficult to be fine with yourself, whoever that is and whatever it looks like. What is needed here is not consciousness raising, but spiritual evolution. And I think it happens one person at a time. We change only for our own reasons.

    As for employment discrimination, that's a tough one. I work for an actively anti-fat boss; she's mentioned my weight several times, as if it's something she's allowed to talk about it. I was thinner when she hired me, and it's entirely possible that she wouldn't have if I had been the weight I am now. But I wouldn't want to work for someone who was like that, anyway. Again, it's not my job to teach other adults that you have to treat people with basic human dignity. If you haven't figured that one out by now, it's probably hopeless.

  • amplecurves

    It's easier said than done to brush off how other people view you. Not of course that that is where your self-esteem needs to come from–but none of us live in a bubble, and no human being (I believe) can ever be completely independent, completely free of what others think, and no matter how much you disagree with anti-fat messages being hit with them over and over and over and over again is going to affect you one way or another….and yeah, it's not fair that we as fat people should have to do all the work to educate others but frankly I am going to put in some of the work b/c I sure don't see many others doing it. It should not be the job of oppressed communities to have to fight for their liberation but, frankly, that's reality–the very definition of oppression means no one else is going to do it for them (or when others do try to do it for them, they usually do a pretty poor job of it). And yes, emotional/mental/spiritual healing is crucial for helping people really grapple with their prejudices–but basic education is also really important. And sometimes we just can't wait for others to heal and learn to stop harming us–we have to take a stand and actively advocate and educate so that we don't keep getting harmed. Employment discrimination is a perfect example–it's not just that my self-esteem might suffer interview after interview not getting a job (and really, I've done a pretty good job keeping myself in a good frame of mind), but that in our current capitalist society, I have to have a job to survive–so this directly affects my quality of life. (And for some it drastically affects them–I luckily have a better safety net than many people.)

    I'm not saying you have to fight every battle–you have to take care of yourself and take on only what you can take on–right now most of what I do is actively work to educate all my family and friends and acquaintances, which serves the double purpose of helping spread little-known but crucial knowledge about fat discrimination and fat health, and also helps make my environment that I live in a healthy, accepting place for me to be.

  • guest

    I hope your job interview is a success! I am going through the same thing right now–when they say my skills are great but the “chemistry” wasn't as good as the next person—did they hire a younger skinnier more attractive woman? I wish I knew. Also, I had a female boss in the past who commented on my weight in front of others. I know it was harassment but it is so hard to prove. I wish for a kinder world. I'm doing the best I can, I wish the haters could walk in my metabolism for a month.

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