Overcoming Weight Prejudice When Looking For Work

Although weight discrimination is often impossible to overcome, there are certain techniques which can help job-seekers:

  • Be well-prepared. Learn all you can about the company, the job requirements, the industry, and the interviewer before you walk in the door.
  • Practice interview techniques. They include: standing up straight, making and maintaining eye contact, offering a firm handshake, and in general presenting one’s self as confident and competent.
  • Wear good quality clothing. Dress appropriately for the job. If that means spending more than thinner people do for clothes, consider it part of the cost of marketing yourself.
  • Anticipate the interviewer’s possible issues, and address them directly. One good technique is to point out that, in previous jobs, size has never interfered with your ability to do any job. If the job involves physical activity, discuss your fitness and your ability to do the work. Mentioning your good health, healthful lifestyle (e.g. non-smoker) and lack of absenteeism at previous jobs can go a long way toward addressing a prospective employer’s concerns. Another technique is to point out positive aspects of your size. One woman got a job as a counselor on a college campus by telling her interviewer that she thought she could be a role model for the large-size college women who might be having problems.
  • Write a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for their time. Repeat your good qualities in the letter, reminding them that your size is no hindrance, and may be an asset to you in this job.

Classes of people which suffer discrimination often have to put in twice the effort others do to succeed in the workplace. If you belong to more than one oppressed group–such as women, African Americans, people with disabilities, gays, lesbians, or fat people–then it may require an even greater effort to receive the same treatment and the same opportunities.

Some people consider hiring situations to be opportunities for educating prospective employers about weight prejudice. Others prefer to simply put their best foot forward and overcome people’s stereotypes on an individual, personal level. Both attitudes are entirely valid.

You deserve to be treated fairly and judged on your qualifications, your talents, and your job performance. Weight discrimination, like any prejudice, is wrong.

Statistics on Discrimination
Studies on Discrimination
Rude Businesspeople
Denial of Insurance
Airline Seating
Public Accommodations
Discrimination FAQ
Taking Legal Action
Weight Discrimination Bibliography