Weight Loss Hiring Practice Catch 22
A person who is overweight or obese has once had to endure knowing that they might not be hired by potential employers, or evaluated differenly by current employers because of his/her physical condition.
It seems now we have situations where if a person loses weight through bariatric surgery and is no longer obese or overweight, she may not secure a job because a the same potential employer would rather she lost the weight through diet and exercise.
When Success Doesn't Succeed
Apparently, weight loss through surgery is a hard sell. Perhaps the stereotypes of obese people as lazy, or that weight can be controlled through diet and exercise alone have stuck with society.
Despite the fact that more than 100,000 bariatric surgeries are performed each year in the United States and despite the fact that a fantastic number of people maintain long-term weight loss after these surgeries, many other people still view bariatric surgery as the 'fast and easy lane' to success.
Robert Carels and a team of researchers at East Carolina University conducted a study in which 154 subjects were asked to rate their impressions of a woman. The subjects were shown two photographs of this woman, one in which she presented as normal weight and the other in which she presented as overweight. As the second photograph was shown, test subjects were read different accounts as to how the woman gained and lost the weight.
It was found that methods for the weight loss were emphasized more than were the reasons for how the weight was gained. Judgement was passed focusing more on how the weight was lost and that judgment was often unfriendly.
The reasons given for weight gain had minor influence on how the woman was perceived. She was thought less responsible for her weight gain if it were caused by a medical condition as opposed to overeating or living a sedentary lifestyle. She was thought to be least self-disciplined if she stated that the weight was gained after unsuccessful weight loss surgery.
When it came to how the weight was lost, an even harder line was drawn. Participants in the study were less willing to hire a person who loses weight via bariatric surgery compared to a person who loses weight through changes in behavior and lifestyle. They also rated an individual far less favorably if they thought the weight was loss was through surgery rather than diet and exercise.
Given the limited legal avenues for relief from workplace discrimination due to weight stigma, the conclusions from the study are disturbing. Until public maturation about the issue improves, it would probably be better to not share information about your weight loss surgery with your employer.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life