Dear Evil HR Lady,


Being a office worker all of my life, sitting in a desk setting has not been real good for the figure, but has never prevented me from working longer hours and giving 200 percent compared to some of my thin, lazy co workers. What do I weigh? I am hovering at 190 lbs and have been there since high school. My dress is very business like and professional and I leave no skin uncovered from my neck down!

So here we go again.

Upon receiving a call from a local oceanfront resort asking me for a interview I was elated.

After starting the interview I realized my waist line was the one in the hot seat.

Being overweight was not allowed in the position I was seeking. What position did I apply for? Front Desk Customer Service Associate, a position I have held at another resort for many years. The kicker? This resort caters to the granola all natural crowd and is a all organic and wellness inspired company. The new manager is striving to provide healthy eating choices in the restaurant, a completely edible garden on site, yoga classes and cooking classes to guests.

Now if I was a paying customer I would be welcome with open arms, ‘Come on in fatty lets get you in shape,’ but being the first impression of the resort was an absolute NO GO.

I showed excitement and eagerness at the interview. How exciting that I may actually land a job that actually would be a great place spiritually and physically to work. Sounded like a dream, but I was passed over for a 95 lb anorexic looking girl of 20 years of age.

Not quite sure, but I think I was double discriminated against. Oregon is poor for fat folks in that regard. Heavy and over 30 — forget it — it’s all legal here!

To read the answer, click here: Fat? No job for you!

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24 thoughts on “Fat? No job for you!

    1. Wow! I think I should get a cupcake as a reward for that comment.

      Or, er, something!

  1. You do not not and would never support anti-discrimination laws based on size? I’ve been a regular reader of yours for years, but this is honestly very disappointing. You support laws that prevent discrimination based on medical conditions – and weight can be very much be a symptom of medical conditions. Is it always? Of course not. But the larger someone gets (50+ pounds overweight or more) the more likely it is that their weight is a reflection of some condition. That condition can be the standard things people think of – hormone inbalances, thyroid issues, etc. But it can also be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder, or of mental illness. When we’re talking about people 300+ pounds, there is almost always something else going on and that it is not just a reflection of laziness or “letting oneself go.” I realize mental illness is still stigmatized in this country, but it is just as much a real medical issue as any other, as is the extra weight that can be symptomatic of it, and both deserve protection from discrimination in employment.

    That being said, I agree with you that in this particular instance, a company like this absolutely has a defensible need to hire someone who fits a particular image, as that is what they are selling.

    Overall, though — very disappointed.

    1. Yes, some physical conditions can cause extreme weight gain, but that is rare. Eating too much can be an eating disorder same as not eating enough–food addiction is indeed a mental problem. However, if you start legislating everything that could possibly be wrong with a person, where do you stop?

      I understand the OP’s attitude–it does seem unfair. I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin, and thin is definitely better. I hope she does find a wonderful job where her size doesn’t matter, and if she is unhappy being fat, I hope she finds a healthy way to do something about it.

    2. Anon,

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but I do not and will not support legislation for almost anything. If I was queen, I’d get rid of a whole host of laws, including FLSA, ADA, and FMLA.

      The ADA,for instance, sounds super swell. No one can discriminate against the disabled! Yeah! Discrimination is bad! Now we fixed it!

      But, the reality is, there’s no evidence at all that it’s helped people with disabilities. Fewer disabled people got jobs after the law than before. Why? It’s pretty easy NOT to hire someone, but once they are on board, it’s super difficult to fire someone with a disability. Businesses would rather not have to go through a lawsuit in order to fire anyone, so they are not pre-disposed to hiring people who can sue them.

      I’m a free market capitalist. If someone doesn’t want to hire you to work in their spa because you’re fat, and you think that’s ridiculous? Well then, go get a bunch of investors and start your own spa. No one is stopping you.

      1. Hear, hear!

        (Or is it “here, here?” I don’t know.)

        I would also get rid of the mortgage interest deduction on income taxes. Why should renters and people who own their homes subsidize borrowers?

      2. Just because it may not make good business or ethical sense to do something does not mean there should be a law against it. We already regulate enough things that don’t necessarily need it without adding another area to police. If we just let the bad businesses make poor business/ethical decisions, good candidates will self-select into better organizations anyways, making them more likely to succeed and the poor ones to fail. There, problem solved without more unnecessary legislation.

          1. Sure let the market solve it without legislation! If not for annoying government intervention, we wouldn’t have stupid child labor laws, or health and safety standards for workers, and we’d be able to get 20 hour shifts out of them!

            You and AAM just lost a reader.

            1. Do you really believe that if we canceled FLSA that companies would just leap all over the untapped child labor market? Would you be sending your 5 year old to the coal mine?

              Because I am pretty sure that that is an empty threat.

              As for working 20 hour days, that is already legal. Doesn’t happen very often, though. Why? People don’t want that kind of job so they don’t take them.

      3. I can see where you’re coming from on some of these (don’t completely agree, but understand your reasoning) but what is the issue with FMLA? In its absence I would quit my job in September. Being able to use it for maternity leave (and DH for paternity leave) means that we will be back – performing well. Note that we have deliberately chosen less intensive roles in our careers than many but are valued for our contributions.

        1. First of all, unless you have some other source of income or are extraordinarily dumb, both of you wouldn’t quit your jobs if you weren’t eligible for FMLA.

          Second, what makes you think your employer doesn’t recognize your value as an employee? Do you think it’s only the law that makes your company want you back? When I had my second child, I took 4 months off–more than FMLA. No law made my boss do that. She did it because I was a very valuable employee.

          Businesses are out there to make money. Good business owners will do what it takes to attract and retain quality workers. Companies which offer such things as maternity leaves will be highly valued and, therefore, it will be easier for them to attract good people.

          Companies that treat people poorly will only attract people who couldn’t find jobs elsewhere. And most likely, they’ll deserve each other.

          Let the market sort it out.

          1. OK, but after working hard at an engineering degree (silly me wanted to be employable) I discovered that the entire industry runs lean with an ever increasing number of mergers. Meaning that layoffs are a fact of life and that corporate bureaucracy reins. Standard vacation is 2 weeks (or 3 weeks if vac and sick are combined into PTO.) In the absence of FMLA, there would most likely be 6 or 8 weeks maternity (no paternity) leave. Been there, done 8 weeks and not doing again.

            With both parents eligible for FMLA we can string 5 months off – 5 months on one salary rather than years and all the financial/experience costs discussed in your next post. Long term we also have more of a buffer against one or the other being laid off. Which our supervisors and project mgrs are fine with, and would much prefer to a departure. Not that the corporate bureaucracy cares what the supervisors or project mgrs want…

  2. I usually like your advice, but I think you’ve missed the mark here. I agree with the gist, “Move on, and your attitude may be contributing.”)

    I realize there from the letter as written there are a lot of unknowns (how fat exactly is this OP which does matter because
    discrimination based on fatness kicks in at a lower BMI for women than men, is she projecting this bias or did the interviewer explicitly say or do something during the interview to indicate their bias, or even if the OP is in a protected class for other reasons).

    However, scolding the OP for her poor attitude is one thing, but I’m surprised you didn’t advise her to screen for employers who don’t have obvious reasons (people hiring models or waitresses at Hooters) to want a skinny employee. Or how to beyond the obvious (jobs with BFOQ; working as a straight size model, working at Hooters, a website saying “no fatties”.) You do consistently tell people to tailor their applications to the company, so this oversight is curious.

    Or how to mitigate the effects of being overweight when you’re in an interview, since fat bias can exist for positions that have nothing to do with “being the face of the company” and it’s not practical to wait until you’re some socially acceptable weight to accept interviews.

    Regardless of what the OP can or cannot do about her weight, if they called her into to interview, she was at least qualified on paper. Given how unlikely it for any qualified person of any size, race or gender to get a callback simply because of the ratio of applicants to positions, it is a shock to be blindsided by this hidden qualification, for a position she’s worked in before.

    1. Eh, life isn’t fair. Men are looked down on for taking paternity leave and women are looked down on for not taking maternity leave. As long as you’re looking to make sure everything is equal, you’ll be miserable.

      As for all the other things I could have told the OP–well, sure. I could write a whole book on job hunting for the 190 pound female. 750-1000 words is the target I aim for in order to make it readable and still give advice.

  3. As a female engineer I know all about discrimination in the workplace and discrimination in the job hunt. It comes with the career. You put up with it or find a new career.

    So, for the OP, consider yourself lucky that all you have to do is lose a few pounds to get the job of your dreams.

    1. I think this is pretty much the only attitude to have. In traditionally “feminine” roles, less attractive or heavier women tend to be discriminated against. In traditionally “masculine” roles, beauty, shapeliness and style can actually hurt a woman’s career, to the extent that she is perceived as “overly sexual” and therefore not “serious” enough about business.

  4. I think what bothers me about overweight people is that they have been told that it’s not their fault. Society made them fat. Therefore, they do not have to take ownership of the fact that they just eat too much. Me? I’m overweight at 180lbs. Why am I overweight? I eat more than I sweat out. End of story.

    Yes, there are health conditions, but really….how many people does this apply to? People just can’t admit that being fat is not an automatic disability. It is something that you have the power to change, unlike other disabilities. As my mother used to sing…”you can’t always get what you want”. Life isn’t fair.

    If you are fat, you cannot get a job at a health spa.

  5. I am sorry that she was hoping for this job and didn’t get it. Sometimes the person on paper is qualified, but in person is not. That is what the interview process is for. It is a new business, and perhaps the skinny front desk clerk has similar qualifications, and maybe she doesn’t. I guess they’ll find out & then judge if they made a good choice, or if they need someone else in that position.

    The truth is though that a business can match employees with their ‘image’ or needs. I have to hire strong people who (hopefully) are capable of lifting big, heavy things, and preferably they also might have a good personality, and are honest, hardworking, etc. I do not know what the pontential hires look like until I bring them in for an interview. Unfortunately, I may get some really, really nice people with longevity in past jobs, great references…. but if they are only 4-foot-nothing and 80 pounds, they probably cannot lift a 60 pound bulky item on a regular basis. So, I may find myself hiring the 6 foot tall person with mediocre references instead, without trying to intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings.

    Good luck. There are other jobs out there!

  6. Has anyone ever heard the reason – excuse? – of not fitting into the corporate culture. (Any pun you may generate is your fault.) The people in control of hiring obviously belived that she would not fit the image they are attempting to generate.

    Tactic? Have them take a picture as she was being hired and simultaneously enrolling in a plan to take off the extra weight.

    Three positives result:
    One, she gets the job she wants.
    Two, she goes to a healthier weight and learns how to maintain it. Yes, it can make a difference.
    Three, the company gets publicity they couldn’t buy at any price, not only for their program but also for their commitment to aid people who are overweight. That has to be someplace in their mission statement.

  7. It may not have been fair, but the idea of bringing the government in to force a health spa to hire fat people would be even worse.

    As far as not fitting into the corporate culture, a friend of mine got hired at a company, then when the woman who hired him retired he got booted. The president told him late on a Friday afternoon he was “not a good fit”, refused to give any more explanation than that, and then told him to leave. Every single initiative he had started continued after his firing. The other higher-ups simply wanted a friend of theirs in his position and had to wait until my friend’s boss retired.

    Unfair? Oh yeah. Would getting laws passed against firing somebody because they were “not a good fit” i.e. “We don’t like you” be the solution? Hell no.

    My friend eventually found other employment, he just has leave that employer off his resume entirely.

  8. I once had a lawyer at a white shoe law firm tell me that I was too fat, at a size 12, to be a paralegal. Never mind I worked 80 hours a week, never called in sick, helped out other colleagues ,etc. It surprises me that our societies are getting fatter as a whole, yet people still hold these prejudices about fat people being sloppy and out of control.

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