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Employers Are Discriminating Against Overweight Women — And It’s Legal

By: Eboni Walker

Discrimination is real.

While some people think discrimination only derives from race, it actually derives from appearance, social class, and weight.

Sarah Bramblette experienced this first hand with her former employer.

Forty-one-year-old Bramblette was interested in a management position at a health care administration company, where she had been an employee for six months.

When she asked a supervisor what would make her more qualified for the position, she was told to, “dress for the role you want.”

Photo: 123Rf

According to The Huff Post, Bramblette took this advice seriously and began to dress up more. Although she believed her clothing had always been appropriate for work, she began to dress up in fancier clothes. She began to wear formal blouses and took the time to curl or french braid her hair every day. But during Bramblette’s end of the year review, her supervisor still had a negative take on the clothing she wore. She wrote in the documents that she wanted to see Bramblette in “more formal and professional attire.”

After the review, Bramblette came to the conclusion that it was not her clothing that was the issue…it was her size.

“When I asked about getting a promotion, the first thing they commented on was my appearance. She didn’t give me any other feedback,” Bramblette said. “My appearance is my weight. There is no way around that.”

Bramblette soon quit the job due to the issue.

The Huff Post reported she weighed around 350 pounds when the incident occurred. She was dealing with lipedema and lymphedema, which caused swelling in her arms and legs. Because of this, she believed her weight had always been an unspoken issue in the workplace.

Obesity has been an issue in America for a very long time now. It is reported that the majority of adults in America are considered overweight. These individuals have seen discrimination at home, work, school, and society overall.

According to research done in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, weight discrimination has increased by 66 percent within the last decade.

“You would think that as rates of obesity have increased over time, that our society would become more accepting. But we see the stigma is very pervasive, and so we need to think of broader-scale solutions to really try and address these inequities people are facing,” said Rebecca Puhl, the deputy director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

Studies show that women are more likely to be judged by their appearance at a workplace. In some cases, a woman’s appearance ultimately determines if she will be hired or not for that position. Women who are overweight even see lower starting salaries than people who are not. According to, a woman affected by obesity tend to earn 6 percent less than skinnier women. These women see the signs of them being discriminated against as well. A study shows out of 2,400 overweight, and obese women, 43 percent of those women had been “stigmatized by their employers or supervisors” because of their size. Fifty-four percent of these women they were stigmatized by their colleagues as well.

“We know that women are highly scrutinized for physical appearance in our society, that we have these very stringent ideals of what it means to be attractive and that if women deviate from these ideals — even a little bit — they become vulnerable to criticism and unfair judgment and stigma,” Puhl said.

She continued, “perception is one thing … and that’s very valid research, and we need to be sure that we don’t discount that, but we also have these very clear experimental studies where we can isolate cause and effect and look at evaluations of job applicants when the only thing that differs is body weight. And that really allows us to make these kinds of observations that tell us yes, this is discriminatory.”

By: Eboni Walker | Web: | Instagram: EboniMWA | Twitter: EboniMWalker

Source: The Huff Post