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Size Acceptance and the Workplace

I hate going to meetings at work in our conference rooms. I don't hate the work. I love the work, but I hate the chairs! As someone with 76" hips, it's virtually impossible to find a chair with arms that works. And going to a meeting in the conference room, with its impossibly-skinny rolling blue chairs of big-girl-doom is the worst part of my work week. Going on interviews is even worse. What kind of chairs will there be? Will I have to ask for a different seat just to be able to conduct the interview? What kind of first impression will that make? Could that cost me the job?

Chairs not made for someone of size are just one of the daily pitfalls that many SSBBWs have to work around at their job. There are many forms of subtle discrimination that occur every day, but many of us are too embarrassed or too conformist to say anything. For example, when I have to go on training, is it okay if I request that the rental car not be a compact one? I know that costs extra, but I'd really like to be able to use the seatbelt! My personal favorite time of the year is when several coworkers get together to have Weight Watchers come out and do on-site classes. Does everyone really think I need 5 copies of the flier? Maybe I didn't see it posted everywhere in the hallway.

One of the hardest workplace issues for larger folks to combat is the perception that "fat" people are lazy, stupid, or unable to perform their work without assistance and will simply be a drain on the company, either through excessive use of the insurance (ultimately costing more money) because we are all so unhealthy, or through the inability to perform to the standards of the smaller folks in the office.

So how do we combat this? BCWB (Being Confident While Big) can definitely help! Some people are rude on purpose. They are conscious of their decision to discriminate against people of size and are happy to do so. I believe that most people, however, either have no conscious thought to what others must endure or truly feel like they are helping. Since I practice BCWB, I have asked my boss to be proactive on my behalf. Gone are the days when we have chairs with arms! When it was time to purchase new office chairs we received 1,000 pound capacity armless chairs. I also got permission to purchase an armless chair for the conference room. It lives in there for anyone to use that needs an armless, 500 pound capacity chair. When I get those fliers for Weight Watchers, I always respond, "Thanks, but I've been watching my weight. It sits right here!" as I pat my belly. Usually this sends the messages that not only do I not want to go to their meetings, but I am aware of my size and comfortable with it. This is a revelation for many folks!

For those of us who are actively out interviewing, sneaking some stories in about our work ethic and our attendance may be the thing we need to let the interviewer know that we are dedicated and not lazy or a burden. For example, I often take a copy of my most recent evaluation to the interview with me. This shows the interviewer how I really work by letting my current boss speak for me. Also, sitting up straight with proper posture and ensuring that I am smiling, even when I have to ask for an armless chair, has really helped me to ensure that I get fair and equal treatment in an interview.

While I feel we have so far to go to achieve size acceptance in the work place, by starting with small, controllable issues, we can be sure to have a more enjoyable work environment!

Submitted by: Ms. Crystal Hynes


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