Enough with the religious discrimination already

Oh, look, Disney sent one of their employees home without pay because–GASP–she was wearing a Muslim headscarf, and that apparently doesn’t comply with their “look.”

Good for her for filing a complaint.

I think some diversity training for their management might be in order. I recommend having them ride “It’s a Small World” for a good eight or ten hours. One of two things will happen–either they’ll gain an appreciation for other cultures and beliefs, or after hours of hearing THAT SONG on endless loop, they’ll give in just to make it stop.

I haven’t written anything about the people protesting against the “Ground Zero Mosque” (in sarcastic scare quotes because it’s neither a mosque, nor at Ground Zero), but that infuriates me too. Like this, but more so. Much, much more so. For right now, I’ll content myself with pointing out that, contrary to popular belief, the First Amendment does not contain the phrase “except for Muslims.” Really, it doesn’t.

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Calorie-Counting for the Pre-K Crowd…Why?

Katja at Family Feeding Dynamics posted this about cutesy little coloring pages for kids to “teach” them about “nutrition,” at her local farmer’s market by having them circle the “healthiest” choice, that is the one with the fewest calories. They’re supposed to pick the half cup of fruit, not the same thing with EVIL, UNHEALTHY additions like…fruit juice…or (gasp) yogurt! Thirty-six whole calories difference between the “healthiest” choice and the “least healthy” one. I mean, it’s not like kids are growing or need calories for brain development or anything. Or like lots of parents would be thrilled to have their kids happily eat a fruit cup with yogurt and orange juice.

Why why WHY would you want to teach little kids this stuff? Not just the standard line that cookies are bad and everybody needs to exercise more, but full-on disordered eating where TWO FREAKING TABLESPOONS of LIGHT YOGURT is a danger to be avoided. At this rate, I’m gonna get my recommended daily allotment of exercise just rolling my eyes.

Too Fat to Get Hired?

Evil HR Lady gives what I think is some unusually bad advice to a 400-pound job-seeker who wonders if it’s their weight that’s the problem. (Unusual in that her advice is usually good, that is. This particular advice is all too common.)

You said, “If I had indications of something I needed to work on, I’d work to address the issue.” The reality is, you do have an indication of an issue you need to work on and it’s your weight. You’re right that walking in and saying, “Hey, I may be overweight, but I can still do the splits!” is probably not the best way to go about it. But confusing the ideal (people should be judged on their skill and value they bring to the company) with the reality (people hold negative stereotypes about overweight individuals) doesn’t get you anywhere. I have no idea if you have underlying medical conditions that make weight gain easy and weight loss nearly impossible, or if you just like eating too much. Either way, though don’t delude yourself saying, “There’s nothing I need to work on.” This is, undoubtedly, affecting your career and most likely you can work on it.

So, because stereotypes exist and people make stupid decisions based on them, you should bend all your efforts to leaving the stereotyped class. Never mind the tons of evidence that diets don’t work, or that people often end a weight-loss attempt fatter than they started. Also never mind that hungry and cranky may not be the best way to go into a job interview, or the adverse health effects of dieting.

I’m all about putting your best foot forward by dressing nicely and having a professional-looking haircut, but thinking that you need to alter the shape and size of your body is way too far. While we’re at it, do we want to suggest plastic surgery, since pretty people are more likely to get hired than plain ones? Or how about sex changes to address the gender gap in pay?

So here’s my advice to the letter-writer:

Yes, people probably are biased against you, but I would *not* encourage you to try to lose weight to get a job. There are a million reasons for that, but one is purely pragmatic. Lots of dieters gain back every pound they lose. If you get a job at your low weight that you wouldn’t have gotten at your current, what happens if the weight comes back? Will your new employer decide you’re lazy because you’ve “let yourself go” and will that inhibit your potential with the new company, after you’ve already burned your bridges at your current job?

Also, you’re already handicapped by people’s stereotypes; I think going into an interview while on a diet just gives you another handicap. You want to go into an interview at your smartest, most articulate, most creative best, not hungry and light-headed and pissed off at the universe.

I also would definitely not point out your weight to a prospective employer, *especially* before they’ve seen you. Between the fact that fat looks very different from person to person and the fact that so many people routinely lie about their weight, most people don’t know what 200 or 300 or 400 pounds looks like. If you, weighing 400 pounds, walk into an interview, an interviewer might guess your weight at 300, or even less. If you say, “I weigh 400 pounds,” they will picture Jabba the Hut and will think worse of you before you even walk in the door.

Dressing nicely is important. Because it’s hard to get clothes that fit when you’re above a certain size, it’s worth investing in professional alterations so you can have interview attire that you look sharp in. And because people automatically assume that “fat” means “sloppy” and “lazy,” you’ll probably need to pay more attention to your hair, your nails, and every other aspect of grooming to make a good impression. I’d focus on those, as things you can control, rather than your weight, which you can “work on” but not necessarily with any degree of success.

I know it’s not much consolation, but people who won’t hire you because you’re fat are probably not people you’d want to work for anyway.

Notice that I’m not making any recommendations about your health because you didn’t ask for that, and because your health is none of my business. Much as it’s none of your employer’s business. (And no, health insurance doesn’t make it your employer’s business. If the fat stigma were really about health and healthcare costs, there would be a prejudice against hiring athletes with all their expensive injuries.)