Women Must Be Thin to Win at Work

woman workplaceAt one time, when I was working in the entertainment media biz, I had a boss who would say, "You can never be too skinny or too rich." It made me want to scream, because it's such an unhealthy, superficial view of the world. But my frustration with the remark doesn't change the fact that plenty of people -- bosses, especially --  must agree with my former employer. Because a new study concludes that very thin women earn, on average, $22,000 more than their "average weight counterparts." As for heavier women? They earn even less.

The weight discrimination aspect of this study is bad enough, but the researchers had to go and throw some gender discrimination into the mix. Yup, this pay gap doesn't apply to men. In fact, men receive more money when their weights are more "average."

No, this isn't surprising, but it is terribly frustrating.


Decades after the women's movement, and at a time when more of us struggle with our weight than not, why are we living with this glaring, obnoxious double standard? Why are heavier men acceptable or hell, even rewarded, while women are constantly pressured all through our lives -- in the workplace, post-partum, before bikini season, etc. -- to be as skinny as possible to succeed?

It's BS.

One thought that springs to mind, though, is that it may have something to do with confidence. Given society's ideals, men feel more attractive at an average weight. But even chubbier guys can develop a totally healthy self-esteem, because they're still attractive to plenty of people. No one's really going around gauging men's worth on their weight.

But it's 180 degrees for women. Society tells us that if we're overweight, we're worthless, unattractive, inept. Granted, weight and confidence for women is a chicken or the egg question. Does being thin give you confidence, or do more confident women find a way at any cost to get and stay slim? I'm not sure, but it seems to be a little bit of both. Either way, having more confidence -- thin or not -- may be what leads to a fatter paycheck for "skinny bitches." However, knowing there are people out there who think like my old boss, sadly, it could also just be straightforward weight discrimination. In the end, though, it's more than just a bit disconcerting to see that junior high politics still seem to pervade the adult workplace.

Do you buy this study? If so, why do you think thinner women make more money?

Image via bpsusf/Flickr

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