Obesity is frowned upon in this society that places such a high importance on people’s physical appearance. Even though obesity is now considered an illness that can be attributed to a person’s genetic origins, many individuals still think that obese men and women simply do not have the will to stop eating. Unfortunately, this grave misconception leads to unbridled prejudice against overweight individuals. This type of unfair practice has grown to be as rampant and as cruel as racial or gender discrimination. Some states have already taken steps in protecting people from any discriminatory behavior. However, in order to protect one’s self, it is important to learn how to recognize signs of fat discrimination.
- Read and keep updated on discrimination laws and trends. In order to know whether you are a victim of this type of bias, it is a must that you find out the practices and behaviors that constitute fat discrimination. One good way is to join forums and read about other people’s experiences with potential employers, doctors, teachers, and the likes. It is also advisable to read up on articles about obesity and its effect not on the physical area but rather as a social factor. A good source of information is the NAAAFA or National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Another way of educating yourself is to keep abreast with laws being passed in your area. Michigan has already included weight as a category of discrimination. The same goes for San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Washington has also imposed a legislation that prohibits inequity based on an individual’s physical appearance.
- Observe if you are being treated differently. Are you long overdue for a promotion and keep getting passed over by newer, less qualified yet thinner employees? Are you getting paid less? It is important to be observant about how you are being treated by your colleagues and superiors especially in the workplace. This sector is getting to be an increasingly inconsiderate environment for overweight individuals. Experts believe that an increasing number of highly qualified people are losing opportunities to be hired, being overlooked for promotions, getting fired, or simply being harassed based on their weight. Of course, certain laws will prohibit you from discussing and comparing the benefits and wages that you are receiving with your coworker. Employ other ways of finding out whether or not others are better compensated for doing the same amount of work. You can do this by observing their spending patterns or taking note of their standard of living. Observe also whether you are being saddled with a heavier workload as compared to your skinnier colleague.
- Accept that discrimination can occur in any setting. Many would believe that weight discrimination only occurs in the work sector. Sadly, even inside the doctor’s office, you might encounter unfair practices should you be fat. Millions of women have a more difficult time getting insurance if they are overweight. They also tend to be alienated from screenings and treatments that could save them from certain cancers. Some doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff turn out to harbor a degree of negativity towards their obese patients. These medical professionals tend to be less patient and more dismissive in diagnosing and treating people who are on the heavy side.
- Take note of jokes, comments and even body language. Fat jokes are so common nowadays. Some people can chalk it up to an individual’s rudeness, but if you keep receiving the same fat comments over and over again or is being the butt of a person’s weight jokes all the time, it could be something more than plain insensitivity. Verbal abuse, no matter how subtly done, is also part of discrimination. Continuous criticism about one’s weight could erode his self esteem over time. Even concerned comments about your eating habits, if done repeatedly, may be considered harassment if you have already requested that person to stop talking about your weight. Take note of non-verbal conduct also. Making faces and frequent glances towards your body could be signs of prejudice too.
In order to file a complaint against any individual for discriminating against you, it is important that you prepare sufficient proof. Assess whether the incident indeed involves discriminatory actions or not. Write down a detailed account of said incident. Make sure that you note the dates and locations of such occurrences. Note also the names of witnesses and request that they provide you with a written account of what they saw. If photographic or video evidences are available, make sure to get copies of these as well. Once you have gathered sufficient evidence, you may then approach the appropriate person or party to address the situation.