A lot of my friends are bemoaning their return to work today. Not because they dislike their jobs, necessarily, but because of what their work is likely to put them through because it’s the beginning of a new year.
Many companies start New Years Weight Loss initiatives. If your work is doing this, you have some options. You can simply choose not to participate quietly. You can not participate loudly (every time someone brings up their diet, bring up your HAES practice for example). You can start your own HAES-based initiative – perhaps offer to help HR create this kind of initiative. You could also e-mail HR and say one or more of the following:
- As someone who practices Health at Every Size I am uncomfortable with my superiors at work suggesting something that goes against the health plan that I’ve created with my health professionals. I don’t want to be torn between my health practice and looking like I’m not a team player at work
- This could be triggering and dangerous for people suffering from, recovering from, or who have a propensity for developing eating disorders, (for me I could talk about this in the first person but even if I hadn’t recovered from an ED I would want to point this out.)
- As a fat employee I’m very uncomfortable that my employer has a point of view at all about my body size as less suitable than other body sizes, rather than being focused on work performance
- Suggesting that all of the employees who work here should be actively trying not to look like me makes this environment feel hostile to me.
- Perhaps remind them that all of these pitfalls could be avoided if the employer focused on providing options for health rather than focusing on weight or telling employees
- Consider providing lots of evidence for a HAES intervention
- Consider offering to help start a voluntary employee walk and roll plan with a weight-neutral, all abilities invited, shame free message
- Consider asking for a meeting to talk about this further
Even if your company doesn’t do an official weight loss initiative, it’s certainly a subject that can dominate conversation at the water cooler. In this case you can walk away. You can also answer diet talk with HAES talk. though I would not suggest doing this in an attempt to convert anyone, I have found it effective to talk about HAES in the same way that others talk about their diets.
Some people are forced to undergo tests of everything from BMI, to blood pressure, to cholesterol to see what their heredity might cost them in health insurance premiums. This is highly problematic and unlikely to succeed at any rate which may be something that you can delicately communicate to your HR department.
As a result of these tests many will have to choose between entering a program with absolutely no track record of success and a long record of failure – like Weight Watchers – or taking a stand and spending money they can’t afford (or could find better uses for) on higher health care premiums. This is massively not ok. Employe benefits programs built on healthism and ableism need to be stopped immediately. Unfortunately the government seems to be jumping in with both feet. Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket? Consider telling your employer something like: It is my understanding that studies show that the vast majority of people who attempt weight loss gain their weight back and many gain back more, so could you please provide me with the evidence basis for the efficacy for your weight loss recommendation?
Size Acceptance activism at work can be really tricky and only you can decide what level of activism (if any) you want to be involved in at work. You don’t have to do any at all. Whatever you decide, and whatever situation you are in, know that you deserve to be treated with respect, given what you need to do your job (everything from a chair that fits you to reasonable accommodations for any health issues or disabilities etc.) Whether or not you actually do, you absolutely deserve to work in an environment that is free from fat-phobia, weight stigma, shame, or bullying.
Our Petition to Keep Kids Off The Biggest Loser is now over 2,000 signatures and I have a call with the doctor in charge of the kids on Friday afternoon. Let’s keep pushing on this – a reality show where people dehydrate themselves to the point of urinating blood to win money for losing weight is not a place where we should be placing kids.
The project to create the Guinness World Record paper mache sculpture – made out of pages from diet books – is on! Thee tons of ways to help (even if you don’t have diet books to donate) Check it out here!
Like the blog? Check this stuff out:
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
The Dance Class DVDs: Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint: Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)! Click here for the details
Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses
I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.