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Road Work

by Dr. Deah on Feb.16, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

Last night was teleconference number four hosted by Golda Peretsky http://www.bodyloverevolution.com/.  Every Tuesday night from 5-6 PST Golda has a guest on that she introduces as,”a revolutionary,” when it comes to size acceptance and changing the way society views fat men and women, (Although there will be a conference on Thursday, Feb. 17).

Last night’s revolutionary, Kimmoy Matthews, aka  The Curvy Coach, is a fabulous business coach who specializes in the Plus Size Niche. Her web site is filled with wonderful links and resources and once again Golda introduced her listeners to a person who is working hard to break down barriers and stigma associated with fat people.  Her enthusiasm and experience was palpable even over the phone and I’m sure her clients are fortunate to have her working on their side!

The conversation included Kimmoy’s insights on several sides of the employment spectrum, entrepreneurs, employees and job seekers.  Ms. Matthews articulately fielded difficult questions about job hunting given the current unemployment rate and was generous with tips on how to stand out and be noticed by our accomplishments and what we can bring to a company other than our girth.

The interview led us down an enticing path that touched on many topics that could have easily merited an entire hour of their own and I’m certain I’m not the only one that believes it’s a good thing that the phone participants are all muted until the Q&A session!  If the amount of times I blurted something out during the interview was any barometer, I’m sure there would have been hundreds of excited and engaged listeners jumping in with questions and comments throughout the hour!

At one point, the conversation meandered down a rather controversial path about size discrimination in the workplace; a complex subject fraught with a strong emotional charge for many people. I applaud Golda and The Curvy Coach for being able to articulate their opinions so concisely considering the extemporaneous nature of the conversation and the lack of notes or stats on hand for illustration. 

Kimmoy clearly pointed out that if someone is the victim of overt, size discrimination in the workplace that they need to report it to the appropriate person and go through the channels to intervene.  But with the absence of tangible evidence, she made a strong argument for a “Tough Love” approach which was to take responsibility for how we may be projecting our insecurities about being fat onto others and that the discrimination is coming from inside ourselves.

In other words, if a fat person is feeling insecure about her body, this may seep into the way she carries herself and how she interacts in an office environment. Some examples mentioned were, not going out for lunch to network with other employees but eating at her desk, or not having enough confidence to approach the boss proactively to have her ideas heard or negotiate raises.  The lack of inclusion or promotion that may result, is  feeling discriminated against because of size.  (Kimmoy was spot on when pointing out how much of this was not just a fat woman’s issue but a woman’s issue.)  Ms Matthews suggested that an effective tool to combat this “syndrome” is to brand ourselves based on  our strengths and skills.  That brand will be the persona seen and acknowledged in the work place and replace the one dimensional perception that we are fat.

Here’s where the path we were walking down transitioned into challenging terrain. 

Size discrimination is a tangible thing and I agree with Kimmoy that there are steps we can all take to feel better about ourselves at the size we are in any moment of our lives.  That of course is the basis of the DVD Leftovers, The Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater.  But the cyclical nature of the circumstance is difficult to break.

A person gets bullied for being fat, they carry themselves differently, they do not exude confidence, they don’t progress in the company, they assume it’s because they are fat, this makes them feel badly about being fat…and the green grass grows all around all around and the  green grass…well you

Goin' Round In Circles

get the point.

Perhaps I am a bit less trusting than Kimmoy in the nature of some people to really drop their biases against fat people.  Concurrently, I agree that something that happened in one place may not actually be happening in a new environment and we need to start fresh.  But it is difficult to let past events stay in the past without working on healing the past therapeutically and or intentionally.  True, there are fat women and men that break the glass ceiling and perhaps do not attract negative remarks or actions about their bodies…but in many cases, at least the ones publicized in the media or talked about in workshops and sessions, more often than not the accompanying thought or consideration is, “Wow, they  made it to the top even though they’re fat.”

Until we stop using size as a definer of whom a person is many of us are still subject to size discrimination whether it be intrinsically or extrinsically generated.  And while it is true as Kimmoy pointed out that in the marketing world, not all plus sized people are the same and buy different products and have different consumer habits, one commonality is that most of us, at some point, walked on the path where we were mistreated for our body size or shape.  A path that should be closed for repairs. 

Thanks Golda and Kimmoy for such a thought provoking and generous teleconference!

Thank you!

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