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Weightism, the Last Legal Discrimination This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Vinton, VA
When you think of discrimination, what do you think of? Perhaps you think of racism, or maybe homophobia, maybe even sexism. While all of these are big issues, there are laws against all of them. However, one of the biggest types of discrimination in America today is never addressed, even seeming somewhat taboo to speak about- discrimination against the overweight.

Some people may say this is a ridiculous claim; please hear me out before you start to argue. When you go to stores, particularly the mall, what do the employees look like? Is it usual to see anyone that looks overweight? It is not illegal for a company to deny you employment because you are unattractive. On most job applications, there is a policy that states “equal employment opportunities to employees and applicants, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, gender identity or expression, or veteran status.” Nowhere in that statement is weight mentioned.

A hospital in Texas has specified a certain BMI that you must not surpass in order to be employed. If you are above a 35 BMI, you will not even be considered for employment. The people being targeted, though, are the overweight- if the hospital really cared about health, then they would also bar employment for anyone under the healthy BMI limit as well (which they have not). A study conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University also revealed that male jurors are more likely to convict overweight female defendants than those of average weight or those that were underweight.

For example, I am an overweight female who is currently in 10th grade. I am not an aggressive person, and am very quiet during school. One day in 7th grade, I got up from my seat in class to throw something away. As I did, a boy who was considered “popular” thought it would be funny to smack my butt as I walked past, just because I was overweight and unpopular. The group of girls behind him laughed, and I was humiliated. My teacher saw, thankfully, and referred him to the office. He received three days of suspension. A few days later, I got an angry message on Facebook from a girl he was friends with who demanded to know why I had told, because he “didn’t do anything wrong.” I cannot help but think that I would not have been questioned had I been of normal weight and considered “popular.”

The American school system has even joined in on this alarming trend. Some schools have begun sending home letters after weighing children, but only if they are considered “over” or “under” weight; it seems, however, that this is mostly done in elementary schools. This makes no sense, considering children change so much from elementary school age to adulthood. This is simply a way to single out those who are different and call them out on it.

Maybe one day someone will finally bring to light this disturbing new form of prejudice, and maybe they won’t. One thing I know for sure: it is present in our society, and it is getting worse every day.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

WinstonSmith said...
Jun. 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm:
I would like to read more about this issue.
 
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rhea752 said...
May 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm:
You are very right. No doubt about it.
 
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