The race for New Jersey’s governor points to an ongoing problem in this country — it’s ok to discriminate against fat people.
Leading up to the elections yesterday, and even today, the fat jokes have been flowing on the Web about 5′11″, 550 pound Chris Christie who challenged incumbent New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine:
This from a website called Power Line on Christie’s win: “The fat man sings in New Jersey.”
Another site referred to Christie as having: “massive blimposity.” And Slate.com questioned if an obese politician could win in a piece titled: “Too Big To Win: Fat politics and the race for governor of New Jersey.”
Even Christie’s challenger Corzine got into the act by airing ads alluding to Christie’s weight:
The one thing that makes Christie so different from so many other obese Americans is he got the job he applied for, and his new employer will probably pay for his health benefits with no penalties charged to him for being overweight.
This from a column I did on obesity and job discrimination:
Another factor fueling the fire could be corporate America’s stepped-up efforts to cut health-care costs by encouraging the rank and file to slim down, offering incentives to those who succeed. That leaves plump workers feeling demoralized and penalized financially if they can’t hop to it and hop off those extra pounds.
In a Yale University survey of about 2,000 overweight women, 53 percent of those polled said co-workers stigmatized them, and 43 percent said their employers stigmatized them. Being stigmatized translated into not being hired, being passed over for promotions, losing a job, or being teased or harassed because of their weight.
“Weight discrimination has been documented for decades, but more research is showing how prevalent it is in recent years,” says Rebecca Puhl, co-author of the survey and coordinator of weight stigma initiatives at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
And unfortunately it’s not just a perception. When it comes to the all-important wallet, heavy workers tend to make less than their thin counterparts.
Obese men and women can expect to earn on average anywhere from 1 to 6 percent less than normal weight employees, with heavy women being the biggest losers when it comes to their paychecks, according to a study by Tennessee State University economists Charles Baum and William Ford.
There is a law on the books in Michigan protecting the obese from discrimination but unfortunately there are no federal laws protecting the rotund among us in the workplace, even though obese Americans are a minority, at 34 percent of the 20-plus population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We protect women, about half the population, why not the obese?
If someone is ready, willing and able to do the job, why should they be treated any differently because of their size?