Obese Women Often Paid Less, Work Harder Jobs Than Obese Men And Thin Women. So That Sucks.
Anyone who's been paying attention is doubtlessly already aware that the labor market is not fair to women. But in case you wanted any more evidence of that, it turns out that obese women are more likely to have lower paid jobs than obese men are. Because that sounds about right.
According to research by Jennifer Shinall, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, which analyzed occupation and health data from almost 20,000 men and women, obese women are much more likely to wind up working low-paying, blue collar jobs — and to just add insult to injury, that trend doesn't hold true for obese men. In fact, she says, “No matter what the type of occupation, obese men seem to do just as well as average-size men. They make just as much as non-obese men." But for women everything is different.
According to Shinall's research, as women get heavier, they become increasingly likely to work in an occupation with lower pay — and contrary to stereotypes about obese people being lazy and "sitting on their butts all day," these low-paying jobs are more likely to be physically demanding. They are also much less likely to work in jobs she refers to as "personal interaction occupations," such as sales person or receptionist. And although she doesn't speculate as to why, I suspect it might have something to do with people not wanting fat people to be visible.
So that's all just delightful
This data isn't necessarily surprising — after all, other studies have shown that thin women tend to be paid more. Plus, we already know all about how women tend to make more than men. Still, it just seems unnecessarily extra unfair for women to monetarily penalized for gaining weight when men aren't penalized for doing the same.
And the fact that obese women are shuffled off into low-paying, physically taxing positions is downright disturbing when you think about it. As though, once a woman's body no longer fits into society's narrow definition of an acceptable size, that woman is no longer good enough not just for a decent wage, but also not good enough for a comfortable job.
Apparently, this is what happens when sexism and fatphobia intersect. And it really sucks. Especially when you consider the fact that being of lower socioeconomic status is strongly linked to obesity. So once someone slips into this position — being obese and working an exhausting, low-paying job — it becomes a cycle that's hard to break out of. After all, it's hard to get a better job without losing the weight necessary to make people actually consider hiring you, but it's hard to lose weight when you're current sucky job doesn't pay you enough to eat healthy.
Basically, everything sucks.
Maybe someday we'll live in a world where people of all shapes, sizes, and genders have the same opportunities and where the deck isn't stacked against anyone. That'll be the day. That'll be the day.