my boss liked my work — until we met in person and she saw my weight

A reader writes:

After losing my job due to Covid-19 a year ago, I spent months job hunting and interviewing. As an overweight woman, sometimes I suspected that I was facing weight discrimination, but of course it is almost impossible to know for sure.

Finally, after eight months, I got a job. The interviews were all over Zoom, and the job is remote for now as well. I have been there for three months. It had been going really well, and I was getting a lot of great feedback from my boss about how quickly I was picking things up and how much the team enjoyed my positive attitude.

This all seemed to change a couple of weeks ago. My team decided to meet for an informal picnic in a park so we could all meet in person. I was having a great time when I overheard my boss say to a coworker that I was a lot bigger than she had expected me to be.

Ummm … okay? I suppose it is possible that due to the way I carry my weight, they might not have been able to tell on Zoom that I am overweight, but it was obviously an inappropriate statement. Still, I decided to let it go. But back at work on Monday, I noticed my boss’ attitude to me had totally changed. She reminded me twice out of nowhere not to take more than half an hour for lunch, which has never been an issue, and has asked me to start sending her lists of what I did in a day. She also seems much less interested in friendly chitchat.

In my mind, she has seen that I am overweight and decided that I am lazy. Am I crazy for thinking this? Is there any way I can address it without seeming dramatic?

I’m sorry, this is awful.

You are not crazy. Weight discrimination is a real, documented thing.

Of course, it’s possible that the picnic coincided with your boss developing concerns about your work for other reasons. And for the sake of thoroughness, it’s worth reflecting on whether something like that could explain it — like if you had just made a significant mistake in your work or let something fall through the cracks around the same time. But assuming there’s nothing like that to explain the timing, it certainly does look connected.

As for how to address it, can you name the specific changes you’re seeing from your boss without speculating (to her) on the reasons for them, and simply ask if she has concerns about your work or whether there’s something she wants you doing differently? For example: “I’m of course happy to send you reports on what I’ve achieved each day, but I wondered whether that change is in response to concerns you have about my work or my productivity. If so, I’d be grateful to know if there’s anything you’re worried about in my work or want me doing differently.”

Or even: “You’ve been so positive in your feedback since I started, but in the last week you’ve seemed less confident about my work. If you have any concerns about how I’m approaching the job, I’d very much want to hear your feedback and work on fixing anything that needs to be fixed. Do you have any concerns about how I’m doing?”

It’s possible that this will nudge her to realize she’s treating you unfairly. Or it might not — but it’s a reasonable place to start.

If that doesn’t fix it and the change in the way she’s treating you continues on for a few more weeks, at that point I’d be tempted to just lay it on the table: “You consistently gave me positive feedback about my work for my first few months, but after we met in-person at the team picnic, that changed. Did something happen there that changed your perspective on how I’m doing? I’ve racked my brain to figure out what might have changed your reception of my work, and I’m at a loss so I hope we can talk it through.”

Of course, that’s not really laying it on the table. Laying it on the table would be, “This is awkward, but I overheard you say at the picnic that I was bigger than you expected. Things seemed to change right after that.” But that could make things worse for you if she becomes defensive or thinks it’s outrageous that you’d call her out on that or feels resentment every time she thinks of you. It could move her from somewhat unpleasant to actively hostile. Even the vaguer “things seemed to change after we met in-person” language could be a terrible idea for the same reasons, so you’ll have to judge based on your sense of her and the dynamic between you.

I’m sorry this is happening.

Edited to add: Several people have asked in the comment section about going to HR. Unfortunately, weight discrimination is still legal in most of the U.S. and common enough even among HR people that there’s a high likelihood it could make the situation worse. It might not — but the chances are strong enough that it’s not something I’d recommend unless the letter-writer knows she has really good HR people who will not only shut this down but protect her from future retaliation as well (which is the hard part because retaliation can be really subtle).

{ 468 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    I would start looking for yet another new job because I don’t trust this woman to treat you fairly.

    I mean, that is a horrible attitude, a terrible thing to say, and an unforgivable thing to say to a coworker at a work event.

    1. Littorally*

      Entirely agree. The changed behavior is outrageous, but even the comment all by itself is completely unacceptable.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      It’s bad enough that she has these ideas but she’s potentially poisoning other employees by sharing them? What the actual . . . ?

      1. Gretchen Wiener*

        And that she’s REALLY changed. I get the thoughts. I get the subtle and perhaps unconscious bias, but I feel this is really excessive and blatant.

      2. JessaB*

        And I sort of believe that the manager knew OP could hear her. It’s a very “Mean Girls” kind of thing to do. Say something like that where the target can hear it but you can still try to gaslight them that they didn’t mean that at all.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          If it was at a work-related event then, yes, I have to think she knew it would be a risk and either didn’t care or did it on purpose.

    3. H*

      I agree. I am overweight also. Have been for most of my career. I don’t think it has harmed me because I am in a field already in demand where people with my credentials are in short supply but this is crappy esp from a supervisor and a supervisor said that to another employee. In general, very tired of petty manager behavior and manager favoritism. Like do you not have friends outside of the workplace that you have to petty gossip and get all of your social interactions from your underlings whose checks you sign?

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Yeah, same here and Covid has not helped. The apartment building’s gym was closed all winter, and now it is sign-up only. The weather is good, so I would rather exercise outside. But having hypothyroidism hasn’t helped me either, and I have dieted and exercised all my life, and it hasn’t made me skinny, either.

        Managers should absolutely not be making hurtful comments like that.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I also have hypothyroidism and gained a bit of weight in the year leading up to my diagnosis (among other things that pointed to the condition being the culprit). I remember bringing breakfast tacos one morning and eating them at my desk while going through my morning startup routine. My boss came by my desk for something and was like, “Oh! You better watch out! Too many tacos can be dangerous!” I was already hyper aware of my unusual weight gain and not feeling very confident about myself, so that comment, no matter how joking he meant it to be, did a number on my feelings that day.

          I was already on the fence about starting to search for a new job, but that put me over and motivated me to start looking. No boss needs to make comments about what we eat! Or about our bodies or anything that has nothing to do with our work. Period!

          1. Dangerous Tacos*

            Sounds like Boss has a bad case of tacophobia. I’m having visions of a massive army of tacos storming her office, complete with bandoliers and extra guac.

            1. MarsJenkar*

              “Extra guacamole is not a responsible use of member funds. DENIED.”

              (As the original Guacamole Bob would say.)

          2. LisaNeedsBraces*

            Don’t you just love when one form of bigotry brings out other forms? Tacos are just sandwiches with tortillas, and are in no way inherently unhealthy. In fact, with fresh veggies and fruits (like peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc.) and protein, they tend to be pretty nutrient-rich.

            Anyway, I’m glad you’re looking. I had a boss who I suspected didn’t invite me to some customer meetings because of my weight, which inhibited my career growth. I left the job, which was abusive in other ways, and now I’m thriving. You deserve a boss who’s only comment to an employee who brought breakfast tacos to be, “Oh, looks delicious!”

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              I’m a fat lady, and I firmly believe if you’re fat and eat anything other than naked salads and water, you get the side eye. Heck, you get the side eye even if you’re only eating that. Like “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

              I wish everyone could mind their own beeswax and lunchbox. If you are not my nutritionist, what I eat is not your problem! My weight has zero, exactly ZERO effect on your life. It means nothing to you, and everything to me.

              When I was pregnant I actually announced in a meeting that no one needed to worry about what I was eating. I had one coworker who was running around talking about “Looook at her! Look at what she’s eating! She’s gonna get so huge! There’s no way that’s healthy for the baby.” She sheepishly tried to apologize after that meeting, I snapped she wasn’t my OB and needed to worry about what came out of her gossipy mouth rather than what went into mine!

        2. lizcase*

          “I have dieted and exercised all my life, and it hasn’t made me skinny”
          yes, this! I had a coworker comment that she was surprised I stayed overweight – she’d noticed I usually ate “healthy” (i.e. lots of vegetables and bringing food from home) and biked into work, and didn’t understand why I stayed the same weight. There was also the implication of “Why would you bike and eat vegetables if you aren’t losing weight?” as well, which really bothers me.
          The reality is that I bike because I love it, and I eat lots of vegetables because I like them, and I bring food from home cause it’s a PITA to deal with food intolerances.

    4. AnonInCanada*

      Agreed! I’m sorry for OP, as someone who’s packed on a few pounds over the years myself. I would hate to be prejudged over something like this.

      1. fish*

        Ha, and for me at least, the *reason* I’ve packed on a few pounds is because I was too invested in my job to do things like exercise or eat healthily. For me at least, these pounds show how committed I am to do my job!

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          Same for me, and this is probably the case for many working folks who are also big! Especially those of us who are paid to sit on our butts all day long and then are expected to fit in a regular day’s worth of movement around that somehow. It’s an uphill battle in this day and age.

        2. Not Australian*

          Yes. I first started putting on weight when I had a combination of a stressful job and travel problems – there was no chance of getting a lunch break so I ate at my desk and got no exercise, and I had to take public transport everywhere so no walking to and from work. Combine that with stress eating, which has always been a problem for me, and I just had to watch the dress sizes slip away until finally I had to acknowledge that I’d done permanent damage to my health by trying to keep going in the face of an unhealthy working environment. Coming back from that sort of thing is no easy task, unfortunately.

      2. Paloma Pigeon*

        You bring up a good point – putting on weight over the years can also lead to ageism, as many middle-aged folks bodies’ change.

    5. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

      Yeah… how wildly unprofessional is this manager that she thinks it’s okay to say this shit?! A manager once did something similar about my direct report (he mocked her appearance- in this case, size and clothing choices), to a group of people, some of whom were on my team. It got back to me and I filed a complaint citing unprofessional behavior.

      OP, I’m sorry this is happening. With such glowing feedback, it sounds like you’re a delight to have on the team.

      1. staceyizme*

        I wonder if she’d get more traction with going to HR with the objection that “my boss commented on my body and it feels invasive, overly personal and hostile. Thereafter, she (insert specific instances of micromanaging etc.). People may have their own thoughts on body size and beauty, but almost everyone can agree on “commenting on someone’s body in a professional setting = exposure to negative outcomes for the company in several ways.” That way, it’s not about the content of what was said so much as about the fact that a comment was made that was unprofessional and RUDE.

        1. JM in England*

          Assuming the OP lives in a one-party-consent state, would it give her complaint more weight if she could record her boss making these remarks?

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Well the boss would have to repeat them at the right time, for a start.

    6. CatCat*

      I’m afraid I have to agree. The boss was wildly out of line to talk about your body with one of your coworkers (another of her direct reports?!). I’d have serious reservations about working for someone with this kind of judgment and boundary crossing.

      I worked for someone who would say really inappropriate things to direct reports about others (did she think we agreed? wanted to hear it? were gossiping pals?). It was really poisonous and one of the reasons I left the job.

    7. LCH*

      Right? Even if I had that thought, it would remain in my head never to be said to another person and certainly not someone at work. Wtf.

        1. J!*

          To someone ELSE that she presumably supervises on top of that! Everything about this is horrible.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            It really is. I hate to say it, but I just can’t see any good outcomes here for OP. There are multiple levels of awful here – and the boss doesn’t even seem to realize how inappropriate it all is. That fact alone makes me think there’s not a lot of hope for change.

            Sorry, OP. This all sucks. :(

    8. Ponyboy*

      I read this as the boss saying this to OP’s coworker. So even more power dynamics at play here.

      Ugh, I hate it.

      1. Sleepless*

        She did. That’s what people are saying-that it was horrible that the boss said this to a third person.

    9. JSPA*

      Yes.

      Whether or not your boss specifically has a fat-phobia issue, anti-fat prejudices, a general preoccupation with bodies–quite possibly!–what she demonstrably does have are bad professional norms, no filter, mean-girl instincts and lack of verbal self-control. None of those things bode well.

      Now, adipose tissue isn’t something shameful, that nobody’s allowed to even notice. And if you were to bring the comment up with her (I wouldn’t!) there’s a fair chances are the boss will say, “Oh, it’s just a body type, we all have bodies. Yours is large, so you’re naturally defensive about that; the fat phobia is on your side, not mine.”

      [Insert graphic of exploding head.]

      But bosses spontaneously sharing their opinions on the bodies of their reports? Intrinsically good (outside of a very few specific industries where body stuff is the focus of the job).

      Consider whether expressing surprise that, “her nose is so large” or “his ass is so small” or “their hair is so nappy” or “he’s so bald” would have been normal and professional, either–no, no it would not have been.

      Your boss is a bad role model for professionalism, and she’s gob-smackingly rude. That alone is a reason to keep an eye out for another job. You don’t want to hitch your wagon for too long to someone with skewed norms and a jerk attitude, whether or not they’re actively sabotaging you or not.

      1. JSPA*

        Ugh. “intrinsically not good.” (and delete the spare “are” and excuse the other typos)

    10. Artemesia*

      This. What a nightmare. I would not rush but I would do what Alison indicates and also be starting a leisurely job search in case things don’t improve.

      I have several friends who are quite overweight and who have high powered jobs and seem to be very successful. Not every organization is going to be like this. So sorry your boss is a twit.

    11. mreasy*

      It is not only a bigoted comment toward the OP but also a power play toward the colleague she said it to – indicating that boss does not approve of this body type, so coworker needs to fall in line re their size & their approval. This is INFURIATING and I am so sorry you are going through this.

    12. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, this isn’t “flowers full of evil bees” anymore, we’re in full-on “the vents are filled with yellow jackets and there was a bucket over the door that drenched you in Wasp Enemy Pheremone” territory.

      Run, do not walk, to a better job.

    13. Mrs. Hawiggins*

      Absolutely agree, as much of a pain it would be to pick up stakes and leave, OP has heard DIRECTLY a pejorative comment from the person that supervises her. I commend you for having the restraint because I would have probably fixed a knowing glance in her direction…

      That coupled with now knowing she is saying these things in what she thought presumably was behind your back in my opinion has the potential to color other coworkers attitudes. While some may be as disgusted as we are, others may want to be on the boss’ good side and go along. How completely and utterly unfair.

      The more I read about this and all the other things that are going on, the more I want to work at home with the camera off. On mute. Until I retire.

      So sorry OP.

    14. Allegra*

      The lunch policing, too, is awful and not okay. I’m sorry she’s doing this to you, OP. This sucks.

      1. Pickled Limes*

        The lunch policing is the worst piece to me. It’s not even remotely subtle. This boss is straight up terrible.

        1. Who is the asshole*

          Yeah, way to go to show the same kindergarten level of understanding for how weight works as my mom.

    15. Working Hypothesis*

      I agree with this, but it sucks. And it sucks worse because the LW has every reason to believe that she’s going to face yet more weight discrimination in her next job search.

      LW, I’ve got no idea what you do, but depending on your field I might be able to put you in touch with some managers who are hiring and don’t do that. Best of luck, however you decide to handle it. This is totally unfair and I’m so sorry you have to go through it.

    16. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Yeah, incredibly rude!

      I hope we one day reach a point where “they are bigger than I thought.” is a neutral statement rather than a veiled insult. But that’s a long way away.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Why should it be a statement at all, unless, perhaps, you’re a custom tailor or dressmaker? Other than that, it shouldn’t be any kind of statement, or even thought.

        1. Pickled Limes*

          This. I would much rather reach a place as a society where people don’t developed preconceived notions about the bodies of people they haven’t met.

        2. alienor*

          I mean, in fairness people do develop a mental image of other people before they meet them in person. I’ve certainly met people and observed (to myself) that they were younger/older/taller/shorter than I thought, or dressed differently, or had a different hair color. The problem is that weight is so fraught with judgment, not that it’s inherently more wrong to think “X is bigger/smaller than I imagined” than “X has curly blonde hair and I pictured them as brunette.”

        3. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          I meant it like alienor said.
          We need to describe people sometimes, and I wish it would be as simple to say someone is fat or thin as it is to point out their hair color. Say I’m pointing out my child’s teacher during a graduation ceremony or something, or describing myself to a taxi driver.
          I’m not saying we should comment on everybody’s bodies unchecked, and there may well be very few occasions that necessitates describing someone’s size.
          I just wish it could be possible to do so, not that we should do it all the time. I’m fat myself, and it’s been an important part of my journey to work on disconnecting emotions from the description.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        One of our IT guys is seriously like 6’7″ and I have never once thought, “He is taller than I expected.” It’s just such a weird thing on which to focus. Great at whipping frizzled computers into shape? Yes. Remarkably patient with technophobes like I am? Absolutely. Taller than expected? WTAF.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          I don’t quite understand the WTAF here.

          I, too, had a coworker who was 6’7″. When I met him in person for the first time, I actually did think Wow, I didn’t realize he was so tall! because all of our previous interactions were by IM or Teams and he was 19 inches taller than I am. I didn’t say anything or ask ask his height or make jokes, but it seems disingenuous to pretend that I didn’t notice something quite visible.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I noticed, obviously, but there’s noticed and then there’s noticed to the degree that you’d comment on it to someone else, and I would not have done the second.

          2. Former Employee*

            I, too, am 5′ tall.

            Do I expect men to be taller, even a lot taller, than I am? Of course I do. Do I expect them to be 6′ 7″?
            Nope.

    17. Koalafied*

      My heart aches for you, OP. This is so unfair to you, and I hate that it’s even possible for someone who has so much influence on your day to day wellbeing to behave this way. We spend more waking hours at work than just about anywhere else and a poor work environment can even be a drain on our after-hours energy. I hope you have a support network that can help mitigate these effects, especially the tendency of dysfunctional workplaces to warp our sense of what’s real and what’s appropriate. If not, I’m sure there are online communities where you could vent your frustrations and help you hang onto the reality of how inappropriate this is so you don’t start to second guess yourself.

    18. Selena*

      She probably needs to find another job.

      But i want to take moment to commiserate on how it really really sucks that she has to do so. What happened to her is (almost certainly) discrimination and she has a right to be very angry about it. Even if she can’t do much with that anger.

  2. Tbubui*

    No real advice, OP. Just my sympathy. It’s gross that you have to deal with this when starting a new job is stressful enough as it is! I wish you could call it out for what it (very likely) is, but since there’s such a risk with that I think Alison’s approach is the best way to go.

  3. Hills to Die on*

    No advice either but wanted to tell you I’m sorry this is happening. You deserve better and I hope you find it. Wishing you well.

  4. fish*

    This has me wondering — does anyone here have experience with someone having changed their mind on weight discrimination? Or is it just something that people get stuck in?

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I will admit to having noticed a shift in myself after being exposed to more stories and first-hand experiences from people. With the caveat that this shift started in my teens, so it might be harder with someone who has more entrenched views (not that adults don’t change, but teens change a lot, pretty rapidly).

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        I think I’m the same way. I wasn’t ever a raging fatphobe hurling insults at people, but just becoming aware of how fatphobia works has made me guard against prejudice in my own words and actions. (Also, I don’t like to watch most sitcoms anymore but that’s another story…)

        1. Corporate Lawyer*

          Ditto. Over the years, I’ve become more aware of the fatphobic cultural prejudices I’ve absorbed and have been working on actively countering them within myself and, when the opportunity presents itself, others.

        2. Van Wilder*

          I’m in my 30s and I’m still evolving. I like to think I’ve never been fatphobic but we all have our subconscious biases. Lately, I’ve been working on not commenting on people’s looks in general. I still will give compliments to family but there’s no reason to comment on everything your eyes see.

      2. Richard*

        Listening to the podcast Maintenance Phase has really done this for me. It’s all about looking at health and wellness trends with a more critical eye and deconstructing how most of our general “common sense” around weight and health is flimsy, hollow bias.

        1. HQetc.*

          Came here to mention Maintenance Phase, glad to see it already here! I think for me, I was already in a place where I didn’t think fatness was a moral failing or anything, and was kind of in the line of thinking “it’s not a matter of self control, there are other factors that have a much larger impact on people’s weight, so we as a culture should address those issues instead of railing at fat folks.” But Maintenance Phase was the thing that got me to actually question the assumption that “of course, if we as a country or race were thinner overall, obviously that would be better.” Like, I genuinely had never had the thought that fatness (on a societal scale) is not a thing that needs fixing. People can just be fat and it’s fine! And I really credit Maintenance Phase with that.

    2. kittycatcorn*

      I am a fat woman (size 26, so not just overweight but fat) and I work in administration at a vocational school. I have a lot of in-person interaction with our students. Over the years, several have expressed… gratitude? Pleasant surprise?… in getting to know me and dispelling some stereotypes of fat people, namely by being friendly and reasonably clever. I guess they all expected me to be mean and dumb? There is a part of me that is annoyed by it but for the most part, if listening to my corny jokes and realizing that I am just another person makes them more accepting of other people of size, then I consider it a win.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Only once. A coworker years ago who’d insisted that I needed to go to the gym every day because ‘there’s no excuse for being overweight’ ended up on some of the same medications as me and found that actually yeah, you can’t shift it on that stuff.

      Sadly, I’ve never seen anyone being convinced out of fatphobic behaviour. Not to say it can’t happen of course!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Ditto (not necessarily medication-related, I don’t know for sure), but someone who had been super skinny and gained 40 lbs and stayed there changed her mind.

      2. Zap R.*

        Oh lord, the medication thing is so real. It’s really hard to lose weight when you’re on antidepressants, for example.

        1. lizcase*

          I once told my exercise-obsessed & thin-obsessed sister that “I can be thin, or I can be sane. I’m choosing sane. “

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti seizure meds, painkillers, arthritis meds….actually I can’t narrow down which one is knackering my metabolism but I’m not coming off any of them to find out!

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      My mom, who saw herself as fat, had a lot of fat-phobia and held and said many negative things and all the stereotypes about people she defined as fat. It took me a long time to realize that I had internalized much of her language.

      Like others, hearing about fat-phobia, first-hand stories, etc has helped me recognize that I learned the message at my mother’s knee and helped me change the voice in my head about it.

      1. Joielle*

        Very much same here. I definitely grew up entrenched in diet culture and fat-phobia, and around women whose worst fear was becoming larger, and biggest goal was becoming smaller. As an adult I’ve spent a lot of time intentionally unlearning it. It’s wild to look back on my childhood now, with a completely different lens!

      2. EH*

        Yep, this. I come from a long line of dieters, and was in WW by middle school myself. Unlearning all that shit has been a long-term project.

        1. HGW*

          Me too. Seventh grade. That’s super messed up, right? I think WW is good, I just can’t believe they’d let 13 year olds join. (I developed earlier than other girls in my school, so felt really fat. In retrospect, what?! why didn’t adults tell me no?!)

          1. EH*

            Hello fellow middleschool WWer! I wonder how many of us are out there?

            I gotta say, though, I don’t think they’re good. WW taught me that some food is morally superior to other food, that if I just tried harder I’d lose weight. After my first month or so I was never able to lose more than a half a pound a week, and the shame of years of those weigh-ins messed me up bigtime. Are they better than meal replacement diets? Probably, but that is a really low bar to clear. They’re still a diet program, no matter what they rebrand as.

            These days, I’m an intuitive eating and Health at Every Size fan. I’m still fat but I hate myself a lot less.

            1. Queer Earthling*

              They also came out with an app for kids as young as six, which emphasizes moral food choices and gives “rewards” for fewer calories (six-year-olds! Everyone needs calories but SIX-YEAR-OLDS are still building gray matter!), and discusses reasons to lose weight including “so you can fit into more clothes” and “so your parents will be happier.” As a company they are immoral at best.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I married someone who came from a family like this. Generally, I think he’s more mellow now about weight and diet since we’ve been together than he was before we met. However, he has had some fatphobic reactions in the past and might well in the future, so I’m always low-key vigilant to ensure he doesn’t pass on this mindset to our kids.

      4. emmelemm*

        Same. My mother, who’s always been thin, thinks she’s fat, and also has just the worst fat phobia about anyone who’s actually fat, but doesn’t think she does. I’ve worked hard not to have the same thinking patterns.

      5. Prof. Kat*

        This was my experience as well. Additionally, my mother’s fat phobia has gotten increasingly harsh and frequent in the last decade, which really drove home how cruel it is to think/talk about human beings in that way. Not wanting to ever me like that forced me to reckon with the way I view other people’s bodies (and my own, as an added bonus).

      6. Starbuck*

        Same here. My mom was overweight when I was growing up (still is) and not only was constantly trying different diets and programs to lose it (WW, meal kits, so much SlimFast, etc) but clearly hated herself for it and for not being able to successfully lose it and would make self-deprecating comments that were just really mean about herself (rarely, about others too – only from afar though, not to people’s faces and no one she knew personally). So I picked up some attitudes about it :( I’ve mostly been able to unlearn that stuff by now I think, which makes it so much harder to hear her say that stuff about herself. Years of therapy seem to have helped a bit; I hear less of it, though she’s still dieting.

    5. ElleKay*

      A little bit: My mom is a larger woman and her boss chided her for wearing dresses (instead of pantsuits) to formal work events. My (very confident, VP level) Mom clapped right back at her that Mom is more comfortable in a dress and, while she would wear pantsuits if that was suddenly a work requirement, her boss needed to realize that she would be a bright red, flushed, and sweaty mess all. the. time. in that case.

      Her boss was shocked that my Mom a) preferred dresses anyway and b) that there would be such an impact of being required to wear pants! She backed off and, as far as I know, never brought it up again

        1. MissB*

          It’s probably more about them not being forced to see the bare legs of a large woman. Think: fat phobia.

          Pant suits would disguise that.

          1. Autistic AF*

            Pantsuits also read less feminine so there’s plenty of misogyny, I’m sure.

    6. Oryx*

      I have seen small shifts among some of my family and friends. And even in myself: at one point in my twenties I was deep into the weight loss blogging world and even in that group I’ve seen people’s attitudes change — especially as more of us from that circle ditched dieting and embraced our fat bodies.

      But that’s probably a decade of work for them to start to see a different point of view. Some of it depends on how deeply entrenched they are in their fatphobia but also if they have exposure to a wide range of body sizes in their life and, perhaps more importantly, social media. If all they are looking at are traditionally thin (white) bodies, it’s challenging to get them to see the world any other way.

      Fatphobia and diet culture are particularly insidious because they are so intricately tied to our culture and society that even people who think they are free of fatphobia sometimes make fatphobic offhand comments and such. Calling them out on it is a good way to gauge how open they are to having their POV changed (that is, how defensive they get).

      1. DJ Abbott*

        As a person who is too thin and has had moments when I was afraid I would waste away and die, I’m wondering what you mean by “embraced our fat bodies”.
        Do you mean you embraced being a normal healthy weight with feminine curves? I would so love to look like that. When I see women who are too thin and (by other cues and context) it’s probably from excessive dieting and obsession with being thin, I feel sorry for them.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I can’t speak for Oryx, but I’ve been overweight most of my life, and for me “embraced my fat body” would mean both accepting it and trying to actively like it – I am the size I am, I should dress the body I have and feed the body I have (e.g. buy clothes that fit me well, in the right size; eat when I am hungry instead of trying to starve myself). I can always try to eat in a way that’s good for my health and be an active and strong person, but I don’t want to spend my days hating myself or depriving myself. Dieting has proven to be unhealthy and generally unsustainable.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            I’m trying to do the same with my thin body. :)
            I think we all get hurt by our appearance-obsessed culture. I was too thin growing up and got all kinds of judgement. As an adult I filled out a little and maintained a weight the medical establishment thinks is too much because I didn’t want to be too thin. Then I got thin again, not by choice. Nothing I can do, I just have to work with it.

            1. Anon for This*

              People suck. When my daughter changed her nursing patterns, I lost weight way too quickly. I was 5’8 and 114 pounds. I was sick, and people just told me how great I looked. It was infuriating.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Yes, it really is! The women who are instantly jealous – do they actually want the PTS and health problems that made me thin? – are especially trying!
                On the bright side as I get older I’m more confident about calling them out instantly. Look out, jealous jerks! :)

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah. I’ve told this story before, but during one of our coffee breaks a coworker who’d been absent for 3 months returned to work, several dress sizes smaller than she had been before her absence. We have long vacations, although usually not quite that long, so her absence passed without comment but a few people complimented her on how great she looked and didn’t really notice her rueful smile.

                  When this had gone on for a few weeks, and I certainly didn’t always sit at her table or take my break at the same time she did, and someone said that again, she got a bit frustrated and said something like “I’m glad to be back and that you think it’s great that I’m back, but please stop commenting on my weight.” Then, when everyone’s eyes were on her, she took her wig off. She had been away for chemotherapy. Most people looked rueful and a few of the worst offenders apologized to her, but I hate the idea that you have to come out with your medical history to get people to stop commenting on your weight.

                2. Lizzo*

                  I was VERY thin as a kid and young adult, and am still slim as a not-so-young adult (tall, small frame, also *genetics*), but I am also an athlete with a ravenous appetite. In high school, I dealt with bullying in the form of being accused of being bulimic. Now as an adult, my mother-in-law tries to shame me for eating so much, and eating at non-mealtimes, probably because of her own issues with weight, etc. Sigh. I’m with you, @DJ Abbott–I shut that crap down right away, but it is damn exhausting to have to keep doing it over and over again.

                  I wish we as a society would stop policing each others’ bodies (with the *only* exception being when someone is actively harming themselves, and in that situation, any interventions should be supportive in nature).

                  I especially wish women would stop doing this to other women.

              2. MissBaudelaire*

                When pregnant and having hyperemesis, I lost a scary amount of weight. I was/am already fat so thankfully some of the VERY scary things that could have happened didn’t.

                It was hell to be that sick. It wrecked my teeth. But know what everyone said?

                “You look so good!”

                I felt like shit. I’d rather be fat and feel good and be able to do the things I like to do than be that sick and thinner.

            2. Salymander*

              I was really thin up until I was about 28. There were so many comments about eating disorders and how being too thin was not attractive, starting when I was about 11 or 12. Also lots of comments about how, as a thin person, I was probably obsessed with my looks. It was exhausting.

              Age 29-34 I was kind of medium sized. I was training at a boxing gym, and I was super fit. The comments about how you can be addicted to exercise were annoying, as were the comments that I must certainly be unwomanly/too muscular/slutty/shallow/looking for male attention.

              Age 35+ I had a baby, had numerous health issues and now have a number of minor disabilities that impact my ability to exercise. I have gained weight. Now, I get comments about how I am fat or lazy or eating too much. Some of the people who used to comment about my supposedly too thin body and my too fit body and telling me that I should be less shallow and focused on my appearance are the same ones complaining that I have gained weight. They are also telling me that it is important for women to take care of their appearance. At no time have any of these folks told me that I was spending the exact right amount of effort on my looks or had reached the exact perfect weight. You really can never please people like this and it is so wrong that anyone is expected to even try.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all this! Is there a way you can avoid these very judgy people and hang out with nicer, more supportive people?
                I worked a long time on friendships until I have a great group of supportive friends. It’s completely worth the effort!

                1. Salymander*

                  Well, I was talking mostly about members of my family and work colleagues. I have had friends who behaved like this, but I stopped spending time with them as they were pretty terrible once I got to know them. People who are this toxic about weight and appearance often have a whole smorgasbord of other issues that they are horrible about in addition to weight/appearance. I would rather be alone than with friends like that. I am estranged from the mean family members because they were all just abusive and awful people in so many ways. And after years of putting up with this nonsense I’m no longer working with the horrible colleagues. So, other than the occasional random arsehole, I don’t have that sort of constant, daily soul crushing hatefulness to deal with anymore. So, yeah. Totally worth it. But unfortunately it can be really difficult for a lot of people who are unable to get away from this awfulness right away. It can take years to cut off family and friends who are cruel, and quitting a job is if course always risky and difficult. It is often worth it, but the price can be very high and I think the OP is smart to ask for advice and support while making decisions about how to deal with this cruel, bigoted manager.

              2. Salymander*

                Also, now that I am overweight, the comments are backed up by a systemic bias against fat people. So the comments, already cruel and invasive, are now also a signal that I am seen as less human and less valuable. I am seen by many people as an acceptable target.

                So yeah, some people will always make mean comments. Unfortunately for fat people (like me now) those comments are also just the tip of a really f-ed up iceberg.

              3. Anonybus*

                Most of my ex-coworkers did this exact same routine with me, so I get what an awful, dehumanizing nightmare this must have been. I always got the impression that it was part of a general fixation on bodies and bodies as a marker of social status coupled with a genuinely horrifying conception of other people as not entirely real that made them think this was an ok way to be.

        2. Great Company you should trust*

          I kind of hate when people assume fat people have curves. I still have a very boyish figure – just really fat. I feel like it’s another body issue – let’s celebrate women’s curves! Um, I don’t have any, despite my weight. I resemble a potato really.

          1. Two of Pentacles*

            Yes! I outgrew my already too-tight work clothes during the pandemic, so I took my measurements in order to buy clothes that actually fit! And I discovered that my bust, waist and hip measurements all vary only by 1 or 2 inches, and it seems like most pants have hip and waist measurements have much more dramatic differences. My body’s just not built that way. Sigh.

            I’d never taken my measurements before (probably out of fear) and basically had just been comparing myself to everyone I was seeing around me to “figure out” what size I was. When I actually took the measurements, I’m actually two sizes larger than what I’d been been wearing, and as I type this I’m wearing a new pair of shorts that are actually comfortable rather than cutting into my stomach and legs! Amazing! Just a reminder it’s not your body that’s the problem, it’s the clothing industry.

            1. many bells down*

              Yeah I’ve gained 60 pounds over the last 30 years of my life and I’m still shaped like a Pringles can. I’m going to be a cylinder no matter what; I gain weight pretty much equally everywhere.

            2. Off the rack is a torture device*

              I have the opposite problem – I’m fat with an extreme swing in measurements from bust-waist-hip. Literally three different sizes.

              I’ve embraced made to measure clothes, which means a fair amount of measuring, but also just… that’s my body. This is what my body does and is built like and the clothes need to fit me, not someone else.

              1. basically gods*

                I discovered recently that my measurements are the ideal proportions…as far as the 1890s were concerned. As far as modern clothes, I just accept that some part of me isn’t gonna be fit properly by the clothes.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                With you there. I’m a fat woman over 6 feet tall so nothing in shops fits me. I pretty much live in floor length tailored dresses these days, made with fabric with a lot of give in it.

            3. Danish*

              Honestly it’s amazing how much of a difference wearing clothes that fit your body – rather than your body minus X hypothetical pounds – does for your self confidence. Suddenly I didn’t feel awkwardly stuffed into pants because I wasn’t awkwardly stuffed into pants! Incredible.

              If course, that alone is a but of a privilege; finding clothes off the rack that fit correctly/feel attractive also just gets harder as your size goes up. But it’s definitely my first recommendation for anyone who can– dress the body you currently have.

          2. Quill*

            Same on the curves front, I come from a long line of women built like brick mailboxes.

            I mean I grew boobs eventually but now I’m built like a brick mailbox with boobs that don’t fit into men’s cut clothes. Oh, and shoulders and thighs that don’t fit into women’s clothes.

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              Yes, exactly my issue. I have curves… just not the ones clothing manufacturers expect. Plus I have the shoulders and thighs of a bulldog and I’m quite tall. I like my body just fine, but finding clothes that fit well is difficult.

              I remember being in the high school band and the uniforms were so tight around my shoulders I literally couldn’t hold my flute properly!

          3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            As another Curveless Cassandra, I can only wear elastic waist pants. If I get regular ones that fit my waist, I have a ridiculous amount of extra fabric around my butt and thighs. Even some elastic waist ones assume curvier thighs than I’ve ever had. The relatively recent addition of Lycra/Spandex to fabrics has been the best thing ever for my nether regions. I look better in my clothes now than I ever did, thanks to that bit of stretch that’s the difference between clown pants baggy and my, aren’t we very tidy.

          4. Anonapots*

            SAME! I did not have a waist when I was thin, I especially do not have a waist now.

          5. Sparrow*

            Whereas I am thin but also super curvy. Which clothing manufacturers also don’t believe is a body type that exists.

            1. Anon for this*

              I used to be* thin (ish) but extremely top heavy (though with average ish waist to hip ratio), and bravissimo and asos both make clothes aimed at this body type. On asos search for ‘fuller bust’ or ‘hourglass’.

              *I recently had a breast reduction and now am still top heavy but it’s much easier to find clothes.

              1. Holly Handbasket*

                Seconding bravissimo, their clothes run by clothing size + a curvy measure (so like a UK 8 in a curvy, really curvy or super curvy). I was pretty slim (uk 8) with a very large chest (28HH) and their stuff was perfect.

          6. Pointy's in the North Tower*

            High five in solidarity. I’m built the same way. No waist, not much hip, not much in the chest area. When I’m not in work clothes, I wear men’s shirts because that’s what fits best. I could wear men’s dress shirts for work, but I already get enough side-eye for all the other ways I don’t woman “correctly”, and I’d like to move to a different position one day.

        3. TyphoidMary*

          “normal healthy weight” also means fat for some people.

          Additionally, we don’t actually owe anybody else our good health, and we get to decide how we prioritize our own health.

          One thing I am working on personally is not judging (or feeling sorry for people) based on what I wish I looked like.

          Embracing fat bodies means exactly that–loving and celebrating the people AND their bodies without concern-trolling or comparing our own views of what health looks like.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            It’s not the way they look I feel sorry for, it’s that they are obsessed with diet and thinness and are probably not eating enough. This is clear from things they say, attitudes, and the environment they’re in.

        4. Empress Matilda*

          I’m not Oryx obviously, but I do have some thoughts on this. When I say “embracing [my] fat body,” I mean exactly that – embracing my size 22ish body, and learning to love the things it can do rather than constantly working to make it into something it’s not.

          I also mean rejecting words like “normal” and “healthy weight,” because they’re so subjective. Which is not to say that other people shouldn’t use these words to talk about their own bodies! Just that I don’t allow anyone to use them to talk about *my* body. My “normal, healthy weight” is right where I am now, regardless of BMI.

          1. Autistic AF*

            This is especially true with COVID. I weigh more than I ever have, and a decade ago I was scared of that number. Today, I can breathe, I can move, I can work, and I can (mostly) take care of myself. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.

          2. Koalafied*

            learning to love the things it can do

            This was so key to my own body acceptance journey. In my 20s I started doing a lot of yoga and eventually got into weight training as well (though I have never, ever found cardio exercise to be anything but pure torture). A big part of learning to accept my body was training myself to conceptualize my body as a “doer of things” instead of an “object to be looked at.” Every time I got up into a handstand or pulled off a tricky balance post for the first time, or hit a new PR with weights, or shoot, even more mundane things like being able to carry all my groceries in from the car in one trip, or being able to hit a distant target with an accurate throw when playing with my dog…every time I accomplished something physical that was important to me I would remind myself: this is what my body is for. It’s for doing.

            1. Lizzo*

              I *really* like this. I was just lamenting the “cottage cheese” that has appeared on my thighs recently, but you know what? Those thighs are damn powerful, and they help me get places on my bike. They’ve aged because they’ve been used. (Well, that and poor genetics.)

            2. Okay, great!*

              That is so wonderfully put, thank you. I am going to add that to my mental mantra when feeling down. “My body is a doer of things, instead of an object to be looked at. “

            3. Steph*

              YES. Another way I’ve heard this is “My body is an instrument, not an ornament.” It’s in the book “More Than a Body” and the authors’ social media “Beauty Redefined” account. This mindset has been a game-changer for my internalized fat-phobia and for how I want my kids to grow up living in their bodies.

        5. Mike*

          Your comment suggests that you think only people who are a “normal healthy weight” rather than “too fat” or “too thin” should be okay for their size. What leads you to believe that only people within a certain BMI range have “normal” or “healthy” bodies? It sounds like your personal experience is that you have health issues related to your size, but that’s not the case for everyone.

          I’m not saying this to be super harsh but to point out this is an example of size bias of the non-hateful, somewhat unconscious variety.

        6. Oryx*

          “Do you mean you embraced being a normal healthy weight with feminine curves? ”

          No. I mean I have a very fat body and I’m not ashamed of it nor do I try to hide it.

        7. EmKay*

          “Do you mean you embraced being a normal healthy weight with feminine curves? ”

          Oh, honey. This statement alone has so much fatphobic propaganda embedded in it. I know it’s not on purpose or malicious, so I feel for you xx

          1. Meagl*

            YESSSS.

            I know it’s coming from a good place, but that statement is sooo full of fatphobic language.

            1. Anoni*

              I’m struggling a lot with the original comment. Body shame is a pervasive thing and there is a lot of “too thin” rhetoric, but people who are thin don’t really face the same level of harassment or discrimination that people who are fat do. There is a systemic problem with our culture’s obsession with bodies (especially women’s bodies), but in no way do people who are deemed acceptable (ie thin, despite it being unhealthy or not) deal with the virtue signaling about health, or the spoken and unspoken bigotry. The problem is there, but it’s not just like fatphobia.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                IME this is true of being an adult, but growing up I was harassed constantly for being thin. I constantly heard insults like “puny”, “skinny”, “bony”, “paint her red and white, she’ll look like a thermometer”, and so on.
                It was assumed I was weak because I was thin, and that I didn’t eat enough. Everywhere I went people either insulted me or fussed over me.
                I have concluded our society is critical and cruel and whether you’re fat or thin, there are a lot of people who will go out of their way to make you feel bad about it. :(

                1. Marillenbaum*

                  True, but there are meaningful differences in the systemic experience of bias fat people have that you simply don’t. It’s a bit like when white people complain about being teased for being “too pale” when Black and brown people discuss our experiences of being treated as inherently less attractive/valuable due to our skin color.

                2. KateS*

                  I think it’s important to understand individual bias and experience as opposed to systemic. Yes, people who are thin may receive unkind comments or treatment; however, the size of their bodies are not being oppressed on a system level such as not receiving adequate medical care or attention, not being able to find clothes or furniture, or like this letter, being discriminated against in hiring.

                3. Kal*

                  Being bullied like that is obviously horrible in a lot of ways, but it is a false equivalence. For an example of a systemic effect of fatphobia: because I am fat, my doctor refuses to treat some of my conditions. Instead of trying to treat my migraines appropriately, she jumped immediately to a med that should be given only after you’ve tried other first-line meds and those have failed to help. The reason – the med is known to reduce appetite and she wanted me to lose weight. My appetite is already low, so it made me basically not eat for a month. When I saw her again her first question was if I had lost weight. I hadn’t, but that is really irrelevant to a the question of continuing a med that is causing such an extreme side effect. And that is only one example of many where doctors saw my weight and ignored everything else. This doctor is actually one of the better ones I’ve seen.

                  My size effects nearly every aspect of my life for my entire life. And I’m not even very fat – I’m nearly average for my country in all of my dimensions. I haven’t experienced issues like there not being seats I can fit in or things like that very often, like other fat people do.

                  I do have a bit more weight than my body would naturally want due to medical conditions, but even at my “healthy weight with feminine curves”, society and medicine called me obese and focused on my weight above nearly all else.

                  Embracing my fat body has nothing to do with “embracing being a normal healthy weight with feminine curves”, because that still means defining myself by how society sees me. And framing it the way you did, as though having my body would solve all of the issues you experienced came across as rather insulting, as though you think everything I’ve gone through because of people’s opinions on my size isn’t significant to you. The alternative reading, though, makes it sound like the only people you think could/should embrace their fat bodies are people who are actually already the societally ideal size.

                  I don’t actually believe that you really mean it that way, but it is how it came across to me at first, and likely to the others who have had strong reactions to your comment. I hope this helps you understand why your first comment wasn’t a great thing to say.

        8. ursula*

          Not a huge fan of the “what about thin people” angle of this conversation, when we’re talking about fatphobia. This is a derailment that happens like clockwork whenever fatphobia comes up in internet conversations. I genuinely don’t read malice into this comment, and I can easily believe that there are body image problems and health problems involved in being thinner than you would like to be! That’s messed up, full stop. But you haven’t experienced an institutionalized, society-wide contempt for your very being, which is that’s what we’re discussing here. I doubt thinness has hurt your professional or social opportunities, you know? So I don’t doubt your subjective experience but I think it’s important to understand that it is fundamentally different from the structural impacts of prejudice against fat people. Cf: google BBC’s article “Fat people earn less and have a harder time finding work”.

          1. Starbuck*

            Yeeeeah, as a thin person I can see how you’d pivot to your own body-issues as an attempt to relate to a discussion about fatphobia, but there’s totally a time and a place.

          2. Sam*

            This is a really good point, thanks for bringing it up! Also not trying to call anyone out, but I can’t stand the use of “as a thin person… I feel..” – I’m not really sure what it adds to the conversation to remind people that you’re thin. Maybe I’m twisting it around and being unfair, but it comes off to me as “well, I’m not like you fat people or anything (ew!) but I totally agree.” That said, I think that may be overly harsh as I think people truly mean well, I just hope this gives people the chance to go back and see the potential impact of their words.

          3. Yorick*

            Agreed, this is exhausting. Thin people are privileged in our society. Come on, no manager has found out their employee is thin and started reminding them not to take a long lunch.

            Sure, sometimes a white person pops up on a thread about racial discrimination to say “I have it hard too!” but everyone else rightfully calls them out instead of agreeing to give them that space.

          4. lazuli*

            Yes. Thank you! Body acceptance may run both ways, but discrimination and systemic bias does not.

          5. Anoni*

            Thank you for this. I literally just posted above you about it before I read your comment. This is exactly what I was trying to say.

          6. Beth*

            Yes, definitely. Body shaming happens across a wide spectrum of body types—especially for women, this shit is so deeply linked to misogyny. But fatphobia goes far beyond individual moments of body shaming. It has professional ramifications, it has health ramifications (it’s really hard to get adequate healthcare when “obesity” is the diagnosis and “weight loss” is the prescription for for every symptom), and it has social ramifications. When thin people pull the “people insult me based on my body too” thing, it derails the wider conversation so thoroughly that a lot of people don’t even understand that there is a broader conversation to be had about fatphobia.

          7. Salymander*

            This is a really good point. I mean, I had to put up with nasty comments and unsolicited advice when I was very thin, and it is true that some people will be really horrible no matter what someone looks like. What I have come to realize now that I am overweight is that the shallow, cruel horribleness that is inflicted on fat people is backed up by systemic cruelty and bias, and is therefore much more severe and detrimental to my wellbeing. When I was underweight, people made comments and felt entitled to judge my body. Now that I am overweight, the comments are much more dehumanizing, and the people making those comments are not so easily dismissed. They have a sense of moral superiority that comes from that sort of systemic bias against fat people. Cruel comments are unpleasant for anyone. Unfortunately, when someone is seen as being morally inferior or less than human, those comments are just the tip of the iceberg.

        9. basically gods*

          I mean that I chose to truly love my body, which is generally not what people consider a “normal” or “healthy” weight.
          I chose to buy clothes that fit. I chose to exercise not as a punishment, but as celebration.
          I chose to honor my body by advocating for myself and for others, including those who are even further beyond the considerations of “normal” and “healthy” than I am– I’m mostly able-bodied, and have an hourglass figure, and that has plenty of privileges it comes with.
          I chose to learn the roots of fatphobia, rooted in Puritan moralizing and straight-up racism, and to acknowledge that, frankly, it is so much more than people feeling bad about how they look.

        10. Liz T*

          I think “embracing our fat bodies” means not drawing a firm line between “fat” and “normal healthy weight with feminine curves,” if that’s what you mean.

          Curves aren’t feminine or unfeminine–they’re just curves. Some bodies have then and some don’t. It sounds like you’ve dealt with a history of problematic thinking, so I don’t know what your framework is for what “normal healthy weight” means; some people use that to mean, “you’re fat and need to become smaller, so that you are a ‘normal,’ ‘healthy’ weight,” even if they don’t actually care what “normal” and “healthy” actually mean–they just care about beauty standards. And I’m pretty sure that’s not what Oryx meant!

          I took “embracing our fat bodies” to mean, “My body is fat, yes, FAT, and I love it because it keeps me alive and allows me to do all the wonderful things that I do. It’s my body, and I’m not going to be mean to it.”

    7. Jaybeetee*

      I have a friend I’ve known since high school who was never *hateful*, but always had subtle hang-ups about even slightly overweight people. Combination of factors on his end that probably included coming from a naturally lean family, being raised in a very athletic way, and spending his young adulthood in a particular subculture that tends to be *very* focused on looks.

      Anyway. I’ve been heavy my whole life, and some other friends of ours have gained weight as well. I think just… being around heavier people has helped him understand things better, and I’ve seen his views evolve over the years. I think when he was younger he assumed that anyone could be lean if they were disciplined and had the willpower. Now he knows some very athletic friends who are *still* heavy, and he knows people with disabilities and health issues that can make exercise (or not gaining weight) challenging.

    8. Violette*

      I was able to get out of it, for the most part. Some days it’s an active internal conversation with myself because the “disgust” jumps up automatically (thanks, cultural conditioning!) and I have to actively negate it.

      The same goes for other types of discrimination that were drummed into me over the decades.

    9. UsuallyJustLurking*

      I actually have had a bit of an awakening just today! I’ve been aware of fatphobia in a theoretical sense, of course, but today a few personal narratives have found me (including this letter), and I’ve got a better picture of just how insidious fat phobia can be.

      I realized that I have asked several of my fat friends (I use that term at their request), separately and spaced apart just enough that I didn’t make the connection until now, “Why do people think they can talk to you like that?” I assumed it was because they were nice, open, sweet people, but now I’m sensing the fatphobia underlying it. (The comments that people made to them were not ABOUT their weight, but people tend to be rather audacious with these lovely people.)

      I appreciate the people who share their stories and connect the dots for people like me.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        As a lifelong fat person, sometimes you don’t even know it’s really happening yourself! I don’t think I understood how people treated me differently until I became closer with my best friend, who is a size 2 and very conventionally attractive. Can’t tell you the number of times people (especially men) would initiate a conversation with her and essentially ignore me, even if I was standing right next to her.

        1. KuklaRed*

          I’ve experienced a variation of that – men who struck up conversations with me purely because they were trying to get to my thinner, attractive friend.

        2. Ellery*

          I find myself looking back at my life and childhood and wondering if some of those “well that was weird” moments were actually just fatphobia in action. Like teachers who were just slightly mean or dismissive of me. Or even, like, someone in college who genuinely treated me as dumber and lazier than my thin friends, which I had assumed was because I was a little weirder, but maybe it wasn’t…

          1. Msnotmrs*

            Yes, same. It’s irrevocably colored my perception of pretty much all of my friendships, dating life, etc. At one point, the yoga staff at my studio even got dressed down by one of the managers, because even though I was a member and attended 3x/week, front end staff would regularly ask me, “have you done yoga before?” or if I was a guest of my bestie.

        3. A*

          This. I had no idea how extreme the difference was until I went from 250 lbs down to 98 lbs (I was severely anorexic at that point). Made me realize that when I was larger, people walking by would look THROUGH me – but *surprise!* when I was thin people looked AT me. Not to mention getting all kinds of random free stuff, compliments etc.

          Really hit home when three months prior to a medical episode that lead to me entering into recovery treatment, I was recruited by a modelling agency off the streets. I only worked with them for three months, but made more in those months than I did in the first five years of my professional career combined. Literally only because I was considered conventionally attractive (I am not the most graceful individual, and had zero background in modelling). At the time I thought I hit the lottery, but looking back it was SO messed up and really screwed with my head.

          Ten years later and I’m now ~190 lbs and yup, back to people looking through me. Except now I don’t care because I know how unhealthy and unhappy I was at the other extremes, but my heart breaks everytime I notice the difference in treatment etc. because it means others are still being put through that journey.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oh, yeah, you can’t be fat *and* angry. You have to be Pleasant All The Time. It’s definitely a thing.

        1. UsuallyJustLurking*

          Right! Like, are my friends sweet and pleasant as a reaction to fatphobia? Like you can out-nice bias? I’m happy they are like this because I love them, but damn. I want them to feel like they can yell if it’s deserved.

          1. Anoni*

            It’s the whole “jolly” thing. Fat people are expected to make up for their clear deficiencies in willpower by being “just so nice!”

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Them: “but you’re fat, disabled and a woman so you kinda have to be a nice person!”

              Me: *hurls RJ45 connectors across the room*

    10. Reba*

      You might enjoy (and enjoy sharing) the amazing article “Everything You Know about Obesity is Wrong” by Michael Hobbes. The portraits that accompany it are so wonderful just on their own!

      I already knew that BMI was BS, medicine is prejudiced etc. etc. and still this piece was very, very eye-opening about how fat-phobia works.

    11. kiri*

      I’ve definitely become more aware in recent years (thanks partially to Alison and the commenters here!). I’d also recommend following fat activists on social media – it’s amazing what just seeing a wide variety of body types as you scroll through Instagram (as well as really listening to the diverse perspectives different folks bring) can do to your mindset. Folks like Aubrey Gordon (Your Fat Friend), Lindy West, Megan Jayne Crabbe (BodiPosiPanda), Dani Adriana, Nyome Nicholas-Williams – the list goes on and on and on!

      Also STRONG recommend for Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes’ podcast Maintenance Phase – it’s all about debunking wellness culture, and they’re so smart and amazing and hilarious and dive really deeply into the zap that living in a wellness (and weight) obsessed culture puts on all our heads.

      1. kiri*

        realizing that this is probably not a super helpful solution in the LW’s case (unless they want to steal their boss’s phone and follow a bunch of folks on her Instagram) – but just wanted to share in case others find it helpful!

      2. irene adler*

        Not a fat activist formally, but even Leonard Nimoy published a photography book, “The Full Body Project” to advocate for women of size.

    12. Alexis Rosay*

      My book club read Shrill by Lindy West and one member stated that the book really opened his eyes to weight discrimination. I wasn’t aware that he may have previously had these assumptions, but it was good that he was open to it.

    13. Case of the Mondays*

      I’ve never discriminated against overweight people but never knew the science behind it until reading The Obesity Code. Anyone ever considering dieting should read that first. Otherwise, you may just be wasting your time. The trope that it’s less calories in and more calories out is false.

      1. C*

        “The Obesity Code” is just another low carb intermittent fasting diet. A diet by any other name is still a diet.

      2. Muse of Ire*

        Jason Fung is a nephrologist with no qualifications in nutrition or endocrinology, and his approach is a prescription for eating disorders.

    14. EmKay*

      Only through their own personal experience with becoming fat ‘through no fault of their own’.

    15. Anon for This*

      I grew up with the culturally ingrained attitude that fat people could be not fat if they tried hard enough. I knew some overweight people as a child, but no one who was morbidly obese. They seemed “other” because I didn’t have any personal experience. As an adult, I have morbidly obese friends which helped overcome my social conditioning. I don’t see them as lazy or not caring about themselves like I did when I was younger. I’m also not attracted to fat people, which I’m still not sure how I feel about, but I guess I can’t change what floats my boat.

    16. Jennifer*

      Me! I was never hateful but when I was young I did buy in to some of the stereotypes, likely due to my own issues. Educating myself shifted my viewpoint a lot. But you have to want to learn.

    17. Been There*

      To some degree, yes, I’ve seen a situation like this get better (though I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone’s mind was really changed overall). I was in almost the exact same place as the OP. Everything was great, boss and I had a fantastic relationship. I’m f/t remote so we didn’t meet in person for over 6 months, and the change was night and day. I suspected the reason but wasn’t certain until a few more in-person gatherings where boss regularly told “funny” anecdotes about fat people he’d worked with in the past, and then I was sure.

      I stayed because (1) I liked my job and (2) boss clearly didn’t like his, so I thought he would move on quickly. He didn’t, though, and I ended up working for him for another 3 years. Things did eventually get better but they stayed bad for quite a while first. Eventually I saved the day on some major things and he begrudgingly recognized those, and that opened him up enough to hear me on a few other things that came up (where I was able to point out issues BEFORE a day needed saving), and that eventually turned into some degree of respect for my work.

      It was humiliating to work for him, though. I wish I’d left right away. I wouldn’t ever hold out hope for someone like that to really change.

    18. Hasho*

      I don’t have a lot of hope based on my experience with certified nutritionists and doctors.

      When I was in my 40s, I went from thin to gaining weight at a rapid pace. My doctor lectured me on healthy eating and then insisted that I see a nutritionist, who had me keep a detailed food diary. When I brought it back, she immediately insisted that I “must be lying, because no one could have this food intake and weigh what you weigh.” A second nutritionist insisted the same with the caveat that I “must” not have included my alcohol intake because, “Maybe you don’t know this, but alcohol is high calorie.”

      My doctor advised me to exercise more. I then got very sick for two weeks and barely ate and managed to put on 5 pounds in those two weeks. Only then did my doctor agree to a thyroid test and gee. What do you know? Turns out I have Hashimoto’s Disease.

      Even with medication, careful food intake and exercise, I have lost no weight. The last endo I saw also insisted I need to exercise more even though my job kept me very physically active.

      So it is hard for me to feel hopeful when I have had these fat-shaming attitudes from people in the medical profession.

      1. Koalafied*

        Ughhh, food diaries. In my experience the only thing that comes out of logging everything you eat is that you become obsessed with food. You’re always thinking about what your next permissible food intake is going to be and whether it’s going to have the right nutritional profile to balance out what you’ve already eaten and what kind of food might be high enough protein to hit your protein goal without going over your calorie goal and what you need to eat if you want to have a snack or dessert without blowing your daily diet….etc etc.

        When I was younger a few friends and I would use MyFitnessPal off-and-on to track our food, sometimes at the same time, but sometimes only one or two of us would be using it while the others were taking a break. And it was so obvious when you were in the “not currently logging food” phase, that the people in the “currently logging food” phase seemed to talk about calories and nutrients and other diet-related topics 10x more, like it had crowded out all the room in their brains for other thoughts…and after noticing my friends doing it when I wasn’t logging, when I would start logging again, I was more aware that I was doing the same thing!

        I am firmly anti-food diary these days. If there’s actually a real problem with what or how much you’re eating (and in a lot of cases, there isn’t), you don’t need a diary to figure it out. You know if you overeat because of emotional triggers vs eating a lot because you’re hungry without having to log your calories, and if you want to stop doing that, you can work on alternative coping methods for those emotional triggers and (re-)learning to eat intuitively in response to your body’s hunger signals. (Or, you know, you could decide that fixing your emotional eating problem is not the highest priority in your life right now, because there’s probably other stressors in your life that are driving the emotional eating, and you might feel better served by tackling those stressors and giving yourself permission to self-medicate with food in the meantime.)

    19. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’ve fluctuated between overweight and obese for most of my adult life. One of my coworkers made a nasty comment about another large colleague, and I said, “Hey, watch it! In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m fat, too.” She responded, with a surprised look, “But you don’t ACT fat, so people don’t think about it.” I never figured out quite what to think about that, if it was a compliment or a veiled insult.

      1. basically gods*

        The cognitive dissonance is so wild to watch! People will say the most hateful things about fat people, and then bend over backwards to try to justify that they weren’t talking to or about me.
        Nah, I heard what you said about whatever other fat person, and I know that the only thing that keeps you from treating me the same way is that you’ve come up with some way to excuse me as being “good”. But if I slip from that, I’ll get the same treatment.

      1. Aldabra*

        Oh, I attended a Zoom workshop with those two women last spring! My side gig is cycling safety instructor, and I work with all sorts of people, not just elite athletes. The workshop gave me a lot of great information about how to help fat cyclists – from how to improve their actual bikes, to non-fat-shaming scripts. I wish that sort of thing could be more prevalent in all industries! I really just want everyone to be physically and mentally comfortable riding a bike if that’s something they’re interested in.

    20. Robin Ellacott*

      I think I’ve become much more AWARE of it and how omnipresent it is… when I was younger I would get outraged at people hurling abuse, but laughed at the horrible jokes and probably judged people a lot. And I was guilty of doing the “well I get teased for being skinny, it’s the same thing” nonsense.

      Thanks to reading more about it, and podcasts like Maintenance Phase I am now seeing this kind of discrimination and prejudice all over the place (sitcoms! things my parents say! good lord!!!!) and am horrified. It really is EVERYWHERE, people don’t even bother to try to hide it, and much of what we think we know about health/weight/eating was always totally wrong anyway.

    21. yep*

      I’ve certainly seen a lot of people have their eyes opened to fatphobia over the years which has changed their behaviours for the better.

      However, more often than not, it has been a very forceful opening of the eyes in question, usually via them, or someone very close to them, becoming heavier (and thus directly impacted by fatphobia and its terrible impacts). And, usually, the person has become heavier due to an injury, medication, surgery, pregnancy and after-birth complications and/or being unable to shift the normal post-baby weight with ease (because who can!), etc, so the circumstances all round were quite unpleasant and stressful for the person who had become heavier.

      I’ve always been relatively slim-to-average in weight, but am busty and have a naturally hourglass figure (which can look “fat” in certain types of clothes and never fails to attract unwanted attention, no matter how “covered up” I am), so I can relate first hand to nasty body-specific appearance assumptions that people make, including in the workplace.

      I have never understood this behaviour in some people. Being busty or fat or tall or having blue eyes or dark hair means exactly zilch about someone’s skill or intelligence, especially in the workplace, just like being flat-chested or skinny or short or having brown eyes or red hair means exactly zilch.

      (Obviously, in physical jobs, your strength and fitness can impact your performance, but plenty of skinny people are not strong or fit, while plenty of “fat” people actually are. Two of the physically strongest people I have ever worked with were a skinny, short dude and a lovely woman who was five-foot-six in heels and quite heavy.)

    22. tommy*

      hi fish,

      yes. i’ve been a fat activist for 35+ years and i have seen people change their minds. fat politics can change people’s minds when their minds are reasonably open — and sometimes even when their minds start out closed.

      fat politics isn’t a very well-known social justice movement — but it’s here now, and it’s been here for decades, and it’s here to stay. :)

  5. NotAlone*

    No advice but know you’re not alone! I exceeded all my targets, broke new records, got glowing reviews from managers, volunteers I supervised, and still my grandboss could barely stand me because of my higher than ‘normal’ weight and I know it cost me a promotion. It was very, very demoralizing and honestly made it hard to look for a new job because that’s all I could think of …

    1. High Score!*

      This is sad but it would explain why nearly all people in upper management positions are thin. Until recently I just assumed it was because people in higher positions had less time to eat, ate less, moved more and could afford personal trainers and better food. But reading these comments, it is sad.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        Oddly enough, the phrase High Muckety-muck comes from a Chinook jargon word that means ‘plenty to eat’.

      2. mreasy*

        Yes! It is not just more money for dieting – it’s also constant discrimination when it comes to promotions & hiring in the first place. The OP’s story is awful, but this is happening at workplaces all over the world every day to fat employees.

      3. Beth*

        There’s a huge class aspect to weight in the modern-day US. I suspect it comes from multiple avenues. As you point out, people who are conventionally attractive—thin, white, able-bodied, etc—are more likely to get promoted to higher-level, better-paying positions.

        But also, on the flip side, people who have high income are more able to pay for e.g. someone to make them food that’s tailored to their individual nutritional needs; a really good nutritionist to help them figure out what those individual needs are, given their genetics, lifestyle, medical history, etc.; a personal trainer; access to basically whatever physical activities they’re interested in, even if it needs special gear or trainers; access to surgery or drugs to cause weight loss if the weight their body settles at isn’t what they want it to be; a tailor to make sure all their clothes both fit perfectly and look slimming; enough time off, both from work and from household chores like cleaning and cooking, to spend significant time on weight loss centered activities; etc. Not all of those are necessarily healthy options, but they do make it easier to become and stay thin, if that’s the goal.

  6. LifeBeforeCorona*

    If you can, keep a record of every positive thing she said before the picnic and everything that she says afterward. It may help if the workplace starts to become toxic. Also, talk to your co-workers if you can and keep any records of your interactions with them, it’s possible that she might be sending out signals to them that you are not reliable. Written records will be in your best interest here because it’s next to impossible to prove weight discrimination otherwise.

    1. H*

      THIS as well. Keep emails, screenshots of texts with positive feedback… screenshots and emails from others with positive feedback. That is what I have done in the past when I suspected someone was after me in the workplace for petty reasons and not my actual work or job perfomance.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. Show the trend before/after, especially if it’s about the same thing and she did a 180 after the picnic. I would also keep an ear out for comments from coworkers or a change in attitude from them. Definitely address it with her, though. That way if you go to HR, you can show you tried to deal with it at a lower level first.

    2. fish*

      But, weight is not a protected class. I hate to say it, but even if she does prove weight discrimination, is that necessarily going to get her anything?

      1. H*

        I wasn’t saying to record discrimination but to record kudos and positive feedback so she can be like “Interesting because according to this email on April 30th you said ‘Rebecca, amazing work with this client'”. Basically she can have a paper trail of positive feedback on her actual work which will make her boss look foolish.

        1. pancakes*

          The boss already looks foolish. Talking about an employee’s body this way — or anyone’s, for that matter — is not a good look at all. (Even when the employee isn’t within hearing range, but especially when they are). I’m not sure having a paper trail of additional foolishness would lead the boss to agree that she has indeed been foolish. People who know they’ve done something wrong don’t invariably want to do better when it’s pointed out to them, and don’t invariably agree they were in the wrong, either. Many dig their heels in and insist their behavior was fine, or try to change the subject, or act as if criticizing them is somehow horribly unfair, etc. I’m not trying to suggest that it’s never helpful to document this sort of thing; I just want to say that it’s not necessarily going to make the boss behave better, even if there’s a lengthy and scrupulous record of terrible behavior on her part.

          1. EmKay*

            The point is not to ‘convince’ the boss to stop being a discriminatory bigot. It’s to shine light on the problem so that boss knows that OP – and everyone else – sees that they are one. Bigots rarely like the spotlight.

            1. pancakes*

              I understand the idea and certainly don’t disagree that bigots don’t like the spotlight, but I’m not sure I follow on the practicalities. Who is the paper trail shown to?

              1. Anoni*

                It can be your own reference point if it becomes a persistent issue. I have a friend who has had to rebut a PIP and was able to write a comprehensive response because she kept records of what was said to her and when. Even if she had just had a meeting with her manager about inconsistencies in feedback, it would have helped her to have those notes. It’s not like the OP will be entering them in as Exhibits A, B, and C, but it could be useful if she meets with her boss to discuss the shift and the boss asks for examples.

      2. kittymommy*

        US? It’s not federally but it may be on a state or local level. And it doesn’t hurt to have the information if the LW’s location ends up being one of those areas.

        1. Molly Mitchell*

          I’m pretty sure the only places in the US with weight discrimination laws are a couple cities and the state of Michigan.

        2. mreasy*

          It may be protected at the company per the handbook (weight is protected at my company).

      3. H*

        On the other hand though, many companies have their own separate code of conduct and some professions also have a code of ethics as well so she could possibly could make a case in that regard to HR or manager’s boss.

      4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Laws change. Things that might be tolerated today might just not be tolerated next year. But also, If the OP has a disability that is or can be comorbid with weight, she actually might have a case for illegal discrimination.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. Given that in the US there are about 70 million obese people and 100 million overweight people, out of a total population of approx. 330 million, fatphobia and discrimination affect a huge percentage of the population.

      5. Snailing*

        (US perspective) It’s not a protected class but could very well fall under an anti-bullying/general harassment policy within the specific company or state law! Still worth documenting because a good HR person will shut this down real fast even if it’s not due to protected class.

        1. Sami*

          It isn’t federally, unfortunately. It is, I think, in some municipalities and my state of Michigan.

      6. Archaeopteryx*

        Even if she can’t use the proof of the turnaround to get anything from HR, it is protection against being gaslit by the boss. And it may even provide her boss a wakeup call, who knows. But most importantly, OP won’t start wondering if she was imagining it.

      7. Jackalope*

        I guess my question here is whether the OP has to mention the weight issue at all if she goes to HR. Leaving that out entirely, she has a boss who was giving her regular positive feedback, and then all of a sudden started changing things, being colder to her, more willing to scrutinize her work, sending reminders of things that weren’t an issue before… I think the first step might be to go over that with the boss, but if your boss just suddenly starts treating you unfairly and coming down hard on you for no reason, isn’t that an issue you could raise with HR potentially? I haven’t gone to HR for something like that before, and I know it could be hard to prove, but just because it’s not (probably, depending on the OP’s location) illegal to discriminate against someone for weight doesn’t mean that companies are okay with their managers being jerks to the people they manage.

    3. Alsobiggerthanexpected*

      There’s no way the lw’s employer is going to start an investigation based on something they allegedly overheard in a conversation. Who’s to say the lw heard what the manager said correctly? How would HR even go about this?

      1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Probably not.
        But it never hurts to have a paper trail, and documenting might help the LW not gaslight herself, if that makes sense.

      2. Yorick*

        Well, many hostile workplace investigations probably do come about based on something somebody overheard, so that’s not really a good take on this.

        1. Yorick*

          yes I know this isn’t a protected class but the fact that she overheard the boss isn’t the reason she might not get anything from going to HR

      3. Anoni*

        That’s what HR is supposed to know how to do. It’s not OP’s responsibility to figure out the logistics; if the company has a policy about discrimination based on weight or appearance, and the OP feels confident that HR will take it seriously, then the OP can approach HR.

    4. WhoKnows*

      +1 on this. If you can show a clear pattern and talking to your boss directly doesn’t change anything, OP, you should go to HR with the documentation. Most companies will not want to deal with a manager like this – if they’re discriminating against you just after seeing your body, who else might they be discriminating against?

  7. Message in a Bottle*

    I don’t think there is a way this boss could come clean with the truth–if her change is due to your weight–without it becoming discriminatory. Also, even if it wasn’t, it was kind of mean to say and no one wants to willingly out themselves on being mean.

    I would just give her what she wants and keep doing exemplary work. That seems to be the thing to do in many situations. You could also keep looking for another job which is disheartening to say the least.

    But you have a job, for now which is something! I’d really try to hearken back in my mind to all the positive things she said in the past. I’d even mention it again, “I still refer back to your feedback on my careful attention to detail with the Avengers report. That really made my day in March!” Maybe not now during Alison’s script conversation but later, very casually.

    Sometimes you have to remind people that they were kind and supportive and could be again. But gosh, what a lot of effort. Sorry you have to go through this at all.

    1. Allypopx*

      I don’t think the goal is to get the boss to admit it to OP, I think the goal is to get the boss to admit it to herself and realize she’s treating OP unfairly.

      1. JSPA*

        Message in a Bottle is pointing out that most people ward off that level of self-knowledge, getting meaner and more reactive in the process, if it requires facing up to, “I’m a bigoted jerk.”

        If the boss cares to climb down, giving a bit of space to do so gracefully can work…but more often, there’s no intention to climb down, and the space is time wasted. No harm trying, I suppose.

        1. Message in a Bottle*

          Thanks, JSPA. This doesn’t seem to be a boss given to being introspective and doing that internal work. And the power dynamics in place and the fact that she said this at a work event? It’s a risk to have the conversation when it might not change anything.

          But it might. Just be careful, OP. And yes, dust that resume off again. You’re good at your job and deserve better than this. The things she said about your work earlier are all still true. Please remember that.

  8. Persephone Mongoose*

    Oh OP, this is dreadful. I’m so sorry. Alison’s scripts are on point and I hope you use them — and send us an update if you do!

    No other advice, just solidarity from a fellow overweight worker.

  9. Vicki*

    I just have no words I am so sorry OP not only is that a horrid thing to hear in general it’s not something you personally want to be spread around to other people too! Urgh, as others have said I’d only stay there as long as it takes you to find another job. It’s not worth your time and effort to work with someone who’s going to be that derogatory to you and behind your back too.

  10. Jubilance*

    Your boss is a jerk. At a minimum I’d start documenting all of this, sending emails to create a papertrail to document due dates, performance, etc. And if it got worse, I’d go to HR.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was surprised that this wasn’t suggested in Alison’s response. There is always a risk going to HR, but this is really obvious discrimination and I’d think HR would want to hear about it. Even if it isn’t discrimination in the legal sense, it is still appalling and HR sould not want this to go further.
      The OP heard the manager commenting on her weight, then the manager started policing the OP’s lunch break, plus the complete change in attitude toward the OP…it’s really a straightforward case to give to HR.

      1. Debbie*

        Alison did address going to HR. . . .she stated that weight is not a protected, class, etc., etc.

    2. JSPA*

      It’s not illegal in most parts of the US to be a jerk, or a bully, or to discriminate on the basis of anything other than a few protected characteristics. You can be hostile all day long, outside of those topics, without being charged for creating a hostile environment.

      Plus it’s not terribly rare for HR to function as the root of anti-fat bias in a company. (They’re often the source of the bad sort of “wellness” initiatives, for example.)

  11. SnarkyMonkey*

    I don’t know you. I don’t know your work. I do know that you are deserving of good things. Just because you are. Don’t let this IDIOT define your worth, work or otherwise.

    1. Liz T*

      Unfortunately this idiot does greatly impact OP’s quality of life. OP said nothing about their inner feelings of self-worth so let’s not condescend with unrelated platitudes.

  12. Its Not You*

    This is horrible and I’m so sorry your boss is treating you this way! I wanted to write in so that you know you’re not crazy. Trust your instincts! I once had a boss who started in with asking for daily lists of what I was working on right after my grand boss started me on diversity initiatives. Micromanaging can be a misplaced power grab and you should feel totally justified defending against it.

  13. Oryx*

    OP I am so sorry you had to overhear that super gross comment. It’s unacceptable to think that, let alone voice it to a third party.

    And as a fat woman, that comment re: your lunch hour made my hackles rise. The implication behind it and connecting weight with food consumption is also super gross. (But, also, as long as you are sticking to your 30 minute lunch period, who cares what or how much you eat? That’s nobody’s business.)

    1. Batty Twerp*

      During a ‘bad’ period I comfort ate. You should have seen how much I could put away in 20 minutes. A 30 minute lunch period just gave me ten extra minutes to feel bad.

      It’s an incredibly rude and condescending thing to say and I hope some of these comments and advice (over and above Alison’s) helps.

    2. Maggie*

      I’d be saying, “You’ve mentioned that twice now, and I don’t believe I’ve ever taken more than my half hour for lunch. Is there something I’m missing?”

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        THIS. Do this, OP, if she keeps up these comments. Be sure to adopt an air of complete bafflement and not having any idea what the issue is. I can just about guarantee that she won’t like being in the position of having to explain herself, which is a good thing. With any luck, she’ll back off on this particular piece of crap behavior, which will be one less crap thing you have to deal with.

        Curing another person’s fat phobia is almost certain to be a losing battle, but you might be able to make some headway with specific pieces of behavior like this while you’re looking for another job. Good luck!

    3. Autistic AF*

      I made sure to take a half-hour walk at the place that mandated an hour lunch (they were fatphobic in addition to other flavours of toxicity). Frustratingly ironic.

    4. Salty Bisexual*

      Same here, the lunch comment made me go “oh hell no” out loud. OP’s boss couldn’t be more transparent about her motivations if she tried.

    5. Liz T*

      Also a half-hour lunch break is pretty stingy, so this employer sounds not great already!

  14. Loredena*

    I have been job hunting somewhat casually for the past year. I am contacted by enthusiastic recruiters and have initial calls that go very well with great feedback. And radio silence after video interviews. You have my sympathy because this is absolutely a thing. :(

    1. Allypopx*

      I’ve started scanning staff pages before I apply to see if they have any plus size folks on the staff. I’m just not up for being that particular diversity hire.

      1. Michael Valentine*

        Yes, I totally get it. My company made some changes in their hiring practices, and a side effect is that there is more body size diversity now. Before then, however, I was the only overweight person on staff, and I wonder if candidates ever noticed.

        My husband just told me that when he was looking for a job, he scanned for signs that a place wasn’t friendly to overweight people. If “fitness” or “group runs” came up more than once on a company’s recruiting website, he might apply but assume he’d be filtered out during the interview.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Yeah, I like to ask companies in interviews if they have any kind of ‘whole team goes to the gym/hiking/running’ ethos at their place.

          Because as a fat disabled woman I’m not gonna fit in there.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            I wouldn’t want to be there either for a number of reasons. Even though I’m thin, I’m not athletic and couldn’t do 10-mile bike rides, all-day hikes, full gym workouts, etc. I’ve figured out what exercise works for me and stick to that.
            Even more important, I use my time off for seeing my friends and things I want or need to do, and I’m not spending it on forced fun with coworkers!

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        That really sucks hard, that it’s even remotely a ”diversity” thing or that you should feel that have to factor it in.

        I’m actually very embarrassed that we as humans are in fact asshats to this extent. I’ve been bigger and smaller along the way, but generally within what society deems ”normal” clothing size and thus I have never had this to contend with. It never crossed my mind that it was a thing, but of course it is, because people are just beyond horrendous.

      3. sb51*

        As a fat person—I’ve attended a bunch of things where they were taking photos for recruiting. I’ve never seen myself show up in the materials. And at least once I realized they’d put all the fat people in the balcony where if we did appear, it’d be as heads over the railing rather than entire people.

        We do have a few larger people in leadership so things could be worse but I always wonder when getting criticism/feedback how much of it is due to being a: female b: fat c: the kind of loud/awkward conversational rhythms (my job is not customer-facing) that comes with adhd. Versus anything I can actually change.

      4. Absurda*

        Yeah, I once interviewed for an internal transfer as a trainer. The manager told me she didn’t think my background (doing all the things I’d train people on) gave me the “credibility” to be a trainer (I didn’t have sales experience, but the trainer did system and process training, not sales training). It wasn’t until later that I realized 80% of the people on her team were just like her: thin, fashionable, young etc.

        Don’t know if it was fatphobia or a blind spot but she did gravitate toward hiring people who were like her.

    2. Cj*

      These comments make me sad. I just don’t pay any attention to what people weigh (generally including myself, until I started reading these comment), and to see so many people commenting that it has affected their career makes me hurt for them.

    3. HS Teacher*

      As a black woman with an Irish name, I have definitely had situations where I’m treated much differently by people after they meet me in person. It’s disheartening, but I know that says everything about them and nothing about me. Unfortunately, I know I have lost employment opportunities, so it’s not a harmless thing.

  15. Courtney*

    I’d look for a new job just because I’d never trust a manager who talked shit about my appearance to another member of the team (presumably someone she also manages!) at a work event. Even if she weren’t treating you differently now, no one has time or patience for mean girl cliques in adulthood. That comment alone is bad on so many different levels and would be a dealbreaker in my book.

    1. Ms. Anon*

      Yes, the fact that a manager said that outloud to someone she manages (I presume), in a place where she could be overheard, does not speak well of this person at all. I had the very unpleasant experience of working under someone like this. He’d badmouth everyone to everyone else.

  16. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Your boss sucks.

    I tend to be more upfront about lousy things I’ve heard people say or seen them do. I’m not rude or confrontational, but I’m direct. That’s why I prefer telling your boss what you overheard. It calls out her terrible behavior but also puts her on notice. If you can link that comment and her subsequent behavior together so can others, and she might think twice about how she’s micromanaging you. Alison’s advice about the possible backlash is relevant, and you are the best judge of the situation.

    But your boss behaved terribly and should be held accountable for it, even indirectly.

  17. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Ugh.
    The only body part that should matter is your brain. Sorry you’re dealing with this, and I’d starting looking at everything your boss does with a jaundiced eye now.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I definitely agree with this sentiment. I’m also overweight and as long as it doesn’t impact my ability to do my job, it’s no one’s problem.

      It really should be what is the job and what is needed physically or otherwise to get it done?
      If it’s an office computer based job – can the person see the screen? do they need any accommodation?
      Can they answer the phone? yes. Okay, great.
      Unless you are hiring a model or actress where the physical look IS the job, this just shouldn’t come into it.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        Unfortunately there are far more jobs than just actor or model that hinge on being “presentable”. Basically, any customer facing role where you are providing a protracted personal service (so this includes wait staff, but not retail checkouts; if your client interaction lasts more than 2 minutes you need to be phenomenally good at your job if you aren’t a perfect size 8 and look good in heels – odd how this standard disproportionately affects women /sarcasm).

        1. JSPA*

          The law very explicitly does not allow companies to discriminate on the basis of race, just because some customers may be bigots; yet we allow people to discriminate on the basis of body size, because some customers may be bigots.

          If someone is selling me anything–shoes, air freshener, sportscars, underwear, electronics, pet food, evening gowns–the goal is to fit me up with something that works for my needs. Not to provide visual stimulation for whatever percentage of people find only a certain very narrow set of bodily features potentially attractive.

  18. Ms. Anon*

    Is mentioning this to HR remotely a good idea? HR can be terrible–sorry HR people, but talking to HR can be a disaster–but is this something worth flagging? At my company, it *might* be. In a very light way as in, “At an in-person event, I heard my boss say this, and she’s been treating me very differently ever since.” But that will get back to the boss, presumably, so I’d only do it if verbiage on the company website stresses inclusivity, or, honestly, if the HR director is also large and might be an ally.

    1. Fatty, MPH*

      Because weight is not a protected class in most locations across the US, I think going to HR could make OP *more* vulnerable to harassment and retaliation. Michigan, DC, and San Francisco are exceptions to this, as places where “height and weight” are listed as protected classes in anti-discrimination law, and I believe there are also a few smaller jurisdictions. In those places, Boss has done something unquestionably HR-actionable by creating a hostile workplace for OP based on weight. Elsewhere? It is totally legal to screen people out for jobs based on body size, refuse to promote them based on body size, etc. There may be some industries and some organizations where this wouldn’t fly — but for the most part, I think this is a situation where Alison’s maxim “HR works for the company, not the employee” really applies. The law is just not on OP’s side and even if she is somewhere like Michigan, the fat liberation movement also doesn’t have the assembled resources (funding, lawyers, legal strategy) to litigate employers into compliance, which has historically been how anti-discrimination law has been enforced at first.

      This is my perspective as a fat person and fat liberation activist who earned a Master of Public Health studying the social epidemiology of weight stigma (how weight stigma functions as a social force to make fat – and sometimes thin – people’s health worse, ironically causing most of the medical issues attributed to large size).

      1. M2*

        All of this.

        Someone I know as an acquaintance in HR (at a well known organization) told me this exact thing. “We can screen people out if they are fat or overweight.” It is totally gross and discriminatory. I would still document and send to HR so you have a paper trail. I would hope the LWs company would not tolerate this!

      2. RC Rascal*

        +1. I have seen HR departments have difficulty following employment law in cases where the employee is a member of a legally protected class and the law was on the employee’s side. It is extremely unlikely HR advocates for an employee on a situation where she is not legally protected.

      3. Ms. Anon*

        Yeah, weight is not a protected class where I am but my company would probably want to know this. BUT… ick, it’s one of those things that would depend entirely on who you got to talk to and blegh that’s just so wrong.

    2. Roci*

      I would only go to HR about this if HR/company culture is generally responsive to issues of bullying, non-protected harassment, etc. any issue that is not “what are we legally required to do” but “what would make a good workplace for everybody”.

      Those do exist and would absolutely step in to mediate. But if OP is new to this company they may not know which their company is yet.

  19. Cj*

    Removed — I know you meant well but let’s not assess bodies like that here, even our own. – Alison

  20. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Keep documenting your positive feedback and your achievements, and use those things as you find a new and better boss!

    In fairness, it’s possible that the person who heard your boss make that remark was well aware of how bad it was, and thought less of your boss for having said it. I know I would look down on someone who fat-shamed their colleagues.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Yes, had this happen. In my personal experience there’s been an upswing in the ‘fat people are just lazy and have no motivation’ mindset since the whole Covid thing started (coupled with ‘it’s your fault you’re high risk since you could just eat less/exercise’ or worse). I’ve had to fight a lot in my career against people who’ve assumed fat = bad lazy person.

    So, advice wise definitely follow Alison’s suggestions as to trying to get your boss to say exactly why they suddenly don’t trust you, but also:

    Do what you need to do to shore up your own mental defences. I’ve done a lot of reading on Captain Awkward (who has great advice for combating fatphobia) after a few too many interactions with fat shamers. I’ve got a whole notebook full of things I’ve write down that I can do/am good at/am exceptionally good at that I like to read when I feel that people are having a go at me for my weight (again).

  22. Chickiepunk*

    Is there a reason OP shouldn’t go to HR to report it or at least “ask how to handle this” so at minimum it goes on record?

      1. Chickiepunk*

        Ugh. You make great (and evidence based) points.
        Also, fellow MPH here (go public health!)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Weight isn’t a protected class and if HR shares the boss’s feelings, it could make things a lot worse.

      I’d start with Alison’s scripts and see if things change. Fatphobia is so ingrained in our culture that it may be unconscious bias on the boss’s part and bringing up the change in feedback might be enough to make it stop.

      As a fat person, I’d be torn between looking for a new job because I would feel like I could never trust my boss again and busting my ass to be the absolute best and most competent person ever as an eff you.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The worst anti-fat drivel I ever had said to me at work was from the HR person. Faced with my boss complaining about the time I’d taken off due to my health reasons she looked me up and down, said “lose weight, you’d be healthy and need less time off” and gave me a leaflet about dieting.

        Did not stay at that firm.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’m not even surprised. I remember being a young teen and having gained a bit of weight going through puberty. My family doc was like “you need to lose weight” and after the appointment, I looked at my mom was like “WTF he’s like 400 lbs how dare he tell me I need to lose weight”. And then I switched doctors.

          My blood pressure tends to run a bit low and all my bloodwork numbers have come back in the normal range, so despite being fat, I am actually relatively healthy but no one ever believes that.

        2. squidss*

          The most fatphobic thing I’ve ever heard anyone say out loud at my current workplace was an HR person during an anti-discrimination training session. I’m glad that my co-workers and I (of varying sizes) were not ok with it.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Weight isn’t a protected class, but if the OP has an underlying health condition then that medical condition can be protected. But the OP probably would have mentioned it in their letter if that was the case.
        But I’d hope that HR is aware that it would only take one post on Facebook to create a PR nightmare for the company.
        I seems icky to suggest it, but I wonder if there someone in HR of a similar size that may sympathize with the OP?
        You’d think that this grossness ends once we escape high school. It shouldn’t be there either, but grown-ups shouldn’t be petty like children. I’m sad for the OP and I’m sad for humanity.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Based on my professional experience, any attempt to take this to HR will not end well for the OP. HR managers will always back the manager because they see that person as a professional peer and also because they back the company, not the employee. I personally was involved in a situation where my boss called me a “ harpy” in front of the HR VP and she supported him and his use of sexist language. ( I am a female manager). HR will always back their peer.

      3. Cj*

        The fact that the boss made a comment to somebody else at the picnic makes it seem like it is not unconscious bias, but that she is very aware of peoples weight.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I meant unconscious bias in how she is now treating the OP.

          And I agree it’s unlikely, but fatphobia is truly insidious, so it’s possible.

  23. CatPerson*

    So terrible! I almost would lean toward calling her out on it as in Alison’s last suggestion. At least then she would know that you’re on to her? This is a tough situation and I hope we have an update from you later! Good luck.

    1. Bostonian*

      From experience, managers who find out you’re “on to them” either double down on their criticism and discrimination OR are more sneaky about it.

      OP’s best bet here is to ask for specific feedback and be scrupulously compliant: don’t give manager any fodder. It’s hard. But that’s the best way to survive until being able to find another role.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Agreed. The best strategy at work is to take people at their word, even if you are sure there’s something else going on. If your boss asks for what you did all day, provide that. Ask for feedback, saying “In the past, you’ve been pleased with my performance but that seems to have changed. What can I do to address that?” It’s ridiculous, but she’s hoping you won’t go along with it.

        You can’t call the boss out on bias as she will dig her heels in and do her best to find something wrong to prove (if only to herself) she has no biases. If she can’t come up with legitimate critiquing, she may just back away. Then you need to decide if you need to job search because her bias will, ultimately, hold you back. But leave on your own terms.

  24. AnonEmployee*

    OP, definitely try to get clarification around where this is coming from, especially if you’ve never been asked to do/been reminded of either of these for the last three months you’ve been working. Unfortunately, your suspicions might be right, but force her to acknowledge it and absolutely shoot it to HR should she reveal anything that is even remotely discriminatory.

  25. Michael Valentine*

    I’m so sorry. I’ve never dealt with those kinds of comments at work (I definitely have in my personal life!), but if I did, I’d probably say something about what I overheard. I’m in a place in my life, however, where I wouldn’t care about the consequences of speaking up, and I acknowledge not everyone can be so bold when a paycheck is on the line. Hugs to you, this is tough!

  26. kittymommy*

    LW< this sucks and I'm so sorry this is happening to you. If it was me I'd check into whether or not you live in an area that has a law banning weight discrimination and/or if it rises to the level of a medical condition. A (very quick) Google search came back with Michigan and Washington as states where obesity an/or weight discrimination is illegal and that there may be some local laws as well.

    This is a horrible situation and your manager is horrible as well.

  27. Funfetti*

    I’m sorry this happened to you but in a weird way she did you a favor in terms of revealing her true self to you. Can you imagine if you *didn’t* over hear her? You’d be left totally wondering what the heck was happening. You at least know now there is something else to her and can plan/strategize accordingly.

    I hope this doesn’t sound to off, but what helps me sometimes is looking at anyone “revealing” themselves to be a jerk – by being a jerk – actually does me a favor. I know who they are now and I can react to them as such.

    This is a fine approach for the short term, but in the long term – truly assess how much you want to deal with her as a boss. Does she rectify her behavior or not? Is this something that stresses you out constantly unsure if she is giving you demerits because of your weight? You alone can decide what you can tolerate/accept. I am sorry this is happening and I hope you find a good way to see if this will continue to impact you and/or if you’re able to effectively address it with her – then take your next steps from there.

  28. CatPerson*

    Also, document the positive feedback, and continue to document any negative feedback.

  29. Polecat*

    I wish I had some good advice, but this woman is so awful, that I’m not sure I have any insight that can help. Just keep in mind that it’s not you, it’s her. And you’re not imagining it, it’s absolutely 100% because of your weight. The fact that she saw your body size and is now concerned that you’re going to be taking long lunches, presumably because you can’t stop eating, I mean how much more obvious could she be?
    I think the suggestions to focus on the things she’s asking for, rather than what you know to be the reason behind it, is good. calling your boss out on fat phobia is not the way to go, not if you want to stay employed. For your own sake, staying in this job a year before moving on would be ideal.
    It may be that her reaction will fade over time. Once she gets over the horror of having hired an overweight person (GASP), she may calm down and go back to focusing on your work.
    I am sorry this is happening to you. I was in the workforce for 30 years as an overweight woman. I am out of the workforce now and I am beyond thrilled that I never again have to worry about being discriminated against at work because of my body size.

  30. Anya the Demon*

    I was kind of surprised by Alison’s response to this. To me, this seems like a “Go to HR ASAP” issue. You directly heard your boss comment on your weight negatively. Then immediately after, she began monitoring your meal time and treating you differently. Go to HR.

    1. Polecat*

      Keep in mind that discrimination against fat people is legal. And that HR works for the company not the employee. A lot of things that are shitty are 100% legal. Of course it’s possible that she could connect with a great HR person who could smoothly handle this, but the odds of this souring her relationship with her boss forever are exceptionally high.

      1. gbca*

        I second all of this. A good HR department doesn’t want this stuff happening, they really are looking out for a healthy work environment overall, but the combination of it not being illegal and an issue no one wants to talk about does not bode well for OP going to HR (also combined with the fact that she’s new to the company and thus probably does not have a strong rapport with HR).

      2. Chickiepunk*

        If her boss is discriminating against her, there’s already a “sour” relationship and it is the boss’ fault.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        This could also be part of a pattern. The manager could be known for insulting their co-workers, and the OP could be providing the final straw.

  31. InNeedOfAName*

    I’d like to put in a plug for the book “What we don’t talk about when we talk about fat.” I’m seeing a lot of “find a new job” in the comments, but the reality is, weight discrimination can happen anywhere.

    OP, I’d use Alison’s scripts first to see if that has any impact. You were getting good feedback on your work for 3 months! Hopefully your manager can focus on that again. (Of course if it escalates or if you want to leave you can look for a new job.)

    1. JB*

      Absolutely! Everyone would be better off reading the book or any of Aubrey Gordon (aka Your Fat Friend)’s writings.

          1. Save the Hellbender*

            Besides AAM, Maintenance Phase and YWA are my go-tos for understanding how to practice radical empathy – something OP’s boss could use several lessons in

    2. irene adler*

      Thank you!
      Weight discrimination is prevalent in the hiring process of many companies. Simply finding a new job takes on a new dynamic as one has to try and scope out whether this bias occurs at any company one applies to (never mind that you meet the job description criteria).

      I’ve experienced it myself and have to wonder if this is part of why I can’t get hired after 5 years of job hunting.

    3. Jennifer*

      I agree that weight discrimination can happen anywhere, just like any other form of discrimination, but it seems that the boss is trying to push her out by nitpicking every little thing she does. It might be a good idea to get a jump start on job searching just in case that happens.

      And though a lot of people have biases against marginalized groups, I think there are managers out there that at least will probably be less blatant and hurtful about it.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Not heard of that book before and if it’s fat positive stuff I’m gonna get it!

      1. NotThatLucinda*

        It’s amazing! I would also recommend “Maintenance Phase,” a podcast hosted by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes, all about how diets don’t work, and fatphobia. Very fat positive!

    5. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

      Yes! Aubrey Gordon is fantastic.

      Side note: For a more entertaining look into diet and wellness culture and trends her podcast Maintenance Phase is also amazing.

      1. mreasy*

        The book is phenomenal and eye-opening. Even as someone who thought I knew about types of weight-based discrimination, I was shocked about the anecdotes & stats she cites showing that fat people are discriminated against in almost every possible setting, from work to the doctor’s office (sometimes with deadly results), customer service, etc.

      2. NotThatLucinda*

        Sorry – I didn’t see this before I posted above! Maintenance Phase is great!

    6. Wendy Darling*

      Yep. A new job where no one is fatphobic would be great! …unfortunately I’m not sure that job exists.

      I am a fat woman. I work in tech. Of the five jobs I’ve had three have interviewed me exclusively over the phone and one included some video interviews but no in-person interviews. I’ve only ever gotten one job I interviewed for in person. I’ve had two 12-month+ job searches during which I was BUSTING ASS looking for jobs and kept making it to the final phase but not being selected.

      Do I know it’s because I’m fat? No. But I find it a very interesting pattern. Especially considering how many times I’ve heard from people who have seen my work how easy a time I must have finding jobs given my skills.

  32. KD*

    Your boss sucks. This should not be happening. However, in the interests of covering your bases, can you find out if your boss requires others to make lists or if they are also being reminded about lunch breaks?

    1. irene adler*

      Now THIS is something to pursue.
      Might find out if LW is being singled out for “special” treatment that is not being meted out to the rest of the employees who report to this boss.

  33. sub rosa for this*

    I am so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. *sending ninja hugs*

    I’ve had people lie to my face in job interviews after getting a good look at me. They get the **exact same** expression on their faces as the one you get in the first five seconds of a blind date that quickly evaporates. Right before the guy suddenly remembers that he’s got a pressing engagement across town that he just can’t break, or that he forgot to tell his buddy (the one that set you up) about his brand new girlfriend.

    Then the interviewer suddenly remembers that the job does require experience with XYZ software after all (even though the posting claimed no experience necessary) or that they’ve just extended an offer to that great internal candidate, and they’re so sorry to have taken up your afternoon unnecessarily.

    It’s just the worst and I hate it, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Size isn’t a protected class, and media bombards us daily with the Big Lie that weight is all about laziness and gluttony, rather than the roll of the genetic dice or metabolism or medical issues or poverty or or or….

    1. Fatty, MPH*

      +1 to watching folks’ faces fall when I come into a room for an interview.

      HIRING MANAGERS: YOUR WEIGHT BIAS IS NOT AS SUBTLE AND WELL CONCEALED AS YOU THINK IT IS.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The look I sometimes get when I enter the room with a) fatness and b) walking aids is a good indicator of whether I’m even going to stick around for the whole interview.

        Yeah, my legs don’t work properly. But I don’t need to kick computers out a window to get them working again…

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          But I don’t need to kick computers out a window to get them working again…

          No matter how tempting it might be…

        2. UKDancer*

          I wish you could do. Mine has been misbehaving today and I think being thrown out of the window would probably improve it.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            No no no, old secret IT tip: you have to make the computers afraid of you. Drop hints about the location of a large electromagnet.

  34. Alex*

    I’ve been overweight all my life, and have experienced this over and over again, starting in kindergarten. People look at me and assume I’m lazy and stupid, when I am neither of those things.

    I don’t have any real advice, OP, just my sympathies. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

    1. Sharrbe*

      Me as well. When I was about 10 or so I was in the grocery store with my mother and she ran into an acquaintance. He looked at me and said “Boy, they sure make ’em big these days”. I was mortified.

      1. Down to the Minute*

        So sorry your mother didn’t support you when that happened. Don’t blame yourself, okay?

  35. TulipBird*

    I would want to say something along the lines of AMA’s last suggestion, mention that you heard the comment to your coworker, and say that you hope her attitude change is not due to that.

    Then go to HR.

  36. Ace in the Hole*

    I’m sorry LW – I don’t have any advice, but this situation sucks and I’m really sorry you have to deal with it. I hope your boss realizes they’re being a donkey and starts treating you well ASAP.

  37. JillianNicola*

    This is awful. I’m so sorry.
    I began working a desk job last fall after working retail for 20 years, and I was aware of and yet wholly unprepared for the inevitable weight gain. Like, a lot of the clothes I first bought for this job not even a year ago don’t fit anymore, so treatment like this would be a nightmare for my self esteem.
    No real advice, Allison’s scripts are on point, just a lot of empathy. A person’s body shape doesn’t affect their brain or their ability to learn, and it sucks if that’s what your boss thinks. :(

  38. Pants*

    OP you aren’t alone in your experience, unfortunately. I’m also overweight, moreso due to lockdown. (Turns out I have a knack for dessert baking. Because of course I do.) Tack that on to being older and an admin and it’s a triple whammy. It sucks. It sucks like a Dyson, which supposedly never lose suction.

    I suggest documenting comments or things that your instincts tell you are “off.” Fill in by memory of pre-picnic stuff too. You may not ever use it. However, I’ve found that documenting stuff like that, even without a plan of WHY I’m documenting it, makes me feel better. It’s an “in case….” activity. Documenting and organising are my go-to comfort/zen activities.

    Continue to rock at your job, as usual. Maybe check postings casually or put a few feelers out there just in case. If you feel that your boss is going to continue to be a garbage-person, ramp up the search. You aren’t alone.

  39. Alice*

    I’m so sorry OP. Good luck.
    I am also overweight and I do volunteer work with a community group that often hosts college students doing obesity prevention projects. I hate those planning meetings. No one ever says anything rude, but I am always the only fat person in the room while 21-year-old athletes explain how they are going to solve chronic disease through behavior change.

    1. Ya Girl*

      Is there any way you can just skip those meetings? I sure as hell would in your position,

    2. Ya Girl*

      Is there any way you can just skip those meetings? I sure as hell would in your position.

  40. Jennifer*

    Definitely let her know that you have noticed that you’re getting a lot of negative feedback lately seemingly out of the blue and ask if you have done anything to offend her. That will put her on the defensive and maybe make life easier while you job search.

  41. Oryx*

    I mean, even if a person is fat because of food consumption, that’s still a “legitimate” reason. Saying otherwise implies that there are okay reasons to be fat and not-okay reasons to be fat, and as long as your reason for being fat fits in one of the “okay” reasons then it’s acceptable. But if you’re fat for one of the “not-okay” reasons, that’s bad and you need to fix it.

    The OP’s boss’s comments were out of line regardless and it doesn’t matter why OP or me or anyone else weighs what we do. Nobody owes another person thinness.

  42. Richard*

    “You know brother, that’s true. I’m short myself and it’s something that gets, uh, overlooked, and I applaud you for speaking your truth! In fact, I’d say it’s an even thornier issue, because—oh. Oh. You, uh, you really didn’t need to say that last bit…”

  43. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    There are so many horrible people in the world, and for some reason a lot of them tend to unfortunately end up in management positions. I’m a big believer in that adage “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.” Because most people don’t or won’t change, especially ignorant jerks like your manager.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Really? I feel like you could have just gone with the second and third sentence and left it there.

      1. Zephy*

        I mean, they have a point with that first sentence, too. This very website has over a decade of letters about horrible human beings that somehow wound up in management positions that let them be horrible to other human beings.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Right, and how many people write in saying they have a pleasant competent manager. The whole idea of this site is to ask questions and get opinions when things are going wrong.

          Are there horrible managers, yes
          Are there horrible individual contributors, yes

          1. Quill*

            It is a pretty well-documented phenomenon that ruthlessness, when combined with privilege, tends to elevate some pretty unpleasant people. When it’s all about profit and optics, you get a skewed idea of who “deserves” promotion.

      2. JSPA*

        A lot of organizations are dysfunctional; those that are, are often run by people who promote people who share their biases. So the intensity of the bias in those organizations can indeed increase as you go up the levels of management.

  44. lemons*

    Ahhhh, so sorry OP. I will never forget my first field-based job (lots of travel, meeting with clients, pharmaceutical role). I remember distinctly the looks of surprise as I met my new manager and then later one of my coworkers. I was quite overweight at the time and did not look the part of the typical client-facing pharmaceutical role). Very fortunately, they gathered themselves and were the utmost professionals going forward. But those–looks–always stayed with me and was the best illustration that there is a strong implicit bias against the overweight in the workforce..
    Best of luck, and I am sorry your boss is not being professional or fair, and does not appear to have checked her world-view as appropriate.

  45. Hopeful*

    I have no advice but you have all of my sympathy. I am so, so sorry this is happening to you and I hope it works out in the best possible way for you, OP, regardless of what actions you end up taking.

  46. Sled dog mama*

    I used to work with a guy who had the WORST attitude about those who are at the obese end of overweight and it really soured my opinion of him. It’s not as simple as exercise more and “eat right” for some people (raises hand), all my Aunts are morbidily obese, despite carefully managed diets and plenty of (physician directed) exercise, if my mom didn’t have a hyper active thyroid she probably would be too.
    I am on the heavier side (bordering on obese) due to medication and insulin resistance. It’s a constant battle (of diet and exercise) to stay just borderline, but I do it, one of my aunts eats the same I do and is much more active than me, she is a good 40 lbs heavier than I am and I can barely keep up with her when we get together. Fat =/= unhealthy sometimes it just means crappy genes.
    LW I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I wish I had more to offer than commiseration. I hope when you are ready to make your next move (soon or not) you find a place that (correctly) values you for your contributions not your appearance.

    1. Mike*

      What makes me sad about this is the only reason we have decided fat means “crappy genes” is because our society has decided being fat is bad (based on what you know is untrue–the belief that it means you’re unhealthy, lazy, or gluttonous). Your aunt doesn’t have crappy genes, it sounds like she’s quite active and that nothing about being fat is actually holding her back. Just other people’s ideas about what the fat means, not her actual body, is the thing that makes her life more difficult.

      1. Brandee*

        Thank you. I’m tired of the narrative that it’s only okay to be fat if you have a “reason.” Sometimes fat people are just fat. They aren’t less deserving of respect or happiness because of that.

  47. ResuMAYDAY*

    OP, how is the other coworker treating you – the one who was on the other end of this conversation with your boss? Is she mirroring your boss’ crappy attitude? If so, THAT might be an easier ‘in’ to HR (since there is an undeniable risk of reporting your boss). “At the picnic, I overheard (boss) and (coworker) discussing my weight. Since then, (coworker) has excluded me on a few projects (or other bad behavior).
    Hopefully, HR will be smart enough to ask about your boss. “Now that you mention it, her response to my work and lunch breaks has changed quite a bit since then.”
    I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this.

    1. JSPA*

      Calling out a more established coworker for something that quite possibly isn’t their fault–or their choice–is neither morally appropriate, nor particularly effective. If you can’t go to HR because of the boss, trashing the coworker for the boss’s sins isn’t a reasonable alternative.

  48. Tara*

    My former grandboss loudly said in the office (after staring at me for a noticeable period) that it was clear I’d lost weight since I’d joined a few months previous. Scales wise I’d actually gained I think, as I’d gained more muscle, but whatever. This was in an open plan office, so everyone heard, and despite being to me and in theory a compliment, it was so awkward! Unless your size means you can’t do a job – i.e. my friend got turned down for a bar job after a trial shift as at 5ft 1 she couldn’t reach the overhead bottles, I really don’t think it should be mentioned.

    OP, your boss is clearly a jerk. I can’t say for sure she’s purely attacking you due to your weight (though from your account it definitely seems that way), but it doesn’t seem like a situation I’d like to stay in.

    1. Fatty, MPH*

      This reminds me of the time a coworker said I was “looking svelte.” I had started using the gym after work and I might have gained some muscle and lost some inches, but I was still wearing size 2X. I’m never gonna look svelte. And I’m OK with that! I felt really creeped out that she was scrutinizing my body to that degree!

      1. JB*

        Ugh, I had a coworker make a comment like that too. I responded a bit coldly and she got very condescending about how she was ‘sorry if she embarrassed me’.

        I wasn’t embarrassed, but I think she should have been! I can’t believe people think it’s appropriate to comment on coworkers’ bodies that way.

    2. Name (Required)*

      Why didn’t the potential employer check into accommodations for your friend’s height? It’s not like it would need an expensive/complicated solution.

      1. Tara*

        They offered her a job waitressing, which was their accommodation, but she didn’t want to do it so found a job elsewhere. The bar itself was a tiny box that served people on all sides (like Ron’s temporary circle desk on Parks and Rec) so there wasn’t safely space to have a step for her to move around or anywhere to put the bottles rather than overhead. Either way, I don’t think there’s any need to make accommodations for height in UK, unless they are due to a disability and subsequently governed by the Equality Act.

  49. M2*

    I would document everything and I would tell HR. Document your positive feedback and document (send yourself an email or something in paper) about your boss making a comment about your weight at the picnic and document how she treated you changed after that. It’s discrimination and you need to document it. Send it to HR. Don’t just tell them write it down and send it so there is a paper trail. Do it now. You may still be on a trial and you need proof of this so you can’t be fired Willy-nilly.

    You are your best advocate. Protect and advocate for yourself.
    Your boss is gross.

    1. Zephy*

      Weight/body size isn’t a protected class. They can still fire her for being fat if they want to (citing nebulous “culture fit” reasons). It is discrimination but not illegally so.

  50. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — Sorry you’re having to put up with this kind of rubbish. (And I say this as one who is far from skinny.) I agree with Alison that it’s probably time to have a conversation with your boss, but whatever you do, DON’T mention that remark you overheard at the picnic. Your boss will only deny it and get defensive, which won’t help you at all. I do like Alison’s first two scripts, because they focus on the behavior, rather than speculating about motivation.

    Other steps to take: 1) document all your achievements; 2) document any and all positive feedback you get from others in the organization; 3) document any interactions with your boss that seem professionally suspect and/or ways in which she treats you differently from her other reports.

    Keep your documentation somewhere besides your employer’s server. I like Google Drive for this, but there are other options out there. The point is to have a place where you can easily update your file, but not have it where your boss can get to it.

    If your conversation with her doesn’t improve your situation, you may want to start looking for another job. Use the information in the AAM archives and take your time to find something that’s a good fit for you and where you won’t have to report to a bigot.

  51. Jack Straw*

    OP, this sucks. I’m so, so sorry that you are dealing with this.

    FTR, this is also why I am not at all excited about my first “in-person get together” that the rest of my team is SO! EXCITED! for next month. I was hired remotely last year. I am *excelling* in my role. I am also 75 pounds over my ideal weight and still gaining as it’s a side effect from the medication I take to combat cancer.

    I am literally brought to tears every time I think about meeting my coworkers in person and am honestly trying to figure out how to avoid it because I know their perception of me will change. My boss runs marathons. My grandboss does CrossFit.

    1. JSPA*

      If you enjoy fitness on any level, lean in on that.

      “My exercise thing is X, and I love it!” is absolutely a conversational match for, “I run marathons” or “I do crossfit.” And if you look at people who swim the english channel, they look more like me, and perhaps like you.

      That’s presuming that exercise itself is not contra-indicated (it may be!) and that you won’t find it too depressing if exercise does not-a-whole-lot to slow the upward creep of the dial (it well may not).

      As someone who’s also looking at a lifetime with looming health issues and treatments that pack on pounds, I’m hawkish on fairly intense, short, low-impact exercise that can be done in cool weather or cool water. Within those parameters, I really love it (whether it’s cold weather biking, cold water swimming, or long night-time walks). I figure I’m gently building a bank of stamina that will keep my brain as well as my body more functional, for longer.

      Even, “I used to do a lot of X, until some injuries” will put you on the list of, “thinks like an active person.” (They don’t have to know that the injuries were at the level of chromosome breakage and cell division, rather than ligaments or bone.)

      1. Jack Straw*

        I appreciate your comment, but I’m also left thinking why do I have to “pretend” (FTR I do body pump 3x per week plus stretching each morning, so it wouldn’t be pretending. It’s not that I’m not “fit” I’m just also overweight). In my experience, me talking about fitness does not go over well. The comment “I know I don’t look like it but I really do work out 2-3 times per week with weights” is met with confusion and skepticism. I appear to be trying too hard.

        1. JSPA*

          It’s not pretense. And, it’s very often (as so much of human conversation) about appreciating shared experience of an awareness or a situation.

          (This isn’t some sort of gym-rat meat market, after all. They’re not hitting on you.)

          People who get deep into their own heads use exercise to disconnect their brain, and just be. People who get tense and tight use exercise to feel more right in their skin. Or to feel one’s limits soften and lift, just a little. You HAVE that! You DO speak that language! Your experience of it is just as real as theirs, even if you get there in different ways!

          In fact, you can widen the subject. Exercise is their version of, “doing something that feels healthy and focused yet mindless to feel comfortable inside one’s own skin.” The thing that makes them tick better. Whatever is THAT THING for you (caveat, not if it’s sex or drugs related, and maybe not if it’s, “sleep more”) potentially fits in the conversation.

          Leading off with, “I don’t look it” is what probably makes your fitness talk awkward. In fact, it makes anything awkward. (You’re literally demanding that they look you over, consider your body as context, and form an opinion. Awkward.) Neither agreeing nor disagreeing to that statement is easy and comfortable. Go factual-yet-enthusiastic in a way that makes no apologies for your body type, and doesn’t put people in the, “now how do I respond to awkward self-deprecation” spot.

          “I had some health issues, so at least 60% of my workout is still stretching and range-of-motion stuff, but I’m starting to really get into bodypump, and it’s turning out to be a great fit for my endomorphic body type!”

          Honest! Completely reasonable! Not awkward! And it says, “I’m comfortable and happy being me, which makes me pleasant to deal with.” That’s what this sort of chat is mostly about, for most people who exercise.

          Sure, there are harder/faster/deeper/longer types for whom every topic has the subtext of, “we’re measuring out relative reproductive fitness, and I win.” But unless you know you are working for top notch A-holes (in which case, there’s no right answer, even if you’re playing chutes and ladders) start by assuming they’re simply enthusiastic people who get energized by talking about exercise. If so, they’ll be pumped to hear your exercise thing, and to share their own experiences as an energizing gift-in-kind.

          Literally, even if it takes a 90% effort for someone to transfer into their power chair, this is something that can be talked about in the same, “feeling my strength” vein.

          I don’t want to gloss over how this sort of talk can be insensitive towards those who are worried about declining strength, mourning lost abilities, or at risk, throughout every day, of not having the strength to handle the day’s essential tasks. But in general, meeting “feels so good to move” talk with your own, “feels so good to move” talk, and “grit talk” with “grit talk” and “energy flow talk” with “energy flow talk” is the way to go. If they were deep into knitting and macrame, you could share your scrapbooking or pressed flowers.

          1. Jack Straw*

            Thank you for this. I feel encouraged and may have teared up a bit. Sincerely, thank you!

        2. Bowserkitty*

          Just popping in to say hi to a fellow Pumper. :) Good luck at work….be thinking of you.

  52. Tuesday*

    This should have been an opportunity for the boss to learn something. Like, “My overweight employee has been doing a great job. Maybe, just maybe, I can’t predict people’s job performance based on their size.” That’s what should have happened, and I’m so angry on behalf of the OP about what happened instead.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Nah, if she had that kind of maturity it would have kicked in by now. People who comment on it to other people at work events are too far down the path to turn around that quickly.

  53. HotSauce*

    My God, how gross. I will never understand why people think it’s OK to make comments about other people’s bodies. The only person I will discuss my weight with is my doctor and my dietician.

  54. Lucious*

    Wow. I’m floored This Is Even a Thing. The idea of treating employees differently because of their weight or appearance is abhorrent to both productivity & basic human ethics. To see businesses- plural- excluding people for these reasons is profoundly disheartening.

    OP, it’s time to go. For the manager to openly proclaim their bias means A) they have fundamental professionalism problems & B) the corporate culture clearly supports their warped viewpoint. The only solution for these problems is to walk.

  55. Elle by the sea*

    This is horrible.

    As an average weight but taller than average woman, I get this “she is much bigger than expected” comment all the time. They usually mean my height, but still it feels awkward. I don’t think people in a business environment should be commenting on your looks. Especially not if they are above you in the power hierarchy. And the fact that her opinion changed on your work after realising that you are overweight…I’m speechless. I think you should talk to your manager and/or HR.

  56. The Minority Report*

    OP, I am really sorry. It sucks extra to first be seen for your competence and soft skills, then to have the bigot filter slam into place.

    I am not big, due more so to genetics and epigenetics than anything I’m doing. Recently, I had a boss who was weightist and (the mind boggles) liked having big reports so she could lord her thinness over them. Her big reports got lots of condescension. Her non-big report (moi) got the Death Stare and nasty daily cracks about how thin I was, how little I ate (no, I just didn’t eat around HER because being around her made me feel sick). Weightism is hell for the big, but a weightist tends to be bad news for everyone in a workplace.

  57. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    This makes me SO furious, and I am so sorry you’re having to deal with this, OP.

    The only advice I have is to document everything and maybe loop HR in if you have one and feel safe doing so.

    Other than that, know that this sucks hard, your boss is a whole bunch of words that probably wouldn’t be allowed on the site, and you deserve so much better!

  58. My 2 cents*

    I was what was considered fat for most of my life. As a child and teen I struggled to loose weight to the point that I missed out on so many things because I thought I couldn’t possibly be a part of it because I was fat. That pattern continued throughout my 20s and my early work life. When I was 35 I have gastric bypass and lost 120 pounds. I can tell you with absolute certainty that fat phobia at work and in general happens.
    I saw a very distinct difference in how I was treated at work before and after losing the weight, even with people who saw the weight loss. I also felt like I struggled to get job offers when I was fat, even in nursing. Tell the truth, since I lost weight 10 years ago I have received a job offer for any job I have interviewed for in nursing and is tech.
    When my coworkers find out I use to be fat, I can almost see how their perception changes as they try to reconcile who the know with the fat version.
    No advice for OP but I know this experience has opened my eyes to how I treat fat people, I always make an effort to really see through to the person and give them the same grace I would have loved to have had.

  59. Alsobiggerthanexpected*

    You might be reading into this. All you heard your boss say was that you were bigger than she thought you were? It’s probably just an observation she made out load. I mean, it’s weird for her to say that but making up a bunch of scenarios in your head isn’t great for your own mental health. My boss called me fat before but I don’t let his opinion affect me.

    Maybe you could make things less weird by bringing it up to your boss in a funny way. Try something like “I heard you were surprised at my weight, how much did you think I weighed when you hired me?”

    1. D3*

      It’s not JUST that comment. It’s also the lunch hour comments and the change in how she’s treating her.
      Let’s not gaslight people that their experiences are all in their head.

      1. Alsobiggerthanexpected*

        I get what you’re saying and bosses shouldn’t be jerks. On the other side of the coin, we are responsible for being mentally tough in not letting every “micro aggression” or comment send us into despair. As a black man working in corporate America I’ve had to discern whether certain things said to/about me were actually worth getting upset over.

        1. no dogs on the moon*

          you should of course make those discernments for yourself, but i think it’s more helpful to approach this by giving OP the courtesy of trusting her judgement about her response to an inappropriate remark and strange change in behavior in much the same way, presumably, people trust your judgement about what bothers you.

        2. JSPA*

          Sure, but just as you’re the determinant for what sorts of comments are intentionally racially wounding, and which ones are not; which ones are too harmful to pass without comment, even if not intentional, and which are not; which ones are likely to affect your standing, promotions and earnings, and which ones are a random annoyance, OP has already run this situation through their own set of filters.

          In addition, OP’s not asking about getting upset; OP’s gaming out the risk-benefit analysis. “Don’t let it get to you” is very important, if you’ve already determined that you benefit more from staying than going, and more from ignoring than from challenging. But even though they’re both systemic (albeit in different ways), racial stereotyping and fat-stereotyping are not evenly universal. It makes no sense to default to, “don’t get your hopes up by expecting better,” when there are places that “do better,” and managers who “do better.”

        3. D3*

          Oh buy. Not the “we are responsible for being mentally tough” crap.
          That’s a really crappy thing to say to someone who is experiencing discrimination. Her boss has done a complete 180 in how she treats her. She wrote in because she thinks it’s worth dealing with.
          So maybe keep your suggestions about mental toughness to yourself. OP wrote in asking how to deal with her boss. Saying it’s all in her head and she needs to be mentally tough is not helpful at all, it just makes you look like a crappy person.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Agreed. Every single person who’s suffered from any kind of discrimination has heard the ‘just toughen up about it, it’s not that bad’ speech.

            Because those ‘little micro aggressions’ are like scratching a nail down a deep wound that’s scabbed over. The nail doesn’t *cause* the initial wound but it does make it bleed again.

        4. 'Tis Me*

          If you were hired on remotely and the first time you met your boss etc, you overheard them say to another coworker “I didn’t realise Alsobigger… is black!” along with an instant attitude adjustment from being friendly and full of positive feedback, to patronising, critical, etc, with a side of seeming to buy into negative stereotypes about you, would you think “microaggressions are frustrating but I’ll rise above them because I’m stronger than that”, or would you be documenting it all and trying to determine whether this was something worth taking to HR, whether you should start applying to new jobs, etc?

        5. Marillenbaum*

          Dude, no. This isn’t the answer, and you should know by now that “not letting it get to you” isn’t an option when it’s about someone screwing with your paycheck. Please take your respectability politics baggage elsewhere.

    2. Metadata minion*

      If it was just the statement, that would still be bizarre and inappropriate for the manager to say to her report (or really, to anyone), but what else explains the dramatic change in her attitude to the LW? What scenarios is she making up? In the letter, she’s pretty straightforwardly reporting things that are happening, and way more concretely than “my boss is a bit cooler to me” or something like that that might just be someone’s in-person affect being very different from how they are in writing or videochat.

    3. pancakes*

      That’s not all that happened, no: “She reminded me twice out of nowhere not to take more than half an hour for lunch, which has never been an issue, and has asked me to start sending her lists of what I did in a day. She also seems much less interested in friendly chitchat.”

    4. SJJ*

      At NO point is it ok for a manager to comment AT ALL on someone’s weight, height, or other personal dimensions (except when strictly related to the work in question).

      The comment of being “bigger” (whatever that meant) should never have been uttered.

      Regardless of whether it’s legal ‘discrimination’ – that behavior is low class, crass and full of .

    5. Mental Lentil*

      Why is there always at least one “not all men” comment? Why?

      My faith in humanity just keeps slipping lower and lower.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Because no one wants to acknowledge that they might hold shit opinions and do the work to better themselves.

    6. No Name #1*

      In addition to the other replies to your comment, “joking” about what LW overheard to her boss could backfire- I actually think that it is likely to backfire, considering that this letter is not just about the comment the boss made to the coworker but also how her treatment of LW changed. Even if the LW made a joke about it, there’s a good chance that the boss will get defensive as she’s basically being called out for talking behind the LW’s back.
      I’m also just against the idea that fat people or any people who are marginalized need to make the source of their marginalization into a joke to make others more comfortable with it. The boss, who has already demonstrated completely inappropriate behavior, might think that it’s okay for her to make jokes about the LW’s weight.

  60. Reeny Greene*

    I would very seriously consider talking to a lawyer who specializes in employment discrimination issues. They could tell you how to document what you’re going through. I speak from personal experience: once this kind of thing starts, it doesn’t stop.

    1. Metadata minion*

      Unfortunately, discrimination based on weight is still absolutely legal in the vast majority of the US, so a lawyer is unlikely to be able to help.

  61. UKgreen*

    This is horrid, OP. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this but on the other hand I’m actually quite glad that you overheard your boss because despite how awful what she said was, it means you know the truth about her. To echo others, seek advice from HR. This needs to go on the record.

  62. That’s Me*

    Interesting. I have a Scandinavian name but I am light skinned Hispanic with light brown hair. When I first meet a client after phone interaction there usually is a shock reaction. Many times I’ve been told they expected a blond blue eyed woman. But now I think it’s because I’m obese. I am used to dismissals in social situations from men, they see right through me and barely acknowledge the introduction.

    1. Former Employee*

      It really is more likely that someone would expect a Scandinavian looking person if your last name is “Swenson”, so they are naturally surprised when they meet you and find a person who they would think would be a “Sanchez”.

      People mostly don’t fill in the details when they imagine how someone looks, so all they come up with is a blonde haired, blue eyed woman, not necessarily things like, height or weight.

  63. Lecturer*

    Removed. I’m not hosting arguments that thin people suffer more discrimination than fat people; it’s derailing, untrue, and irrelevant to this letter. – Alison

    1. HereKittyKitty*

      I understand what you’re trying to say and all comments about bodies should be off the table, but you really can’t compare the active discrimination that happens against fat people in the workplace, by doctors and more to mean comments about bodies in general. I have been on both sides of the coin and comments about my body were always unacceptable, but being skinny was NOTHING compared to being fat. When I was skinny I got the standard “eat a cheeseburger” comments and side-eyes during anorexia talk in health class and was even called a skeleton once, but I also received plenty of praise, could buy clothes wherever I wanted, never got any weird comments from doctors, and never had to worry about whether or not I could fit into a space properly, or if a chair was made with my body in mind. Everyone on TV and in movies looked like me and I could pick out magazines and see myself there too. The world is not made for fat people and as awful as “eat a cheeseburger” can be, that’s nothing compared to never being able to buy clothes, being ignored and harmed by doctors and the bruises you get when sitting in a too-small chair.

      Again, you’re right that NOBODY should be making comments about anybody’s body, but the systematic discrimination against fat people is real and statistically tangible.

  64. irene adler*

    This post has me questioning that whole diversity thing many companies tout these days. How does treatment like what the LW experienced (and what many have attested to in the comments) mesh with that? Or did they think diversity expectations were met because protected classes were all they needed to recognize? Guess again!

    I’m damn mad about how the LW was treated. I sincerely hope it doesn’t affect the LW’s well-being.

    1. FD*

      A lot of companies want to be perceived as being diverse because it’s cool. Or at least, because there are PR costs to being openly, obviously, discriminatory.

      That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the experiences of real people. It’s easy to say ‘we support women’; it’s much harder to actually fire the executive who brings in 55% of the sales but also creeps on all the female employees.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Or at least, because there are PR costs to being openly, obviously, discriminatory.

        There are lots of places where it’s illegal to discriminate against protected classes (gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexuality, etc.), but I haven’t heard of too many places where it’s illegal to discriminate against people for being fat, unfortunately.

  65. Not So Super-visor*

    Ugh — I still remember when I was a brand-spanking new supervisor, and I got to hire new employees for the first time. A great candidate applied, we brought her, and she interviewed really well. After the interview, my boss told me that he didn’t think that I should hire her because she might need a special chair due to her weight. I hired her any way. She was a great employee and eventually left for a better position at another company

  66. Save the Hellbender*

    I’m way late on this post, OP, but I wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying this is fucked up and you deserve so much better. I’m sorry.

  67. Grey Panther*

    OP, I am furious on your behalf, and am actively searching for a wet sock with which to smack your supervisor upside the head. Repeatedly.
    Wish I had more to offer. You don’t deserve this, your supervisor is a toad, and I hope things improve for you (whether or not that involves a new job).

  68. CatOfficeMates*

    I don’t agree with many fat acceptance points, and I think those groups, like any, can be toxic when they prioritize being right or going with the group over well-being (e.g. backlash against people with serious health issues who had to lose weight for those reasons, or to access things like fertility treatment). My family has sort of left the movement because in order to HAVE a family, we need to lose weight. And physically, I feel much better than at my heaviest (puking a few times a week because acid reflux was SO bad then- down only 20 and it was nearly gone!)

    But I work in a very busy field. Some of my best coworkers are fat, because with long hours doing hard things, you don’t exercise or eat for maintaining a certain look.

    If you can do the job, and do it well, you should be treated just the same as if your boss never saw you IRL. THAT’S what matters for work! I don’t even know what my current coworkers look like, since I’m remote. My office mates are cats. Guarantee they do not care.

    1. Fiona*

      “If you can do the job, and do it well, you should be treated just the same as if your boss never saw you IRL.”

      Agreed – so I don’t think your first paragraph was very applicable. Your own perspective/history with the fat acceptance movement doesn’t really have any bearing on this particular situation unless I’m missing something.

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      Maybe we need to remind ourselves that just because someone is discriminated against it doesn’t make them less likely to be assholes. *Of course* the fat acceptance community can be toxic – as can be any community. This doesn’t invalidate the basic messages. (And yes, the relentless hammering of the diet doctrine has as a consequence that certain spaces get created that want to tolerate nothing of that sort any longer. Even though I myself occasionally put myself on shrinking trajectories for a time, I understand that not every place is a suitable forum to talk about it.)

    3. Sigh*

      It is excellent and noble of you that even though opposing mandatory dieting is the worst thing you’ve ever seen, you don’t think fat people should be actively discriminated against. well done.

  69. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    Oh, LW, the whole situation sucks and I’m sorry.

    I’m from Sweden, and in some ways, the stereotype of Swedish people being pretty is true.
    I’m “small fat” and I was still the only one out of 200 people who was even remotely fat. (I was also the only woman with short, dark hair ‍♀️)
    I ended up dressing a but more formally than everyone else, and deliberately wore only dresses and skirts in order to “elevate” my appearance.
    That wasn’t in any way something my employer was responsible for, I’m just weird. It was a way for me to “manipulate” the system as well as I could to compensate. That sounds very cold when I say it like that.
    I genuinely enjoy wearing more traditional feminine clothing, I love makeup etc. after all, we all change our appearances depending on the situation.
    But I wanted to leave an impression of myself that was more than “oh, she’s the fat one.” I almost always wore bright red lipstick, for example.

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      I don’t think it sounds cold! Clothing and makeup are ways we send a message about ourselves, and you’re talking about making those choices deliberately. You wanted to send a message that you should be taken seriously and weren’t afraid of being seen. I should take a lesson–I dress in a pretty sloppy fashion because I hate choosing clothes and don’t like to look in the mirror, but I’m probably sending the message that I don’t care what I look like to others.

      1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Thanks
        In some ways, I wish that wasn’t the case. I’ve known so many lovely, brilliant people who don’t give a hoot about their appearance. I don’t mean that quite like you do, more that they’ve been indifferent to whatever they’re wearing.
        So I wouldn’t assume you come off as not caring what you look like/not taking your appearance seriously.
        I guess I see it more as a… I don’t know… armor upgrade?
        There’s a baseline, and you can boost it a bit or enhance skills/traits but you’re not necessarily punished if you don’t have the upgrade, and there are many other items that boost other parts of you?

    2. basically gods*

      This is really common among fat people, I’ve found! We dress nicer, we’re extra helpful, we try to be as GOOD at everything as possible, because then we won’t just be the fat one. Or it’ll be “oh, I know she’s fat, but she’s so nice and works SO hard, so we can give her a pass…”.
      I wish it wasn’t like this.

      1. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Yeah, I think you’re right. It sucks.
        Not to mention the additional dehumanization of fat women in particular.

        I do feel like it’s starting to shift a little bit. A post like this with only a few righteous warriors saving the world from the fatties wasn’t very common 10 years ago.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          True. A few years ago this would probably have got ‘why not try losing weight?’ answers on other forums.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        Lindy West spoke about that phenomenon in an interview once; she pointed out that when she got styled for pieces, she was put in heavily structured, vintage-style pieces instead of the flowier clothing she personally favored, because the stylists were kind of compensating for her fatness with increased formality and structure that gave her a more “acceptable” shape.

  70. In my shell*

    Several years ago I worked for a company that had its own print and creative department and they took the (REQUIRED TO ATTEND) annual full company photo and and created a black lined hand drawn traced outlines of each person’s entire body on a white background and wrote each person’s name in their body outline and then sent out the body outline inside every Christmas card they sent out that year (more than 1000 clients and companies, but none to the employees who didn’t know about it until recipients mentioned it!).

    Nearly everyone felt violated by this, but one of my employees – who was quite overweight – had stood to the side of the group and her body outline was what immediately drew your attention when you looked at the tracing and I was just devastated on her behalf. I raised the concern with my manager and her boss the EVP and they thought it was her problem because her weight was her decision and this was a natural consequence of that decision. I left the company 2 months later.

    1. SAS*

      That a) sounds like the most un-festive card I could imagine and b) seems weirdly objectifying, why wouldn’t you want your clients to SEE the people who do the work for them!

      Also truly highlights a lack of diversity especially around disability. Good for you for being out of there.

  71. Reluctant Manager*

    I’m seeing a lot of body self-shaming here, which is true sincere pain but not that helpful to the rest of us.

  72. Celeste*

    I’m so sorry, OP.

    I don’t think you can fix her prejudice, and you should probably look for a new job as soon as you can. I understand this was a great job and you liked it, but it’s pretty clear you’ve got a bad boss. I encourage you not to lose years to it. You won’t be treated fairly by her, I’m certain.

    UGH.

  73. Reluctant Manager*

    The tarnished silver lining here is that OP might otherwise have wondered if her work was bad, and now she knows that her work is just as good as when her boss was praising her. Though “your work is great but we secretly don’t like your body” is gut-wrenching.

    One of the reasons I’m so happy to have started a business to avoid interviewing, because there’s plenty of evidence that anti-fat bias affects hiring and salaries. And being obese doesn’t mean I don’t have fat bias myself; sometimes I catch myself registering surprise at the success of a fat person, and while I recognize that we absorb this in the air of our culture, it’s awful to notice in my own head.

    And one more benefit to working from home… Aside from making sure to have a plus-size-friendly chair, it makes zero difference to my work.

  74. HelenOfWhat*

    This hurts my heart, I’m sorry OP. Your boss is a jerk.

    I come from a family with a lot of big ladies, and happen to be one of the few on the average side after losing weight a few years ago, so people think they can say whatever to me about size, including snobby and disparaging remarks that fill me with anger. The worst one has been my mother in law, who simply can’t resist commenting on size, either admiring thin/athletic women while basically disparaging them for “not needing to try” or saying that a TV baker “sure enjoys their food”. She also has commented that a kid “needs to be on a diet” and thankfully didn’t see me roll my eyes. The in-laws are dealing with health stuff and I can’t argue with her right now without seeming cruel. (It’s going to be a challenge if/when I have a kid to explain that grandma is a bigot and not to be trusted in this area…but that’s a worry for another day.)

    All this to say that these people are miserable and angry at themselves for not looking like whatever their ideal is, and it’s not really about you. I know it’s still hurtful and infuriating, and I hate that this person is your manager right now. I do think it’s possible for her to re-orient her thinking and focus on your actual work and not imagined “laziness”, but I also would not blame you if you didn’t want to deal with a bigot and preferred to work toward transferring teams or changing companies.

  75. Manchmal*

    I am a fat woman and perhaps it’s because of some level of obliviousness, but I amazingly have not encountered too much overt fatphobia in my working life. I do wonder sometimes if I would be more successful were I thinner, or whether some people would be more friendly. I am an academic with my areas of expertise, so perhaps confidence and authority come more naturally to me because of that, which maybe doesn’t allow people to be as dismissive. I don’t know. It’s probably because of some degree of me not picking up on it and just being lucky.

    I appreciate some of the posters upthread who describe their own processes of unlearning fatphobia. It could be that the OP’s manager is just a prejudiced bigot who fully embraces their negative opinions of larger people. But it could be that this person has not yet encountered someone that would challenge them to face and interrogate their attitudes. I actually like Alison’s suggestion of really laying on the table, to actually point out that the manager’s shift in management style occurred when they met in person, at which time the OP overheard her comment. The OP could even follow it up with “I would hate to think that your perceptions of me and my work have been colored by some prejudicial stereotypes of overweight people. Because I am still the same worker that I was 3 weeks ago, and I’m hoping that you can be the same manager you were at that time!”

    Probably this is too risky, but if the alternative is gnawing resentment or going back on the job market, it could be worth a try.

    Good luck, OP. Your manager is a piece, and you don’t deserve this treatment.

    1. Polecat*

      I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that fat people who experience workplace discrimination do so because they aren’t as confident and authoritative as you. But that’s what you did.

  76. Erin*

    This is just unbelievable! OP, I am so incredibly sorry for what you have experienced. Your co-workers gossiping about your weight? What?! Who does that?!

    Stay strong, and keep doing your job well. I know it’s not easy to put on a brave face when it feels like everyone is ganging up on you (I went through a bit of age discrimination at my current job) for something that is so personal, and just not something to judge another person about.

    I hope you get promoted to manage the people who gossiped about your weight. Sending you a hug!

  77. learnedthehardway*

    I’m horrified that this is happening to you.

    If you have the nerve and don’t mind walking away from the job, I might just say something to the manager – to the effect that you’ve noticed the difference in her response to you after the picnic (give examples), that you overheard what she said, and now you want her to consider whether her difference in her evaluation of you has anything to do with her perceptions of your weight. You feel that she has damaged your trust and that you’re disappointed in her management.

    Of course, be prepared to walk away, because that’s a fairly scorched earth approach, but if she’s in any way a decent person, she might just realize she’s done something awful and apologize.

    No matter what, though, I’d be looking for another job, and I’d be quite clear with the management of the company about why I was leaving.

  78. Washi*

    This has me thinking about what I would say if my manager commented to me about a coworker that they were bigger than she imagined. Obviously if it were a purely social situation I would be fairly direct about why that’s not ok, but in a work context, I’m coming up with “I feel awkward talking about coworker’s body” or maybe “is that a bad thing?” (asking people to explain their offensive statements sometimes leads to them having their own realization that it was offensive.)

    Does anyone have any better ideas? I’ve gotten relatively practiced speaking up about racial discrimination, but even the concept of weight discrimination is so foreign to many people that I struggle to be a good advocate, though I’m trying to do better.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      People doing this weird thing where they assume others want to bond over assessing someone’s looks and it’s creepy!

      My standard work response when these comments were addressed to me was “huh, probably best not to comment on our colleagues’ bodies” but something like that might have been hard for her coworker to say to the boss. In this particular instance I might have said “I didn’t think about it”. I like your “is that a bad thing?” or a confused “oh…?” too.

      What would people want someone to say if the comment were about them?

  79. Anon For This*

    I’m so sorry for your experience.

    I think I was rejected for a promotion because of my size. I initially thought my rejection was because they found someone who had more experience but when my supervisor was telling me why they went with another candidate, they threw in a statement that made me realize it was probably because of my weight. They weren’t as direct as your boss but they slipped in something about what I looked like.

    It’s demoralizing because I thought my place of business was better than that. It’s also demoralizing because my career options are limited if size-based judgment is something I’ll face.

  80. Zzzzzzz*

    Here’s an idea- sort of a meld of Alison’s and a way to avoid the weight issue. Next time there’s a negative work comment, OP could say, “You were giving me a lot of positive feedback, and now it seems like I can’t do basic things right. I realized it happened around the time of the picnic- I have been racking my brain to think if I said something to offend you? Did I tell a bad joke? If I did, I apologize! Maybe the sun wore me our or something, and I just forgot? I just would like to get back to our great working relationship.” It’s face-saving in a way, though you have to pretend you did something wrong so it’s not ideal. The idea is that you name the TIME you noticed the change, and she doesn’t know you overheard her awful comment–so maybe you spark some self-reflection in her. If not, she can still re-calibrate her actions and maybe improve. Coming at it like this might avoid further weight stigma, but also clear the air. (Who knows- maybe she has no idea she has been acting cold and doesn’t realize it’s weight-related, because she’s just entirely oblivious. She may remain oblivious! But she also might be oblivious AND catch herself from acting badly with OP, even if she never ‘gets’ the reason underlying her terrible behavior.)

    Also, I join everyone in saying: this is the worst, OP, and I am so sorry.

    1. Pam Poovey*

      This, although I’d avoid anything about being worn out, because someone who is fatphobic will interpret that as lazy/out of shape/insert other stereotype here.

  81. Goldenrod*

    As someone who works in HR, I agree with Alison. Unfortunately, I think HR is unlikely to take action on this, since it’s not legal.

    Which is horrible. But I don’t think OP can count on them helping. I wish I could say otherwise!

    This boss sounds like the WORST.

    1. DinoGirl*

      I am in HR and although I haven’t had this issue, I’ve had other non protected “why am I being treated differently?” conversations, and would have no issue asking that of their manager to have them think through what is happening a bit.

  82. Beth*

    OP, I’m so sorry this is happening to you! I think Alison is right–you can note the shift in attitude, you can question what’s driving it and ask if there’s anything that caused it, and you can hope that that’s enough to make your manager realize her behavior and undo the change. But calling it out as potentially weight-related isn’t likely to go super well for you. (Which isn’t right; I think your instincts are probably spot on, and your manager needs to be called on her prejudice. But I don’t think it’s going to do you any good to be the one calling her on it, and unfortunately, there’s rarely any institutional support against fatphobia.)

    Have that “I’m noticing this shift, did I do something to cause it?” conversation next time you have a chance to talk one-on-one with your manager. See how it goes. If your gut says that it worked, you might be good! Pointing out her change in attitude might grab her attention, and assuming she doesn’t want to say “It’s because you’re fat and I think fat people are lazy and dumb” (which most people won’t want to say outright), it might be enough to get her to reevaluate her behavior.

    If you get the sense that this is going to continue, though, then it might be time to see if it’s possible to move away from this manager and her bias. That might be as simple as an internal transfer, if there’s another team that would line up with your career goals and is in need of people at the moment. Or it might mean starting a very leisurely job hunt, where you look specifically for a position where you feel supported and welcomed–maybe one where the people you meet while interviewing have a range of body shapes, or at a place where you know other overweight people who have done well.

  83. learnedthehardway*

    I feel like taking the “was it something I did?” approach is likely to have the manager agree that yes, it was something the OP did, rather than have them sit back and do any self-reflection.

    Of course, spelling out the issue is likely to make the manager defensive.

    Definitely a rock and a hard place situation.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      The manager could say, “Yes. You obviously do not take care of yourself, which makes you a liability to our company due to the increase in group insurance premiums.”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I actually heard, last year, “we’re not taking on fat or other high risk people because they’re at much higher chance of not putting in the work”. In the frikkin UK.

  84. Tracy Turnblad’s cousin*

    I don’t have any advice except to say that I hope the company burns to the ground. Just, damn, that is infuriating. I am overweight also and I have been since I entered the working world, though I’ve never felt like I faced weight discrimination. I always felt like my job prospects matched my skill level at the time or whether or not I had practiced interview skills with a coach, but not my weight. I live in New York, which is outwardly very tolerant but doesn’t have as many overweight people as other parts of the country. Just, wow. I would not want to work for them

  85. Pam Poovey*

    I actually had to step away from this post and come back a couple of hours later because the entire situation made me THAT angry.

  86. Elizabeth West*

    I’m sorry this happened to you, OP. She is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    And please pardon me for saying your boss and the whole place can just f*ck right off into the sun.

  87. DinoGirl*

    I have had trouble losing pregnancy weight, and over the last year gained more, and I can say I am definitely treated differently at work being larger. I’m starting a new job and have spent a disgusting amount of time worrying about this impacting people’s perception of my competency.
    OP, I do think this is a culture issue. Some organizations have culture norms and people can be vicious about them. I hope you find a way to move forward positively, even if it means looking for another new job.

  88. MS*

    Employment lawyer responding to Allison’s comment about it not being illegal to discriminate based on weight: There are employment lawyers who address these issues as sex discrimination because this response is really about your boss not thinking you are conventionally sexually attractive enough, which is a form of sex discrimination. Its not a well established area of law, but I think it is worth pursuing. Second, if your weight is connected to a disability this can be a form of disability discrimination.

  89. RebeccaNoraBunch*

    I agree that this is as atrocious as everyone says, and OP, as much as it sucks I would start looking for another job. Things seem to be opening back up now; hopefully you won’t have as much trouble as before finding something.

    All that to say: it’s the shocking ignorance of REMINDING YOU ONLY TO TAKE HALF AN HOUR FOR LUNCH that’s making steam come out my ears. What in the actual F. Like surely you probably need more than half an hour?!? The mind boggles.

    I’m so, so sorry. You don’t deserve this in the least and I hope you find a new, wonderful company and boss very soon.

  90. blueberry*

    My heart breaks for the OP. Just randomly like to point out that many on these responses have been super kind and helpful. Just a reminder that fatphobia is a thing. You can not tell how much someone eats by what they weigh and it is none of your business anyway. Also, there is no disease a fat person gets that a thin person can’t get either. As a therapist, I’ve worked with so many people struggling with eating due to their own parents fatphobia that they are afraid to go to a doctor or take chances where they will be sad or judged. Weight does not equal worth!!!! (As in the smaller the number is not the more worthy.) This is such a generational trauma that we pass down to your kids. It helps me to remember it is not my responsibility to help anyone else be comfortable!

  91. Elmyra Duff*

    I had a similar thing happen to me at my last job. The owner of the company, who was also my boss, was nice until we met IRL and she saw how fat I was. Then she started making comments in meetings about how her favorite movie was Shallow Hal and how she, as a person who runs literally ten miles a day and weighs maybe 130lbs, is a heifer and giant and huge. She eventually fired me, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    All that to say, find a new job and quit. Without notice. They don’t deserve it.

  92. cheeky*

    Oh my, I am so sorry, and I must say, this is one of my nightmares. I’m a fat woman, and I think I’ve been quite lucky in that I do not believe I’ve ever been discriminated against at work because of my size. The horrible effect of discrimination like this is that, if it were me, I wouldn’t feel secure in my job and would seek another job, which has the effect of achieving what the discriminator ultimately wants.

  93. Antisocialite*

    I have an autoimmune thyroid condition that causes rapid weight gain that’s difficult to lose, so I know exactly how you feel, and it is beyond shitty.

    In my previous job of 10 years, my (older female) boss once spent an entire review meeting that she flew out from the other side of the country for, gushing about how great it was that I lost so much weight. I finally looked good and “myself again”, and what a difference it makes to the team that I’m putting more effort into myself.

    I lost the weight because I was incredibly unwell, and I was a top performer the entire time with no life outside of the demanding job. It constantly see-sawed like that. Fat? No (small) bonus or raise. Lost weight? Bonus and raise.

    I’m fat again, and now visibly disabled from a genetic disorder. It’s made my current job harder, and my job search for a new one difficult as well.

    My weight/size is obvious in my face now so it shows in web based meetings, but no one can see my cane and mobility issues unless they see me IRL. At my current job all us remote workers visited the home office a few months after I was hired, and everything changed.

    I could see my managers eying me up and down with fallen faces, noticing the cane and difficulty walking, and the related looks. From that moment on, they began micromanaging me and constantly telling me I was doing something wrong even though it was literally how I was trained and what was in writing as SOP. I’m going into my second year of doing no right with constant criticisms and lots of subjective “feedback” like tone etc., while being held to a different standard than anyone else.

    I’m trying to find a new job, but it’s a struggle in the pandemic economy. It’s been really hard finding a decent paying, non-entry level remote job with those two things working against me, plus being an over 40 female.

    As part of my job application research, GlassDoor can be helpful in so many ways. The photos posted there and on their website can tell you a lot. Is everyone super young, white, and look like models? Or are the employees a mix of all walks of life? The job description language can also give you some insight. Some jobs I end up not applying for, especially in the health and wellness industry, because of an emphasis on “being healthy” or “being athletic” and other coded language where they want you to look a certain way to represent their product or services.

    1. Former Employee*

      I am so sorry you are having to deal with the health problems and then find yourself facing BS in the work place.

      While I imagine I would have been surprised to find that you walk with a cane if I’d only seen you in Zoom meetings, about the only thing that would have told me is that you might need some modifications when you have to be in the office.

      I hope that now that many businesses have found that having employees work remotely is not a bad thing, it may make it easier for you find other employment.

      Best of luck.

      1. Antisocialite*

        Former Employee, thanks, I’m hoping the pandemic has helped employers realize remote work is valuable, and the job market opens up more.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Over 40, female, disabled and fat here and I really, totally want to give my sympathy because yeah. Been there. It’s like they see my cane and my weight and just default to ‘lazy stupid woman doesn’t know how to stop stuffing her face so is probably too thick to do the job’.

      I’ve…I won’t say managed but kinda…to just become the best sarcastic battle axe I can be and it’s worked in a couple of occasions (“seriously, it’s not worth speaking to Keymaster like that, she’ll eat your head”) but backfired horribly in others.

      1. Antisocialite*

        Exactly! So many already think fat people must be lazy, and that being fat is why I need the cane.

        And my coping mechanism is definitely humor as well.

  94. Annedroid*

    Michigan is currently the only state with wage discrimination laws, btw. If you experience discrimination and live in MI, report it. If this is an issue that you feel passionate about, please do some research into your state legislature and find if you have anyone trying to get this through.

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