the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

A Study Says…

Don’t be fat because you will be seen as a lazy, low-performer in the office.

I’m not going to spend too much time analyzing this article for you. I read it three times, trying to understand why the logic of the piece made no sense to me. I would have more easily accepted the thesis if Penelope Trunk simply said that the skinny people of the world hate fat people, so we naturally discriminate against them in the workplace.  Instead, the author brings up SCIENCE, much like James Watson’s iffy “proof” that blacks aren’t as smart as whites.

From Penelope Trunk’s “The Brazen Careerist” at Yahoo! Finance

Before you get up in arms over how unfair it is to discriminate against people who are overweight, consider that there may be some rationale behind it. If you’re overweight, you’re probably not exercising every day. But regular exercise increases peoples’ ability to cope with difficult situations in the workplace and, according to University of Illinois kinesiology professor Charles Hillman, might even make people smarter.

And the same self-discipline we use to make ourselves exercise regularly and eat in moderation carries over into other aspects of our lives. This is probably why, in a study from Leeds Metropolitan University, people who exercise regularly were found to be better at time-management and more productive than those who don’t.

Exercise makes a worker more productive, and fat people don’t exercise, so they are “perceived” as lazy workers. But wait a minute — aren’t there fat people who are exercising? Aren’t there people who aren’t fat, like me, who are lazy as shit and rarely go the gym? The conclusion I got from this article isn’t that fat people are lazy, but that employers should require you to take gym classes as part of the job. Or that they should just hire Olympic gymnasts.

This article represents the worst type of career advice — give in to the irrational stereotypes of today, so you can “get ahead” to the detriment of the next guy who can’t get the fat off. There’s the winners (the skinny) and the losers (the fat). Don’t be “perceived” as the loser! And there is “science” now to explain away the status quo!

Remember when everyone thought that women were created to have babies and make dinner?

I’d like to see this author write a piece telling ambitious blacks to try to pass as “white” so they aren’t perceived as being “less smart.” After all, there is a study that backs this up. Who knows — it might help their career?!

I know I’m still thinking of becoming Christian to perfect myself (see previous post).


  1. V-Grrrl

    I saw that article when it was first published on Yahoo Finance and the comments hit the fan.

    The worst part for me? She’s being paid and being published. She takes prejudice and stereotypes, gift wraps them in “fact,” hands the package to us and hopes we won’t notice that it smells like the crap it is.

  2. better safe than sorry

    this just makes me think of oprah so much, a black woman, who has struggled publicly with her weight, not exactly what i’d consider to be a stupid lazy woman.

  3. helen

    Go-getters are people who go against conventional rules.

    Hope people will view fat people as strong individuals who are not afraid to go against the tide.

  4. Tuck

    “The Perfected Employee” by Ann Coulter

  5. amandarin

    Gah, how many times do we have to say that fat does NOT EQUAL undisciplined any more than slender automatically equals healthful.

    Not all fat people overeat. Not all fat people don’t exercise. For heaven’s sake, I ran a *marathon* last year and I weighed 263lbs when I lined up a the start.

    I am so tired of beating my head against this issue.

  6. sizzle

    there’s a fat revolution happening. it’ll probably take some time before everyone gets it but they WILL. this kind of fat oppression is so tired and such bullshit. once people aren’t able to ridicule or scapegoat fat people, who will be left?

    you know that this topic really gets me riled up!

  7. churlita

    I know a lot of skinny people who sit on their asses all day.

    This, like a lot of things, seems to really be a class issue too. Po’ people food is really fattening, and all the diet products and plastic surgery is really expensive. And you know weird Americans are about admitting there is classism in this country…

  8. OMSH

    And then some of us are overweight b/c we chose not to exercise for a long time and sat on our butts and worked nnline ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.

  9. Finn

    Fat is the new black. Or woman. Or whatever idiotic excuse small-minded people can come up with to feel superior to others.

  10. wendy

    Here’s whats wrong with this. Some of it may be right. Perhaps there is a few lazy fat people. So then for sure, there are a few lazy skinny people. While it is true, honing your body into a fine athlete does require a huge amount of control and work..However,I’m not sure you can suggest that this would always transfer to a better employee.

    There are just billions of individuals out there. All waging war with their own personal demons.Sometimes winning, sometimes not.

    When are we ever going to concentrate on removing the log in our own eyes..instead of worrying about disloging the splinter in our neighbors?

    There’s a nice christian reference for you Neil…JESUS said that!!! Do you feel perfected yet?

  11. sputnik

    Right. And, by the same logic, being skinny is proof that you’re a crazed cokehead who will soon be bankrupt (if not already) and are irresponsible enough to do illegal $h*t and never sleep enough to be alert on the job. So actually, no one deserves employment.

  12. fringes

    I’ve exercised less than 10 times my whole adult life. I have terrible eating habits. And I will sit on my butt quicker than I’ll run to the store for the eggs we’ve been out of for a week. Even with all that, I’m one of the smallest women you know.

    People’s prejudices kill me.

  13. psychomom

    I’m a dumb jock.

    What was the point again?

  14. Neil

    I’ve heard these arguments before, but I thought this article was particularly dangerous because it was saying that just the “perception” of being a certain way is bad for your career — and you need to change! I thought we were supposed to be changing society to get over these things?

    If this is “reality,” I would rather live in a fantasy world like Hairspray, where Tracy Turnblatt dances up a storm and wins the hunk.

  15. Michele

    Heroin addicts are really skinny. Does that make them smart? Anorexics and bulimics and super models are really skinny, too.

    Dang. I’m gonna have to stop worrying about the size of my butt and do more about getting addicted to something!

  16. di

    Ahhhhh Neil, you continue to rise in my esteem and take on a faint glow.

    Maybe we should all aspire to becoming a ‘Neil’ in our quest for perfection …

  17. di

    What I meant was that I really really liked your post 🙂 Just in case that wasn’t clear. The ‘become a Neil’ thing seems silly now it’s out there and live.

  18. Violet the Verbose

    Holy crap, batman! Wow. Niiiiiiiiiice article. Did I mention, crap? It’s so weird how so many people think that all overweight people are overweight simply because they eat too much. There’s so much more to it. And, um, WOW that she’d put her name on something saying “don’t hire fat people.” Dang, that’s ballsy.

  19. laurie

    Unfreaking believable.

    Except you know, for anyone whose ever been both fat and skinny in a lifetime, we already know how we’re treated differently at each end of the spectrum.

    However … like psychomom, I am also a rock-hard athlete. Knitting is a sport, right? and by “rock hard” I mean “not rock hard.” Whatever.

  20. LVGurl

    I’m back and catching up on my blog reading. I’m still laughing over your previous post 🙂

    You are saving me so much time unearthing these keys to happiness. And I thank you.

  21. Joan

    Neil…I just wanted to let you know I still think you are HOT, even though you didn’t ask me to send a picture of my trees in fall again this year. Your loss.

  22. Neil

    But Joan, you did.

  23. TamiW

    It makes me livid that anyone would get paid to write things like that. I have a mind to write her an email in ALL CAPS!

  24. Neil

    Nazi-era German school science textbook showing how to perceive character traits of individuals by the shape of their heads, with Aryan head shapes showing superior character and strength:


  25. plain jane

    Well…I’m already white so I just need to lose a few pounds have a sex change operation and become a Christian to be perfect. As appealing as it sounds, I’m just too fat (read–lazy) to do it.

  26. Jenny from Chicago

    My weight has fluctuated lately, does that mean they should fire me? Hmmm…

  27. teahouseblossom

    I wonder if this whole thing is just a setup by the plastic surgeons’ lobby to make overweight people hate themselves and want to do something about it surgically…

  28. Bre

    I have nothing to say other than “Yuck.”

    But that’s probably because I haven’t exercised yet today.

  29. therapydoc

    This makes me want to go out and buy some Ben and Jerry’s. And it’s cold here in Chicago.

  30. Southern Gentleman

    Yeah! I’m lazy, but I’m not fat. Just good genes and metabolism, ’cause I eat lots and lots. Hedonistic foodie, tha’s me.

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