There are many aspects to communication. What one says without words is often more important than the words actually being said. A person’s physical appearance communicates volumes. With obesity becoming ever more common, it is extremely important to understand the weight that body mass can put on people’s communication in business. There are various stereotypes that overweight people must battle. Getting hired is often a major hurdle for heavy people, and even after landing the job, stereotypes can still communicate and inflict negativity. As a society, it is important to acknowledge these stereotypes, recognize situations where stereotypes play an unintentional role, and finally, understand why employers are concerned about the weight of their employees.
The Communication of Body Mass
Developed communication skills are imperative to a successful career. However, communication includes more than speaking and writing. Non-verbal communication is just as important as the words one says. Body shape and size is often perceived as a non-verbal cue by potential employers, managers, and peers.
Being overweight can have adverse effects on one’s communication and career. Stereotypes are often to blame for how the communication of body mass is perceived. First, it is important to acknowledge the existing stereotypes that surround the issue of body weight. Then, look at the workplace to see where these stereotypes lead to discrimination. Finally, people must realize why a healthy weight is important no only to one’s communication, but also to their employer.
It is extremely important to realize that weight-related stereotypes exist and play a role in our communication. Without acknowledging their existence, people cannot monitor their biases. In turn, people can inadvertently discriminate heavy people. David B. Allison, Vincent C. Basile, and Harold E. Yuker in Measuring Attitudes and Beliefs About Obesity explain that those who view weight as being controllable, instead of unmanageable, foster more negativity towards the obese (1991).
Studies have shown people who are not heavy tend to view people who are in a negative manner (Allison, Basile, & Yuker, 1991). In a 2004 study conducted by Christy Greenleaf, Misty Starks, Laura Gomez, Heather Chambliss, and Scott Martin, college students were asked to evaluate human silhouettes of different body types. The students stereotyped the larger body silhouettes as being lazy and boring and the smaller bodied silhouettes as being active, funny, and smart (Greenleaf, Starks, Gomez, Chambliss, & Martin; 2004). Another study, Sizing Things Up: The Effects of Weight on the Evaluation of Job Candidates by F. Smith, larger people were seen as “less competent, less productive, and less industrious…disorganized, indecisive, inactive, less successful…unattractive, and less capable of doing certain jobs” (2007).
Both genders can be negatively influenced by...