Monday, October 18, 2010

Being a fat girl isn't easy in the job market.

You might be wondering why there is a painting of a woman above. There is a point.

Today started out much like any day. I went through my somewhat haphazard routine of dressing, fussing with my hair, feeding the cats, deciding whether or not I would put on make up, and picking up the house. Normally I wouldn't be in a rush but today I had things to do, one of which was to drive over to the nearest Walgreen's and complete the next step in my application process. So, after about a hour, I was ready to go.

When I arrived, I was taken to a back office by one of the ladies in the photo department. She got the computer nice and ready for me and let me be to take the skill assessment. Aside from missing the first question and feeling like an idiot for it, the assessment was straight forward and quick. Next step on the directions for me to follow was to find a store manager.

The store manager was found in record time and he seemed like a nice enough guy except for the tell tale sign that I knew I would never be hired there. Every time I go into a place for an interview or check on an application I watch the managers. In my experience if they do the "elevator eyes" and give me some brush off quick answer, I know I will not be considered. This man did exactly that. He looked me over up and down, said they hired on a need basis and walked away. For my part of it, I left the store in a hurry to take a deep breath in my car before I screamed.

In the near ten years I have been in and out of the work force, I haven't had as much trouble finding a job as I have in the last few years. Sure the bad economy plays a part and the fact that it's the employer's market adds to the problem but there is another reason. I am an overweight female. It doesn't matter how nice I dress, if I wear make up or fix my hair, the first thing an employer is looking at are not my qualifications, job history, ect... They see my weight and my gender.

Point of fact, a few years ago I was hired at a deli chain at $5.50 an hour. Two months later my cousin, who is skinnier, more attractive (despite her rat face), and has a larger chest was hired on at $6.00. She had less work history and was a high school drop out. While working for this company I subjected to harassment from one of the managers about my weight, how he was "going to whip me into shape" and how I was "slower" than the rest of the workers. Upset by the constant harassment and learning that another manager had to fight him for the raises I was due from passing my certifications, I quit. I worked just as hard if not harder than the rest of the employees. I was trained in several positions and did each one every shift I worked.

Now not all managers are like that and not all of them give me the elevator eyes. I have met some really nice managers who might look me over, but actually engage in conversation, try to get a feel for who I am, what I am like and what not even if it's just for a few minutes, and those managers always promise to look over my application and get back to me. Sometimes they do sometimes they don't, either way, they gave me the time of day.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about how society has changed in its view of women. During the Renaissance or middle ages having a fat wife or daughter(s) was a good thing. It meant the man was providing for his family and was wealthy enough to do so. It was a status symbol and fat women were thought as beautiful. Where as today, fat women are generally viewed as pigs and ugly. Skinny, thin, toned, or athletic women are prized and sought after. Thin women get ahead in society, they have a better chance at getting a job, finding a man, and being treated better.

Personally I don't think it should matter whether or not you are fat or thin but it does. Especially now with the 'being healthy' or 'being thin is beautiful' craze is going on. But does anyone ever stop to look at what people, especially women are doing to themselves to achieve this ideal look? People are hurting themselves, emotionally, mentally, and physically and worse they are miserably scrambling to meet society's standards.

I admit, I am one of those miserable fat females who wishes even for a second that the issue of which color of dress or which dress to wear on a date was the most pressing part of an evening out. Shopping for clothing is a nightmare. Trying clothes on is disappointing because you see something you really like but it won't fit right or its too small and there isn't a size bigger. Or worse, they just don't have anything in your size and anything you do try on is far too tight for any sense of modesty and propriety.

Sure there are diets out there, crash diets, pills,medical procedures, books but none of them really work. Mostly because people are more miserable on the diets, pills, and diet guide books than they were when they were eating what they wanted and they all cost exorbitant amounts of money. If you're poor, you just can't afford that stuff much less to eat "healthy". When you're poor you have to plan and make food that lasts.

Now in my case, yes, I am poor. My house hold would rank on the poverty level. So that means that I have a limited amount of grocery spending money. I don't get food stamps or assistance. However, I do my best to make well rounded meals, I've tried cutting out sweet and starches, things that are known to keep people fat. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit and meat. Still I find myself fat and not losing. In fact in the last few weeks I've gained weight, which is interesting since I haven't really had a lot available to eat.

Have I tried exercise, you bet. I have a nice pond that I walk around occasionally, when I feel up to it and my allergies aren't bothering me too much to do so. I was swimming nearly every day in the indoor pool at my apartment complex. However they seemed to have closed the pools since the school year stared. Also, I have a set of stairs that I go up and down several times a day. But I can't afford to get a membership at a health club. I can't afford the YMCA. So what am I supposed to do and why can't people understand that?

More importantly, why can't people look beyond themselves, look beyond what society deems "beautiful", and look beyond how a person looks and give them a chance.

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