Thursday, October 7, 2010

You're Not Paranoid!

Everyone else is calling their piece "It Pays to be skinny" but I'm callin' it, it costs to be fat. According to a University of Florida study (cited in this article from the Wall Street Journal), "very thin women, weighing 25 pounds less than the group norm, earned an average $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight" and what's worse, "A woman who gained 25 pounds above the average weight earned an average $13,847 less than an average-weight female." 50lbs, it seems, can separate the have's from the have-not's.

To be "fair and balanced" they cite the impact of weight on men:

"Men were also penalized for violating stereotypes about ideal male appearance, but in a different way. Thin guys earned $8,437 less than average-weight men. But they were consistently rewarded for getting heavier, a trend that tapered off only when their weight hit the obese level. In one study, the highest pay point, on average, was reached for guys who weighed a strapping 207 pounds."

So, men actual benefit from some extra meat, but are penalized for skinniness. Yet, notice the big difference in terms of dollar amounts that a minority of thin men suffer verses a majority of women.

The WSJ writer couldn't just say that this was discrimination, however, oh, no! Rather: "People who conform to others’ ideas about the ideal body image may actually perform better on the job, because they can wield more influence over other people and get more things accomplished."

I call bullshit on that assumption and would rather see how these higher paid supper-skinny women stack up in terms of productivity (not just performance reviews where thin-bias would probably alter the data) rather than this speculation that "they might be better at their job." Thin does not equal competent, nor does fat equal lazy--there are thin people who are very good at their jobs and fat people very good at their jobs, but they don't receive equal pay for equal work because our fat-phobic society (and the Patriarchy) loves to reward conformity and punish non-conformity to our beauty ideals.


  1. My question is how did the study factor in models. Most models are underweight and most regular sized/plus size people work at desk jobs that pay far less on average.

  2. I don't think that models are a large enough population to skew the numbers. If you're looking at 27,000 people, the 2 that are models aren't going to impact the data.