I met Lisa about a year ago at the annual NAAFA convention. She was moderating a panel on diversity and inclusion in the fat activism movement, and I kind of fell in love with her. She and I have been talking a lot lately in anticipation of my April 20th (yes, the April 20 that is this Saturday, friends) teleseminar "Fat & Sexy: 5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask." In this guest post she gives us 5 tips for reclaiming the workplace as big-bodied folks. Heed the Lisa wisdom, ghurl:
It’s no secret that one of the most prolific breeding grounds for size discrimination is in the workplace.
Between the assumptions and stereotypes, fat people are negatively impacted during their lifecycle in the workplace. However, it can be a place to reclaim your space and enhance your work life and those around you. The tips provided below are not inclusive and serve as general guidelines. Various factors could play a
role in how you claim/reclaim your space in the workplace (type of business, size of the business, business owner/management, cultural climate).
1) VISION: Ask yourself what would you envision as a weight neutral/body positive environment look like or feel to you in the workplace? Don’t let the current situation or barriers limit your vision.
2) ASSESS: Assess your current or future workplace. You can start the assessment before and during the interview process, by asking questions (listen to responses, pay attention to non-verbal responses too).
• Example questions for you to consider:
o Are there armless or adjustable chairs? (reception area, office, meeting room,
o Who is featured in their collateral materials (website, brochures, annual report)
o Does appearance come up in conversation? Are there references to weight and size?
• Example lead-in questions to ask others:
o What is your company’s view of Diversity and Inclusion?
o How would you describe the corporate culture or brand of the business?
o Can you describe your wellness philosophy or wellness initiatives and programs?
3) BARRIERS & OPPORTUNITIES: What are the barriers that are keeping you from reclaiming your space in the workplace? What are the opportunities to reclaim your space? (List out big and small)
4) ACTION: What type of action steps/support/tools, do you need to claim or reclaim your space in the workplace or address those barriers (i.e. bring in a piece of body positive art or poster with a statement, seek out potential advocates and allies, utilize your talents to influence, use the NAAFA
Size Diversity Toolkit)
5) EDUCATE: If you have the interest and time leverage opportunities to be involved/organize team building events, community outreach activities, organize a love your body event, influence programs, recommend fat advocates for informative meetings, educational offerings, keynotes, create teachable moments, etc.
Celebrate the small steps & big wins as you reclaim your space in the workplace!
Come back tomorrow for a teaser from this weekend's NAAFA-sponsored teleseminar "Fat & Sexy: 5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask!" featuring my hard-earned body positive sexpertise.
Keywords: NAAFA, Lisa Tealer, fat discrimination, workplace discrimintation, fatphobia
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.