109 thoughts on “Open for Discussion

  1. My favorite part:

    So don’t be overweight and don’t dress carelessly. These are just as detrimental to your career as doing your work poorly. And if my bringing this up makes you angry, consider being more forgiving, because anger is a risk factor for obesity.

    Well… okay, then.

    Seriously, I can’t even get worked up about this woman. She’s just too ignorant, in too many ways. But I can’t wait to see what others have to say.

  2. Anger is risk factor for obesity?

    WTFBBQ? What is this woman smoking?

    Oh, the concussions I’m going to have from beating my head on my desk.

    I read the article, and while I can get behind her advice to dress well, I hope some bosses or management call her on her, “slack off at work so you can go to the gym and work out so you look how *I* think you should look”

    And being the owner of a terminally messy desk, I can say most people I know think it means I’m way busier than the clean desk folks. And the only times I lose things is when other people go digging through my stuff. Which I hate, I have a high territorial streak about my desk.

  3. She’s got junk in the trunk, alright, but not the good kind.

    Does anyone know how to write Yahoo directly? I looked all over their site but couldn’t find anywhere to e-mail to them to complain about this columnist. Yahoo is my default front page, but I think I will reconsider – and would like to tell them so.

    She needs to be fired, because what she’s said in essence is that employers are *perfectly justified* in practicing blatant job discrimination against heavier employees.

    Personally, I’m getting pretty sick of this workplace stuff. I am old enough to remember women at my first college who filed some of the first class action job discrimination suits (because of gender.) We’re at that point right now with size discrimination.

    As I mentioned in my own comment, the 1964 US Civil Rights Act needs to be amended to include size discrimination (which would also protect exceptionally small or thin people.)

    Closing the “fat loophole” is especially important because as I see it, discrimination against the overweight can easily be used as an end-run around existing civil rights laws. African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and older people are all heavier. They are protected classes, but if they are harassed, charged more for insurance, or even fired because they’re “too fat,” that’s perfectly legal. So companies with bigoted values have a vested interest in perpetuating anti-fat discrimination.

  4. I love that her advice is “don’t be overweight.” Hey fatties, have you ever tried not being fat? Give it a shot!

  5. Is my image bad for my career? Lady, I’m not the one who looks like a Guess Who? piece.

    You have to do a lot of work to make that link she posted add up to “anger is a risk factor for obesity,” though, so… kudos on that?

  6. Wow, in addition to everything else, I’m sure SO MANY bosses would be fine with their employees saying “Sorry; I’m knocking off work early to go to the gym. Find someone else to do it.”

    Also, I understand women get paid less than men. I guess I should try not being female for a while. I know it’s hard and all, but any effort is worthwhile to make sure I’m properly catering to the expectations of unpleasant and uninformed people!

  7. 4 weightloss tips from my month in the mental ward!

    i hoped you were joking but you are not.

    God, this is a sad, sad woman.

  8. Oh, that’s actually really sad. Sounds like, in fact, whether she learned weight loss tips in the mental ward or not, she never actually received competent help for her very serious eating disorder.

  9. What angered me most about this piece was the fact that she had a chance to talk about size discrimination and the discussion boiled down to this:

    OMFGZ you fatties, why are you SOOO FAT!?!!!!!111! Just STOP already!

    I especially loved this…

    In fact, if you’re overweight, you should probably put aside some of your work, accept that you won’t be performing as well at the office, and manage your image more closely by going to the gym.

    And after a few weeks of this you will probably find that you have lots of time to work out because you’ll be unemployed.

  10. So stop putting your work before your weight. Miss deadlines, cut corners, and disappear if need be (From the article Kate’s sister linked to)

    That is very irresponsible advice! Shit, in my job cutting corners leads to things like big tank farm fires that lose millions of dollars for the company and can lead to people being killed. Think being thin would help me keep my job if I was responsible for something like that?

  11. The repeating theme of the commenters who drooling over this story seems to be “it’s not right, but is true.” So I guess we should just leave it alone. Because it happens, it must be right, or at least impossible to change.

    Have we really become that complacent as a people that we’re now CONGRATULATING people for pointing out obvious discrimination and then promoting it in a public forum? Jesus tap-dancing Christ.

    She may as well have written an article about how being black will get you arrested for minor offenses much faster than being white – it’s not fair, its just that most cops are white guys. And before you go getting all angry, you should watch that, because that red anger welling makes your face look less white.

  12. So stop putting your work before your weight. Miss deadlines, cut corners, and disappear if need be (From the article Kate’s sister linked to)

    And this is supposed to HELP with the perception that fatties aren’t good employees??

  13. Have we really become that complacent as a people that we’re now CONGRATULATING people for pointing out obvious discrimination and then promoting it in a public forum?

    Oh of course. It’s called being EDGY.

    And before you go getting all angry, you should watch that, because that red anger welling makes your face look less white.

    Bwah!

  14. Kate’sSisterJ:

    Re: the Sept 25 article about her hospitalization for bulimia … O.o

    This woman has some problems. But Yahoo still needs to fire her.

  15. Wow. Just Wow.

    This woman does realize that it was not too long ago that a lot of these over weight folks, sloppily dressed or not, might not have had this job because, oh I don’t know…they were women, or they were any race that is not the all mighty white man?

    See now, saying that an employee shouldn’t be able to advance due to their race or gender, because of bigotry and stereotypes just isn’t ok. But let em fly when the person is overweight. I just cannot believe doesn’t see that discrimination is discrimination regardless of the vicitim.

  16. I just cannot believe SHE doesn’t see that discrimination is discrimination regardless of the victim.

    Sorry a few errors. Angry fingers.

  17. She may as well have written an article about how being black will get you arrested for minor offenses much faster than being white – it’s not fair, its just that most cops are white guys. And before you go getting all angry, you should watch that, because that red anger welling makes your face look less white.

    So you should try not being so black!

  18. Read back in her blog to get a feel for her beyond just the fat issue. What I found is that she’s somebody who is two-dimensional, but hell bent on pretending to be three-dimensional. She’s all about how to bend herself to fit societal norms to succeed. Good for her, except the part where the fakeness of it all makes me want to puke. Really, her whole thing about getting ahead in life seems to be based on LOOKING LIKE people who succeed, as opposed to figuring out how to actually add value. Her comments on fat are about equal to her comments on everything else, flat and lacking any sort of depth of knowledge.

  19. I posted a comment, and pointed out that if yahoo is going to publish blatantly offensive commentary, at least they could publish original offensive commentary. I mean “don’t be fat and messy” come ON!

  20. Really, her whole thing about getting ahead in life seems to be based on LOOKING LIKE people who succeed, as opposed to figuring out how to actually add value.

    Ah, a Rules girl.

  21. Her comments on fat are about equal to her comments on everything else, flat and lacking any sort of depth of knowledge.

    You mean, she’s not a credible source? SAY IT AIN’T SO! :)

  22. Okay, first of all? Y’all, she’s freakin’ me out. She’s practically a dead ringer for Aunt Joan, I shit you not. What are the odds of two people looking that much alike and both being total fat-haters?? It’s FREAKY!!

    Secondly, there’s this:

    But regular exercise… might even make people smarter.

    Okay, y’all, she’s totally busted me. I don’t get regular exercise, aside from chasing my kids around and junk.

    But dudes, I can’t AFFORD to!

    Being this smart already makes me fuckin’ miserable like 80% of the time!! If I get any smarter, I’m just going to have to off myself. And then my poor kids would be orphans, and it would totally be Penelope Trunk’s fault.

  23. Gah! Once again, insane rage makes me teh dumz!

    My kids will not be orphans, as, y’know, my husband is still around. Unless HE starts exercising too!!!! NoooooOOOOOOooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. I saw this about an hour ago when I went to check my email and was hoping that someone would pick it up. I have a messy desk AND I’m fat. HOW AM I EMPLOYED??????

    I better leave work to hit that gym I can’t afford to attend! W00t!

  25. Being this smart already makes me fuckin’ miserable like 80% of the time!! If I get any smarter, I’m just going to have to off myself

    BWAH! Goddammit, you’re right. I wish somebody’d told me to stop exercising a long time ago.

    Also, I’m pretty sure it’s a universal law that if you write something about how smart you are — or, say, a cover letter about what an ace copy editor you are — it must contain a logical error and/or typo.

  26. I’d also like to add in this little tidbit, swiped from her 5 things that shouldn’t be in the workplace. Of course, vending machines are on the list!

    It is very, very difficult for me to have a hard problem at work and not let my mind wander to chocolate. And I’m not even overweight. So I can imagine it is much harder for people who are already not controlling their eating.

    I’m so glad she’s not prideful.

  27. So I can imagine it is much harder for people who are already not controlling their eating.

    Actually, it works the other way around, Pen. It’s much easier for people who aren’t controlling their eating. They have no reason to fetishize chocolate. Imagine that.

    Jesus, I really do sympathize with people who have eating disorders, but could someone please fucking stop them from giving diet advice?

  28. At my place of employment (where I have risen high in the ranks despite being fat, so phtttht), we mock people with really clean desks. The clean desk people usually (though there are a few exceptions) fall into two categories: those who don’t actually do anything all day and are basically getting paid to be house plants, and those who do work, but are so uptight that they spend an hour a day ensuring that nothing on their desk is out of place. The former are loathed because of their incompetence and the latter are so unpleasant to work with that people despise them.

    What’s so great about a clean desk? All is indicates is decreased productivity.

    My fat butt and I are quite happy with our messy desk and frequent promotions.

  29. It is very, very difficult for me to have a hard problem at work and not let my mind wander to chocolate. And I’m not even overweight. So I can imagine it is much harder for people who are already not controlling their eating.

    Well no, because if I’m at work and my mind is wandering to chocolate, I just eat some chocolate and get back to work. Whereas if there were no vending machines and I got actually hungry, I wouldn’t be able to work because I would be too busy thinking about food. So hooray for vending machines (although I do wish there was such a thing as vending machines that sold fruits and veggies, because sometimes that’s what I’m craving but I’m stuck with chips/chocolate or nothing).

    She also had something about how she would kill an coworker who had a candy dish because she wouldn’t be able to stop eating/obsessing over it. Dude, your issues with food are your own problem, not that of your candy loving coworker.

  30. She’s provacative and tries to get people talking. Unfortunately, she picked the wrong subject. She’s wrong on this one, and I’m a fan.

    Sigh.

  31. Dude, your issues with food are your own problem, not that of your candy loving coworker.

    AMEN.

    Laurie, you usually like her? Seriously?

    I can’t say I’ve read her much, but I’m trusting Al (radparker) that I probably wouldn’t want to.

  32. “Oh of course. It’s called being EDGY.”

    That’s the funny thing about this — she thinks that she’s being really controversial, but what she’s saying is not at all original. If she were truly an outside the box thinker, she wouldn’t justify her article by saying “I’m not saying this is fair, I’m saying it’s true.” Being truly edgy would involve thinking about an issue in a new way — this is just tired stereotypes recycled as some kind of inane, tough love bullshit.

  33. Aha. So, what she’s telling me is…if I slack off and work out instead…this makes me look more competent? Word?

    Why in the mauve hell is Yahoo employing this loathesome woman?

  34. I was trying not to stoop to that. That’s why I keep you around.

    The logical flaws are too obvious, so I had to go after the moniker. :)

  35. Maybe I should bring this article with me to work tomorrow and show it to my supervisor when I’m late yet again because I ran five extra minutes instead of getting to work on time. I’m doing it for the company, I swear, not because running is more fun than my job.

    I appreciate that dressing carelessly or unprofessionally can be a detriment to your career (though in some fields it seems like you already need more than they pay at the entry level to be able to “dress for success”) but anywhere where my appearance is a greater asset than my performance? Is not somewhere I want to be working. Not only is that a hint that there’s something I’m not a fan of going on, it’s also a sign of a position with limited advancement and responsibility. Sorry, not what I’m after.

    And after reading her blog post about “weight loss tips from the mental ward” (holy crap, that is almost as auto-parody as the short people health crisis), I can’t help but think she is seriously whacked in the head about this stuff. Just because SHE had a very serious case of bulimia does not mean that everyone who is overweight is so because they ate the entire fridge and everyone who is thin is thin because they vomit five times a day.

    Every body is different and every mind is different. Surely someone who advocates hacking your way through corporate America would understand that? Or is the way to get ahead by assuming you can be as average as possible?

  36. You know, I was actually going to post a link to this insanity here, but I’m glad you guys got to it first.

    Now, what I’m thinking is, blondes. Lotsa people say that blondes are dumb. Solution: DYE YOUR HAIR BROWN YOU DAMN BIMBO. Also, a lot of people think that pretty women are stupid (and they’re distracting to their male coworkers). So we should, like, make them wear paper bags over their heads. Or something.

    And how about people with annoying voices? I’m sure we could do something to permanently damage their vocal cords while we’re handing out neuroses.

    Jesus effing Christ.

  37. And we should make strong people wear bags of birdshot and smart people should have little radios in their ears that make loud unpleasant noises!

  38. So stop putting your work before your weight. Miss deadlines, cut corners, and disappear if need be

    There is no phrase for this other than disordered thinking. Truly, this is DSM-IV stuff. It is irrational and self-destructive to believe this. She is acting out her eating disorder and getting paid for it.

    Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

  39. You know what I want to see?

    I want a couple of you fat triathletes to challenge her to a private triathlon. If she thinks she’s in better shape than every fat person out there, let’s see the proof. Let’s see her keep up with Sarah!

    But agreed with the rest of the comments that this woman is truly unhinged. First she says Leslie Bennetts (The Feminine Mistake) has no credibility because Bennetts isn’t thin enough to have moral authority on any issue. (I am not joking; here is a link to Jennifer Weiner’s post on it.) Now this.

    I am seriously considering discontinuing my Yahoo email and telling them exactly why I’m doing it. Between this and their inane, antediluvian “dating and relationship” advice to women which basically amounts to “be totally submissive to men, except when you are being a lying, manipulative bitch,” I am convinced they simply hate women. Being young ‘n’ hawt just means they hate you slightly less.

  40. MOTHERFUCKER! I was totally about to link this article to you. :P

    I can’t blog it now…. damn…. Or can I? ^_^
    Pretty much what has already being said:
    It’s really sad that our society thinks image comes above things such as.. oh.. I don’t know… ability and work ethic? ‘Cuz they are so overrated. :P

  41. “Also, a lot of people think that pretty women are stupid (and they’re distracting to their male coworkers). So we should, like, make them wear paper bags over their heads. Or something.”

    You know, this is an interesting one for me. The other extrapolation from Ms. Trunk’s yammering is that “overweight” women are “sloppy” and “ugly”. So if they “slim down”, and become “fit” and “pretty”, they’re STILL GOING TO BE FIRED EVENTUALLY BECAUSE THEY’RE WHAT???

    DISTRACTING.

    No f***ing thanks.

    Currently working on being “less black” and other colors. (That’s a whole ‘nother rant, y’all.) I’ll get back to you.

    “Smart people should have little radios in their ears that make loud unpleasant noises!”

    We do. They’re called Penelope Trunks.

  42. You know, she’s quite right. It’s a bad career move to be fat. It’s also better for you if you can manage to be tall. I believe that being male and white might help too. And I know there’s age discrimination in my field. (IT likes ‘em young.) Let’s all take her very sound advice and become tall slim young white men. You know you can do it. Just hire an image consultant and off you go. Oops, forgot to add rich.

  43. So don’t be overweight and don’t dress carelessly. These are just as detrimental to your career as doing your work poorly.

    Yeah, I’ll get right on that after I finish my current project of growing 5″ taller. I read somewhere that short people get screwed over at work and gods know I don’t want that to happen to me.

    Penelope Trunk reminds me of a something my grandfather used to say: If brains were gunpowder, she wouldn’t be able to get off a good fart.

  44. Penelope Trunk reminds me of a something my grandfather used to say: If brains were gunpowder, she wouldn’t be able to get off a good fart.

    Bwah! I love your grandfather!

  45. I left her a comment, don’t think she’ll read it, or believe it if she does read it. But who cares, she’s a moron (and that’s giving morons a bad name).

  46. Yeah, here’s a great strategy. Write false, insulting, and purposely inflammatory tripe and then tell people they’re not allowed to get angry about it because OH NOES, it might cause TEH FATZ!

    *headdesk*

  47. Jesus, I really do sympathize with people who have eating disorders, but could someone please fucking stop them from giving diet advice?

    No, seriously! PLEASE. I don’t like hearing how I need to learn how to lose weight from someone who doesn’t know how to do it, outside of having a mental illness. That kind of goes for the entire diet industry, but especially for, you know, those who have diagnosed mental illnesses.

    Secondarily, has it ever occurred to anyone that perhaps it’s the messy dressing that’s the problem, not Teh Fat? I understand that if you do not fit precisely into a size that comes in a store, it’s a little more difficult to get clothing that fits you properly. Also, if you perpetually believe you are going to lose weight, you may hang on to and wear clothes that would fit if you just lost those last five/ten lbs. . . . or you plan on losing weight, so what’s the point of buying clothing that fits you better/clothing that is less ratty now? Wait for the weight loss for the shopping spree! [ /sarcasm ]

    My boyfriend, who is a skinny, young, white guy in the IT field, discovered that if he wears a dress shirt and a jacket to work, people listen to him. I similarly discovered that if I switched from corduroys and khakis to dress pants, blazers, and collared shirts, I got a modicum of respect. (I couldn’t do anything about the fact that I was working for a bunch of people who still thought I was a student, being that I’d graduated less than six months prior.)

    So don’t ditch out on work to go to the freaking gym, just BUY CLOTHES THAT FIT.

  48. Well I don’t understand what everyone is so upset about. What she is saying is absolutely true. There is discrimination in the real world. You may not like what she is saying, but what she is saying is true.

  49. I don’t understand why everyone is discussing this topic, it’s completely subjective. There are those that believe a heavy-set individual is a slob and there are those that believe that they are perfect human beings. Then there are those in the middle that believe a little bit of both, and before you know it there are so many different mindsets that if we all wrote an article we’d be fighting forever. But whatever, continue if you wish.

  50. Uh…this lady is a bad writer, that’s true, but did any of you actually read her article properly? She’s not writing about her opinion of fat people. What’s she’s saying is completely true- your appearance has a massive impact on your career. There has been lots of research on this subject. It is well established that beautiful, thin, tall people generally receive more promotions, are paid more, and are more often given job opportunities, etc. It’s not fair, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    All the commenters over there saying “I’m fat and I work harder than everyone else in my office, so you’re a liar.” have totally missed her point.

    She’s not saying that fat people work less hard than thin people- she’s saying they are perceived that way by other people and this can hurt their careers, which is unfortunately true.

  51. Actually, the majority of us get her point. What we’ve decided is that, well, it’s bull.

    It’s understood that looks play a major part in well, shucks, anything. But the issue at hand here is that the changes shouldn’t have to lie with the employees–it ought to be upon the employers to do something about it. I mean, how about this…instead of saying, hey, fatties, go lose some weight and get a stylist, the employer decides to look at, um, a resume and decide from there how a person will be? Or simply do a job evaluation and see, well, hell, she knows what’s she doing without looks having anything to do with it?

    The issue doesn’t lie with her opinion of fat folks, it has to do with her solution of how to get by in this dog eat dog world: conform. And quite frankly, I shouldn’t have to conform to everyone else’s ideal of beauty. My job is to be me and beat the shit out that mold that some folks continually try to shove me into… and properly do the job I was hired for. I ain’t there to be asthetically pleasing, dammit.

    But perhaps I’m too much of an idealist for that to work.

  52. Oh yeah, and I started this job at a point when I was losing weight. Got down to a healthy BMI and then spent 6 months off sick with work-related depression and nearly lost my job because I was simply not doing it well enough.

    I’ve put the weight back on over the last 3 years (no? really?) and a bit more to spare (gosh, how unusual) but hey, I’m doing *much* better in my job.

  53. Sorry for the multiple comments

    Riot: No-one’s disagreeing with Ms Trunk that being fat gets you discriminated against at work. The problem is with the fact she treats fatness and slobbiness as one subject – I’m sure you can agree with me that not all fat people are sloppy dressers, And also her suggested “solution” which is to tell people to exercise more, even if that is to the detriment of their work.

  54. Really? I didn’t get the impression that she had done that. Then again, the article is so badly written that I may not have picked up on it.
    But thanks for clarifying why people are angry.

    “And also her suggested “solution” which is to tell people to exercise more, even if that is to the detriment of their work.”
    Heh. No argument there.

  55. If you’re overweight, you’re probably not exercising every day.

    …Really? So… what am I actually doing during all that time I thought I was using for exercise?

    (Though it is true that this is a common perception. I’ve been told several times that I really should start exercising… by people who exercise significantly less than I do. Argh.)

    I’m so glad I don’t have an office job.

  56. She is so crazy neurotic, it’s hilarious. Anyone read her How to manage your image article?

    “My mother always told me, “Dress for the job above yours. No one will give you a promotion until they can imagine you in the higher position.” So when I worked at 31 Flavors in high school, I didn’t wear a baseball cap like the other scoopers. I wore a crinkly, white paper hat, with brown and pink polka-dots, because that’s what the manager wore. … In college, when I wanted to be David Kramer’s girlfriend, I wore soft blue sweaters like his fiancée.

    That’s one way to take that advice.

    I wonder if this isn’t all just a big joke to her, writing crazy sarcastic articles so people laugh and read her more than articles that given boring, obvious advice. Or maybe she really is that crazy. I feel bad for her if she is.

  57. Calagot, it’s not her opinion that we have a problem with. She’s welcome to think what she wants about heavy people and we’re all welcome to think she’s a small-minded bigot, but that’s not really the point. If all she did was write an article detailing her thoughts on fat people, it would be obnoxious but we’d get over it.

    The problem is, that’s not what she wrote. What she wrote is career advice that says to cut corners and skip out of work early to go to the gym, with a nice dose of ‘fat people are lazy anyway, so you probably need the exercise.’ This is appalling advice that is not only offensive but likely to get someone fired if they actually follow it.

    That’s what we’re pissed off about.

    And I’m skinny, so I have no personal stake in this. It just offends me as a human being.

  58. She’s not saying that fat people work less hard than thin people

    No, she’s saying they should work less hard than thin people.

    All the “I don’t understand your problem” people are hilarious to me. “It’s not technically illegal to fire you for being fat, so don’t be fat, but do be legitimately fireable.” That’s good advice to you?

  59. In some jobs, it is an absolute disadvantage to be fat, because of the fat prejudice of the setting. In other jobs, not so much. In any case, what needs to change isn’t the weight of the employee but the prejudicial beliefs being translated into action.
    We don’t legislate whether people hate one group or another. Everyone is entitled to hate, dislike, begrudge whomever they please. What we can legislate is behavior in hiring and firing and how people are treated in the workplace. Sexual orientation and fatness share some common ground here (and height, too, I would think). People have a variety of opinions about whether or not you can (or should) change sexual orientation. I think it’s bizarre that some people think you can stop being gay, but they do think that.
    I would love to know from an employment law expert, what the laws are regarding discrimination aside from gender, age, race, religion, and disability.
    In my job, being fat is both a disadvantage and an advantage. I know of someone in management who I believe (but can’t prove) has a similar perspective to Ms. Trunks. Luckily, I work in government, so there are some limiting factors to how discriminatory a manager can be. But the clear advantages to me of working in the field of public health is that I actually enhance the diversity of the field by bringing the perspective of someone who lives in a fat body into my work. I understand things that people who have been thin or nearly thin all of their lives don’t understand. I challenge people’s perceptions of fat people all of the time. And most of my colleagues are wonderful people who don’t think of themselves as bigoted, so they are interested in knowing if they come across that way. I love the vast majority of the people I work with, and that’s why I work where I do, rather than for a corporation. I know not everyone has had the same opportunities I did, but when I was facing a career change, I knew I wanted to work in the public, not private, sector. (I know some parts of the public sector can be just as bad).

  60. There is discrimination in the real world. You may not like what she is saying, but what she is saying is true.

    No one here would dispute that there is discrimination in “the real world.” (Where do you suppose we all live and work? Neverland?)

    It’s true that discrimination against fat people exists.
    It’s true that racism exists.
    It’s true that sexism exists.
    It’s true that homophobia exists.
    It’s true that antisemitism exists
    It’s true that ageism exists.

    I don’t like any of those things, but they’re true.

    But unlike you, I don’t believe “that’s just the way it is” is a good enough fucking answer to those problems. (Shit. I think Bruce Hornsby may have had a greater effect on my childhood than I realized.)

    I mean, seriously, look at what you’re saying. “Those in positions of power hate people like you for no logical reason — you may not like it, but it’s true! Suck it up!”

    Would you give that advice to a black person? A gay person? A Jewish person? A woman? No, but you’d give it to a fat person. That’s just fucking charming.

    And very, very helpful — thank you so much.

  61. So if anger is a “risk factor for obesity,” why haven’t Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin packed on the pounds? (OK, that one’s too easy.)

  62. Would you give that advice to a black person? A gay person? A Jewish person? A woman? No, but you’d give it to a fat person. That’s just fucking charming.

    And it’s worth pointing out here that while discriminating against someone in the workplace for being black, female, or Jewish is against the law, discriminating against them for being gay is often perfectly legal.

    I think I’ll pitch Yahoo a story about how 33 states don’t explicitly disallow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, so gay people should remember to be more straight. After all, if you’re a gay man, you’re probably swishing all over the office and sitting on the boss’ desk in an evening gown singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” and if you’re a gay woman you are probably fat and dress like a slob (here I will cross-reference Miss Penelope Trunks, Slytherin House). So you should take time off work to practice making out with people of the opposite sex! Then you’ll be a model employee.

  63. Background: I have subscribed to Penelope Trunk’s blog for about a year, because following the career-advice bloggers is part of my job. She’s one of the big names. Her niche is specifically the Gen Y worker; maybe a bit of Gen X.

    I think the real issue here is that she is supposed to be giving advice to HELP people’s careers, but her self-admitted obsession with fat makes her unable to be more helpful than “disappear until you’re more esthetically pleasing.”

    One of her regular readers gave her an excellent comment (a lone voice among the believers), which I thought I’d share [Penelope's reply is at the end]:

    —–
    Okay.
    It’s taken me a couple of days — actually weeks, because it has come up before, multiple times — to figure out what I wanted to say to you on this subject.
    Because so far, you have treated it differently from other workplace issues. You haven’t said, here are five things to make it less of an issue, or how to finesse it in an interview.
    You have said, make it go away. And you’ve said, make it go away my way, which is by going to the gym an hour a day. And controlling your eating. Especially, do not eat candy.
    It’s been hard to keep reading your column and your blog knowing how much you hate fat people. Of course, you’re not too fond of boomers, but we’ve found common ground on that score before — I’m the one who brings up how much our generations have in common.
    So here are some observations, loosely based on the idea that fat is often in the eye of the beholder.
    Observation 1.
    Last Tuesday at tennis practice I looked three courts down and noticed a new player. True to your study results, the first things I noticed were her weight — she’s almost as big as I am, which is a size 2x skirt — and her clothes — she was wearing navy shorts and a red shirt, not exactly the latest tennis fashion.
    Half an hour later, though, she and I were on the same court doing a serving drill, and, Penelope, this woman has the most beautiful, traditional serving motion I’ve seen in 30 years! Her overheads have that same stroke too — the kind developed over years of practice. As we talked afterward, it turned out she had once layed tennis at the same numerical level as a teaching pro — 5.0 for those who care.
    Observation 2.

    In your article and all the comments above, we never did define overweight or obese. For all I know, you might get hysterical when you hit a size 12.
    Some of the comments sounded to me as if they were describing someone who weighs 300-350 pounds or more.
    For the record, I wear size 18 pants and weigh about 200 pounds. The highest-profile financial analyst in St. Louis, the one that gets quoted on NPR every time the markets hiccup or there’s a merger is probably twice my size. The headhunter who would most like to place me somewhere usually sees me in tennis clothes.
    Finally, I’m sure you know better than anyone that it’s possible to look as much as 30 pounds heavier or thinner depending on how you dress for business — hell, I can do ten just by wearing tennis clothes the fit — and an awful lot of folks are clueless about how much someone else weighs in any case.
    Now then . . .
    Here are some thought-starters for a column on how to mitigate the stereotype:
    1. Since the stereotype is that fat folks don’t exercise, I would think it would help to make sure people know you play a sport, especially if you’re good at it. But don’t give the impression the sport is more important than the work.
    (I have had trouble with this one but am pulling back into balance. My favorite lack-of-discipline story: the time last year I couldn’t say no to three tennis games in a row — that’s four and a half hours on the court!)
    2. Dress extra-well, and use those tips for creating the long vertical line: top, pants, shoes all one color, single-breasted open jacket or cardigan in a contrasting color.
    3. Ditto for grooming.
    4. Energy and enthusiasm! Fat people are supposed to be lazy, so you be the first one up out of your chair, the first one to the door, holding it for other people — you get the idea. If your feet hurt or you’re otherwise in pain, that’s a medical issue. You deserve the right care and proper pain relief, but do NOT discuss it at the office unless you know someone else has it too. Same with chronic fatigue.
    (BTW — chronic pain and fatigue, and neurological disorders in general, are direct contributors to obesity. The specific culprits: sleep deprivation, pain (sugar is a painkiller) and most of the meds.)
    5. Just like the thin kids — get out there and work with the peeps! You’ll never get anywhere hiding in your office behind your computer.
    * * * * * *
    Hi, Mary. Thank you for taking the time to post this comment. The information here is useful and informative. You make a nice point about how it’s good to give people ways to solve their problems beyond just go to the gym. I am probably not the best person to write that stuff, but you do a good job. So this is a nice addition to the blog. Thank you.
    –Penelope

  64. J., I don’t necessarily agree with everything there as I’m sure you know, but I agree that in terms of creating a more useful Penelope Trunk (Slytherin House)-style list of tips, that commenter did a great job.

  65. wellrounded — I’m an attorney and do employment work. as to your question on anti-discrimination laws, you’ve named most of the protected classes, at least under federal law. Some states have created additional protections based on sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS status, etc. I don’t think any state has yet to declare people of size as a protected category, though i’ve heard at least a few municipalities have looked at the issue. However, that doesn’t mean a fat person being discriminated against is without recourse — the discriminatory activity could be tied to sex, disability, race etc.
    I won’t get too law-nerdy on everyone, but if you’d like to know more, i’ll be glad to discuss via email. Though be aware that I am a fat lawyer, so I’m probably too sloppy to offer any meaningful opinions. I wear sweatpants to court y’all.

  66. I won’t get too law-nerdy on everyone

    Oh, if you’d like to, please feel free! Every kind of nerdy is embraced here!

    Though be aware that I am a fat lawyer, so I’m probably too sloppy to offer any meaningful opinions. I wear sweatpants to court y’all.

    BWAH!

  67. “The information here is useful and informative. You make a nice point about how it’s good to give people ways to solve their problems beyond just go to the gym. I am probably not the best person to write that stuff”

    THEN WHY IN THE HIGH HELL ARE YOU GETTING PAID TO DO SO? Sweet mother of Christ. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship. I think I’m going to start writing a romantic advice column, since I’m probably not the best person to write that stuff. Once I’m done with that, I’m going to start an advice column for lumberjacks, even though I’ve never cut down a motherfucking tree.

    But damn, do I look foxy in a flannel shirt.

  68. mrscracker (and everybody else), there are only four places in the United States which have size discrimination laws:

    Michigan
    Washington D.C.
    San Francisco, CA
    Santa Cruz, CA

    I believe Massachusetts was proposing adding weight and height to their anti-discrimination laws, but I have no idea if that came to pass.

  69. By the way (on a related note), I’m reading my local newspaper. The homecoming Queen of a local school is (GASP) plus-size! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    : )

  70. Sarah – thanks for the info, I wasn’t aware Michigan had such a law. It will be interesting to see how their courts interpret the statute and how many people see any significant damage awards for size discrimination. Once employers see a threat of losing a lot of money in litigation, it can help shape better workplace policies. I’ll have to check out the statute and see what kind of protections and/or damage limitations it imposes.

  71. This isn’t the first fat-bashing from Penelope Trunk. I don’t have the link at my current disposal, but I was engaged in a conversation on another professional’s blog where she posted some particularly nasty and scathing commentary about fat people.

    What I find particularly disturbing is that instead of working to change the stereotypes, Trunk is suggesting ways to reinforce them. It’s not the fat employee who has the problem; it’s the employer who holds such stereotypes. Would she advise black people to get their skin lightened to be more “white?” Should women dress and act more like men to get ahead?

  72. Isn’t fat-phobia one of the things about people with eating-disorders? I had a roommate in college who had been anorexic. She was getting better but still had a really messed up attitude about food and eating. Anyways, she was really actually terrified not just of being fat but of fat people.

    I always felt kind of sorry for her. And I feel pretty sorry for Ms. Trunk too.

    Although I agree with whoever said to stop letting people with eating disorders write diet advice… I mean really.

  73. Should women dress and act more like men to get ahead?

    Since women have a harder time getting taken seriously in the workplace, they should get sex changes. Because if they just weren’t women, the problem would be solved.

    Seriously, the more I look at this article, the weirder it seems.

  74. When I read “The Obesity Myth” and I came to the part where Paul Campos says most nutritionists have eating disorders….I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t. I agreed that they often have no clue how the body works and they are often militantly anti-fat, but I couldn’t go so far as to believe that they’re really disordered.

    Although it’s funny, in my dieting days I never had much difficulty believing that most fat people had to be disordered, myself included. I guess my reaction to Campos’ assertion was more denial.

    Now I think he was right. Penelope Trunk isn’t a nutritionist, but like so many of them, she’s obsessed with weight. It now seems obvious that a person who is obsessed with weight probably has a history of disordered eating.

    I’m shocked that Penelope is so out there with it. She picked up weight loss tips while being treated for bulimia. And she put this in a blog post. And people accepted this as “helpful advice”. And she gets paid to dispense this sort of advice. She’s scared to death of being fat. She’s panicky about food and her eating habits. She’s still in the thick of her disorder. She needs help.

  75. I am one of the people who emailed this to Kate and asked her to please talk about it, because I have read Penelope Trunk for some time and as a knowledge worker who has been in extremely difficult situations for the last year and a half, some of her advice has been useful. The guest bloggers who discuss issues of millenials has also been very valuable, as a 40-something person, who looks much younger, but ends up reporting to people in their 20′s sometimes.

    But this column was the last straw. As the commenter who posted on the Yahoo comments saying that she didn’t know how she could keep reading her column knowing how much she hates fat people – well, that’s how i felt. She also deliberately tries to shock the Yahoo crowd (different from her blog audience, where she talks about “oh, this week’s column will bring them out at yahoo”). people constantly call for her firing, but like Howard Stern, they keep reading. Yahoo wants page views, because page views mean revenue.

    I decided that I could no longer stand to be abused and have taken her out of my RSS reader, and will look for someone else offering career insight.

    If you read her blog, you will learn that she has a lot of personal problems, which she’s very open about. Her marriage is a wreck. She probably has PTSD from her 9/11 experience (and yes, so does most of New York City, but that’s another story). She’s in a position of ‘power’ now so she’s going to attack anything she can.

  76. I actually read an article by here that I thought would be unrelated to fat. It was jsut one of the random ones posted at the bottom of the screen for other interesting reading on her bulimia article.

    How to Jobhunt when You’re Pregnant

    You know what she says? Literally?

    Hide it. And when you can’t hide it anymore, make sure you’re not jobhunting, and just sit around the house! But I can’t believe I got pregnant and I’m not counting calories! (Yes, she said the calories bit).

    Oh, oh… And did anybody catch the fact that she gives subtle hints about how to be bulimic in her 4tips article? Like the fact that dry, uncooked bagel is one of the hardest things to throw up?

    I know I saw that, and I’m not jsut being paranoid

  77. From one of the many, many angry comments on the Yahoo thread…

    “Ms. Trunk is the woman who previously advised female employees to ignore sexual harassment because it might hurt their chances of getting promoted. I don’t really think I NEED to say more after that.”

  78. As an addendum: I found that article courtesy of ElasticWaist. And please read (most) of the comments. They’re awesome.

  79. FashionableNerd, I was aware that this is the season for blousy, baggy, swingy dresses, but to my mind, those are NOT fat girl dresses! Not hourglass-shaped fat girl dresses, anyway. As if I want to look shapeless and bigger than I am any more than that reporter does?

    If you’re apple-shaped and have great legs, those dresses are perfect — so more power to those who fit that description this season. It’s nice that everyone gets a turn. And if you’re any shape and just want to be comfortable in a big swing dress, more power to you, too. But I am definitely not any happier about the current trends (except some empire waists) than the skinny girls are.

    Maybe she and Penelope Trunk should get together and go bowling.

  80. Oddly enough, I like those dresses she um, demonized. They work great on a hourglass shape: just put on a pretty belt or scarf. At least, that’s what I do.

  81. FN, sadly, I cannot belt anything but pants. I have tried. It just doesn’t work on me at all. But I’m glad you’ve found something to do with the current crop of dresses!

  82. Penelope Trunk is the 21st century version of the village idiot. The poor woman has no expertise in anything at all, least of all writing, yet she is by far the most read of the Yahoo “experts”. This is because so many people check in every week to see what stupidity she spewed this time. Obviously that’s why Yahoo keeps her around – for now – until the novelty wears off and the page hits drop. Then, thankfully, her 15 minutes will be up.

  83. Who wants to bet that Ellen Warren (fat-dress lady), and Penelope Trunk get together for lunch ALL the time, and just sit there, not eating, pushing food around their plates, and criticize every other person, but especially every other woman, in the room?

    Ten brownies says I’m right. Anybody want to take me up on this? lol

  84. On clavicles: What about us poor girls who broke a collarbone as a teenager? Even if I get thin enough that they show (never mind that I didn’t want to be that thin even when I was successfully dieting) it’ll be all lumpy! Oh noes *staples hand to forehead*

  85. Lexy, I knew an anorexic at school who was about the second most fat-hating person I ever met, so, yes, I suspect that connection might be there. I have news for Ms. Trunk, though…she still HAS an eating disorder, IMHO. Only she now infilicts it on other people. (Can you have eating disorders by proxy, the same way you can have Munchausen’s by proxy? I suspect it’s possible.)

    Her article is wrong on so, so many levels. I’m one of those bohemian arty types who doesn’t do ‘neat’ well. I’ve done suits, I’ve done uniforms, and I felt stifled in far more ways than just the dress code in both types of job. I now work for a place that doesn’t have a dress code, and it suits me fine.

    As for the effects of my alleged ‘poor health’ on my mental capacity to do the job, I’ve worked in offices with umpteen dieters, and they don’t think about the job. They think about FOOD. Non-stop. As will any otherwise intelligent person who doesn’t feed themselves properly during the working day.

    Oh, yeah, I have a messy desk too, but the only guy in my office who ever had a neat desk had OCD. Disorganized is the new organized where I work, and we get the job done, so we must be doing something right.

  86. Emerald, yeah, she’s certainly making some assumptions about the kinds of jobs people have and what their expectations are. As much as my job drives me crazy sometimes, my boss laughs in the face of anyone who suggests we get more organized. (He also just told me that someone who chewed me out was “just being a dickwad,” so that’s what that work environment is like.) At my office it’d probably be considered weird if I didn’t wear jeans at least a couple times a week. Penelope Trunk couldn’t do my job and I wouldn’t want hers, and it’s ludicrous for her to pretend like expectations — appearance-related or otherwise — are exactly alike in every industry.

  87. Lexy wrote: Isn’t fat-phobia one of the things about people with eating-disorders? I had a roommate in college who had been anorexic. She was getting better but still had a really messed up attitude about food and eating. Anyways, she was really actually terrified not just of being fat but of fat people.

    I think we ought to distinguish between the fat-phobia as exhibited by people with an ED from that of the general anti-obesity hysteria trumpeted in the media and by folks who equate it on par with that of global warming.

    Keep in mind, people with an ED have a psychological disease. Their perspectives about food and weight are warped. What may be perceived as a hatred of fat people might not necessarily be the person speaking, but rather the eating disorder speaking.

    Your friend’s disease was made manifest in a fear of fatness. The underlying reason for her terror of fat people most likely comes in part from a fear of becoming fat herself. And as you noted, she isn’t “recovered” by any stretch if she still displays disordered behaviors.

    I think fat people and those with an ED are victims of the same anti-obesity hysteria. For fat people, this is seen in a host of institutionalized discrimination within the public realm. For those with an ED, fat hatred turns inward, driving one to a slow, agonizing suicide of the self.

  88. I know, I know, this post is days old…

    But I went back to it, just curious about the comments, and one *particularly* self-righteous bastard posted, on the 20th, under the name BLG1247, the most bigoted, cliche Bingo-game of a comment that I’ve read in a while. On phrase stood out in particular:

    it is niave to think that you can get by just by performing well

    I really wish I could link a picture here, of an owl, with a big, FAT “O RLY?” underneath.

    Plus, this individual (I refrain from calling them a person) also stated, in their first sentence, that it is IMPOSSIBLE, not unlikely, not improbably, but IMPOSSIBLE to be fat and healthy.

    Zero facts to back it up, of course.

    Sarah, you’re IMPOSSIBLE.

    Thank you for defying the odds!

  89. I know this is an old post but you will be happy to know Penelope Trunk was fired by Yahoo and appears to be on the way out at the Boston Globe.
    And if you read her train wreck of a life especially the divorce/dating posts you can be happy you are not her.

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