An anti-fatphobia writer penned an oped for NBC THINK that warned readers how efforts to promote health in the workplace marginalize fat people.
“As a fat person, I hate the first few weeks of January with a fiery passion,” communication strategist Kate Bernyk wrote. “Following every holiday season, there’s seemingly no escape from the weight loss industrial complex.”
Benryk railed against health initiatives in the workplace, noting that it can’t be ignored like social media posts.
“I might be able to easily report social ads and mute friends, but how do I escape an email from human resources encouraging staff to join a team weight loss challenge with monthly weigh-ins?” she asked. “Or a boss who encourages her whole team to buy Fitbits so we can compete on daily steps? (Both were real things that happened at two of my former jobs.)”
The author suggested that fat Americans should be one of the groups included in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
“Employers seem to rarely consider fat people when putting together their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals,” Benryk wrote. “But creating a space for plus-size employees to feel welcome has just as much to do with diversity and inclusion as any other group.”
The author went on to claim that “fat is not a reliable indicator of health,” and that “fatphobic-related measures like BMI and fat percentage” are unreliable means of assessing health.
Benryk proposed what employers should be doing instead.
“Weight discrimination and anti-fat bias could be included in workplace harassment training,” she wrote. “And any workplace wellness program that specifically incentivizes weight loss should be acknowledged as harmful and ended immediately.”
The author stated that her weight should not be associated with her ability to perform at her chosen career.
“The size of my body has nothing to do with my work. I recognize this sometimes may not be true for certain professions (one of many fine reasons I’m not a jockey or a cave diver),” she wrote, later claiming her usefulness, “cannot be measured by a scale.”