Being overweight comes with its challenges, including the challenge of finding employment and excelling in the workplace despite carrying some extra weight. This doesn’t mean that bigger men and plus-sized women can’t find work or get promoted, but there are a lot of stigmas that people have when interviewing someone who is a little bigger and it can affect how interviewers and companies treat you.
But, with these stigmas working against you, how do you get a job when you’re fat?
There are a lot of things that you can do to get a job when you’re fat. Start by choosing a job that you’re physically capable of and qualified for. Dress well for your interview, act confident, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the work climate and compensation for the job.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how to get a job when you’re fat. I’ll provide some tips that will help you get hired, as well as talk about what you should bring up in your interview to ensure that the job you’re applying for is a good fit for you, too.
I’ll also give you some background information and answer some FAQs about getting a job as a bigger person, so you know what challenges you’re up against.
How to Get a Job When You’re Fat
When you’re aware of some of the stigmas against bigger people, there are a lot of things that you can do to improve your chance of landing that dream job. Things like knowing how to act confident when you’re fat, dressing both for your job and for your body, and practicing all help- let’s take a closer look.
#1: Show Them You’re Confident (Even if You Aren’t)
Often, people who are overweight are taught that they should be more grateful for what they have in life. While there’s nothing wrong with gratitude, keep in mind that the right company should feel grateful that you’re working for them. Every person brings their own special set of skills to the workplace and you should know that your personal skillset holds value.
Don’t worry if you struggle a little bit with confidence- this is something that I’ve struggled with in my life too and honestly, many of the big men and plus-sized women I know have gone through this at least once, too. The good news is that confidence isn’t necessarily something you’re born with. It’s an attitude and a belief in yourself- and it’s also something you can learn with time.
Show your confidence by speaking clearly- don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to think about what you want to say. If you have any signs of nervousness, like fiddling with a ring or pulling on your fingers, be aware of it so you can take a few deep breaths and gather yourself. When you look confident, it communicates that you know what you’re doing.
Practicing being confident through meeting new people is also helpful. You’d be surprised how easy it is to meet new people and make friends when you’re fat and it’s great practice for interacting with interviewers, too.
When you act confident, you’ll feel confident, too. Basically, fake it til you make it! Practicing your responses to questions and looking and feeling your best also boosts confidence- we’ll get to that in a minute.
#2: Dress in a Way That Boosts Confidence
There’s not really a one-size-fits-all way to dress when you’re fat. People have different body shapes and style preferences that affect how they dress. While you should dress for the job you are applying for, you should also dress how you feel most confident in your own skin.
It does not matter whether you consider yourself plus-size, overweight, or obese- there is a way to dress for your body type. Instead of choosing baggy clothes that look bulky and hide your frame, choose clothes that fit well and show off your favorite body part.
Women who love their taller legs should choose well-fitting, high-waisted pants while those who are confident in their waist could try a top or dress that has a belt across the middle. Men with nice chests and arms should choose a dress shirt for big and tall men that fits well at the top and shows off their chest or well-fitting khakis. Knowing whether fat guys should tuck in their shirts depending on the level of dress and how the shirt fits is helpful, too.
#3: Be Sure You Feel Your Best
It’s easier to feel confident when you look and feel your best. While clothing helps, you should also consider things like your hairstyle and be sure you feel your best, too. Start by getting at least 8 hours of sleep the night before your interview and eating a healthy breakfast that’s going to fuel your brain and keep you sharp.
You should also style your hair in a way that shows off confidence. Something flattering that draws attention to your features instead of the roundness of your face works well for bigger men and women. For women, a medium-to-long shag cut with layers works well for framing. Big men, on the other hand, should choose a haircut with a fade rather than a regular buzzcut.
#4: Ask About Money Upfront
According to the numbers, people who are overweight generally receive lower starting salaries than their thinner counterparts. This affects women more than men, but anyone who is overweight might face this type of discrimination. Evidence also shows that obese people are less likely to be promoted or received positive feedback in performance reviews and more likely to be fired without good reason.
Generally, the interviewers ask their questions and then give you a chance to ask your own. You should bring up money and discuss compensation for the job and you should be offered the same wages as anyone else in the position. Remember that your labor is worth money too and like I mentioned earlier, you are an asset to the company and they should be grateful to have your skillset- not the other way around.
#5. Practice, Practice, Practice
The final tip for being your most confident is to practice what you’ll say in the interview. While the specifics of the questions that are asked can vary based on the industry, companies generally want to know that you have the skills they are looking for in a candidate. Expect them to ask about scenarios where you showed off the skills they are looking for (like when you showed leadership, teamwork, or problem-solving skills).
If you aren’t sure what will be asked, do some research on general interview questions and those that are more specific to your industry. Watching interviews also helps- there are plenty of videos on YouTube like this one and you might even be able to find one that is specific to the job you’re applying for.
Once you’ve got a list of questions, think about how you want to answer them and practice. You can do this with the help of a friend, relative or spouse, or you can even practice in the mirror. Practicing in the mirror has the benefit of letting you watch your facial expressions too, so you can practice appearing confident.
#6: Be Sure the Company is a Good Fit for You, Too
Workplace climate is really everything when you’re looking for a job. While it isn’t as easy to be picky in today’s job economy, that doesn’t mean you should settle for a position that is below what you are worth. You should also avoid work climates that are fat-phobic or known for treating bigger people poorly. There is tons of anecdotal evidence you could look for online if you aren’t sure.
As you look for job opportunities, it can be helpful to notice the types of people they hire. Do they have any bigger people in the public eye or in management positions within the company, or are they all hidden away behind the scenes? Companies that ask for feedback are also a good sign since this means they value employees enough to care about their experience.
Does Being Fat Make it Harder to Get Hired?
While being fat can make it harder to get hired, this discrimination is more likely to apply to people who are obese, rather than those who are just overweight. Research also shows that plus-sized women are more likely to face workplace discrimination than bigger men.
This isn’t always something that happens consciously, though. It’s really unlikely that a person who is considering a candidate thinks, “Oh, I’m not going to hire this person because they’re fat.” However, they may subconsciously believe stigmas that make them less likely to hire a job candidate, like that they are lazier or less competent than a thinner person.
That being said, there are certain jobs where it is less likely (though not impossible) to get hired when you are obese. While you do see plus-sized flight attendants and fashion models, for example, someone obese is less likely to be hired for that position.
Fat people also might have trouble finding work in positions that require a high level of physical activity or fitness, like being a personal trainer or a firefighter- but nothing is impossible (especially if you are fit and fat) and there are plenty of heavy folks doing physical jobs.
Discrimination in these positions is also legal in 49 states. There was a legal case in New Jersey where a judge ruled in favor of a casino that was being sued by 22 cocktail waitresses for their strict weight restrictions for employees, complete with weigh-ins. There is anecdotal evidence of this same type of fat discrimination everywhere.
Is it Legal for Employers to Discriminate Against Fat People?
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 as a means to protect people who are likely to face discrimination, both in the workplace and when it comes to having access to things like public transportation and government assistance. It was meant to protect both job seekers and those who are already employed from discrimination based on gender, race, color, sexual orientation, religion, age, or natural origin.
Unfortunately, when it comes to larger employees, the protection isn’t there in the United States. Being overweight alone does not qualify as a disability and is not protected. Although, being terminated for having an obesity-related illness or not being provided accommodations for disability would be covered under the law.
While I don’t think I’ve ever had an ‘aha’ moment where I realized I was dealing with fat discrimination in the workplace, I do often wonder if being overweight held me back. I do know that when I was less confident in my 20s, I didn’t speak out as much in meetings or share my ideas because I was worried about taking up too much space.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on how to get a job when you’re fat. No matter your size, your weight should never hold you back in the workplace. Your labor does have value and you deserve promotions and raises as much as the next person. As always, I’d love to hear any feedback or stories you might have about your own experience!