Picture this….you go into the mailroom and see a bag of cookies that somebody left for everybody. There are also a couple of your work colleagues there. You all are surrounding the plate of cookies. Then the comments start. “Ohhh I want one but I need to work out first”. “I am trying to lose weight so no cookies for me”. “ I am not doing sugar right now.” Then you all start talking about your workplace wellness program and how you, “should all take a walk together right now and move away from the cookies.”
The problem with this scenario is that it’s commonplace. It’s not regulated. It has become acceptable. It’s assumed you are trying to “help” each other. But this is diet talk and is quite harmful. Also, it doesn’t feel good for anybody here.
Food Shaming In the Workplace
This is such a common occurrence. I hear it from individuals in the workplace time and time again.
Let’s start by answering what food shaming or guilting is.
Food shaming happens when another person judges or criticizes what another person eats. It can cause guilt, stress, and embarrassment to the person receiving the comment.
These judgments around what we should and shouldn’t eat stem from diet culture which is intersected with racism and other forms of oppression. And diet culture takes on a mindset that being thin matters above all else.
Some Examples of Food Shaming:
- “Wow, that’s a healthy serving.”
- “Your plate looks like it could feed an entire family.”
- “Woah, did you work out or something?”
- “Is that your whole meal? You’re already so thin.”
- “That looks terrible. What is it?”
The story I shared in the beginning happens all the time. And yet, it’s not considered inappropriate or harassment. The problem is, it is.
The next time you decide to make a comment about what someone’s eating, ask yourself why. Take some time to think about how diet culture is impacting you.
Work needs to be a space where your colleagues can thrive… without diet culture looming in.
Weight Discrimination in the Workplace
Food shaming is not the only challenge in the workplace. Weight discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem.
Weight discrimination is real… and it’s harmful. And not okay.
When we judge people for their weight, it leads to other assumptions.
In 2017, 500 hiring professionals were shown a photo of a large-bodied woman by researchers at the job site Fairygodboss and asked if they would hire her. Only 15.6% of them said they would — and 20% said they thought she was “lazy.”
Furthermore, 21% of large-bodied individuals felt they had been passed over for a job or promotion because of their weight.
Both weight discrimination and food shaming are rampant issues… largely due to wellness programs.
Wellness is a new concept. It’s a broad term that seems to be a catch-all. And yet, it’s creating a lot of harm.
These weight-loss and wellness programs pressure employees to restrict their eating and sometimes over-exercise.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like wellness to me. It is actually quite harmful.
Be Part in Creating an Inclusive Thriving Workforce
We are at work for such a large proportion of our waking hours. Our ableist work demands continue to increase. Yet the pressures of work demands make it difficult to eat away from our desks.
We want a work environment where we celebrate food, movement, and each other. We are already pressured by work demand. We do not need to add the pressures of diet culture to our work.
So how do we combat these challenges in the workplace?
Let’s be part of needed change…
If you see these challenges in your workplace, bring them to the attention of a leader at your organization.
Urge them to address these issues. If they don’t know how to do that, share resources for experts who can help.
I am deeply passionate about addressing these issues in the workplace.
In my Workplace Food and Body Liberation Workshop, you will:
- Learn about diet culture and how it impacts your work setting
- Explore your own weight stigma biases in a safe space
- Discover how to build a workplace culture that is connected and empowered to make changes in a way to create food and body liberation
Who this is for:
- Small Business Owners