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  • For Slim Women: Big Benefits

    I wasn’t surprised to learn that slimmer, more svelte women receive more pay than heavier women: I think it’s just a snapshot of how society too often perceives subjective aesthetics over value.

    I wasn’t surprised to learn that slimmer, more svelte women receive more pay than heavier women: I think it’s just a

    Courtesy: Anna Karwowska/PhotoXpress Free Images

    snapshot of how society too often perceives subjective aesthetics over value.

    As the CEO, of Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals and a father, I would never consider the weight, skin color, religion or ethnicity of any women in terms of a professional decision: of anybody for that matter — that’s just my choice.

    Yet, I do understand that culture has been wedded to the notion that smaller women are more attractive. I think the real reason slim women receive advantages is because they are looked on as aspirational. It’s perceived they look healthy and are disciplined: the other reason they get more pay, men are attracted to them — so they want their friendships — they want potential relationships with these women, so they pay them extra to keep them around, even though their value might not be the same as a heavier women. Society has always stipulated that smaller women are prettier women, and we have not made an earnest effort to debunk that myth.

    My opinion: favortism of this kind is dead wrong and dangerous.

    It’s wrong because its bias: as an African American I am also connected to the equality of all things. It’s dangerous, because we are losing some of our best talent, due to their not being paid a fair wage, or not being promoted, or not being in the leadership conversations, because they are a size 14 and not 4. There comes a point where productivity gets hurt, and that’s the only reason anyone should be at work — to help the company meet and surpass their benchmark for a given area.

    An excerpt from a great article on the subject from Forbes editor Lisa Quast, in her article Can Being Thin Actually Translate into a Bigger Paycheck for Women? .

    Quast stated, “According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in fall 2010 titled, “When It Comes to Pay, Do the Thin Win? The Effect of Weight on Pay for Men and Women,” a woman’s weight can have a significant impact on her earnings…..In American culture we have seen standards of attractiveness that are substantially slimmer for women than men (which can be seen in comments/beliefs that overweight women are “fat” yet overweight men are “sturdy”). And over time, this standard for women has only gotten worse, with women trying to lose more and more weight. “This media ideal is quite pervasive in society, with female cartoon characters, movie/television actresses, Playboy centerfolds, and Miss America Pageant winners all having become increasingly thinner over the decades.”

    I think this is something that is subtle, yet powerfully debilitating both professionally and personally for women with more weight, because not only is it discrimination — it sends a message to our young professionals and our seasoned women leaders that visibility trumps value — and too often they proceed under these non-spoken guidelines. I hope we correct this: I also hope we’re somewhat ashamed of it.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals
    Calvin.wilson1@verizon.net

    Filed Under: Women's Business

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