Thin Is In For BusinesswomenOctober 8, 2010 2 Comments
Being underweight is an advantage for women who want to climb the corporate ladder. Women who weight 25 lbs. less than the average make $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight, according to a new study.
A woman that is 25 lbs. heavier than the norm makes $13,847 less than an average-weight female. Timothy Judge from the University of Florida looked at 11,253 Germans and 12,686 U.S. residents to determine how their weight affects their income.
On the other hand, men were rewarded for their weight-gain. The highest paid men weighed an average of 207 lbs. Conversely, men who are thinner than average lost $8,437 a year.
The Wall Street Journal goes as far as to compare the corporate world to the fashion industry.
- Now, a new study goes a step further by showing that employers seem to treat women exactly the way the fashion industry does – by rewarding very thin women with higher pay, while penalizing average-weight women with smaller paychecks. Very thin men, on the other hand, tend to get paid less than male workers of average weight. Men earn more as they pack on the pounds – all the way to the point where they become obese, when the pay trend reverses.
Why is this?
Well, they admit that some of the difference could be due to prejudice, but add that people who conform to standard ideals of beauty are able to “wield more influence over other people and get more things accomplished.”
That’s nonsense. The attractiveness of bosses, or coworkers, has never had any correlation with their ability to do the job. In fact, my work history is filled with thin men and heavy women who inspired the very best from their underlings.
But I agree that it is not simply down to discrimination. I think it is down to priorities.
Workaholics tend progress further, and faster, in their careers than the rest of us. It takes a certain mind-set to decide to stay in the office until 10 until every night. Those people tend to be extremely competitive and driven.
As women we learn from a young age that skinny equals pretty, and that pretty girls get what they want. Most successful women are thin, but they have decided to work for it.
Naomi Wolf has attended meetings with some of the most powerful women in the world. She said:
- At these luncheons, there is not a woman who is not sensational-looking — in a very labour-intensive way. Heads of corporations, political leaders and innovators are usually in attendance: their hair spectacularly highlighted (that’s three hours every six weeks) and usually blown out (20 minutes every other day); their clothes are divine; and man, are these chicks toned. Their bodies speak of hours in the gym or on the yoga mat. They run business empires, they decide the fates of nations — and they have the kind of bodies you get only if you are on the treadmill at 5am. And they are outperforming expectations in the deliverables of their private lives as well.
Does that mean all skinny women are harder workers? Of course not. People are born with different body types. However, the person that decides to forgo her parents’ 30th anniversary to close a deal is probably not going to run the risk that she does not look corporate enough to be promoted. For her, hitting the treadmill at 5am is a no-brainer. Her career is her life.
Am I saying that fat people are lazy? Not at all. For some people (myself included) getting 25lbs. below average is almost impossible. Almost. If you threatened to kill my dog I could probably manage it. I wouldn’t be healthy but I would be thin.
For most of us, being underweight just isn’t worth the sacrifice. We would rather spend the time with people we love and live longer than push our bodies to a place they don’t want to go.
Not all powerful women are thin, either. Half of the top ten of Forbes list of powerful women have bodies that are average weight or heavier. Oprah only became one of the most influential people in the world after she stopped struggling with her weight and accepted her body for what it was.
It’s sad that women in corporate America have to go under the knife, deny themselves pleasure or undergo labour-intensive beauty regimes just to share what is in their heads. But don’t assume that they got there because of a genetic fluke. Most worked for it.