Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Deviation from the norm

The CDC, last week, launched a new website called Lean Works which encourages companies to create workplace obesity prevention programs. There is even a helpful obesity cost calculator, and encouragement by our government for employers to remember that obese people are not as productive and are prone to absenteeism.

Most of you know that I come down more closely to the socialist end of the spectrum than the libertarian, but this has me strongly considering my options. Why? Because our government is practically inducing my employer to make me tell them personal health information (you know, the stuff that is supposed to be my own damn business).

The government has been very clear in the past that employers are not to discriminate against people for a wide variety of traits. They cannot ask me what my sexual orientation is or who or how I choose to worship. They are supposed to look at my experience, my references, my interview results, my training, and pick the best person based on those metrics. But as people who present as different on the surface of things know, these things make know difference if your potential employer has preconceived notions based upon what you look like.

Now along with a host of subconcious cultural input, potential employers are going to think of the cost of hiring someone large...they are going to think of this person as a drain on their company without knowing anything about them.

And the employees that they do know? Well, there are already examples of employers who are penalizing their fat employees by making them pay more for health insurance. In Japan, the government has gone so far as to start penalizing companies who do not decrease the size of their employees waist bands (literally) over certain periods of time. I'm sure that leaves fat Japanese employees feeling very safe in their positions.

Does being fat cost more? Yes...so does having children. And the federal government has stepped in and told employers that 1) they cannot ask about children during interviews or the hiring process & 2) they are not allowed to fire their pregnant employees when they need to take leave from their job to care for a newborn. We are also protected from being asked about other chronic conditions...my Celiac Disease has been far more problematic for my medical insurance and my need for sick days than my fat has...and the 2 are completely unrelated.

Here's the rub. Fat you can see. And because you can see it, you cannot fully guard against the discrimination and stigma that exists as a result. And because it is being heralded as some awful disease process that is somehow completely within our control, many people don't give a rat's ass about what is said or done to "teh fatties" so long as they don't have to sit next to them in their crowded airplane seat.

I don't even want to argue the points about diet and exercise right now. It feels like an ever growing moot point. As a human being, I have been endowed with "certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I assert as another one of these unalienable rights a right to live my life without having to modify my body, except as I so choose to.

4 comments:

Aravis said...

I want to take a moment to thank you. I have never had a problem with fat people, and never liked other people teasing someone for their weight. Other than that, though, I can't honestly say I gave it much thought. Reading your blog has opened my eyes to how you as a group are treated in every aspect of your life. Every time I see something on t.v., in movies or in print that discusses this issue, I think of this blog, of you, and of how it affects you. You've taught me a lot, and I appreciate it. This is a tough battle you're fighting, and I respect you enormously.

spinsterwitch said...

Thanks! I have to admit that it's been tough to even come to the point of having courage to speak up on my own blog. I've talked about weight issues before, but it seems like it's becoming increasing clear how large of an issue this is becoming. I find myself unable to not speak anymore.

Cody Bones said...

"Most of you know that I come down more closely to the socialist end of the spectrum than the libertarian, but this has me strongly considering my options. Why? Because our government is practically inducing my employer to make me tell them personal health information (you know, the stuff that is supposed to be my own damn business)."


Welcome to the "Don't Tread on Me" club. Change obese to gay marriage, drugs, etc.. and you see how things that are none of the governments goddamn business, suddenly become their business. That does seem to be the problem with a large intrusive Federal government. Remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Here is a blog written by a lesbian libertarian attorney in AZ. I think you might be ready to enjoy it, especially the latest post about medical information.

Good luck, and I sooo second what Aravis said. So, I guess I'll see you at a Ron Paul rally?

spinsterwitch said...

I may not be ready to jump ship entirely, but I do agree with some of the liberterian philosophies. There are, however, extremists in every camp...I find myself a little frightened by some of the liberterian extremists.