Here’s a nice slice of home-grown stupidity from my own state of Texas: hospitals in Victoria, Texas are now refusing to hire fat people. Honestly, when they started that thing where hospitals weren’t hiring smokers I kind of saw this coming. The whole thing of it was that smoking was unhealthy, cost the hospital lots of money, so they weren’t going to take them on anymore. Like being a smoker was a pre-existing condition. And so much of this is the exact same logic used against fat people, I wondered how long it would take for the blame to shift.
Smokers and fat people have one major disadvantage in common: we exhibit visible habits or have physical traits that people think are immediate indicators of our health. They’re both the most common traits absolute strangers feel comfortable ragging on passers-by about under the guise of being concerned about one’s health. And here’s the thing: they aren’t really complaining about health. They’re complaining because they don’t like how cigarette smoke smells and they don’t like how fat people look. And that’s abundantly clear in this policy.
The Citizens Medical Center policy, instituted a little more than a year ago, requires potential employees to have a body mass index of less than 35 — which is 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10. It states that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.
This is kind of like covering a pile of shit with a see-through tarp. It’s blatantly obvious that what they care about here is not letting fat people be seen as medical professionals– that might give the mistaken impression that fat people can also be healthy. But they’re going at it from a half-assed angle of caring about the health of their employees. And, you know. Making sure sick people don’t have to look at icky fat people, too. They’re suffering enough!
“The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance,” hospital chief executive David Brown said in an interview. “We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what’s best for our business and for our patients.”
C’mon! Looking at all that fat is gonna give those old people a heart attack! Think of the elderly! .. I honestly can’t even conceive of what point he’s trying to make here. We have old people, so we can’t have them looking at fat people? Someone help me here.
In the memo, one of several records used by three physicians of Indian descent to lodge a racial discrimination suit against Citizens, Brown wrote that he felt “a sense of disgust” that more “Middle-Eastern-born” physicians were demanding leadership roles at the hospital. “It will change the entire complexion of the hospital and create a level of fear among our employees,” he wrote.
I am completely shocked to find out this man is a bigot. Shocked. You mean this rich white dude is uncomfortable working with people that aren’t a mirror reflection of himself?
And here’s where the clear tarp vanishes altogether.
Citizens Medical Center’s written policy doesn’t indicate that paying for the health insurance of obese workers is too expensive — the reason some companies have been able to ban workers who use tobacco — or suggest that obese employees are unable to do their jobs. Mostly, it references physical appearance, and puts overweight applicants in the same category as those with visible tattoos or facial piercings.
So it doesn’t really matter how healthy you are. You could be an Olympian athlete but if you look fat you aren’t welcome at Citizens Medical Center because you’re ugly. You’re an outcast. You’re weird, and we don’t want you. You look bad. The justification I’ve seen in most offices for not being permitted visible tattoos or facial piercings is that you look sloppy/juvenile/unprofessional. That people won’t take you seriously. So that’s in essence what Citizens Medical Center is saying about fat people– that we inherently look unprofessional and sloppy. That the mere fact that we have fat on us means we can never fit in to a proper working environment.
And we look unhealthy. Which, of course, trumps actual health. Especially in hospitals.
But seriously guys, deep down I’m sure all he wants to do is help his patients. And employees! I mean, look at how helpful this guy is.
At Citizens, a physician screens prospective employees to assess their fitness for work, including their body mass index. Some job candidates have been turned away for being too overweight, Brown said, but current workers who become obese over the course of their employment are not terminated. Brown said the hospital also offers to help heavy job candidates get their body mass index down.
“We have some people who are applicants and they know the requirements, and we try and help them get there but they’re not interested,” he said. “So that’s fine, they can go work somewhere else.”
I don’t think it’s possible for me to rofl harder. So first of all, a doctor– a doctor — is using BMI alone as a scale to determine the health of his employees. But hey don’t worry, if you get fat once you’re already in the door, he’ll magnanimously allow you to keep your job. Kinda like women after you get married and had a couple kids. I mean, then it’s alright. But you best be thin enough to attract a man first, which kind of seems what applying for a job at this hospital seems to be all about.
And then we get into the part where he’s going to basically tell you how you’re required to live your life outside of your job in order to get it. Now, to a degree I understand that in some jobs this is necessary. In my job I have several clients that I’m not allowed to associate with outside of my company. When I’m in a volunteer organization, or a member of a group of people doing any kind of purchasing or investing I have to be extremely aware of what alternate companies are involved. But uh no company gets to structure my diet for me. They don’t get to police my food, have me weigh in and measure me to determine if I deserve my job today or not. I just love the way he says it. You can almost hear the confused arrogance in his voice. “I’m trying to help these ungrateful heifers but they’d rather shove cakes in their food-holes. No way I’m gonna be forced to look at their jiggling lard all day if they aren’t willing to change their bodies to suit my eyes.”
And honestly if what he was really after was helping his employees get healthier in addition to putting an overhead BMI cap at 35, he’d have placed a bottom cap at 22. Anything under that is clinically underweight and considered just as “unhealthy” as a BMI of over 35 is. But hey, so long as they aren’t fat!
Is it just me or is this stuff getting more and more blatant? It seems like as we’re becoming more and more aware of the fact that BMI, weight and even body fat content aren’t in and of themselves indicative of a person’s health, the more we’re getting louder assholes telling us fatties to get back inside where no one has to see us. Maybe it’s the natural rebel in me, but it kinda makes me want to take a bunch of fat people and sit in front of their lawn for a few days, eating cakes, in front of their 65+ year old patients. Then poor Mr. Brown won’t have to guess at what’ll happen to them all if they’re forced to see fat people on a regular basis: he’ll know for a fact that the majority of them couldn’t care less so long as their heath is being taken care of. So maybe Dr. Brown should spend less time policing the bodies of his employees and more time being a real doctor.