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Network Execs Tell Women to Lose Weight Without Saying, ‘Lose Weight’


Remember that scene in “Knocked Up,” where the TV executive tells Katherine Heigl’s character to lose weight by saying that they want her to “look healthy” — and that they think 20 pounds lighter would do the trick? Well, it turns out, they don’t even have to be that direct.

weight loss 

(Photo Credit: Urbane Women Mag)

The New York Post recently ran an op-ed by “Good Morning America” contributor Tory Johnson, who relates the story of her first one-on-one meeting with ABC News SVP Barbara Fedida.

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“I feared her agenda was my weight, which I had battled forever,” Johnson says.

She wasn’t wrong, but what’s interesting is how Fedida went about having the conversation. She zeroed in on Johnson’s clothes, which she said weren’t “doing [Johnson] any favors.” She offered the services of a stylist. And then, finally, she said, “I feel much better when I work out.”

“Not once did she call me fat, say I had to lose weight, or hint that my job was in jeopardy,” says Johnson. “The words ‘fat,’ ‘overweight,’ or ‘obese’ never came up. But what I did hear was, ‘Lose weight, or lose your job.'”

Johnson characterizes the conversation as helpful, saying that Fedida helped her look better on TV, but also be healthier and happier.

Specifically, she says:

“Barbara did for me what doctors, family and friends never could. Since then, friends have said they wish their bosses would tell them to lose weight because so far they haven’t listened to anyone else.”

Record scratch. On-air personalities or no, do we really want our bosses telling us to lose weight?

“If only we all had higher-ups willing to egregiously police our bodies under the threat of implied career termination, right?” writes Callie Beusman at Jezebel.

It’s hard, for example, to imagine a world in which a man would ever be told — much less, be grateful for being told — to lose weight, in order to do his job.

“How lucky, for HR departments, that women have so thoroughly internalized what’s wrong with their bodies that bosses needn’t ever explicitly discriminate against anyone,” writes Kat Stoeffel at The Cut. “A passing reference to clothing and exercise is enough signal to women they will get fired if they don’t lose weight.”

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever felt that you had to lose weight to get ahead? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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