Thursday 27 January 2022

The Workplace is no place for Body Shaming...

There is no place for body shaming.

January is always a frustrating time for me with the narrow talk of 'New Year, New You' (, ill-considered resolutions around exercise regimes (not bad in itself but...), and back to work chat about losing weight post-Christmas. I recognise there is a marketing benefit to this time for many including image consultants, and it's a relevant perspective to think of the fresh and new. I however tend to let the bandwagon pass me by, and this year that's been even more pointed for me as I've openly talked about needing to ease into 2022 proper. 

And yet, here we are because I just needed to put down on 'paper' my thoughts on some public, workplace body shaming that's just happened, and on the response to it. 

That it happens at all is bad. That it happened in Parliament is, somehow,  especially infuriating - they're meant to be a pinnacle, no?! That some people have responded with a 'so what' attitude and judgment reinforcing the negative (grrr) is sad. That it was passed off as acceptable banter because of the relationship between the belittler and the belitted is why I'm screaming... It is not ok, irrespective. 

None of it is ok. At all. (As I've referred to before:

But, sadly, it is deemed so. 
Let's face it - body shaming happens in the street, in restaurants, in media, in entertainment (one for another day) and in the office. It happens within family and friendship groups. It happens in brash, and subtle ways. With an openness that would not be tolerated for other groups.  And so it is too often passed off as banter, without a care for the person it is directed at. 

What's 'good' in this instance is that it was recognised and called out by many. 

Maybe the tide is turning. Maybe someone will think twice about doing it. Maybe it can (re)start the conversation. And so here I am, and with an offer. 

There are plenty of qualified people and expert organisations who are on this issue, but I've been talking about the issue of body image and weight stigma in the context of the workplace in my HR and diversity roles for a bit now so this is my zone. 

Workplaces should not be toxic. Our colleagues should not be subjected to harm. And make no mistake body shaming is damaging to the person and also to the workplace - it's culture, reputation and the bottom line.

My offer is therefore to help in this space... Are you someone who wants to know how to navigate or raise this issue at work - a manager or HR professional, coach or wellbeing lead? I can work with you to tackle this form of workplace bullying, (and yes, that's what it is) so please do get in touch. It doesn't have to be a battle. It isn't an issue that stands alone. So let's challenge this, as many are now doing with the aforementioned January narratives and, say goodbye to this shaming being acceptable anywhere. 

Like I said, this is a workplace issue - Parliament is a place of work.

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk!!!
Look after yourself and be kind to others.
Denise x

PS - responding by fat shaming the shamer (who will themselves be reflecting what society deems acceptable) is not the way to go, it is damaging and reinforcing. A persons performance should not be conflated with their body. 

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