Random Thoughts: New Job Edition

I just started a new job, details of which I really can’t discuss in public. Suffice it to say that I am an attorney at a public interest organization, and I am in family court every day. I love it.

Some random thoughts on the new job that I can share:

*My office is predominantly female. It was the first time in a really long time that I noticed a male co-worker of mine looking uncomfortable because he is working in a female-dominated field. This doesn’t happen too much in law. I also noticed that although we all wear suits, his suit was the only suit with a pocket. When all the attorneys were given USB drives, he was the only one who had a place to put it (our purses and briefcases were at our desks in a different room). Sigh, female suit makers. If we’re going to dress like men, we should at least get the pockets that they get.

*I really, really, really hate the subway.

*It seems like all the women at the office are either going on maternity leave or just coming back from maternity leave. I appreciate that this is a culture where having children and working is encouraged. I wish more men went on paternity leave, though. For a lot of reasons. One, because I want fathers to be just as involved with their children as mothers. Two, because it de-stigmatizes women for going on leave. Three, it encourages a culture where parenthood isn’t automatically assumed to be a female role.

*It’s really hard to avoid sounding like a religious nut when you start right before passover, have to take off four days for your holiday, can’t eat any of the office food, can’t go out to eat with your co-workers, can’t use the microwave, and can easily explain to your co-worker why the Jews won’t push the buttons on the elevators in her building on Saturdays. I WISH I could find a way to avoid talking religion at work, but it’s really impossible.

*What the heck does “business casual” mean?

*I apparently fit into plus size clothing now. I have newfound understanding of the discrimination that plus-size women have. Their departments seem to always be hidden in a back corner of a basement in the department stores, and only feature a fraction of the selection for twice the price. Since I’m just on the border, I can wear both regular sizes and plus sizes, but man, do I feel bad for those women who only wear plus clothing. I sense a new campaign coming on.


Morbid Weight Perceptions

A new study found that about a quarter of overweight women viewed themselves as “normal weight”, while 16% of average weight women felt that they were overweight. According to this article, “[the] survey found that 30 percent of adult Americans in the “overweight” class believed they were actually normal size, while 70 percent of those classified as obese felt they were simply overweight. Among the heaviest group, the morbidly obese, 39 percent considered themselves merely overweight”

Sounds a little surprising to me, with all the messages about body weight in the media and eating disorders, I would have assumed that more women would have viewed themselves as heavier, but ok. It’s actually kind of nice, that women are not worrying about their weight.

What’s worrisome to me is the way that particular article presented the results. The tone was one of concern, that it is not healthy for women to underestimate their weight classification. The article states succinctly, “The problem, according to study lead author Mahbubur Rahman, is the ‘fattening of America,’ meaning that for some women, being overweight has become the norm.”

Yes, the fattening of America indeed.

Take a look at those numbers again. Most of the women weren’t saying they were underweight or ideal weight when they weren’t, they were simply using the wrong term. Is it really that much of a problem if an obese woman thinks she is over weight rather than obese? Or for a “morbidly obese” woman to think of herself as merely obese? (The term “morbidly obese” is of course itself a loaded term that many women, understandably, would want to avoid).

And look at the terms used in the article. The ideal weight range was classified as “normal size”. If, as the author suggests, there has been a “fattening of America”, than perhaps these women weren’t misrepresenting themselves at all, they were simply looking around them and noticing that they do, indeed, look like every one else around them.

The authors, both of the study and of the article, seem to think that it is a terrible thing that women think they are in a lower weight range than they are. I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s time for women to take a positive outlook on their bodies, and if it means telling themselves that they are overweight when really they are obese, I’ll take that.