Is there an excuse for being obese?

Obesity: "There were patients who called me a fat pig"


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In many professions, it shouldn't matter how difficult or light someone is. Weight usually has no effect on performance. Nevertheless, many of those affected experience discrimination in their everyday lives, including at work. Sabine Krieger * from Hamburg is one of them, the trained nurse has been working for 30 years and often changed her employer during this time because she suffered from humiliation and exclusion:

"I already knew derogatory comments or crooked looks because of my weight from my school days. But during my training at the hospital, I had the hope that it would be different: I worked reliably, I was sometimes slower, but always very well organized. I was happy with the patients, never had problems with the trainers. And I got good grades. Nevertheless, the hospital was the only trainee who did not take me on after my graduation. The nun explained to me that I was not representative of the clinic and its reputation I was just too fat for them. "

60 percent of people in Germany are overweight. A quarter is considered obese, that is, very overweight. Experts classify obesity as a disease and blame the genes for it. According to a study by the University of Marburg, 85 percent of Germans still think that being overweight is purely their own fault. Many overweight people face discrimination in their jobs, especially in retail and healthcare. About a quarter of overweight people report that they have been bullied because of their weight, according to a report by the federal anti-discrimination agency. 33 percent complain that they were not hired because of this. Almost eight percent say they were given notice because of their weight. This can make those affected sick. "Mobbing triggers a very pronounced stressful situation in the body," says Dieter Zapf, psychologist at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. He speaks of "very massive consequences of stress that can cause psychosomatic complaints, burn-out symptoms and depressive moods". This is particularly a problem with external characteristics such as obesity. "They can't be quickly hidden or changed."

Nobody said anything

"After completing my training, I applied to another hospital and got the job. I was happy to finally be able to get into my job. But I experienced dire situations: bedridden sick people who pinched my side while nursing to test, how fat I really am, relatives who looked at me with disdain when I walked into a room. There were patients who called me fat pig. A long-time ward manager told me during a team meeting with almost 30 colleagues: 'You should actually be on a diet now. For me, also in an inpatient rehab. You are trying hard to lose weight, but everyone can see that you cannot do it. ' Silence. Nobody said anything. I blushed, tears came down with anger. Some male colleagues were also overweight, but she said nothing to them. I then took all my courage and replied: 'That's right. In an emergency, I'm not the fastest, but the best organized and don't have to run three times. ' Quite a few of my colleagues found this statement to be outrageous. "

According to a study by the University of Marburg, only just under 20 percent of Germans reject negative statements about obese people. Particularly noteworthy: 55 percent of the population are unsure whether or not there is something to the prejudice against overweight people. According to the research group, this indicates a high level of unspoken stigma among overweight people. Overweight women are particularly affected in the workplace, as a survey by the University of Tübingen shows: According to this, 98 percent of HR managers do not trust high-weight women to perform prestigious jobs such as doctors or architects. Men with too much weight have it easier than women, according to the study.

"It rolls by itself"

"After two years I switched to intensive care. People who have just woken up and have survived an operation are happy when someone takes care of them. They don't care what the nurse looks like. Unlike my colleagues. A manager once said to me that if he had to work with me it would be too tight for him. Another colleague claimed that I could not react quickly enough to a resuscitation. I didn't understand what the problem was exactly. I was athletic, played volleyball, went swimming regularly, and led a dance group. I sure could move well. Because of the discrimination, I gave up nursing after seven years, even though I loved it. Instead, I studied nursing science with a focus on medical psychology and sociology. After that I ran communication courses at a health academy. In it, I made trainees aware of how to treat high-weight patients and relatives with respect. Unfortunately, my colleagues did not adhere to it. A colleague suggested that we could take a tour of the city on scooters on a company outing. I liked the idea until I left the room and heard my colleagues say: "We don't need one for them! It rolls by itself." Many laughed, including the school management. I turned around and looked everyone in the face. That silence again. Then I went back to class. The subject never came up again. "