Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Biggest Loser" at my office

A carry-over from my forum post at Big Bat Blog, where I got a few good responses that confirm that, no, I'm not just being oversensitive. I got this mass-mail yesterday from my boss, sent to everyone in the office:

>>> (my boss's name removed) 2/13/2008 1:23 PM >>>
What is your goal?

$10/participant, we will weigh in on Tuesdays or Thursdays, so (name removed)
can be the official weigher. Each person will state their weight loss
goal. The contest will be based on the percentage of your goal by the
week. The participant that loses the highest percentage of their goal
will get a prize. Length of the contest will be determined by the number
of participants and $ collected.

Your goal should be reasonable for the period of the challenge, i.e. if
the contest is 10 weeks, a 50 pound goal is unreasonable. Once you
have attained your stated goal, you are out of the contest.

If you are interested, please contact (name removed) by noon
on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Weigh-in will be Tuesday afternoon.

I responded to just to her and the employees named in the e-mail as participating, with some dieting facts (98% failure rate, fitness more important than/unrelated to fat, ED triggered by diet, dieters gain more weight than non-dieters, yo-yo weight loss terrible for your body, HAES, etc.) Now my boss is a very nice, normally highly intelligent woman whom I respect very much. In this particular case, it was like my words were being tossed into a black hole. She says that she herself needs to "lose a few pounds" (this is a healthy, tall older woman, about a size 8 or 10 at most) because of her blood pressure and asthma. Did I miss the one where fat causes asthma? How silly!

I'm not getting through. In the meantime the next 2-3 months in my office is going to be miserable. I'm a receptionist stuck at the desk so there's no way to walk away from the diet talk. Maybe I can at least find a way to stay off the mass-mail list where everyone updates each other on how successfully they're starving themselves. I'm also tempted to make a whole lot of really fabulous-smelling lunches, like my beer-braised pot roast or chicken mole, and leave lots of baked goods around the break room, just as a protest. Is that too mean? I could settle for leaving HAES and FA brochures. Anyone have recommendations for the best ones?


TanteTerri said...

NAAFA has a couple of good ones - the best is probably "Before you start your next diet"

If this is not on the website in printable format (it should be, but who knows), let me know and I'll send you the pdf of the brochure and you can print some.

Tante Terri

Shinobi said...

They've done this in my office too for a few years. (Not this year, We forgot apparently. Ooopsie )

Actually the first year they did it I'd just lost about 30 pounds from having mono. Everyone kept asking me if I was going to participate and I kept saying no I didn't believe in diets. The guy who won actually lost a lot of weight, but looking at him now I'm pretty sure he's gained it all back. Alas.

We still have people who come in every morning and cook a single egg white on a hot plate. *headdesk*

Rachel said...

My office, too, started this program this year. Unfortunately, there's no way to opt out of the mass emailings urging people to sign up for the competition.

Unfortunately, common sense will often fall deaf on the ears of those who who are brainwashed in the cult of dieting. Lecturing others about the fallacies of dieting, especially if you are fat yourself, will often not work, either.

Is this something your company has sponsored or are employees putting it on individually? If your company is promoting it, in fairness sake, they should allow you to promote a HAES-based program. Have you ever considered starting one up?

Sage said...

You are in Michigan, no? I would mention - or in my case, leave a printed copy of - the Michigan non-discrimination law.

Then I would add a nice-to-the-point-of-saccharine note to the effect of: "Creating a hostile environment is a form of discrimination, and we wouldn't want to do that, now would we?"

But that's just me :) "Lucky" Michigan - at least in this case.

Weightless One said...

I vote for the fabulous smelling lunches...and a set of earplugs. If you have Outlook, you could set a rule so that anything mentioning 'fat' or 'Biggest Loser' (if they are calling it that at work) goes right into your junkmail box. Depending on what you do at work, I don't think singling out those words would disrupt the rest of your email flow in a regular workplace.

Anonymous said...

I think leaving delicious baked goods scattered around the office would probably backfire on you, and doesn't really promote HAES as well as an office-based program would.

It sucks to be around that nonstop; many women I used to work with talked about dieting all the time anyway -- if they had an "official" reason to talk about it, I would have probably offed myself during my lunchbreak.

All the best to you! Keep up with your efforts in educating people to HAES.

Anonymous said...

I just blogged about something similiar going on in my office, so I can really feel where you're coming from. It can be very hard to live with and you walk a fine line between not participating and being the proverbial bad guy.

I would probably advise against leaving food around the office. From my dieting days I can tell you that they will probably see this as a deliberate attempt to sabotage their efforts out of jealousy (even though that's not why you'd be doing it, they probably wouldn't believe the real reasoning), and you wouldn't want that to backfire and hurt your job.

I would just ask people not to discuss it at length around you, if the situation occurs, and ask not to receive the emails if they keep you on the list. I hope this blows over soon!

JeanC said...

What weightless one said about filtering your email if you can't get them to opt you out of the mass mailings. Or you can request that they set up a list for just those people participating. Ear plugs are good to, but I'd opt for streaming radio on the computer so you don't have to listen to diet gab (find a service that doesn't run commericals, diet crap is the big thing right now :P ).

I went thru a period of time when I had to have a walkman or radio and headphones if I wanted to eat lunch in our break room in relative peace and not listen to diet talk all thru lunch. I continued to bring in super scrumptious food and enjoyed it.

Making seriously yummy smelling lunches isn't mean, you are refusing to deprive yourself of good yummy food. I agree leaving food around the office will probably back fire, but there is no reason you can't enjoy yummy baked goods at your desk :D

TanteTerri said...

The hostile work environment thing works for me!

TanteTerri said...

You could offer to sponsor the Biggest Re-gainer contest in the upcoming year too!

Ms. Heathen said...

I'm going to third the "hostile work environment" thing, and suggest you go to the list maintainer and ask to be taken off the list of people who receive these emails. Try again to get through specifically to the person running the contest that you feel that this type of contest is not suitable for the workplace and discussion of it should be restricted to non-official means of communication. Tell this person that health is an individual private matter that should not be an open topic for discussion, and that as a fat person you feel this contest may lead to an environment where your co-workers feel free to criticize your health and/or body. Also, try again to talk about triggering stimuli for people who have eating disorders, this is a dangerous situation for someone in your office who is living with an ED.

Zazzu said...

THE number one reason I hated working in offices? The Politics of Food.

The people who bore the entire office with their diet talk in Jan/Feb are the same ones who were pushing sweet-treats on us during the holiday season. Can't we just go to work and WORK? I don't care what you eat or don't eat - just leave me be!

Sorry you have to suffer these fools.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely bring in donuts/cupcakes every day, have a HUGE bowl of M&Ms and candies at the reception desk, and hang this stuff all over the place (and certainly around your desk):

In fact, plaster these images on your emails in response to any diet emails you get, if you can't get taken off the email list for fat hating diet stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think trying to ruin their diets by placing food around, is mean and rather conspicuous. You need to try and get them psychologically.

It's frustrating, cause it has nothing to do with the job. Maybe you could tell the boss, that you find it discriminatory that you need to hear people talk about dieting around you. After all, if it was a situation where White people were going around telling Black people how great it is being white, they'd be able to sue over racism and call in Jesse Jackson about it.

I don't really know what you could do, that might not involve you being fired. Perhaps send to the list, "It's your choice to diet, and it's my choice to not diet. Hopefully this office won't become a place where people job's are put on the line due to body size, which science has shown is as unable to change as someone's skin color. Surely you wouldn't have a bleaching party for Black people, so try to keep your starvation to yourself."

James said...
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