Retail's prejudice against the obese

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by esquire., Apr 16, 2005.

  1. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    Extremely well put, globetrotter.

    I am speaking as one who was formerly "fat".  I don't know if I was obese (technically or otherwise), but I spent a good portion of my younger life (from as long as I can remember until my early 20's) overweight.  I am 6'2" and, at the height of my weight gain, was roughly 260 pounds.  I now weigh around 185, and have remained this was for about 8 years (although I had started my weight loss many years before that - I did it gradually).  On a personal note, I am much happier and certainly much healthier.

    I think what some people posting in this thread do not realize is that most people who are overweight are painfully aware of this fact.  It is embarrassing for them and they would like nothing more than to lose the weight.  The difficult thing is changing their lifestyle so that they can do this.  A lot of what I've read in this thread makes it sound really easy - "Hey, fatso, get your butt off the couch and run a few laps, and try eating less."  Sounds easy, but it's not.  It takes time, dedication, and patience.  It really is a wholesale change in lifestyle (and it's permanent - if you lose the weight and go back to the way you were, you'll gain it all back).  It can be done, but it's not as easy as some of you seem to think.

    Also, speaking personally, my hygiene has always been impeccable.  I was particularly conscious of being clean and presentable when I was overweight, as a means of compensating.  I also think that this is where my interest in clothing came from to a certain extent.  Once again, I wanted to look good in order to compensate.  As far as intelligence is concerned, speaking personally, I graduated 7th in my class from High School (out of about 340), and I graduated from Bowdoin College (magna cum laude) and Boston College Law School (cum laude).  I may not be a genius, but I think I can hold my own.

    I'm not trying to say that obese people should get a free pass.  I think I draw the line where someone's condition or behavior affects me personally.  For instance, if a person is so big that they take up two seats on an airplane, they should have to pay for two seats rather than spill over into my seat and make my flight uncomfortable.

    However, there is NO EXCUSE for anyone treating someone with anything less than civility, respect and common courtesy unless that person says or does something which shows they are not worthy of the same.  If I saw or overheard a salesperson treating a customer rudely simply because they were overweight, I would report this behavior to the manager of the store.  If the manager said anything to me other than, "I'll speak with the salesperson.  You're right, his/her behavior is intolerable," I would leave the store and never come back (and I would tell the manager that he/she had lost a customer).  If I were a salesperson and an overweight person came into my store and I honestly didn't have any clothing that would fit that person, I would try as gently as possible to explain this to that person, out of earshot of others.  Perhaps I would even maintain a mental list of other stores which might be able to help that person.  I would think a "gentleman" would do nothing less.

    Best regards,

    Jeff
     
  2. ken

    ken Banned by Request

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    (ken @ April 18 2005,12:56) I'd even contend there's a pretty good argument that intelligence CAN be assumed (however roughly) by a person's looks.
    Do you mean that more attractive = more intelligent? Â There's no way you can support that. Â You'd need to show that the same nature and/or nurture inputs that result in intelligence also cause attractiveness.
    No, no, no. I don't even think I insinuated that. That'd be awful. Whites and blacks evolved in denser populations that created humans w/good defenses against typhoid, plague, malaria, etc. Some Polynesian and New Guinea societies never reached the density to make these defenses necessary. What was necessary was the ability to manage and take advantage of your surroundings, other people, tools, etc.
     
  3. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    That has to be one of the most abhorent things I've seen on this forum to date and I've had to read ernest's posts.

    I think it's time for me to check out of this thread. I've stumbled into a nest of social darwinists and those who believe ill-manners is acceptable if the person is a glutton.
     
  4. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    I haven't seen mentioned in this lengthy thread that if there were no fat people to look down on, it would be much less gratifying to be trim and fit-looking. [​IMG] With that out of the way, I would second the opinion that it just seems like poor business for a salesperson to be snotty to a potential customer. After all, "A fat boy's hand don't stink up a dollar." On the other hand, it may be argued that in some high-end retail establishments that try to cultivate an image of elegance, the appearance of a slovenly dressed fat person may be perceived as "lowering the tone" of the place, so the clerks' perceived snottiness may be a way (with the tacit or active connivance of management) to shoo them out. And before you get indignant about this, stop and think: Take your typical grubby, bearded, homeless street bum. Do you really think such a person should or would be met with cordial business civility should he wander into a Saks or Neimans? Could you really fault the management and staff for wanting to get such an uncouth and incongruent figure out of there ASAP?
     
  5. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Originally Posted by dah328,April 18 2005,12:04
    I'd even contend there's a pretty good argument that intelligence CAN be assumed (however roughly) by a person's looks.
    Do you mean that more attractive = more intelligent? There's no way you can support that. You'd need to show that the same nature and/or nurture inputs that result in intelligence also cause attractiveness.

    No, no, no. I don't even think I insinuated that. That'd be awful. Whites and blacks evolved in denser populations that created humans w/good defenses against typhoid, plague, malaria, etc. Some Polynesian and New Guinea societies never reached the density to make these defenses necessary. What was necessary was the ability to manage and take advantage of your surroundings, other people, tools, etc.
    Attractive people are not smarter, but they'll always assume that they are smart, and this self-confidence causes them to be generally happier. This is because people (of perhaps lower intelligence or self-esteem) admire them and a majority of people desire to establish connections and relationships with the attractive person. Thus, despite how stupid or uninteresting said person is, they'll always believe that they're interesting and intelligent because people constantly desire interaction with them. Funny, a little pathetic, a lot off topic, but too true. Panzer, I read (and loved) that article, especially:
    I have a friend of mine who went from 285 to 190 pounds and holds basically the same stance as the writer of that post, which I read as being a much more insensitive variation of what JBZ tactfully described. JN3, Globetrotter: As far as retail workers go - it goes without saying that you should treat each and every customer with respect, regardless of their physical traits. Honestly, it's written down here and it should be enacted as best as possible in real life. My comments (and I think Ken's) didn't mention the retail position explicitly because this should be completely obvious, and a salesperson who discriminates against a portion of their customers is a bad salesperson. I was specifically explaining in defense of the salesperson, that despite their position, the subconscious, natural thought process is going to veer towards negativity towards obese people - customers or not, similarly to the stereotype in America that black people are lazy and less intelligent than white people. It's true, it's unavoidable, it's subconscious, and 99% of American-born people (ALL races, including black) will display this stereotype given the proper examination. In this specific case, the stereotype is the fault of hundreds of years of oppression, forcing this ethnic group into positions of poverty and lower education, which ultimately perpetuate the stereotype. Of course, the difference here is that one group (blacks) deserve absolute respect and acceptance, the other group (fatties)... arguably not so much. The test of proper manners is whether or not you bring these subconscious stereotypes into the foreground of your mind and turn them into discrimination.
     
  6. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I think this is an incorrect analogy. First, you have assumed that a fat person will be "slovenly dressed." Personally, I've know some skinny people who dress like crap and don't shave or bathe as often as they should, and I know some fat people who dress very well and are perfectly clean. You have then somehow made a leap to compare a fat person with a "grubby...street bum". Once again, I find your argument undercut by the (implicit) assumption that fat people are grubby.

    Of course, any private establishment can create its own rules of decorum to which it may ask its customer to adhere. I can't blame any retail establishment for not wanting to serve someone who is so unclean that they either smell or look terrible, or someone who is loud and disruptive. However, to assume that, just because someone is overweight, they fit into either of these categories (or any other "unacceptable" category) is ridiculous.
     
  7. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    Do you mean that more attractive = more intelligent? Â There's no way you can support that. Â You'd need to show that the same nature and/or nurture inputs that result in intelligence also cause attractiveness.
    No, no, no. I don't even think I insinuated that. That'd be awful. Whites and blacks evolved in denser populations that created humans w/good defenses against typhoid, plague, malaria, etc. Some Polynesian and New Guinea societies never reached the density to make these defenses necessary. What was necessary was the ability to manage and take advantage of your surroundings, other people, tools, etc.
    Ok, so from your original post, how can "intelligence be assumed (however roughly) by a person's looks?" Â I'm just curious what you mean. Â I think both attractiveness and intelligence follow independent normal distributions in the population. Â I also think neither is a measure of the worth of a person or a justification for treating a person differently. dan
     
  8. stache

    stache Senior member

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    I've got a question for anyone who is or was a salesperson. Is it more difficult to sell merchandise to a fat person? Do they tend to reject more items because they don't look good in them? I'm wondering if this is part of the attitude of the clerks in the survey.
     
  9. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    On the other hand, it may be argued that in some high-end retail establishments that try to cultivate an image of elegance, the appearance of a slovenly dressed fat person may be perceived as "lowering the tone" of the place, so the clerks' perceived snottiness may be a way (with the tacit or active connivance of management) to shoo them out. And before you get indignant about this, stop and think: Take your typical grubby, bearded, homeless street bum. Do you really think such a person should or would be met with cordial business civility should he wander into a Saks or Neimans? Could you really fault the management and staff for wanting to get such an uncouth and incongruent figure out of there ASAP?
    I think this is an incorrect analogy. Â First, you have assumed that a fat person will be "slovenly dressed." Â Personally, I've know some skinny people who dress like crap and don't shave or bathe as often as they should, and I know some fat people who dress very well and are perfectly clean. Â You have then somehow made a leap to compare a fat person with a "grubby...street bum". Â Once again, I find your argument undercut by the (implicit) assumption that fat people are grubby. Of course, any private establishment can create its own rules of decorum to which it may ask its customer to adhere. Â I can't blame any retail establishment for not wanting to serve someone who is so unclean that they either smell or look terrible, or someone who is loud and disruptive. Â However, to assume that, just because someone is overweight, they fit into either of these categories (or any other "unacceptable" category) is ridiculous.
    I am certainly not making an assumption that fat people are naturally going to be slovenly dressed. I would certainly expect, however, that an elegantly turned out overweight person would be met with considerably more deference and cordiality than one who was poorly turned out. Naturally, dirty, unkempt people, whatever their physical attributes are not going to feel very welcome in elegant stores although given how horribly dressed most Americans are when they go shopping, they'd have to look pretty terrible to be shunned by most clerks (and I am a habituee of some of the most upscale shopping areas in my region--Rodeo Drive & environs, South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island). It's kind of curious that in course of this discussion that the perception of fat as a low-class phenomenon is of relatively recent vintage. At one time--and not that long ago in the overall sweep of history--fat was a sign of prosperity. However, I would make the point that what will usually be perceived as "casual" in a trim, attractive person will most certainly be "slovenly" on a fat person. Let us consider, say, Uma Thurman entering your store in a pair of low slung jeans and a T-shirt that reveals a little of her trim, alluring midsection. She will be winsome ikon of casual elegance and sex appeal. Now let us consider a hideous fat man identically dressed: His enormous, hairy belly bulges beyond the too-small confines of his T-shirt and jeans while in the rear his hairy @$$ crack is visible to world. Let us then clothe our hypothetical fat boy in an elegant suit of flattering trim. He will still not be as aesthetically appealing as Uma in her T-shirt and jeans, but at least he will no longer be a repulsive creature out of nightmare.
     
  10. Bradford

    Bradford Current Events Moderator

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    I'm not offended by fat people - I'm offended by statements like this where being overweight is defined as some sort of a disability. While it's certainly true that some people have more trouble losing weight than others, I find that all too often this is an excuse for people who are just lazy. And, as I stated before, I am offended by people who are promoting this idea of "fat acceptance." It's even been put forward by some that being fat is a disease akin to muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy and that obese people should be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I take great offense to this premise and to the whole concept of "The International Size Acceptance Association".
     
  11. ken

    ken Banned by Request

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    Where is all this hostility coming from? Whats so abhorent about wanting to adjust, for example, the rehabilitation of criminals to involve less disparaging punishments? I really don't think you have any idea what I'm talking about. But you're apparently naively dogmatic enough to leave a discussion that hasn't even started yet, so you probably never will. Also, reread my posts and you'll see I never said ill-manners are acceptable.

    I'm talking about race, not physical attractiveness. It's just theory, no more. Some people think, because Native Americans, New Guineans, etc. evolved in a population not dense enough to support epidemic diseases, and in a society not advanced enough to prevent or treat fatal accidents, that their wit, cunning, and retention of knowledge is greater than that of whites (just for example), whose main means of survival for many thousands of years has been disease resistance. It's complicated, and there's volumes written on the subject, but that's the jist in a sentence.
     
  12. StevenRocks

    StevenRocks Senior member

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    Sheesh, Ken.

    Anyone got anything less cereberal or abhorant to say on this?
     
  13. Walter

    Walter Senior member

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    Back to the initial topic : I am striked to read that for some, you need to work hard to avoid being obese.
    Like obesity was a normal state.
    I think quite the opposite:that you have to work hard (ie to really push your body ) to get obese
     
  14. ken

    ken Banned by Request

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    Cerebral, maybe. But abhorent? I dunno. Maybe just because I'm not into differentiating right and wrong, only good and bad.

    Oh, and your spelling of cerebral is abhorrant. (oooohhhhh....)

    Just kiddin. Nobody on here can spell, not withstanding me.
     
  15. StevenRocks

    StevenRocks Senior member

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    No worries, man. To think, I was the fifth grade spelling bee champ, and now this? LOL

    You have a right to your opinion, but I thought that the thread was taking a wrong turn. I mean, we're tallking about getting mistreated in stores, not genetic theory
     

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