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Subtle increases in BMI within a healthy weight range still reduce women's employment chances in the service sector

Nickson, Dennis and Timming, Andrew R and Re, Daniel and Perrett, David I (2016) Subtle increases in BMI within a healthy weight range still reduce women's employment chances in the service sector. PLOS One, 11 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Using mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA), this paper investigates the effects of a subtle simulated increase in adiposity on women’s employment chances in the service sector. Employing a unique simulation of altering individuals’ BMIs and the literature on “aesthetic labour”, the study suggests that, especially for women, being heavier, but still within a healthy BMI, deleteriously impacts on hireability ratings. The paper explores the gendered dimension of this prejudice by asking whether female employees at the upper end of a healthy BMI range are likely to be viewed more negatively than their overtly overweight male counterparts. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these findings.