Advice column: I'm worried that my weight could be an issue because it affects my appearance

Dear Ash

I have been feeling somewhat insecure of late as a result of my appearance. I put on weight recently after a bout of illness and don’t feel as confident as I once did. Although I enjoy my job, a colleague suggested that the partners in the department expect everyone to take pride in their appearance and I would need to get fit in order to impress them and clients. I am good at my job, but I am now increasingly feeling less confident at work as a result of those comments. I want to try to lose weight, but I’m not sure I want to stay in a firm where the people are so shallow.

Ash replies:

Unfortunately, despite the sayings “Never judge a book by its cover”, “All that glisters is not gold”, etc etc, we are a society which is obsessed by looks and therefore inevitably people are judged by their outward appearances. Nevertheless, although it is important to have a clean and professional look at work, it is also imperative that you are able to do your job effectively. There is little to be gained in the long term from just focusing on looks, as you will need to be an effective team player too.

Although it is important to be healthy, your weight may not be as much of an issue as you think. You may not be as slim as you were, but that does not mean that you’re necessarily unhealthy. I therefore suggest that you consult your GP in the first instance and if you then decide to lose weight, do this for yourself and not because you feel you have to because of work.

The important thing is that you admittedly love your job and you are good at it. Your colleague may have picked up on your insecurities and as a result made the insensitive comments. However, the comments may not necessarily reflect the opinion of the partners. Employers are increasingly placing greater expectations on their employees in the current jobs market, and accordingly there will be little tolerance for those employees offering merely style over substance.


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