Thanks to Bob Hayes for the tip.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Sales clerks tend to discriminate against shoppers who are obese, according to new study findings.
Investigators found that when women wore a prosthetic suit designed to make them look obese, they were treated more rudely, and received fewer smiles and less eye contact from sales clerks at a Houston, Texas, shopping mall than when they shopped without the fat suit.
Sales clerks — almost three-quarters of whom were women — also tended to end interactions with obese shoppers more quickly, and use a negative tone with them.
Obese shoppers tended to experience more discrimination when they were casually dressed than when they were in professional attire.
However, when the apparently overweight shoppers sipped a diet soda and said they were trying to lose weight, they were treated just as nicely as when they shopped without their artificial bulk.
It seems to me that the last point suggests that’s what’s going on isn’t irresistable disgust, but instead moral disapproval. If the store clerks were simply too overwhelmed with emotion to treat fat women equally, then it wouldn’t make a difference what the fat person says. However, that’s not the case. If a fat woman implicitely agrees to the fat = immorality system by indicating that she is trying to reform her sinful ways (through dieting), then and only then will they be given equal treatment.
The full article has more, including the point that stores are actually losing money due to store employee discrimination.
UPDATE: Interesting discussion related to this study over at Big Fat Blog.