Do You Feel Pressure To Be Thin At Your Job?

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Today’s lunch was bright and cheery- a tropical getaway if you will! :mrgreen:

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I had a yellow pepper with freshly ground pepper and black bean dip on the side. (Sorry, I just realized how unappetizing that bean dip looks- LOL).

I continued my tater addiction with mashed potatoes! I made these a couple nights ago and they include almond milk, garlic, sea salt, and vegan margarine. I heated them up with a pat of vegan margarine and parsley flakes.

Two words: COMFORT FOOD.

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With an Amy’s Texas veggie burger, a high protein pita, Fontaine Santa hummus, salsa, and tomato paste. I like Amy’s burgers, but I really need to make more of the In A Jiffy Spelt Veggie Burgers. They are much, much tastier (and cheaper).

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Dessert was a WRINKLY peach! It was now or never so I took one for the team…and ate it wrinkles and all. ;) It did look more ‘distinguished’ I must admit. :mrgreen:

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Two exciting things:

1) Michael Pollan + Alicia Silverstone + Food Inc + Whole Foods on Oprah today. Loved it. Anyone else catch it? I thought it was funny how careful Oprah was about everything she said. I must have heard the line, ‘This is only my opinion, you must make the choice for yourself.’ a million times. I guess she is avoiding another lawsuit…

2) 5:30pm and still light out. Can I hear a woot woot for Spring on its’ way??

Do You Feel Pressured To Be Thin At Your Job?

This week I was chatting with a reader who is in school to become a Registered Dietitian. She told me that there is a lot of competition among the RD students at her school. Of course there is competition over grades, but she told me there is also competition over weight and appearance.

Because the focus of the program is so health oriented and it is so competitive to get internships, there is a lot of pressure to appear as that perfect picture of health. You know the saying: practice what you preach.

I instantly thought about my previous jobs and whether I have felt any pressure to maintain a low weight. Most of them were office jobs, so there wasn’t much pressure there. However, I worked in retail for many years and had to wear the store’s clothing. At times, I remember wanting to look thin in the clothing so I could represent it well to potential buyers. However, I never felt pressure from my boss. It was internal pressure I placed on myself.

With my current job, owning a bakery, I don’t really feel much pressure about my weight because baker’s tend to have the stereotype of being heavy. However, owning a healthy bakery, I do think it is important to show that a healthy weight can be maintained with balance and moderation. It is not about being thin as it is just overall healthy though.

Then there is my OSG gig. Given my past eating disorder, I had to think very long and carefully about how I wanted to approach my blog. I knew immediately that it might not be healthy for me to be a 3x a day food blogger just due to the sensitivity I have around it all. It works great for many people, but I had to chose the right path for myself. I decided to blog about a variety of topics that I am passionate about, throw some hot topics and recipes in there, and try to have a nice balance for myself. This approach has worked for me because I have not felt overly scrutinized or pressured to live up to some ideal. I just try to be healthy for myself and not think too much about what other people think or expect of me.

Whether I had OSG or not, I would still want to maintain my weight and be a healthy person, so the blog really doesn’t change anything. At times I have fallen into the comparison trap, like many of us do, but I just try my best to work with what I have and never expect perfection from myself because it does not exist. [For a great discussion see Part 1 and Part 2 on Social Comparison Trap.]

So that was my long-winded way of leading into today’s question…

Do you or have you ever had a job (or school career) where you felt the pressure to be thin? What is it/was it and why do you feel that way? Are there things that you do to reduce the pressure?

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You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is. ~Ellen

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{ 138 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny January 27, 2010

Mmm that lunch looks great!

And this is a great topic to bring up. I definitely feel the pressure be thin, or at least “attractive” in college. Girls all around me are going to extremes just so they can binge drink in mini skirts on the weekends, and I’m just trying to find a healthy balance. I feel like right now we live in a world of mixed messages most of all.

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Meredith (Pursuing Balance) January 27, 2010

I’m studying dietetics and used to work as a diet tech at a hospital. I don’t necessarily feel pressure to be thin, but I do think there is judgment regarding what RDs and RDs to be eat, both from those inside and outside the profession.

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Elizabeth January 27, 2010

I definitely feel pressure to be thin in my career. I am a hairstylist and our industry is ALL about external beauty. Not only do we have to look appealing to clients, but working with so many stylish people there is a pressure to “keep up”. Being overweight makes it harder to wear the latest trends and feel as stylish as my co-workers. There are a lot of overweight hairstylists, but most are on the thinner side of the spectrum. The pressure is self-induced for sure, but it’s always there!

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kaytee kedzz @ tryingonimperfection.blogspot.com January 27, 2010

I am in nursing school and I definitely feel the pressure to be thin, a.k.a “healthy.” Nurses are expected to promote health, and how can we promote health when we are not healthy ourselves? I can’t say I am not guilty of believing this, too. I see “healthy” nurses walk in to class with an extra-large bagel, slather on their cream cheese and wash it all down with a 2.5 serving bottle of chocolate milk. Being vegan, this simply grosses me out. However, that sure is not a healthy meal– vegan or not. Nurses know how diseases develop and what to do to prevent them, and here they are not doing it themselves! Still, all of the nurses that I see not practicing healthy lifestyle choices are some of the most compassionate people I have ever met, and I would love them to be my nurse someday!

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Edan January 29, 2010

Wow, Kaytee – It’s odd to me that you feel it’s okay to be “grossed out” by someone’s food in the midst of everyone here talking about what a drag it is to be derided for having a green monster for breakfast. Veganism is your choice! That’s awesome, let everyone make theirs too, and stop judging, man. That’s a real drag.

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Jackie January 27, 2010

I saw the Oprah episode today! I noticed that about Oprah too about having to watch what she said. I felt sad for her that she couldn’t have an on-air honest opinion (on her OWN show might I add) about food without the worry of a lawsuit.

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Rachelf January 27, 2010

OMG, your lunch looks AMAZING. Seriously, it just made me sooo hungry.

I worked at a weight loss company, and there was a definite pressure to be thin there. One of my coworkers didn’t eat ANYTHING while at work or on her lunch break. I, on the other hand, ended up gaining like 5 pounds, haha. I don’t respond well to that kind of pressure!

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Meredith January 27, 2010

In college I was Panhellenic president, which meant I was the representative for all the sorority women at my university. I attended a big university in the South, so you can only imagine the pressure on me to be thin and pretty and perfect 24/7…. how exhausting!

I am only a month out of college and now working for a major oil and gas company. Although you wouldn’t expect it, I still feel pressure to maintain a thin figure. The industry is male dominated and by maintaining a smaller size, in conjunction with busting my butt, I’ll go much further with my career.

While it all seems overwhelming, and it is at times for sure, I’m finally to the place in my life where I am focusing on eating healthy, enjoying sweets in moderation, and half marathon training to keep my size. I’m done with the days of obsessive calorie counting and fad diets!!

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EaterNotARunner January 27, 2010

Did you hear about the whole foods weight goals they just announced? I would feel a lot of pressure if I worked there! How ridiculous.

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zestycook January 27, 2010

Ok here we go…. first off I am still laughing at the Woot Woot for Spring! Love your writing!

Secondly – your lunch looks pretty darn wicked!

Thirdly – I don’t feel any pressure to look thin outside of myself getting on the scales every morning and saying damn… do you really think you should have snuck up on that bag doritos last night and ate no even announced you were coming and cleaned out the whole bag.

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Bella January 27, 2010

I absolutely relate to this. I work in PR and there is a perception of what “PR girls” look like. That said, I’ve always worked for companies who hire based on skill and not waist size, so I don’t feel pressure where I work.

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pen January 27, 2010

you know, oddly enough, I get chastised for being skinny at my job. mostly because I’m the only one that exercises in my office, they think the concept of me running marathons and doing ironmen is beyond crazy. and because I’m in the south with all kinds of fried meat (which I dont eat), they all think I’m abnormal.

I came from being a lightweight rower where I had to be under a certain weight, and since then I CANNOT be in a situation like that again, my current job situation is better than the opposite.

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 27, 2010

Hmmm…as a college instructor who is also a young woman, I actually feel like physical attraction can work against me. I purposefully wear very conservative clothing (no short skirts, tight blouses, etc.), because I feel like the 18-19 year old boys that I teach would see that as indication that they don’t have to respect me or take me seriously as a teacher. I don’t know if that makes sense?

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 27, 2010

Fabulous post!! As a personal trainer, OF COURSE I have felt pressured to be in shape. Luckily I WANT to stay in shape, but I am not thin by any means . . . I tend to be a little thick. So it takes alot of work on my part.

I have worked with a 50 year old woman who is overweight and is a trainer. She is fairly good at what she does, but unfortunately, people don’t want to go to her since she is heavy. I can;t argue with them. If I was hiring a trainer, I would want them to be in shape too – not overly ripped or anything, but not 50lbs overweight like she is. It’s sad, but true.

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MarathonVal January 27, 2010

Oh hell yes I have had that experience….

To make a very long story short, one summer during college I worked at Abercrombie and Fitch and found out about sooooo many horrendous things that went on.

Basically, managers sat in meetings with pictures of the employees on a projector and rated them an A, B, or C based on LOOKS… and this determined how many hours they got and whether or not they worked in the front or back of the store.

I actually contributed to a class action law suit against them because some Latina women in California faced a great deal of discrimination at their local store, and so I told my story in order to help them out.

Disgusting that people actually do that, right? Sadly I’m sure they aren’t the only retail company to do this…

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Katherine January 27, 2010

I am a former “part-time” sports model, but I never really felt pressured to be thinner than I was. There were definitely taller and thinner models out there, but I didn’t feel like being thinner was going to get me more jobs. At the time, I was pretty serious about sports as well, so being healthy and strong was more important to me. I also always kept in mind that being a model is like being a piece of meat. You might not be the cut they want. And for me, that was okay.

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Gabriela January 28, 2010

Bummed I missed the Oprah episode- sounds so interesting!

I’m still in school, so the pressure to be thin isn’t job related, but being with a bunch of college girls (espescially in NYC) definitely makes you conscious of some things! There seem to be an endless supply of ten foot tall, 90 pound models on this island. That being said, I know that my way of life is way healthier than that of someone who subsists on cigarettes and coffee, and I’d rather be happy than starving!

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Pure2raw twins January 28, 2010

We noticed the same thing on Oprah. Yes she needs to be careful I guess, but at least she had the important topic on her show. More people need to be aware of this topic.

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Morgan @ Life After Bagels January 28, 2010

MarathonVal – that is CRAZY! . . . honestly being a retail manager myself I cannot think of something so horrible. Appearance is important in any kind of sales but that is EXTREME. I wonder if they do that at the stores in Canada too . . .

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Baroque Diva January 28, 2010

I definitely feel the pressure to be thin and stylish and young in my profession. You wouldnt think so, but opera today is extremely superficial and famous opera singers are just as thin and gorgeous as Hollywood movie stars! I try to keep it in perspective, that as long as I sing well and stay healthy it shouldn’t matter… but the pressure is definitely always there.

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kathleen January 28, 2010

um, acting. enough said.

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Natasha January 28, 2010

Like a few of the others who have commented, I worked in retail and felt the pressure to fit into the smallest size. In many ways it was self-imposed, but on the flip-side the company wants you to “model” the clothing.

Now as a fashion designer, I feel the pressure again. The press, clients and people that I meet expect me to look good and be thin. Knowing the standard measurements, and knowing my own can be a stress, and has triggered a few problems. This is one of the reasons I love your blog so much. Now I’m trying to eat in a way that is “good” for my body (and beat those voices in my head telling me not to eat). Your positive, healthy outlook helps.

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Orla January 28, 2010

I work in the buying ofice of a Bergdorf type store. So not only is there pressure to be thin, there’s pressure to look as good as the cosmetics buyers, carry as hip a bag as the accessories buyers, and dress as well as the womenswear buyers. Yeesh.

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Ariana January 28, 2010

I have a typical office job – so there is no pressure to be thin. Unfortunately some of my co-workers are living really healthy and they are sometimes calling me naughty if I eat an icecream or a chocolate cake or some cookies etc. – I am not living completely unhealthy but sometimes I simply need chocolate. Now I am already hiding the cookies in my drawer and eat them if now one is watching – but it doesn’t feels good. I am not overweight but the others are more skinny than me – so I am always feeling bad if they catch me eating sweets. Strange situation…

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Emmanuelle January 28, 2010

Well, I work in the fashion industry, and all my coworkers are women, so I would be in a good position to feel pressured to be thin ;-) but strangely enough I don’t.
All of us at work come in different shapes, sizes and ages and I have to say that none of us are judgmental towards the others, which is good.
The only thing is sometimes I feel that I’ve officially been labelled as the health nut and think I eat some weird stuff (“what is that? tem-paay? oh, well, what the hell is this?” “ooooh you eat a lot of nuts, but these are full of fat, this is not very good” (helloooo healthy fats anyone?). So I guess the pressure I have is to keep remaining the health nut and go on eating weird things they don’t know, but none of them would judge me for putting on a few pounds :-)

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justveggin' January 28, 2010

woot woot for Spring! I was excited also when I realized it was still light out past 4:30…SO AWESOME!

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Michelle @ Eatingjourney January 28, 2010

It’s amazing living abroad, but working with Americans for the past 3 1/2 years. I think the university culture BREEDS such unhealthy and f-ed up images of body for so SO many women and men.

Here are some interesting snipets from Australians

‘Americans girls are obsessed about how they look. They’re always going to the gym, are obessesed with the way they look. They’re so skinny and eat healthy all the time’

‘It was interesting visiting America and seeing the students. What shocked me most was how skinny all of the girls were on the campuses. While I was there, a report came out that said 1/2 of American college girls have had or do have an eating disorder. The more elite the uni is, the more likely they are to have one’.

That is the land of the free, home of the brave, and the in ability to be perfect.

I am glad I live in Oz.

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Amy January 28, 2010

Wow, as an American all we ever hear is how fat and unhealthy the people of this country are. I guess it’s interesting to hear Americans and skinny in the same sentence! Sad, but true. Wish it was healthy and American.

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Shannon January 28, 2010

I DVRed Oprah and I can’t wait to watch it this weekend!

Interesting topic you brought up. I am just going back to school to be an RD….so I’ll keep my eyes open for that competitiveness. I haven’t experienced that pressure at work before.

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Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind January 28, 2010

Angela, sometimes I feel like I should pay you…you know, for the personal counseling session you provide me with some of your posts. ;)

I didn’t even realize it until reading this, but I’ve certainly fallen into the comparison trip since starting my blog. I find myself considering what other bloggers would or would not eat when making food decisions at times. Ironically, the bloggers I admire most are those that seem to make food decisions based solely on what works for THEM (you being one of said bloggers!).

Thanks for this! You’ve been on FIRE with relevant/hard-hitting posts lately!

OK Cassie, no more comparing! :)

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Melinda January 28, 2010

Since I am a RD yes there is occasional pressure, but I think more than anything it is self inflicted. It is mostly a female profession and so this female competitiveness kicks in. Also, many RD’s have had or still have an easting disorder or some sort of disordeded eating so sometimes the competitiveness will re-draw those habits out since the person can control them. I worked with great people and we always supposted each other so there was no pressure to be thin there, but you always wonder what people think of you when you are an RD. I just gained around 40 pounds since meeting my hubby and I know people wonder what happened to the 90# RD. But it is life and I am happy now and I wasn’t before…and I did have my gall bladder out which did a lot for keeping weight off for a long time…until I met my hubby. I am happy and healthy and so that is fine by me, although I am trying to lose some now that I realized how much I gained.

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Paige @ Running Around Normal January 28, 2010

What a lovely lunch!
I love your post topics, Angela. Recently, I’ve had to stop reading one of my favorite blogs because he/she made me feel like she didn’t think she was good enough, and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Hadn’t had that feeling in a long time, so I had to quit reading – and it was one of the first blogs I started reading :(
I love that your blog is different from the rest!

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Jenn @ Livewellfit January 28, 2010

I find it so ironic that you ask this question today. I’m currently studying to be a wellness coach and one of the points made this week by a fellow coach was that we need to be role models for our clients. As a coach, we need to demonstrate the ways we strive to incorporate more balance and wellness in our lives. But what I loved about this coach was that she wasn’t saying this in an effort to say we are to be “perfect” role models. Everyone struggles with balance and treating their bodies well. I think we all experience days where our choices are nothin but gold in terms of taking care of ourselves. Other days…can you pass me the second bag of M&Ms? :) I think my point is this: I have been putting a great deal of pressure on myself these last months. What should I look like as wellness coach and fitness instructor? At the end of the day, I should look like ME! A healthy me, regardless of how that is translated on the outside. If my mind is healthy and happy, then my body can only follow the same path!

It has taken me a very very long time to come to this point and I will still struggle some days. But I will be honest about that struggle and I will continue to learn as much as I can!

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Liz January 28, 2010

Hey Angela –

Ever the inspiration :).

I have had two jobs that I can think of. One was at Hooters. I’d say that’s pretty self explanatory and the other is a current second job I have at a tanning salon. The tanning industry is that of great vanity. You can’t be overweight and unkempt when you are dealing with the “I think I’m so beautifuls”. LOL Plus, it is a sales job and nobody is going to purchase from someone who is not representing the product well. There is a saying … “tan fat looks better than white fat” but … still. Yes, the pressure is there.

Good topic.

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kristen January 28, 2010

I’ve never felt “job pressure” to be thin, although I’ve never worked in an image conscious work-place. I really hope I’m never in a work-place or job that does involve weight pressure. I can’t imagine having to deal with it and I don’t think I’d react to it well.

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Jess - The Domestic Vegan January 28, 2010

I caught Oprah yesterday! I haven’t watched it for ages, but I was really happy that I happened to turn it on yesterday. I thought it was a great episode. I haven’t previously been the biggest fan of Michael Pollan because a lot of articles/books I’ve read of his seem to ignore the animal rights aspect part of animal agriculture. I definitely agree with him that buying grass-fed meat from small, local farms is worlds BETTER than buying from factory farms – and it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the general public. I also like that he gets people thinking about these things, and I think he’s accessible to the general public. I just feel frustrated sometimes that when he talks about how “growing” meat on small farms is better for our health, the environment, and it tastes better – and he seems to ignore the fact that animals still die for that meat. Meat doesn’t “grow”! But again, I think baby steps are terrific & at least he’s getting people thinking about making small changes that can add up over time. Anyway, Pollan was super likable on Oprah & I liked what he had to say. I also thought Alicia was great! I noticed how careful Oprah was, too. Haha. At one point, she asked the creator of Chipotle if he was SURE he wanted to say something negative about the cattle industry, and she said she was keeping her mouth shut. Haha.

Regarding my weight, I don’t feel pressure at work because it’s an office job, and to be brutally honest, it’s mostly unhealthy, overweight people who work there. I do sometimes feel pressure as a vegan to be the “picture of health” because I want to be a good example of the plant-based lifestyle – but that’s just manifested itself in being physically active & eating healthy! I don’t obsess about it, which is a good mindset to be in, I think.

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Salah@myhealthiestlifestyl January 28, 2010

I definitely feel the pressure to be not necessarily be thin but to be the ultimate picture of health. It’s a ton of pressure being in the Health Promotions Department to make sure when you join in on the talks about health and all that good stuff that you make sure you are as you said earlier “practicing what you preach”. If I didn’t feel like I lived the lifestyle I preached I wouldn’t preach it. I honestly don’t think one can truly understand a certain lifestyle till they live it…just my opinion though.

Thankfully for me, I LOVE working out (they have to peel me out of the gym…guess it just comes from having been a college athlete the past 4 years…I need a 4 hour workout to supplement my old practices) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE making out meal plans. Don’t get me wrong, I have my cheat meals and they are amazing but I do understand that I am at risk for several genetic health problems (high cholesterol which I have already acquired) so I just choose to eat well and exercise to the best of my ability not necessarily for my major but more for me and my future health.

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Mae @ OhhMay January 28, 2010

My boss mentioned when she hired me “good you’re fit, you’ll be a great spokesperson for peanut butter”
I feel a little weird wearing 8 sweaters when I’m selling at a freezing cold winter market, becasue I don’t want people to remember me from summer and think I gained a lot of weight. I get over it pretty quickly, (I like to be warm!) but it’s interesting- in the summer when I would wear a tank top to work, I had a lot more people say things like “will I look like you if I eat this peanut butter?”, joking of course.

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Diana January 28, 2010

I think I feel pressure – not from my job but from life in general. However, I enjoy working out and eating well – I do that for my emotional health more than my physical appearance.
Diana

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Melissa (Project Bare) January 28, 2010

I can definitely relate to this post. I worked at a small PR company for two years that only had one male employee. We often, jokingly, referred to it as “the Hen House,” but, after a while, it wasn’t so funny. I went in with some major eating problems to be sure, but the environment only fostered and encouraged my habits. Everyone counted calories/carbs and the fridge was full of low-fat everything. We often didn’t eat lunch until 2:00 or later and it was an unspoken rule that everyone ate at pretty much the same time. I became really unhappy there once I realized how much the workplace environment was justifying my eating disorder and, the day I quit, was one of the best days of my life!! Onward and upward, as they say!

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Miriam January 28, 2010

It is all about pressure that you put on yourself… I’ve never felt pressure from anyone around me to get thinner, not at work, not in my group of friends, not at school, not anywhere. But then I’ve been preoccupied of the way I look for a long time in my life (went into eating disorders myself). With time -and work on myself- I can say that my present “goal” is not to look perfect, but to look and FEEL healthy and STRONG (both emotionally and physically). I do not compare myself anymore, I do not put pressure on myself. I am at a very good ratio height/weight, I am eating well, going to the gym, I have energy and health. I do not feel bad if I go shopping with a friend wearing a size 1, I wouldn’t want to be otherwise! :)

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RhodeyGirl January 28, 2010

I have never felt any pressure of that type in any job or in life. I wonder if sometimes a little pressure to look good WOULD be good for me, because I feel like I let a lot slide a lot of the time (like eating waffle fries last weekend, or not covering up the gray hair on my head between appointments).

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