The reason this aggrieves me even more as a presenter than it did when I was acting is that surely it doesn’t matter how much I weigh? Does it affect my ability to present well? Not as far as I can see. In fact, I have put on weight since I started presenting and I’m pretty sure I haven’t become worse because of it.
Television has come a long way since it started – we have diversity in race and gender as well as the regional accents which were avoided for so long – and yet it seems that a lot of people in the profession still see weight as an acceptable discrimination. A bigger production company issued me with an application form recently that asked for my dress size, height and shoe size before then stating that I would have to supply my own outfits for the job, leaving me wondering quite why they needed that information. However, this is starting from bottom, with employers for online or small advertising content giving weight or size requirements. These are the jobs where we all have to start so if this size-ism starts here, how are we supposed to progress?
In fact, the reason I am compelled to write this is because, just today, I was ready to apply to a small, two day job when I saw that one of the specifications was that the prospective presenter had to be between size 6 and 12 and not be any heavier than 56kg. If I was to pay attention to this, I could not apply as, although I am a size 12, I am most certainly quite a bit heavier than 56kg – I think many size 12 people probably are. So I’m weightier than they wanted – should I pay attention to this? I didn’t and generally do ignore weight and size specifications. The fact is I shouldn’t have to even consider this. I shouldn’t be made to think that my weight affects my worthiness for a job.
There are, admittedly, a handful of jobs where weight may need to be taken into account for a purely health and fitness point of view. If I wanted to be a firefighter I would have to be fit and well and being overweight may affect this. However, presenting to camera does not fit into this category.
This is just another case of women being conditioned to believe that their weight is a key part if their value and worth which just isn’t true! It is hard to ignore though, especially in this profession. Just yesterday I was telling my boyfriend that I wasn’t going to apply for a photoshoot because I needed to lose some weight. Now I think about it, it is deeply ingrained in even myself which I’m pretty sure has a lot to do with my professional environment.
I will, however, keep ignoring these requirements where possible and apply to the jobs I find interesting regardless. We are all different shapes and sizes so surely television should represent that too but it seems the opinions of those offering the jobs are that which need to change. If the people employing presenters believe we are only worth looking at or listening to if we are the “perfect” skinny size eight, then what chance do we have.
I know a lot of great people working in this industry; some very small and slight, some who weigh more with gorgeous curves and some in between the two and all of them have talent, integrity and an ability to do their job that is in no way affected by their weight. I don’t stop listening to people’s opinions if they are over a certain weight, so why should viewers? Women are more than a dress size and presenters are more than their looks – it’s time that the people making these programmes realise that.