Lisa Lampanelli and Celebrity Weight Loss

Celebrity weight loss is constantly at the forefront of media. Newest on the list of celebrity members of the “fit club”  is stand up comedian Lisa Lampanelli.

A Yahoo! Inc article proclaims

Though she’s happy at her current size, after a radical weight loss (formerly weighing 248 pounds), Lampanelli doesn’t fancy the word ‘beautiful in her vocabulary. She does know that stacking herself next to others isn’t productive and being self-assured is a personal thing.


Lampanelli, who had gastric bypass surgery in 2012, has lost over 100 pounds. This was a result of a 3 decade long battle with emotional eating

I started emotionally eating and using food as medication, just like other people use alcohol or drugs or pot or shopping or anything else. I gai

ned weight, and that started a 32-year struggle with weight and exercise and body image problems. I didn’t have a handle on it, at all. – Lampanelli

Celebrity weight and size is often exaggerated or lied about. Beauty Redefined published an article approximately 24 months ago about celebrity weights and the lies told to to the media. “The average model is 5’11” and 117 lbs (which is considered severely underweight, even according to the BMI),” the article states. The article goes on to discuss the accuracy of female claims in their weight loss with regard to the media. For example, when Jennifer Hudson claimed to have lost 50 pounds (or two dress sizes) from her 140 lb frame, she would have been 90 pounds, a rather unrealistic weight, even for hollywood.

Stereotypes and weight discrimination in Hollywood seem to fuel these types of discussions, as celebrities find “new lives” with their new bodies. This occurs most often with women rather than men. The simple answer is that while men are typically rated and assessed based on their merits, women have to account for their merits and their attractiveness. Just look at Bruce Jenner’s recent transformation in which it took media outlets less than one hour to begin criticizing her body. As Bruce, Jenner was a 1976 Olympic athlete with accolades to count. He was called an “American Hero” during our Cold War with the Soviet Union. As Caitlyn, media outlets were discussing her breasts and figure.

LA2-vx06-konsthallen-skulpturWomen face an exorbitant amount of discrimination, in the workplace in general. Our society places a huge emphasis on thinness and attractiveness on women, which tends to make its way into the workforce. This is because women, and especially their attractiveness, are valued based on their appearance. Men, on the other hand are thought of as being attractive based on appearance, personality, occupational success, and intelligence (Haskins & Ransford, 1999). The reason this is relevant is that physical appearance is often cited as a hiring factor (Frieze, Olson, & Good 1990). Even without the workplace setting, women’s weight plays a much more impactful role than males in their every day lives. For example, obese undergraduate women have been found to date less than obese males of the same age. Obese women are married less often than non-obese women, while these have little to no effect on males. And, men rated obese women as being less attractive than those with STDs, physical disabilities, or severe mental illness (Roehling, 2012).

This is why being an overweight woman may be more limiting than being an overweight male in the workplace (Haskins & Ransford, 1999). Obese and overweight women are less likely to be selected and will receive lower starting salaries than those with lower body weights (Obrien, et. al., 2013). Sixteen percent of hiring managers would not consider hiring an obese woman at all (Kristen, 2002). In Roehling’s study (1999), where he identified multiple phases of employment events in which the overweight were discriminated against, also identified one very eye-opening factor. In some cases, men were either unaffected or moderately affected by weight stigmas. The relationship between weight and discrimination was much more prevalent in women. Moreover, women are sixteen times more likely to experience weight discrimination than men are (Roehling et. al, 2007).

Weight can also contribute to the glass ceiling effect in women, as they look for promotions and higher salaries after selection (Henlon & Roehling, 2009). This gender and weight interaction was found to be limiting in the case of Donoghue v. County of Orange, in which a newly appointed Deputy Sheriff Donoghue was required to do more cardiovascular exercises and weight training than other trainees due to her size (McEvoy, 1992). What was even more unsettling was that there were males in the same training class who had been categorized as overweight, but were not required to do these extra exercises. They were also not spoken to as harshly as Sheriff Donoghue. The treatment ultimately prevented Donoghue from being promoted and earning more. Empirically, this is also supported Haskins and Ransford (1999). The results of this study indicated that female weight did significantly affect salary, especially in certain occupations within a specific industry. The study also indicated that overweight women in entry level and managerial positions earned significantly less than non-overweight women.

Gender and Weight also interact to create major barriers throughout the work environment, in general. Compared with female participants in a study on stereotypes, male participants wanted to work with obese female targets significantly less than if those roles were reversed (Grant & Mizzi, 2014). The study by Grant and Mizzi focused on stereotypes of overweight female employees. A significant relationship between obesity and negative stereotypes was found, regardless of job type. This had a significant effect on employability ratings, as well, which leads employees to be less desirable. Although, this is in direct contradiction with Haskins and Ransford (1999), who did see certain occupations affect overweight females more directly. The caveat not previously discussed is that those occupations were male-dominated and females in those industries were not valued as much based on their job skills, but on their appearance. The same can be said of a female dominated industry, the airline industry, where women have been historically discriminated against due to their size, regardless of actual size and weight requirements (Lynch, 1996).



Haskins, K. M., & Ransford, H. E. (1999). The Relationship Between Weight and Career Payoffs             Among Women. Sociological Forum, 14(2), 295-318.

Henlon, A. and Roehling, M.; Weight discrimination could contribute to the glass ceiling effect             for women, study finds. (2009, April 7). MSU Today Retrieved October 30, 2014.

Kristen, E. (2002). Addressing the Problem of Weight Discrimination in Employment.             California Law Review, 90(1), 57.

Lynch, D. a. (1996). The heavy issue: weight-based discrimination in the airline industry. Journal  Of Air Law & Commerce, 62203-242.

McEvoy, S. A. (1992). Fat Chance: Employment Discrimination Against the Overweight. Labor             Law Journal, 43(1), 3-14.

Roehling, M. V. (1999). Weight-Based Discrimination In Employment: Psychological and Legal             Aspects. Personnel Psychology, 52(4), 969-1016.

Roehling, M. V. (2002). Weight Discrimination in the American Workplace: Ethical Issues and             Analysis. Journal Of Business Ethics, 40(2), 177-189.

Roehling, M. V., Roehling, P. V., & Pichler, S. (2007). The Relationship between Body Weight             and Perceived Weight-Related Employment Discrimination: The Role of Sex and Race.             Journal Of Vocational Behavior, 71(2), 300-318.

Roehling, M. V., Roehling, P. V., & Odland, L. M. (2008). Investigating the Validity of             Stereotypes About Overweight Employees: The Relationship Between Body Weight and             Normal Personality Traits. Group & Organization Management, 33(4), 392-424.

Roehling, M.V, Roehling, P.V, & Wagstaff, M. (2013). Sex Differences in Perceived Weight-           Based  Employment Discrimination When Weight Discrimination is Illegal. Employee             Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 25(3), 159-176. doi:10.1007/s10672-013-9217-y

Roehling, P. V. (2012). Fat is a Feminist Issue, but it is Complicated: Commentary on Fikkan             and Rothblum. Sex Roles, 66(9/10), 593-599.






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