What is seen cannot be unseen…

You’ve prepared for this.   All the numbers are triple-checked and you’ve rehearsed the presentation till you’re reciting it in your sleep.  You know that you will own the room.  Everything under your control is taken care of.

But if you’re overweight and you’re presenting against someone who is not, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose no matter what comes out of your mouth.  That first glance of your gut has just impaired the listener’s judgement about your capabilities, decision-making and even integrity.  It’s completely unfair but tell that to millions of years of evolution.

We’d all like to think that we’re above base animal instincts and I’d like to think that I’m tall.  It just isn’t true.  For most of human evolution, there just hasn’t been enough food.  After the development of civilization, only those of the ruling class were obese as it was important to flaunt their wealth, power and access to food.  The rest of us were either breaking our backs farming, trapping animals or dying from dysentery. But generally starving.  Prior to us becoming H. sapiens, survival required the species to be fast and wiry and infinitely adaptable.  Survival meant babies.  And babies meant genetic fitness.  The most primitive parts of our brains, regardless of political correctness, and cultural preference, is still wired for mate selection.

This is why there is a universal, instinctive attraction to folks who display youth, vigour and symmetry.  That first visual snapshot will affect the outcome of your job interview, presentation or sales pitch.  I’m not talking about needing to look like a Spartan warrior.  I’m talking about not being obviously out of shape.  That snap judgement is not within our conscious control.

Pictured: The most persuasive group of presenters civilization has ever seen

For the unfortunate few, genetics plays a part in their struggle with obesity.  But for the vast majority of office workers, it is a choice.  Or rather a choice not taken.  Not choosing the right foods, not choosing an active lifestyle and worst, not cueing in to the lost opportunities.

To claim that weight discrimination doesn’t occur is obviously sticking your head in the sand.  Type in Obesity Discrimination in Google and you’ll get thousands of relevant returns citing legal issues, employment issues and cost of productivity issues.  Your presentation image is just as important, if not much more important than the words you say. Somebody said that 93% of communication is non-verbal.  That is your mood, facial expressions and gestures say more about your idea than your words do.  If you search online, you’ll find plenty of strategies to optimize your non-verbal communication.

But even before you say a single thing, the listener has already formed an opinion of you by looking at your shape.   Sorry, but it’s true.

Your health is obviously the most important reason for you to stay in good physical shape.  You’ve seen a hundred health studies and they all suck if you’re obese.  But good health is a choice.  You have a choice not to eat crap that’s bad for you.  You have a choice to add physical activity into your life.  Unlike any other physical attribute, you have a choice.

So the next time, you complain that you only lost the sale or the job interview because the other guy or lady was more physically attractive, yeah, you might be right.

Choose to do something about it.  You already know what you need to do.

M