Girl informed she should not serve on Ottawa well being board due to her weight

Girl informed she should not serve on Ottawa well being board due to her weight

A member of the Ottawa Board of Well being is talking out towards physique shaming after she acquired a letter from a resident telling her she should not be on the board due to her weight.

Elyse Banham stated the letter, dated Jan. 12, sat unopened for weeks on her desk on the Ottawa Start and Wellness Centre, the place she’s govt director. Banham figured it was merely extra hate mail protesting the centre’s vaccine clinics.

She lastly opened the envelope March 18, and realized it was a response to an Ottawa Citizen article through which Banham known as for extra variety on metropolis boards. The letter is signed, however CBC has been unable to confirm its authenticity or discover the author, and is due to this fact redacting the identify.

Banham has been a member of the Ottawa Board of Well being for 4 years and has utilized for one other 4, the article famous. However the letter author took exception to that, apparently primarily based on the picture of Banham accompanying the article.

“As a member of the Ottawa Board of Well being, residents count on you to be a task mannequin for our metropolis’s residents and believve (sic) you can’t fulfil that function as a consequence of your unhealthy standing. It’s unacceptable to be obese by the 20 kilos it seems you might be carrying,” the letter to Banham reads.

“I might be completely happy to see you on the brand new committee on the situation that you just develop into a greater function mannequin.”

A picture of a letter.
This letter was despatched to Banham’s work handle on Jan. 12, 2023, in response to an newspaper article Banham appeared in that very same day. Banham is not certain the identify of the one who signed the letter is actual. (Elyse Banham)

Banham informed CBC on Sunday that she was harm by the letter, however not completely stunned.

“It is not that I have never skilled this earlier than — I feel that individuals will be very unkind to one another. However this was the primary time that any individual took the time to ship me a letter and level out that I wasn’t able to performing work due to my physique look,” she stated.

She determined to publish the letter on Twitter, and stated she’s acquired many supportive messages in response. 

Catherine Kitts, town councillor for Orléans South–Navan and chair of the well being board, known as the letter “horrendous.” Kitts stated she’s unhappy not just for Banham, but in addition for the letter author who took the time to ship such a hateful message.

“I used to be happy with member Banham for calling it out, as a result of that additionally takes guts, and I used to be happy and not stunned to see this outpouring of help for her,” Kitts stated. “Member Banham is such an unbelievable addition to the board of well being. She’s such a superb contributor and a really valued member, and that ought to be the message. Her contributions to the board communicate volumes.”

Vitriolic assaults are an unsightly facet of public management, Kitts stated, and conditions like this are a reminder “that that is what we’re going through day by day.”

Jill Andrew, co-founder of the advocacy group Physique Confidence Canada, stated that when ladies in public positions are focused by body-based discrimination and harassment, “it actually would not create the kind of welcoming, inclusive local weather that we have to have extra sturdy ladies coming ahead. So it is disappointing.

“All too usually ladies are judged not by our mind, not by the standard of our work or by the historical past of our work, however by our waistlines. And it’s completely absurd … it could take many people away type the duties we’ve on our plate.”

A portrait of a woman.
Jill Andrew, co-founder of Physique Confidence Canada, says physique measurement alone cannot be used to find out somebody’s well being standing. (CBC)

Banham stated she’s happy with the help she’s acquired after going public with the letter.

“No person desires to be informed they’re 20 kilos obese. I can actually inform you that I didn’t get pleasure from that a part of my day. However speaking to any individual like Greg Fergus — a member of Parliament who posted about working with me and the truth that I’m any individual who leads with integrity and tries to make use of my ideas and my opinions to help others — I worth that and I am very grateful,” she stated.

She stated she hopes her expertise will present individuals eager to serve on boards and in different management roles that whereas there’ll all the time be individuals on the market eager to take photographs at them, there are numerous others who will come to their defence.

“The intent of this message was to harm me and belittle me. And it could have been straightforward for me to take that and really feel remoted in it. However the purpose I shared it’s as a result of we will do higher collectively, and the vast majority of individuals assume that, and that is why there’s been this outpouring of help,” Banham stated.

“And so I am grateful for all these individuals who got here to my defence, and what I feel that actually says is that we’re in search of extra numerous opinions.”

Hearken to Elyse Banham’s total interview with CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning on Monday

Ottawa Morning7:44Ottawa Board of Well being member speaks out about physique shaming

A member of Ottawa’s Board of Well being is talking out after a stranger stated she couldn’t do her job due to her weight. Why she’s hoping to deconstruct the narrative round physique shaming, by sharing her story.

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