America’s most hated companies: The psychology of fat cats and “fatism”

Forget that 35.7% of Americans are considered obese and if you add those that are considered overweight the percentage rises to 69.2%. This isn’t about that. Hell, I’m completely within the lower end of my acceptable BMI range and a California female doctor told me I was fat when I went to see her for a burn I had just sustained. I think she was having a really bad day. I stared at her, whispered she didn’t impress me much (this is back when I couldn’t get enough of Shania Twain’s little ditty) and moved on.  However, doctors who are prejudiced against those that are overweight are a fairly well-established medical practice.  I now have the most fabulous doctor in New York City- who truly is highly sought after and who is ok with my sugar habits because of my crazy daily workout regimens. Anyway, back to fat.

A recent article posted on the Huffington Post’s front page focused in on the top 10 most hated companies in America. I scrolled past it at first as I usually do when I see yet another top ten list passing off as a news article on the front page of the Huffington Post. I swear, it feels at times, that they must have a 100 minions tossing words at a blackboard in the office trying to see what list they should create next. Hey, I know. I do my own weekly wacky list. What can I say?  I’m down with the occasional list. I do work after all with certain people whereby if the much-needed information isn’t in bullet points it doesn’t get considered and the whole place goes down in flames. Anyway, back to fat.


The top ten supposedly most hated companies are: JC Penney, Blackberry, Lululemon, JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, DISH Network, Sears, Electronic Arts, Abercrombie & Fitch, and McDonald’s.   Now what do these companies have in common? Obviously, they all failed their customer base as well as shareholders in some major way last year. These companies overall have mismanaged a new product release such as how Electronic Arts severely botched the release of the SimCity game.  However, there are a lot of companies that have mismanaged customer relations and product releases. These most hated companies have something else in common that is even more reprehensible to many Americans.  These companies didn’t address the nature of fatism (anti-fat/ weight bias) and fat cats correctly.


First off, JP Morgan Chase is filled with the proverbial fat cat.  There has been much discussion as of late about the war on poverty and the two Americas.  Allegedly JP Morgan Chase ignored the signs indicating Bernie Madoff was engaging in a Ponzi scheme. Then back in 2012, there was the “London Whale” scandal, in which a series of trades cost it billions of dollars.  Or rather, cost many people tons of money. The average JPMorgan Chase analyst salary is $65,379. Honestly and sadly, in NYC that doesn’t go very far. However, average pay for all JPMorgan’s 52,000 investment-banking employees was $217,000 in 2012 and JPMorgan, generated $5.77 billion in investment banking fees in 2012. Apparently, James Dimon, CEO, made $18,670,020 (including equity) last year.  Can we say fat wallets? How do we as a society reconcile these facts?


Both Abercrombie & Fitch and Lululemon had problems with their elitist images and company comments that insinuated that if you are overweight you are not the right customer for them. Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO Michael Jeffries openly commented that his company was looking to attract the “cool kids” which does not include those that are overweight.   Have you heard of Lulemon? I hadn’t. I don’t do yoga. I can never sit still for long enough to get centered.  I am more of a run as fast as you can on the treadmill kind-of-girl.  Apparently, Lulemon does yoga wear.  In trying to aid in the quest for enlightenment and fitness, Lulemon’s clothing had certain patches that were see through. Oops. You know what is a bigger oops? Lulemon’s Chairman Chip Wilson went on to state on television for all to hear that their yoga pants might not work on “women of all sizes.”  Wow. Such a sentiment does not play into the American ideal of equality for all.  These two companies were displaying a “fatism” sentiment that just cannot sit well with a majority of Americans.


Sears, J.C. Penney, McDonald’s, and Walmart all apparently suffered this past year from horrible images of poor labor relations and customer service. Exacerbating, or associated with those images, is that all three are among the largest employers of low-wage workers in the US.  According to recently released data reports, McDonald’s employees rely more on public assistance programs than any other fast-food company. The reports estimate that McDonald’s consequently engenders a big fat $1.2 billion in costs to the public. These companies have passed on bloated costs to the shareholders and public alike and do not seem to know how to fix their problems. Furthermore, in trying to control its own healthcare expenditures, McDonald’s has advised its employees to NOT eat fast-food such as theirs.  They want to “help” their employees lose weight by advising against their own products.   Oh, and supposedly McDonald’s advised its employees to get rid of its possessions (metaphorically trimming the fat in their lives) so that they can then pay for Christmas gifts.


Let’s go back to Electronic Arts, the maker of SimCity.  The latest release went horribly wrong. Yet the company refused to readily acknowledge this head on. Apparently, investors are so upset by this lack of introspection that they are suing Electronic Arts for allegedly making misleading statements about the game’s launch and overstating its success.


Here is hoping that in 2014, these companies learn to respect all body types, provide reasonable wages, and trim the “fatism” elite sentiments.

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