This week we had a professional photographer come to the clinic to take new pictures for the website, and as you can expect, we all ‘suited up’ so to speak, and had a great time being ‘sultry’ or being told to smirk!
It got me thinking about a paper I read recently about efficacy of profession based on how one appears to others; how important is it to look the part? The study, printed in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism by Lovell, Parker and Slater, examined the influence clothes and body shape/size have on perceived effectiveness of female sports dietitians. Participants were shown a variety of pictures, with the subject dressed either in a track suit or pant suit, and shown as either normal weight, overweight, class one obese or class two obese (as defined in the paper). Essentially, as BMI increased, perceived effectiveness decreased. There was also a preference for the subject dressed in a track suit as well, though not as significant a result as for BMI. Furthermore, other research looking at perceived effectiveness of other health professionals mirrors these findings.
Reading this made me feel a little queasy to start with; basing your thoughts about someone’s knowledge on how they look? Until I realized that we all do it. I very clearly remember walking through a certain department store make up section, and declaring with my friend that ‘we would never buy from that brand’, as the girl on their counter’s make up was not done in a way we found appealing.
Or take the guys selling bulking supplements. If you’re a little guy (or girl), how much cred do you think you’d have selling to that market?
So, whilst it may seem unfair to judge people… we all do it, and I think that as a practitioner it is something to definitely be aware of, and take into account. But as a person, it is important to remember the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’!
PS. You should see the new pictures up on the site in the next couple of weeks!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you'd like our help in managing diet-related health issues.