Lady advised she should not serve on Ottawa well being board due to her weight

Lady advised 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 obtained 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 government 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 by which Banham referred to 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 subsequently redacting the title.

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 anticipate you to be a task mannequin for our metropolis’s residents and believve (sic) you can’t fulfil that position because 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 joyful to see you on the brand new committee on the situation that you just turn out to be a greater position 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 title of the one that signed the letter is actual. (Elyse Banham)

Banham advised CBC on Sunday that she was damage by the letter, however not solely stunned.

“It isn’t that I have never skilled this earlier than — I feel that folks may be very unkind to one another. However this was the primary time that someone 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 put up the letter on Twitter, and stated she’s obtained many supportive messages in response. 

Catherine Kitts, town councillor for Orléans South–Navan and chair of the well being board, referred to 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 pleased 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 wonderful contributor and a really valued member, and that ought to be the message. Her contributions to the board communicate volumes.”

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

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 does 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 typically 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 might take many people away kind the duties we now have 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 pleased with the help she’s obtained after going public with the letter.

“No one needs to be advised they’re 20 kilos obese. I can actually let you know that I didn’t take pleasure in that a part of my day. However speaking to someone like Greg Fergus — a member of Parliament who posted about working with me and the truth that I’m someone 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 desirous to serve on boards and in different management roles that whereas there’ll at all times be individuals on the market desirous 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 will have been straightforward for me to take that and really feel remoted in it. However the motive 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 basically says is that we’re searching for 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.