It’s never okay to comment on a co-worker’s body in the workplace—even if you’re so-called friends. In the case of a recent Reddit post, the situation is especially fraught because the body part her friend keeps calling attention to is her breasts, which are larger than average and cause the OP to be self-conscious. But after a Zoom work call that went very, very wrong, the OP is wondering if she was wrong to overreact and tell off her breast-obsessed friend.
“I have big boobs. I’m currently at 52kg and there’s nothing I can do to change the size of these things unless I have surgery. I’m also extremely shy and from a very conservative family so my resentment and shame towards my bust is an ongoing issue,” the OP begins.
“My friend *Sarah is one of those unfiltered free thinkers who says whatever is on her mind. She’s also slim and her chest is very much in proportion to the rest of her body. We work together and I’m always secretly jealous of how great shirts and tops look on her whereas I feel I look very sloppy and unprofessional with oversized, ill fitting clothes.”
“Sarah has this way of always bringing up my boobs in conversation, starting off complimentary but often ending with an subtle insult,” the OP explains. “I know she’s trying to have lighthearted fun but it gets to me and I’ve told her a few times to drop it before.”
Sounds like a great friend! I know I love when my friends subtly insult the features I’m self-conscious about.
“Now we’re working from home, we all have daily video calls and meetings. Uniform is not necessary and can wear what we like. A few days ago, it was extremely hot and I was wearing a lighter, more revealing top than my usual baggy coverups. During this video call, in front of 6 other colleagues, Sarah starts vocalising her thoughts on my appearance: ‘Holy shit! Put those away! You look like you’re in a porno. We don’t need to see that first thing in the morning, hahaha.’”
“I was mortified. One other colleague laughed along but the rest looked uncomfortable. I felt close to tears, made an excuse and left the meeting. Sarah called me up half an hour later asking me what was wrong and I went off on her. Told her to go fuck herself and was sick of her constant jabs about my appearance. I went on a 10 minute tirade and hung up.”
The OP explains that afterwards, Sarah told everyone at work that the OP was in fact the bully! Now, the OP is wondering if she needs to speak to HR. I think she sounds completely within her rights to do so, and she should honestly never talk to Sarah again. What did the rest of Reddit think about the situation?
“On a work call??!! That’s workplace sexual harassment,” said user lyraterra. “You don’t need to wait to tell HR- you should feel encouraged to do it now. You have witnesses who were clearly uncomfortable with the situation as well. The choice here is yours.”
“Her ‘lighthearted fun’ is very degrading and insulting. Op describes her as an unfiltered thinker who shares whatever’s on her mind… this is otherwise known as an asshole. The world does not need to hear a running stream of everyone’s foul inner monologue. She needs to be held accountable for this and all the abusive comments leading up to it. If she were a man she’d be fired on the spot, her gender should not be a mitigating factor in what is clearly sexual harassment. There were six other witnesses for fucks sake! If I were her boss I would absolutely not tolerate this behavior on my team and I’d send her packing. OP don’t you dare apologize to her, she is a disgusting creep and has been getting away with truly vile behavior, I urge you to please have a talk with HR asap,” said jzdelona.
“As a fellow large busted lady (they are not in proportion to my body type and size) comments make me uncomfortable too. She’s probably making jabs because she’s jealous and insecure but that doesn’t excuse her behavior. You told her to stop and she didn’t and then made everyone else uncomfortable with her comments as well. She didn’t listen the first time so she deserved the 10 minute lecture,” said banana_p3pp3r.
“Good God what an awful woman. It’s pretty clear she’s really jealous of you. It’s uncomfortable for you to have big boobs but Sarah clearly wants big boobs and she’s worrying about all of the male attention in a room going to you instead of her. That’s why she keeps bringing it up and trying to make you feel even worse about your body. That’s annoying enough, but for her to bring it up during a work call is extremely childish, unprofessional and downright sexual harassment. What if she were a man saying that? You’d have gone to your boss ages ago,” noted lorelorelei. “Good on you for sticking up for yourself and telling her to stuff it. You even did it privately instead of in front of your colleagues. There’s nothing about your actions or behaviour that you should feel bad about. Don’t worry about her being ‘sick’, she crossed the line way too many times and you were not too harsh. She just has to grow up and I hope she’s finally learned her lesson.”
There you go. Sexual harassment can occur across all genders and sexualities, and it should never be tolerated!