It’s never okay to comment on other peoples’ bodies. It’s rude and harassment. Unfortunately, people of size are usually the ones who bear the brunt of fat-shaming and harassment, but is it possible to experience body shaming for being too thin?
That’s what one Redditor is asking after dealing with a coworker who dissects her every meal and constantly makes comments on her body.
The OP writes that she has been “pretty skinny all my life.” She says she eats healthy most of the time, regularly exercises, and “I also don’t think I’m better than fat people. I think obesity is a complex issue and merely reducing the obesity epidemic to ‘Move More, Eat Less’ doesn’t take into account the socio-economic complexities, mental health issues, physical health issues, etc. I don’t make comments like ‘OMG I’m so fat’ when I eat a slice of cake. I don’t talk about going on diets. I don’t judge other people’s food choices. I don’t really care about what you eat.”
About six months ago, a coworker named “Diane” transferred to the OP’s office. “She’s overweight and has constantly made remarks about my food choices. If I eat a salad, she’ll talk about how I have an eating disorder and promote toxic diet culture. She’ll say my body is ‘unnatural’ and ‘real women’ have curves. One time she even tried to make a case that the reason I’m still single is because men don’t find my skinny body attractive.”
The OP also explained that Diane makes comments about her body and how it “must be nice to be young with a metabolism like mine.” The OP says she feels harassed and like she can’t eat in the office anymore.
“I have tried to get this to stop. I have told her firmly to stop. I have told her politely to stop. I have ignored her. I even went to HR and was told this ‘wasn’t harassment’ so they ‘couldn’t do anything about it.'”
Then there was the Rice Krispie incident.
“Ever since my first job, I have brought in ‘Spoopy’ Rice Krispie treats on the first day of October. They’re just dyed orange and green with pumpkin and Frankenstein faces on them. I grabbed one and Diane said, ‘I wish I could eat like you and still look like you.’ I said, “If you ate like me you probably would look like me.’ Grabbed another and walked back to my desk,” the OP said.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was the asshole, until another co-worker said that what was extremely hurtful to Diane. When I pointed out that she had been bullying me since she got here, the co-worker told me it wasn’t the same. That it would be like using a racial slur against an African American bully. I went too far because I can’t possibly understand the discrimination overweight women face and I should have found another way to deal with it. I’ll admit, having never been fat myself, I don’t know the full extent of discrimination against fat people and I DO NOT want to stoop to the levels of bigots. But how else am I supposed to deal with this?”
What did Redditors think she should do?
“Go right back to HR with this new co-worker’s conversation. Elaborate on how Diane’s attitude has now resulted in hostility from other employees. Make sure to keep a record of all these conversations with HR and how they declined to intervene. If you reported her in work email print it immediately. Always keep your ass covered,” advised TogarSucks.
“She is bullying you and, because, she’s overweight, it’s fine? Like, when did that become a thing? Yes, you could have just ignored her but, hey, if she can’t take it, she shouldn’t dish it,” said jaidenlm.
“You may want to tell HR they’re wrong by the way, any commentary about your body that if unwanted is sexual harassment. HR doesn’t decide what is and is not SH the law does. Please tell your HR that you’ve notified them and due to their inaction you will need to take legal action against her as well as the company for permitting the continuation of a hostile workplace. They’ll change their time really fast,” said Smitty1216.
“By making repeated remarks about your body and your eating habits, she was opening herself up to response. It would have been rude for you to say that unprovoked, but pretty reasonable to snap back when someone harasses you constantly,” noted Larock.
“While she’s been harassing you in a way that’s unacceptable, that comment would be extremely wounding (and untrue, which it seems like you already understand, the differences in your age alone would that make statement inaccurate). Your comment may have confirmed what she fears people are already thinking about her — that she is fat and should eat differently. From what you’ve described she sounds extremely insecure about her weight. To be honest, I probably would have snapped too after all the harassment from her. But I think your comment in this situation was out of line nevertheless. The ESH applies to your HR as well. They kind of left you to deal with this escalating situation on your own, so it makes sense that you snapped,” explained bumcat33.