A woman had a notably slender frame, and this was regularly being brought up in her new workplace. The woman asked for more respect but didn’t receive it, so she approached the issue with a new tactic that would result in serious workplace tension.
A New Workplace
The woman had just started at her new job, having worked for eight days in a small office of just six co-workers. She generally got along well with her colleagues, but one colleague had led her to feel uncomfortable on a daily basis.
Persistent Comments on Her Weight
The co-worker, a woman of a larger build, had a habit of addressing the woman with terms like “slim” due to her slender frame. “I even heard her say one time ‘go ask toothpick’ and she has said stuff like ‘You need some meat on your bones’ & ‘You need to eat'”, the woman explained.
A Plea for Respect
Recognizing the need to address the issue, the woman decided to approach her colleague and ask her, in a kind manner, to stop making these comments. She hoped for understanding and a resolution. However, her colleague responded defensively, asserting her right to speak her mind.
Frustrated by her co-worker’s refusal to stop using weight-related nicknames, the young woman took matters into her own hands. “Today when she said “morning slim” I replied “morning chunky” and she got upset and actually started crying”, the woman recounted.
A Diverging Workplace Perspective
This single usage of the nickname ‘chunky’ caused the woman’s entire office atmosphere to become tense. Other co-workers weighed in on the situation, arguing that “slim” was a compliment while “chunky” was an insult. However, the woman did not agree with this perspective.
The Manager’s Indifference
Seeking intervention, the woman approached the manager of her small office, hoping for a resolution or guidance. However, the manager brushed off the matter, labeling it a “high school issue” that needed to be resolved among themselves.
Setting Ground Rules
Following her manager’s suggestion, the woman confronted her colleague again and suggested an agreement. “I said as long as she calls me slim, I will continue to call her chunky”. To the woman, this seemed like a very fair way of resolving the matter, yet the colleague did not see it this way.
No Human Resources
To make matters worse, the woman explained that due to the small size of the company she worked for, there was no dedicated HR department. Her only option for upper management intervention had been her manager, and they had discarded the problem as too petty and immature for them to deal with.
The woman truly believed that her stance was a fair one. Her colleague didn’t appreciate being nicknamed based on her larger size, and therefore she believed that her own boundaries regarding her slimness should be respected. However, she recognized that by calling her colleague names such as ‘chunky’, she was only causing harm and going against her beliefs.
Venting Her Frustration
The woman headed online to her favorite internet community page, posting about the troubles she had been facing in her workplace. Thankfully, her internet comrades took her side on the matter. “Just because she apparently defines herself by her appearance does not give her the right to define you by yours”, a reader stated. “Objectification sucks, period.”
Everyone agreed that the colleague was acting audaciously to believe she could speak her mind about the woman, but she couldn’t do the same to her. “She repeatedly body shamed you and refused to stop after repeated requests”, a commenter reminded the woman. “You flipped it on her and now she can’t take it? Boo hoo.”
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
However, there were some comments that criticized the woman. “Just because she does it doesn’t mean it absolves you of guilt when you do it as well”, one reader pointed out.
Leave Out the Body Shaming
Some people believed that the most constructive way to handle the situation was to continue the name-calling but move away from weight. “I’d change her nickname to something that conveys the crux of the issue: her new nickname can be ‘moron’.”
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