Redditor “throwawaykilot” admitted she was self-conscious about her “big boobs.”
So when her “friend” failed to acknowledge her vulnerability and went too far commenting on the Original Poster’s (OP) buxom build during a video conference, all hell broke loose.
The OP asked:
“AITA (Am I The A**hole) for blowing up at my friend who constantly makes comments about my boobs?”
They began their story saying:
“I have big boobs. I’m currently at 52kg (115 pounds) 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 said she was envious of her friend and co-worker Sarah, who speaks without a filter.
“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 seems to have a bad habit whenever she and the OP are together.
“Sarah has this way of always bringing up my boobs in conversation, starting off complimentary but often ending with an subtle insult.”
“She knows they’re a physical feature I’m uncomfortable with but doesn’t let up. Examples of things she’ll say is how my boobs look good now but give it a few years, and they’ll be down to my knees, hahaha!”
“Or she’ll show me comments on reddit where people are discussing chest size preferences and most are commenting how they much prefer a smaller bust over large.”
“Or just a general reminder of how work or men will never take me seriously because of my ‘cartoon boobs’.”
“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.”
The OP thought Sarah meant no harm.
But she did admit her brand of humor was not appreciated and told her to stop with the unwelcome humor. During a recent video call—during which wearing uniforms were not required—she wore a lighter and “more revealing top” than her usual “baggy coverups” because the day was “extremely hot.”
In a response to questions, the OP said her shirt was a simple t-shirt. She generally never wears them because they’re tighter and accentuate the size of her breasts more than she likes.
This prompted Sarah to make rude comments about the OP in front of their colleagues.
“During this video call, in front of 6 other colleagues, Sarah starts vocalizing her thoughts on my appearance: ‘Holy sh*t! 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 f’k herself and was sick of her constant jabs about my appearance. I went on a 10 minute tirade and hung up. Sarah has been off sick since that day and we haven’t spoken again.”
“I’m wondering if I was too harsh and maybe should call and apologize for my outburst? Was I TA?
The OP asked AITA for “blowing up at her friend” for constantly commenting about her “big boobs.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked to voice their opinions by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed Sarah went too far.
“NTA. On a work call??!! That’s workplace sexual harassment. If it ever happens again, contact HR.”
“Edit: I want to echo what many others below have said. 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.” – lyraterra
“This! NTA. She’s definitely TA, as are the rest of your co-workers for standing by and not saying anything.”
“You should absolutely report this or she’s going to go on thinking it’s acceptable behavior.” – ThoreauAweighBcuzDuh
“I don’t think the other folks on the call are TA for not responding – because holy cow, that’s just so shockingly wrong.”
“But, future reference? You could just stick to just calling SArah out as being inappropriate and leave OP out of it (literally ‘Wow, Sarah…that was really inappropriate’/change of subject).”
“Depending on where you would, you could also go to HR/Sarah’s boss afterwards and give them a heads-up about what happened.” – griseldabean
This team manager said they would have taken this course of action.
“Team manager here. In that situation I would have paused the meeting, reminded the attendees that I am a mandatory reporter and that the comment was inappropriate, and stated that I was unfortunately taking notes on who was present to have heard it.”
“I would have suggested that Sarah gain control of herself or stay on mute for the rest of the meeting.”
“And then I would have apologized to the attendees all-up, because that’s some nasty sh*t to put folks into.”
“What I believe I would have avoided doing, though, is engaging with OP in front of the group. She’d already been embarrassed and there is no action item whatsoever for her just then.”
“Sorry that happened to you, OP. Sarah and her nonsense can hop right into the nearest caldera.” – bogartsfedora
“OP NTA. Definitely a hostile work environment at minimum. The coworker knows it makes her uncomfortable and appears to be doing it on purpose.”
“I would consider it sexual harassment because no one gets to comment on my boobs in a professional environment.”
“Something like this has happened to me before but I have the person a warning and also stated if it happened again I was going to HR. (Thankfully she shut tf up) But that seriously unprofessional to do.” – minerva2014
In an update, the OP said she was recently informed by a colleague that Sarah told everyone she was the one being bullied.
“I’m fuming. I just spoke with a colleague, *John, (who was part of the video call that day) and he told me that Sarah’s been telling everyone that it’s ME that’s been bullying her and making her feel insecure about her appearance.”
“When she made those comments during the meeting, it was in retaliation to how I’ve made her feel. Apparently, I said she looks like a boy and called her flat chested and ugly several times in the past.”
“I have NEVER and would never say this! I don’t even understand the stupid ‘boy body’ insult because a small bust has always looked very beautiful and classy in my eyes. Anyway, John knows she’s full of shit and has suggested we speak with HR.”
“The others will also back me up. I know most people here suggested I do this and I wasn’t sure at first but f**k it, I’m reporting her. I don’t know why I ever considered her a friend, she’s f**king mental and annoying.”
“I now feel stupid for even asking the question AITA. I thought I may have been at one point because the video call was amongst mostly work mates rather than clients and I wasn’t sure if my sensitivity towards my body image made me overreact to a joke that could have been innocent (I now realize it wasn’t).”
“I’ve also spoken to another coworker who is closer to Sarah and she thinks Sarah may have already reported me to HR. She said the phone conversation we had after the meeting was filled with abusive bullying language and physical threats.”
“It wasn’t a pleasant phone call but the worst thing I said was she go f**k herself and that I don’t want to speak to her again. The rest of the conversation was just rehashing all the comments she made about my body and how it made me feel.”
“She also claimed that I have been making inappropriate jokes about her appearance and work ethic(?) through the years and this confrontation was a long time coming. She also suggested that I’ve convinced the guys in the office to take my side by being a flirt and a tease (did I mention that I’m stupidly shy?)”
“My head is swimming and I think I may be dealing with an actual psycho. I don’t know how it’s come to this ridiculous level of craziness. All I wanted to do was get on with my f**king work in peace and get through this crappy time but now I have to deal with this bulls**t.”
OP decided to take fellow Redditors’ advice and file a complaint.
“I’ve contacted HR with my complaint. I have a lot of old text messages and emails with comments and memes Sarah has sent making fun of my chest size.”
“John and other colleagues are fully supporting me as well as my manager. It will take a while for them to get back to me but I’m confident that things will be sorted and Sarah will be dealt with.”
“In hindsight, I should have confronted Sarah more sternly in the past but I guess I was trying to avoid conflict. Others have suggested I may have allowed her to gaslight me which may be true.”
“I just want to move on at this point.”
But there would be another plot twist in a second update.
“The coworker (*Lucy), who keeps in contact with Sarah and told me earlier that Sarah may have reported me to HR, has just phoned to tell me that Sarah has suffered a serious panic attack. Lucy does not want to take sides but has suggested I reconsider taking drastic action.”
“Sarah is too unwell to talk to me herself but has asked I drop my complaint and she will drop hers, citing the whole thing as a misunderstanding and stress-induced disagreement. I have had panic attacks before in my life and I seriously felt like I was going to die.”
“It’s a horrible feeling and if Sarah has honestly just had one herself, I don’t want to push her too far. I still want to address her comments over the video call but I’m wondering if I should just drop the other complaints.”
“Sarah has asked to move teams so we don’t directly work with one another but it doesn’t seem she wants to apologise yet. I don’t like to hold grudges and I think getting her fired during a time like this may be a shitty thing to do.”
“I feel she has already punished herself by displaying this f**ked up behaviour to others and losing a lot of respect from coworkers. If we don’t ever have to interact with one another, I’m up for that.”
Then finally, in a third update:
“I’m not dropping any of the complaints. Sarah and I have spoken, and although it started off promising, she is mentally unhinged and without a conscience.”
“I did not realize how deep her hatred runs. Not only did she mock all those things I had told her in confidence about the way my family treated me growing up, she accused me of f**king every guy from work to get ahead.”
“Now I know where some of those fake office rumours about me came from. I’ve been such a naive idiot and allowed my shyness and aversion to conflict to stop me from fighting people who manipulate and walk all over me.”
“I don’t need this misery in my life.”
“If I don’t make any new updates, just assume that the right person was reprimanded and faced the consequences of their words and actions.”
The post has had no further updates.
The book Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment is available here.