Boss making me uncomftorable about my eating habits

(26 Posts)
negmatthews Wed 08-May-13 20:54:17

Hi MN,

My boss keeps making snipey comments about my eating and it's making me feel really humiliated and uncomfortable. I've always struggled with food since I was little, and I fear I am probably being over-sensitive but it's really getting me down. I don't know if I just need a slap and accept that it's banter?

For example, occasionally someone in the team will get some chocolates or something to share (I do this occasionally, so it's not like I'm just nicking everyone's treats!), she will always make a comment to me when I go for one, like "tut tut!", or "step away from the food" or "OMG you ate all the sweets! Look colleagues, negmatthews ate all the chocolates!"

I am a bit overweight and I absolutely hate myself for it, I have always been like this and struggle with it. I have a healthier attitude than I used to and try to be moderate. BUT, it has fuck all to do with my work. I am a good worker, a hard worker, and having a couple of sweets while I am on the job makes fuck all difference. I just want to tell her to fuck off to be honest. It's embarrassing to have someone pick on me when I'm at my desk, even if it's in jest.

Anyone have any advice/a slap round the face?

KatherineLacey Wed 22-May-13 22:54:24

Don't bother with witty comebacks. I think writing an email explaining how you feel is perfectly alright. Also, that way you have it on record so if she keeps on you can take the matter to HR or further and prove that she is in fact bullying you, as she knows what she's doing.

I suspect she'll stop as soon as you send an email like that, but if she doesn't HR will lay the smack down as they probably don't want to be on the sharp end of a constructive dismissal claim.

I would email, so you have a written record. She sounds like a thoughtless cow.

negmatthews Wed 22-May-13 22:51:10

I did ponder it, but didn't want to do that as a first port of call. They would suggest bringing it up informally first anyway, so I think I should do that if/when it happens again.

I was tempted to report her interview comment to HR though, I think some interviewers nee to be reminded that they should pick people on their ability to do the job, not how attractive they are.

cantbloodywellchoose Wed 22-May-13 22:45:06

What an absolute bitch. Could you have a quiet word with HR for some advice?

negmatthews Wed 22-May-13 22:34:59

chottie we don't really have an area that we can sit in for leisure. I like to get away from my desk at lunchtime but that involves sitting outside, lovely in warm weather but little opportunity recently! So desk and look at mumsnet it is. And sometimes I fancy a kitkat or something with a cup of tea in the afternoon, this is when she starts to make her bitchy quips. I don't think she would do it again if I mentioned it, so I think I should grow a pair and bring her up on it if she does it again.

nerfmother It's so infuriating, isn't it?! I had a friend at school who was very slim, and she got all the "anorexic" jibes and what not. I was quite fat and got the comments at the other end. Both equally rude and uncalled for! I figured that once out of the playground and into the workplace everyone would have grown out of that, but it appears I was wrong.

negmatthews Wed 22-May-13 22:26:17

Hi all,

Just popping in to say thanks again for your advice. I love MN!

Kernowgal, unfortunately we work in an open plan office so a quiet word is a bit difficult. We have other rooms we could go to but I feel like asking her to a meeting draws attention to it, and it would have inevitable "what were you taklking about?" questions from other colleagues. Gah.

I did have a meeting with her about something else and I had planned to mention it then but I chickened out sad I did have an anonymous rant to HR in a survey about something else where they asked about bullying.

I also drafted an email to my boss, simple and to the point saying somehting like: "I know you are probably joking and mean no harm, but it upsets me and affects my work, so I am asking you not to do it." and showed it to a friend, but my friend said doing it by email is a bit impersonal and it would be nicer if I did it face to face hmm I hate how I am the one who always has to be nice and considerate when other people don't indulge me with the same courtesy...

So, I haven't said anything for now. I will if it happens again.

BUT, I did bust her chops about something else. She was doing interviews for another post a few days ago and afterwards was talking about the candidates and moaning that one of female ones "didn't even bother to put a bit of make up on". I said what does that matter, and men don't have to wear make up so why should women if they don't want to. Yay, go feminism. I think she was a bit shocked at me saying this and realised she was being a dick, she did say "well she was a very good candidate...".

I am so depressed that these attitudes are still going on in 2013. A woman can be a great candidate or a great, dedicated worker, but heaven forbid she doesn't wear lipgloss to an interview, or she eats a bit of chocolate and risk not being thin. That's the kind of thing that people judge you on. Fucking hell.

hwjm1945 Sun 19-May-13 22:29:56

Or say to her.'why do you feel the need to comment?are you monitoring what I eat?with a straight face

Kernowgal Sat 18-May-13 23:31:52

Is this not the perfect occasion for the good old Mumsnet "did you mean to be so rude?" + hard stare?

I had a former colleague who used to see me eating something like a chocolate bar and say "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips". I used to reply with "yes, but I might get run over by a bus tomorrow so I might as well enjoy my life" and carry on with my chocolate. Her face at this point usually resembled a cat's arse.

I think this needs a quiet word in her office, calmly stating that you find her comments offensive and you would like her to stop. Then if it doesn't stop you should definitely keep notes of when she says it and approach someone higher up.

There was a culture at my last workplace of competitive healthy eating and it got more and more ridiculous, with the two main protagonists eating weirder and weirder 'health' foods and sneering at anyone who ate anything vaguely normal. It got very boring and I generally chose to eat elsewhere away from them because I hated being judged for my food choices. In my new place the biscuits come out at breaktime and are consumed with gusto by all and sundry. Cake is celebrated. It's a blessed relief!

Chottie Tue 14-May-13 05:44:56

I'm really sorry to hear this, it is obviously upsetting you. It must be awful just waiting for her to comment on what you are eating. I am surprised she has time to notice what you do and don't eat during the day.

Do you have to eat at your desk? Can you eat in the work kitchen or cafe or go out? It would take you out of her line of fire and give you a break. It's difficult as it is your boss, can you just ignore her? no response or comment, just getting on with your work. Do you think that she does it to get a response from you??? It just seems incredibly immature behaviour from an adult woman shock I don't know her obviously, but if you did speak to her, do you think she would do it more?

Nerfmother Thu 09-May-13 23:00:23

Well I totally sympathise, as I Am on the receiving end of the opposite side. I never eat at work and am constantly getting comments about not eating, too thin, etc et when really my hours fit between breakfast and a late lunch and I really don't like sugar.
I imagine its some kind of joke, without malice, and if you can I would raise it at supervision. You shouldn't feel like crap if your job is done properly and well - that's the only thing that should be subject to comment.

Alias78 Thu 09-May-13 22:52:22

My boss did this exact thing to a colleague of mine. For years, constant comments if the poor girl dared to so much as look at a piece of chocolate/biscuit etc. Colleague just accepted it and suffered in silence. if you don't address it, she will just keep thinking it's acceptable when it's clearly not.

Colleague has now lost weight and is v fit and healthy looking and boss strangely never comments on that(!) Some people just thrive on putting others down I'm afraid

I would try to nip it in the bud by being very brave and telling her that you don't expect personal comments like that at work. Or you could just assertively ask her in front of everyone why she's so interested in your eating habits and put her on the spot!

Good luck with this. x

Blu Thu 09-May-13 13:51:11

"I am finding it's affecting my concentration at work, not to mention making me feel crap."

It is very much a work issue, so deal with it in a work sort of way. Do you have supervision meetings? In the next one, say 'I know you probably mean it as a joke, but the comments about me eating the chocs are upsetting me a bit. Maybe I am not as confident about my body as you are, but I find it hard to concentrate at work when I feel upset, so could you leave it?'.

That should givce her a sharp reminder of her totally unprofessopnal behaviour and that she is bullying. If she reacts badly to that, persisting with the comments or getting worse go straight to HR.

How do your colleagues react when she says this? I can't imagine they feel comfortable with it - as a not-the-biggest-by-a-long-chalk person in our organisation i would be horrified to be implicated in comments like this and would say so.

ladyjadie Thu 09-May-13 13:41:46

It sounds like she's the one who needs a slap round the face. What a bitch. You don't need to be told to eat less either, regardless of the size of anyone else. You're an adult, like you said you are making your own healthier choices.

I might say something like 'I'll eat you in a minute if you don't shut up', but that probably isn't a good response!

I'll have a think for a bit though, as I'm of the ilk that only thinks up good comebacks hours after it's too late wink

Selks Wed 08-May-13 21:56:03

Start making a written note (in a notebook kept safely in your bag) of each time she makes a comment like that - exact thing she said/did, what time and when, and where. If you're going to raise it as an issue - good for you if you do - then you need the evidence to back up your claims. You might also consider whether there is anyone trustworthy in your office that you get on with that you could mention as a witness (ask them first).
Best wishes for this. It's a pernicious and shit form of bullying, and you don't have to tolerate that in your workplace.
And you are just as much entitled to have a blardy chocolate as anyone else!!

negmatthews Wed 08-May-13 21:42:36

Thank you all.

Hassled I think you're right. I might have to write it down and take it as a script to my next meeting. We get on well generally and she is nice enough usually, I hope she's not being malicious but I fear a kind of "don't be so ridiculous, get a grip" response if I bring it up with her. She has been at the company for years and sees herself as a bit of a Queen Bee.

I wish I was gutsy enough to just take on the banter and think up some smart arse response on the spot...

Restorer Wed 08-May-13 21:39:12

Ah, then you can memorise a few key lines from the policy, those that define bullying and that she should know from her course and next time she "jokes" about your eating, you can joke about how what she's doing fits the definition smile

Or you could do as Earthymama suggests, but I know that won't be easy.

Earthymama Wed 08-May-13 21:32:57

Go to HR, that is unacceptable.

I recently had to challenge an old mam on my allotments who decided I should be the butt of his jokes about my size.

I just blanked my face and said' I don't like that, you are being totally inappropriate'

He said 'Lighten up (cue inner snigger on my part!)

Me: 'No, you are inappropriate'

Cue embarrassed silence from everyone in the room but I don't care. I am used to being the humourless feminist. wink
( I am not humourless really, but hate crap jokes at others expense)

I wonder if it is anything to do with the fact I am a mouthy woman who he feels is challenging his empire. (Hmm)

snowmummy Wed 08-May-13 21:29:21

neg, that's great that you're having treatment. That's what I was kind of getting at when I asked if you're comfortable with your habits. You didn't mention that you were having treatment and it seemed to me, from what you have said, that you have some issues that should be addressed. Good luck and tell your boss to mind her own.

Hassled Wed 08-May-13 21:28:53

I think you maybe need to ask for a meeting and tell her how it's making you feel. It will be hideous, but I can't think of another way to resolve this. And she'll probably feel mortified - or at least I hope she'll feel mortified.

negmatthews Wed 08-May-13 21:24:43

snowmummy I have had problems with my eating habits and am having treatment to address them (amongst other issues). I am not totally comfortable with it but I am the closest to sensible eating that, I have ever been, rather than any extreme of bingeing or starving.

What doesn't help is someone making a comment every time something passes my lips, when it is none of their business. I feel like it kicks me right back down to my unhealthy attitudes and wanting to hurt myself. I know I am over-sensitive about it but I am worried about it affecting my work.

negmatthews Wed 08-May-13 21:21:27

Hi guys,

Thank you for your replies and not immediately calling me a humourless wet blanket!

She doesn't do it to anyone else (that I notice), but everyone else in the team (apart from her, curiously) is thinner than me so they don't need to be told to eat less.

sammisatt Yes, I've had friends and family comment on my eating throughout my life and to be honest it totally damaged my self esteem and attitudes to food. I thought work was the one place where this kind of shit shouldn't happen.

Restorer I had a look at the bullying policy earlier as it happens, when I felt on the verge of tears at the latest swipe. I felt like such a wimp. The funniest thing is she went on an anti bullying workshop and was all proud of herself and making jokes about it!

I'm sure she will say it's just a joke, and it is occasional rather than constant serious bullying but I am finding it's affecting my concentration at work, not to mention making me feel crap.

snowmummy Wed 08-May-13 21:20:00

Nobody could make me uncomfortable about my eating habits because I'm comfortable with them. Are you? If you are, great and tell your boss to mind her own business. If not then maybe you should address the issue.

Restorer Wed 08-May-13 21:08:28

Is it just you she aims this at?

I think you need to ask for a copy of the company's bullying policy. You don't need to mean it, but asking for it should make her think.

sammisatt Wed 08-May-13 21:01:31

I think you need to do a patronizing head cock and ask her if she wants to discuss her food issues. She obviously has them and you should may be ask her if she wants to discuss them as she seems a little obsessed. How annoying. I had a friend who used to do thus to me and made me feel like a greedy cow but in reality she was the one with the issues.

Goldchilled7up Wed 08-May-13 21:01:05

That's awful. Does she do it to other people as well or only to you?

If the later. Next time it happens, you should make a point to show that you do not find it funny and that you find it offensive.

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