And while fat- or body-shaming is a form of discrimination, it's (sadly) technically not illegal.
And it happens way more often than you think.
I spoke with eight women who shared their stories of comments their bosses made to them about their appearances. I would say "inappropriate comments their bosses made," but really, almost every comment about someone's appearance at work is inappropriate. Let's all just keep our opinions to ourselves from now on, shall we?
My old boss at a privately owned publication would often make comments about women and their appearance, though usually directly to other men in the office. One time however, we were in a meeting (I'm the only female in the room, and about 25 years younger than everyone at the table) and he begins to make fun of my tattoos (which there was no policy against) and how much makeup I wear, saying things like ‘damn, that’s a lot of shit on your face,’ etc. He also once pulled me around an event that the company hosted, introducing me to potential investors, advertisers, etc., and made a few suggestions that if they came in with us, they'd get to work with ‘that,’ and hitches a thumb toward my chest. He also made several uncomfortable suggestions about my female colleagues and some of the chefs we worked with.— Anonymous, 28
My former boss, who I hold very dear in my heart — NOT — was for some reason always concerned about everyone's dietary lives. So somehow she found out that I was doing this two-week diet, and one day the company brought in cupcakes to work. Unfortunately, she saw that I grabbed one. In front of the WHOLE cafeteria, she literally yells, ‘oh my god, don't eat that — you are going to get fat! Aren't you on a diet?’ Needless to say, I’m glad I got rid of her.
— Daniela, 22
My old boss would always make comments about my lunch choices/diet. My skin... My nails don't look good... I don't dress feminine enough... Good times.
— Anonymous, 27
I once had a boss who was obsessive about food and weight. He would always look at what we were eating and tell us it's poison, or ‘do you know how many calories that is?’ He would openly make fun of clients’ weights in front of us, and got on this kick about how the entire team should only wear black because it is slimming. He gave one girl an especially hard time and everyone knew it was about her weight.
— Emily, 29
I worked for a woman (in her home), ironically, for a female-empowerment website. It wasn't one thing, just a lot of little things. She would constantly make comments about what I wore, my makeup. One Monday after I had gotten a facial over the weekend, she went on and on about how much better my skin looked.
— Sarah A., 30
Years ago, I worked with someone — a highly respected woman — who made all sorts of inappropriate comments about my body. Once, she looked at my ID and at the time, I had blonde hair. She said, ‘You look like a little slut from New York.’ This was supposed to be hilarious.
Another time, she told me to ‘stop dressing like a Kardashian,’ because I wore long body con dresses to work sometimes. I'm short, but I have big hips, and a butt. It wasn't my outfit she found unacceptable, it was my body. It was me.
— Anonymous, 23
I had a boss in New York City who told me to dress more girly and to wear some heels. Because if he could walk in heels, I certainly could. It made me feel kinda terrible.
— Cat Goldberg, 27
I had a boss with all kinds if eating issues that she used to project onto her staff. One day, I happened to be eating a salad at my desk when she came past and said, ‘You know, you spend WAY too much time eating every day.’ She also used to passive aggressively say that she never ate during the day, and dedicated all of her time to working instead.
The last bit was absolutely, 100% untrue, as she used to sit in meetings and eat bags and bags of Amy's cookies. She would also try and stop people eating on business trips and make passive aggressive remarks if she thought there was too much food on your expense reports. One of my coworkers had to go as far as making covert restaurant reservations on trips to make sure that she actually got at least one decent meal per day.
Oh, and she once yelled at someone in a meeting for offering her a bagel. Glad I don't work there anymore.
— Joanna, 29