I want to get rid of the office snack basket, shirt sizes for conferences, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. The office snack basket is posing too much temptation

The boss has decided to have a snack basket in the office. She thinks this makes people happy. As soon as the basket is low, she purchases more candy, chocolate, potato chips, pretzels, and more. It appears the plan is to constantly replenish it. The problem is, it’s not really making us happy, but fat. Yes, we eat it — because it’s in our faces 24/7! But that doesn’t mean we want to be snacking all the time or that we feel good about ourselves when we do.

Some of us have expressed our trouble with will power, and she says she can’t have the basket in her office because she’d end up eating too much. Instead, it’s right in front of me. I’ve even told her I’m supposed to be on a diet and she obviously doesn’t care. She’s watching her own weight and resisting the urge to eat from the basket, and I feel miserable for caving in at least once every day (when I’ve been great at avoiding the vending machine all this time!) Do we press the issue? If so, how? Or is it simply our responsibility to resist 27/4 temptation?

If some people in your office want the snack basket, you can’t really ask that it be removed because you don’t want to be tempted; you can’t rain on your coworkers’ snack paradise just because you’re having trouble resisting. But if the vast majority of you want it gone, you could go talk to her as a group and say something like, “We appreciate you stocking this, but we’d strongly prefer not to have it here for health reasons. Would you be willing to remove it?”

If your sense is that she wants to provide something and would be willing to provide something different, you might suggest a weekly fruit delivery or something like that.

2. Shirt sizes for conferences

I’m being positioned as something of a thought leader in our teapot supplier’s niche market — speaking at conferences, consulting for their clients, etc. This is good experience for me, and good business for my company.

The problem? At an annual conference, we were provided shirts by the vendor to identify ourselves as teapot experts. I am a size 0, and despite providing my size in advance, I was given a men’s small. I looked like a kid who had borrowed dad’s clothes, particularly since I am young (in my mid-twenties) anyway.

I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, and had planned to simply emphasize my need for a smaller size when asked for my size next year. However, it came up recently that I am expected to wear my current shirt at a teapot event next week. I appreciate the teapot vendor’s desire for branding, but I also want to look professional when meeting peers and prospective clients. I would prefer it if I could stick with my normal business casual clothing that fits properly.

Is there a way to handle this? Should I just show up dressed normally as if I forgot? Address it directly? Suck it up and wear the shirt? The vast majority of teapot experts are men, so I get why it’s easier to just order one sizing line, but I still feel self-conscious when wearing it.

“I’d love to wear it, but I was swimming in the one I was given because it was men’s-sized. If you can get me a women’s small before the event, I’d be glad to wear it.”

If they push back and you to wear the ill-fitting one, you say pleasantly, “Oh, I really need one sized for a woman or it just doesn’t look professional. I can wear normal business clothes though if it’s not doable by then.”

And yeah, it’s annoying when they default to men’s sizes, which aren’t just larger but are also cut differently.

3. Family business has unequal party practices

Many of the people who work for my company are related to each other and/or the CEO. For example, the CEO’s husband, son-in-law, two daughters-in-law, several cousins of the daughters-in-laws, the CEO’s ex-husband, and the ex’s new wife are all employees. Plus neighbors, children of the CEO’s friends, and other people who are married to each other or mother/daughter and brother/sister combos, etc.

Because of these relationships, there is a hierarchy of parties to celebrate milestone events. For employees who are in the “inner circle,” there are often catered affairs, BBQs, and potlucks for birthdays and showers, with numerous people chipping in for large gifts. For those not in the “inner circle,” there is nothing – no cards, no email, nothing. I would be okay with nothing if that was the norm for everyone, but I really hate the obvious inequality that these events represent.

As someone who works in the field, I come into the office only once or twice a week and have been able to avoid 99% of these parties. Those that I have participated in have been for people I have a close working relationship with and only because I couldn’t avoid them. However, they have recently scheduled a dual wedding shower for two employees on a day when I have to be at the office and I am getting a lot of pressure to pitch in for two gifts and a potluck contribution. I don’t work directly with these people. I know that when milestones in my life roll around, there will be no reciprocation. I don’t want to buy presents and food for people I don’t know. Am I being a petty jerk? Should I just suck it up and attend? Is there a way to avoid these showers if I am in the office? Is this situation as weird as I think it is?

That is obnoxious, and you’re not being a petty jerk; they’re being rude. And yes, the situation is as weird as you think it is.

I think you probably need to at least stop by the shower since you’re in the office that day and normally aren’t (unless you conveniently have a meeting or phone call scheduled then), but I think you can ignore the requests to contribute, especially as someone who’s out of the office most of the time. If you’re directly asked, just cheerfully say, “Oh, it’s not in my budget right now.”

If you have a good relationship with anyone in the inner circle, you might point out how alienating this practice is.

4. Including non-core duties on a resume

My question is about listing important/useful but non-core functions on a resume. For example, I’m responsible for health and safety in my office, the liaison with building maintenance for repairs, pest control, and climate system monitoring, and I’m also regularly lent out to our communications department for various writing and editing projects. Other examples might be things like coordinating charity drives or office socials, being part of strategic planning (when not in senior management), being responsible for purchasing, even acting as local tech support.

None of these is in my job description, but they’re all things that someone has got to do, and a person with experience or skills in them might be attractive to potential employers. Where would you set the bar for including these types of things or not, and should they be included along with the more core job roles, or set apart somehow?

I need to keep both a short resume and long CV, and I suspect the answer might vary depending on which we’re talking about.

The question to ask yourself for each item is, “What about this, if anything, makes me a stronger candidate by demonstrating skills relevant to the employer’s needs that I haven’t already strongly demonstrated somewhere else?”

Writing and editing is much more likely to qualify than climate system monitoring or coordinating office socials. It’s not that climate system monitoring or coordinating office socials aren’t useful, but they’re going to come across as low-skill and not especially important (sort of like writing “weekly vacuuming of office” — it’s good for someone to do it, but it’s not going to strengthen your candidacy). Writing and editing speak to more in-demand skills.

5. My alma mater’s career office is sending us bad job candidates

I graduated from law school in 2013 and, after a couple of short term positions, was hired at my dream job about a year ago. We’re now hiring two new entry level attorneys, and the standard practice for the office is to send the job posting to the local law schools, including my alma mater. When a student decides to apply, they send their materials to the career services office, who sends it along to my office.

I’ve been appointed to the resume reviewing committee for this round of hiring, so I’ve read all the applications that are coming in, and a few of the applications sent in by my alma mater’s career services office have been terrible! Egregious typos, incomplete sentences, obviously cut-and-pasted cover letters, and more. It’s made worse by the fact that the openings are for highly detail-oriented positions where editing and proofreading are a big part of the job.

I’m embarrassed that these candidates are coming from my alma mater in general, and even more embarrassed that the career services office is apparently sending the materials along without so much as a read-through. It’s reflecting poorly on the law school in general and doesn’t help future candidates from the school. Can I say something to the head of career services, or would that be inappropriate?

Yes, please tell them. A good career services head would want to know. They actively want feedback from employers, and you’d be doing students from your school a huge service.

{ 522 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    #2, this happened to me years ago with this horrible short sleeve demin button down. I needed a women’s small, and was given a mens large (“we just got all large and extra large so they would fit everyone”) So I took skipped the pants and grabbed a cute belt.

    And then a new shirt was ordered.

    1. A grad student

      #2- could you alter the shirt in some way to make it look better? Maybe with a belt as Ashley suggested or a nice clip in the back to make it more fitted. This situation stinks though, giving everyone large men’s clothing is sort of the clothing equivalent of ‘he’ as the generic singular pronoun- in theory unbiased but makes everyone it doesn’t actually apply to feel bad.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        As much as I hate to say it… take the shirt to a tailor and have it altered. Yes, it will cost more than the shirt is worth but if they are expecting you to go around looking like a kid swimming in Dad’s borrowed clothes, that’s not exactly a professional look that will inspire confidence — in yourself or others.

        The other option is to purchase a similar shirt in your size and have the logo embroidered on it. You could also cut out the logo from the oversize shirt and make a button or something of it and wear that — or have some sort of label made up that is just the logo.

          1. Wanna-Alp

            Yes, that’s what I was thinking. You could easily have the side seams altered and have the tailor put in some darts/princess-style seams to make it more fitted.

            That the company has to pay to do something about their mistake gives them more of an incentive to do better next time.

          2. Anna the Accounting Student

            Exactly. If it gets questioned, point out that you had asked for a women’s size 0, and the men’s size looked completely unprofessional. The subtext should be clear enough for a reasonably intelligent manager: if you want people to look professional in there uniforms (which is what that shirt is, really) they need to hand them out in the correct size for the person who will be wearing them.

            But if that fails, you might be able to deduct the alterations from your income taxes as a business expense: an employer-branded shirt isn’t something you’d be expected to wear off the clock the way a suit is. But double-check that by someone who actually works in tax — it’s been a year or two since I took tax (and my textbook was already out of date, despite being the most recent version).

            1. Clever Name

              I’ve looked into this before because I paid $900 out of pocket for some training when I wasn’t working hoping I could deduct the money from my taxes as a business expense. Unfortunately, the amount of money you have to spend overall (I think it’s like 7% of your gross income) to get the tax break is a lot, and alterations for a shirt aren’t going to get a person anywhere near that threshold.

          3. Here's a solution

            Wear a fitting long sleeved t-shirt with a contrasting color underneath; wear the men’s small t-shirt over it. It looks much better, and with jeans it looks like an intentional fashion choice.

        1. TootsNYC

          I was going to suggest cutting up last year’s shirt and having the part with the logo sewn onto another shirt, appliqué style.

        2. Kylynara

          Honestly, if the OP has any sewing experience, it’s pretty easy to tailor it yourself. Put the shirt on inside out. Pin it to the size you want it to be with safety pins. Keep both sides even. Sew where you pinned it. Try on right side out. Tweak as needed. Then trim the excess fabric to about 1/2 inch.

          1. Mephyle

            Just what I was thinking. And if OP doesn’t have any experience (let alone a sewing machine) this is an easy enough alteration that a friend who does might be willing and able to do it for a few bucks or a return favour. There are loads of tutorials on the internet for this exact alteration if the friend isn’t sure how to do it.
            And if there is no such friend, it is a very easy (and thus should be inexpensive) alteration for a professional sewist to do.

      2. INTP

        I thought of a clip in the back too – maybe the bulk in the back could be covered up by a blazer?

        I don’t think the OP should HAVE to wear a shirt that doesn’t fit her, but I’d also hate for her to miss out on networking opportunities over a t-shirt. If all the other Teapot Experts are in identical orange t-shirts, then people aren’t going to see the notation on OP’s nametag while they are scanning the room for an expert to speak to, know what I mean? So while I do think the vendors should promote equality and order her a women’s shirt, if they don’t, I think it would be better to find some way to make it work than to wear other clothing.

      3. Turtle Candle

        I have used a clip or pin in the back of a shirt in a pinch. This works best if you have a jacket or blazer to cover up with, but can be done discreetly enough that it’s not necessary. (You can even buy attractive ‘dress clips’ in neutral colors to nip in the waist.) It doesn’t solve all fit issues–it can’t make the shirt narrower in the shoulders or shorter, obviously–but it can make a big difference, since at least the thing isn’t bagging out hugely and making you look like you’re wearing a potato sack.

        I mean, ideally companies would stop buying men’s sizes for everything and give you the right freaking size! And I agree with people who say that, if you can, you should lobby for that. But IME having a clip on hand for the ‘oops gosh all we have is men’s medium and you have to put it on right now!’ moments can at least help.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler

      I live on the other end of this as a plus size woman. It’s so frustrating when sizes are only ordered up to large and MAYBE XL. It won’t fit and I’m not going to stuff myself into branded wear to be uncomfortable and look like a sausage.

      If they collect sizes, they should actually order in those sizes!

      1. The Bimmer Guy

        Yeah, if I were in your shoes (or rather, shirt), that’s when I would just decline to wear it and wear whatever I normally wore that was professional-looking. No one wants to be in clothes that make him/her feel uncomfortable. I’m of pretty average height and build for a male, so most stuff fits me, but I can still empathize.

      2. Rayner

        I hate this. It infuriates me that everything is presented ‘sizes for everybody!’ And typically what they ordered was small, medium, large. In UK sizes the large might come as a size 16. Tops. I’m a 24. And yet, I put down my size when ordering, reminded the orderer that I and 10+ people need the same size, and still get the ‘you’re not being a team player!’ Lecture when I can’t wear what is given to me.

          1. Kelly L.

            I’d be tempted to duct tape the shirt to the front of a shirt that did fit. This is probably why I’m going to hell.

        1. Daisy Steiner

          “One size fits all” hats are my particular bugbear. I did a little dance the day I found a feminine sunhat that actually fit me – I’m so used to wearing men’s hats out of necessity.

          1. Cactus

            Ah, yes, the Large Head Club. Most people can’t tell I belong to it because of my hair. But it is exceptionally hard to find hats that actually fit well. (I don’t even wear a lot of hats–mostly winter hats, but I want those to fit completely over my ears, otherwise, what’s the use?)

        2. Melissa

          Ugh. It’s one thing for them no to order your size (especially when you’re hardly the only one!), but to lecture you on not being a team player? Low blow.

      3. Chocolate lover

        Usually, whomever ordered shirts in my old office got sizes. One year when it was a different person, he didn’t check. I don’t know if he made up the sizes or what, because I haven’t worn the size he ordered for me since I was 12. Same for a couple other women in the office. They were so tight it was way too embarrassing and unprofessional to wear, and a couple of us had to wear some of the extra men’s shirts, but there weren’t even enough of those for us. It caused several of us a good deal of awkwardness and embarrassment.

        1. simonthegrey

          Ugh, this. I can wear an XL but I am more comfortable in a 2x, but I prefer a men’s XL to a woman’s because even though I am short, my chest makes women’s cut shirts too short for me. A couple years ago they ordered shirts for us here and I got a women’s cut large. It hits right at my belly button and I look like a sausage in it. We’re supposed to wear them on Fridays. Luckily I only teach on Fridays so no one but my students see me and they don’t care, so I don’t wear it. I would if it were the right size, but there’s no way I can teach with my shirt riding up and showing my belly….not even if I were a hundred pounds lighter with washboard abs.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Me too–a men’s LG fits me better because I have broad shoulders. Women’s shirts are too narrow in the shoulders and if I go up a size, I’m swimming in the rest of it because they’re cut like this /\ not \/ like men’s. Plus, if there are long sleeves, they hit me about two inches above my wrist. Not a good look. I could roll them up, but it’s annoying to do that all the time, and dammit, I shouldn’t have to.

        2. Ad Astra

          People really underestimate the size difference between men and women. Obviously some individual men are much bigger than some individual women (the OP, for instance) but plenty of men and women are the same size. Way, way too many people mentally subtract two or three sizes for women wearing men’s/unisex sizes, and it’s nuts. A woman who’s 5’9″ and weighs 160 pounds probably wears the same size T-shirt as a guy who’s 5’9″ and weighs 160 pounds.

      4. Anonymous

        I am always thankful when a zip-up hoodie or a cardigan is the garment of choice instead of a t-shirt, because while I can wear an XL-sized cardigan or zip-up hoodie by leaving them open, I usually need a 2XL in a t-shirt…which of course they never order.

        And depending on the cut of the t-shirt, it will usually be huge in the shoulders and tight in the belly, or I look like I’m wearing a trash bag.

        There are websites that exist where you can take group orders for the whole company by allowing each person to input their own size. And lot of the time, you can make multiple style options available so that people aren’t stuck with just one option.

      5. Really Plus Size

        Yeah I have that same problem. Recently we got team tshirts and my manager asked her what size I needed. I was honest and said I need a 5X or 6X. I got a 3X because that’s the biggest they had. Why even ask? Why give me something that won’t fit? That just humiliates me more. :( Luckily they aren’t pushing us to wear them and mine sits in an unused drawer at my desk.

        1. Liz in a Library

          Agreed! I got kind of frustrated once when my old job ordered us monogrammed polos without asking. The largest women’s size available was a medium…and I am not a medium. My president asked why I wasn’t showing my workplace spirit, and I told him I couldn’t fit the shirts he ordered on one thigh…

        2. HRG

          I’m in a similar boat.. I generally need a 4X and companies I’ve worked for never have that size. I was pretty upset earlier this year when I went volunteered to spend 8 hours on a Saturday volunteering for a work event and they ordered me a size large shirt. 4X and large are not even close. I was the only volunteer not wearing a shirt. All I wanted for my time was a stupid tshirt that fit. So frustrating.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            We actually moved away from shirts at my last volunteer event and gave everyone water cups (the kind with a lid + straw) because of issues with shirts!

            It cost us a little bit more, but it was worth it to have our volunteers walking away happy with their thank you gift!

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                I saw one of our volunteers out and about and she was carrying her cup! In my excitement I rushed up to her and was like, “you’re using your cup!!”

            1. Cassie

              I like the idea of giving away something other than t-shirts. I have a bunch (at least 10) t-shirts from events that my workplace (university) hosts and I never wear them. I don’t like crewneck t-shirts (men’s cut only, of course) and though I’ve seen other employees wear the shirts to exercise, I find them too constricting.

              Our dept got shirts a few years – white polo shirts with the dept name embroidered on the left. The font was so small that you had to be standing really close to read the words. A couple of people wore the shirts after we got them, but other than that, I haven’t seen anyone wear it.

              I think reusable bags, or those nylon drawstring bags, would be a great option – our city (state too?) banned plastic bags so those bags would be really practical. And since they’re more likely to be used, it would be a great promotional item too. What’s the point of getting shirts (or anything) made if people won’t want to use it?

              1. Rana

                Agreed. I really dislike t-shirts as a give-away. They don’t fit right even when they’re the right size, and they clutter up my closet, and because they’re logo’d, you can’t even give them away. T-shirts suck.

          2. Minion

            “I was the only volunteer not wearing a shirt.”

            I totally get what you meant, but my first thought was wow, that was a very brave way to be defiant!

        3. Ann O'Nemity

          Just to offer some info from the other side of this…

          It can be really, really difficult to find shirts that have a huge size range for men and women. I was on a project team last year for an event and I watched a colleague struggle to find a good quality golf shirt that had a large range of sizes (really small through really large) for both men and women. She browsed catalogs from several suppliers and found very few styles that had the size range we needed – and none of them were high quality. Frankly, I was surprised that there weren’t more options available.

      6. BananaPants

        It was super fun to have to ask for a women’s XL polo shirt for college recruiting this fall. We are required to wear company polos for recruiting and the sizing from their vendor only goes up to XL for women but a 3XL for men’s sizing. I was able to stretch the shirt out a bit and wore an old nursing tank with a slimming panel underneath to avoid a total stuffed sausage look, but it was still not a pretty scene.

        I could have just ordered the men’s XL, but that would have been big and baggy on me; the women’s cut looks better on my body. Oh well, just more motivation for me to lose weight…

        1. Mabel

          This is just one more reason that it sounds like shirts are not the best option for company apparel. If they can’t be ordered in the sizes people need, then why would a company order them anyway? If they want something people can wear to show what company they work for, how about nice pins with the company logo? They can be as large or small as needed. Judging from all of the comments so far, company clothing (that’s not for safety) doesn’t seem to work for quite a few people.

      7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Yeah, I’m right there with you.

        At an all-staff conference at my last job (this was a small organization with about 100 staff, spread out throughout the country, so we got together twice a year for all-staffs), the ED made a big deal out of purchasing really nice hoodies for everyone (you know, those “Greatest Hoodies Ever Made” that have a wait list?). They only go up to an XL in women and an XXL for men. I was able to wear the men’s XXL, but there were several people on staff (men and women) who just couldn’t wear them at all. It was supposed to be this great gift; he made a nice speech about how the hoodie is made to last ten years, and he hoped all of us would still be doing this important work ten years from now… and then some of the staff was just left out. Yuck.

      8. manybellsdown

        My work orders the women’s shirts from a vendor that runs WAY small. My XL is snug and I’m like a size 10. And the biggest option they get is XXL! It’s like the opposite of vanity sizing, I don’t get it.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          Not work related, but my friends and I were at a brewery the other night and one of the gals loved the bars logo, so she went to buy a shirt.

          She is usually a M and had to buy the XL because the sizing was so crazy. The M looked like it might fit a dainty toddler.

          1. Ad Astra

            I don’t even bother with women’s cut logo shirts because they’re all so tiny, and typically made of thin, clingy fabric. About half of them have ridiculous necklines as well, and of course they never go bigger than an XL. As a fan of breweries and of several sports teams, I’ve learned to make do with some of the higher-end men’s T-shirts, but I so wish these companies would make men’s/unisex v-necks. I know American Apparel, Comfort Colors, and several other companies produce them, but companies/teams don’t seem to want to put their logos on them.

          2. manybellsdown

            Yeah most of my shirts are M, or L if I want a relaxed fit. This XL fits me like a medium. And a shirt I got last year at a comicon in an XL is even worse. It’s too tight. I’m just average-sized, those shirts should fit people much larger than me.

      9. Liza

        And as another plus size woman, it frustrates me that a women’s XXL t-shirt is far too small for me even when a men’s XL fits me with room to spare. Why is the sizing so different for women’s t-shirts than it is for men’s?

        1. Elizabeth West

          They assume women are tiny even if they’re plus sized. As in, tall being 5’7″. Anyone over that height is not going to find clothes that fit properly even if they are skinny.

          1. Mabel

            And on the other hand, when I try on “regular” pants (not “tall”), they almost drag on the floor, and I’m 5’7″. I wonder what shorter women do – they must have to hem a lot of pants!

            1. Melissa

              Pray we can find “petite” pants and still usually need to hem them anyway – and I’m 5’4″ so not especially short!

        2. Rayner

          Because women’s shirts are usually cut closer to fit tighter, so there’s less room for errors. Also, because every company has different sizes under the same name, (you know, in Store Y, you’re a 18, in Store X, you’re a 20, in Store Z , you’re a 22), it’s often much much harder to gauge what size is needed. What Company Y considers a 20, Company B considers a 22.

          Also, because fat women don’t exist according to some companies. or the few that do exist can just wear men’s size XXXL because it’s totally not humiliating that every other woman on your team has a pink shirt that fits nicely, with a V neckline and the fat women all get dull grey high neck shirts that are baggy to hell and still have to look happy about it.

          1. Ms Anne Thrope

            I currently own a couple M shirts that fit, a bunch of L that fit, some L that are too small, XL that fit, and XL that are too small. It’s insane.

          2. manybellsdown

            It’s been a running rant of mine that detective shows treat clothing and shoe sizes as some immutable piece of evidence. It’s more like “Oh, you found a woman’s size 7 shoe and size 10 pants at the scene of the crime? Come look in my closet which has 3 different shoe sizes and clothing ranging from 4-14, all of which fit me!”

            1. Rayner

              I will not lie, I have shoe sizes from a 7 – 7.5 – 8, and jeans and t-shirts running from a 14-24. If someone investigated me based on my wardrobe, they’d think I lived in a black hole or something.

      10. Ad Astra

        If they expect people to wear it, they should allow them to choose something that fits. It’s not like a souvenir T-shirt, where you can throw it away or donate it or turn it into rags if it doesn’t fit. It might cost more, but it’s also going to look better, and that’s important when it comes to branding. Don’t put your logo on stuff that doesn’t look good.

      11. Roberta

        Yup. At my employer’s last charity event, they handed out men’s technical shirts, which run small. The largest was an XL, which barely fit over my chest (not to mention how much I hate the feeling of tight crewnecks UGH). I just quietly didn’t wear it, and nobody said anything because nobody wanted to have that awkward conversation (although I would have welcomed it as an opportunity to point out a flaw in their “inclusive” and “diverse” corporate culture). I was the only one from our firm without the shirt, and the largest person there, so the whole thing made me feel pretty bad.

    3. Michelenyc

      A tailor can easily make the shirt fit better. We do it all the time for fashion week. Yes it will cost you something but it will look 100 times better!

      1. RVA Cat

        This – and I would ask the vendor if they would reimburse you for alterations (or if you could expense it with your employer). If they’re unwilling to order you a shirt that fits and want you to wear it, it’s only fair.

      2. Audiophile

        It’s only feasible if the company will reimburse all of it. I wear a uniform as part of my job and probably received six pairs of pants over the years, that I’ve never worn, because they’re mens and I’m a very short woman. I would have had them altered but the company made clear that they’d only reimburse up to $10. Alterations are not cheap and to only get $10 back per pair is ridiculous.

        1. INTP

          Yikes – I’d imagine that making men’s pants suit most women would be about as simple as sewing pants from scratch! I’m short and even altering non-petite women’s pants to fit me doesn’t really work, as the part cut to fit over my knee is now over my shin, and the part that is actually around my ankle is cut to fit around a calf. (I’ve learned not to ask for recommendations for pants online because I will mainly get replies from average-to-tall women suggesting their favorite brands and “Why can’t you just get them hemmed?”) With men’s pants you add in the fairly straight cut through the hips, and most women would have to wear a tight belt to get the pants that fit their hips to stay on their waists, lending that lovely pleated trousers look. Just, no.

          1. RVA Cat

            Crazy. Just think how ridiculous the reverse would be – if the default uniform was women’s sizes and we expected men to have to work around that. (One can dream….)

        1. TootsNYC

          You can dart or seam down the center back to pull the shoulders in. It’s not lovely, but it can be done.

          1. Mabel

            I just had this done (ordered a dress with 18″ shoulders instead of 16″ – big oops!), and it was only partially successful. The shoulders are still a weird combination of tight in the armpit and almost falling off my shoulders.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I was going to suggest wearing a casual blazer over it and pin the excess fabric of the shirt in the back with safety pins. A jersey blazer, or another kind that you can roll the sleeves up to 3/4 can bridge the casual to business attire. I’ve done this at events where we had bright neon green shirts when wow, it was just too much neon for me.

        1. OP #2

          Love this idea!!! I followed up with Alison’s wording and I think we’re figuring it out for this event, but I’ll make sure to go to out of town conferences prepared with safety pins!!

    4. Retail Lifer

      When I was a new manager at Staples years ago, trainees started off in the familiar red polo shirt before graduating to the manager’s button-up. At the time, I was a size 2. The standard sizes most stores had on hand were a men’s medium and up. It was a dress on me. They special ordered an extra small, which was still kind of big but at least it didn’t look like a dress on me. The messed up thing was that the smallest size the polo shirt was available in was a men’s extra small, which was still WAY too big on our female employees that were shorter and thinner than me. It was incredible embarrassing to have to assist customers looking like a child playing dress-up in their parent’s closet.

      1. echosparks

        When I first started college I worked at Blockbuster and the smallest branded polo they could give me was something like a men’s medium and at the time I weighed 105 lbs max. We were also required to tuck it in, and of course the bulk didn’t fit in my appropriately sized women’s khakis. I went to a store, bought a navy blue polo, and just started wearing it with my name badge like nothing had happened. No one seemed to mind, but it still makes me laugh that I didn’t even talk about it with my manager. I was just like, nope, not wearing that.

        1. Kelly L.

          Oh God, I just remembered back when I worked at Hardee’s long ago (I called it Hades), I was a relatively thin person at that time, about a size 10, and they were really cheap, so they issued me the only polo they already had in the store. It was I think a 3x? Once I tied my apron on, my shirt had “wings” of excess fabric on each side. They were always getting in the way and in the food. it was so gross.

          Later, I worked at Taco Bell and they wouldn’t order any pants. I was about the same size then too. I could choose between, let’s say, a 26 and a 6. I picked the 6 because they’d stay on, and I’m sure you can imagine how comfortable that was!

          1. Melissa

            Ha – the wings! My husband worked at a Tim Hortons for a while. He’s a fairly tall/big guy so he asked for a 3X. The manager decided that wouldn’t be large enough and got him a 5X. He was fairly swimming in it and had those wings!

        2. Mabel

          Because nothing screams “attractive!” like a shirt that is obviously tucked into your pants down past your crotch.

    5. Cruella DaBoss

      There is usually price break for ordering in bulk, which most companies do for their conferences. When you have to order less than what is sold in a “lot” (12 for most manufacturers) you miss the price break. That one lady’s small may cost the company twice what the other shirts would. Unless you work with eleven other small women, a tailor is the best way to go.

      1. Ad Astra

        Yeah, but twice the cost of one shirt is still, like, $40 or less (possibly a lot less). If you’re going to insist that someone wear something, you should be willing to order them a size that fits.

        1. JessaB

          Especially if wearing it is NOT a one off occasion. I’ll live with it if it’s just for one event, but if you’re expected to wear this thing at event x, event y, the teapot conventions in three different cities, then NO. It fits, or I don’t wear it. And no I will not pay to fix something that should have been dealt with.

          There are uniform companies where you can either rent or buy uniforms (and they also do cleaning if you need them to.) They come in and actually FIT everyone.

          There are tshirt printing companies where you can order individually at reasonable prices (think even places like cafe press,) they may have to work at it but I’ve outfitted an entire office via a uniform company, and did screen printed for another group, and we managed to get individual sizes for under 20 bucks a shirt.

    6. Newlywed

      They ordered men’s button-up shirts for us to wear to a tradeshow. We were supposed to button the shirts so they draped over our pants. Problem was, the shirt didn’t close over my hips, and the waist and bust were way too big because it was shaped like a box! So I wore it untucked, slightly unbuttoned in the front, with an undershirt. newsflash: men and women are NOT built the same!

    7. MashaKasha

      At one of the ExJobs, they gave us ExJob shirts and then kept sending emails with the days when we had to wear them to work (more than once). They were ugly shirts that were probably also a men’s cut. Mine seemed to be my size, but I’m tall and the shirt ended a couple inches under my waist. Also it barely fit in the chest, but was baggy around the waist (because men’s cut). I saw people do all kinds of things to those shirts to make them palatable. I wore mine unbuttoned with a tank top underneath it, like a blazer of sorts. One female coworker altered hers and took a couple inches out of the waist to make it look more like a woman’s shirt. I almost felt relieved when ExJob was sold to another company, which meant we were no longer required to wear the shirts.

      Seriously does it need to be so hard to come up with work uniform that’s actually okay to wear? I can walk into any thrift store at any moment and come out with my hands full of outfits that look and fit better than any work shirt I’ve ever been issued.

      1. TootsNYC

        Issue people iron-on patches, and require them to buy a shirt in a specific color (or as close as they can get). That’s about the only thing that would work.

        Heck, sign up a Lands End, and give people a $10 subsidy, and make them order their own. You’d still have a few problems, but no more than people would run into w/ ordinary clothes.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I love the Lands End option! An organization I volunteer with did this and it was awesome!

        2. Renee

          Some of our employees wear logo’d shirts on installations. The rest of us don’t have to, but we’re casual and it saves thinking about what to wear. I set it up, and I chose Lands End. The quality is quite good and there are men’s and women’s options in many different styles. The company covered a limited number of shirts for employees (2 for techs, 1 for support), but a few of us have bought additional shirts out of pocket because the quality is similar to a shirt we might otherwise wear and, again, no thinking about what to wear. We wait for sales and put in a group order to save on shipping.

    8. NK

      My friend’s company (that had recently been acquired) gave employees the option to bring in their own clothing to have it embroidered with the company logo for free. We all had a good laugh about the ridiculousness of it all, but after reading all these posts I’m seeing the wisdom in it – if you want people to wear the company logo, may as well let them put it on something that they know is flattering to them!

    9. Elder Dog

      OP #2, cut it up the sides and wear it like a tunic with a belt. You’ll look cute and far less like you borrowed your father’s shirt. No sewing required.

    10. SystemsLady

      Happens to me all the darn time, since I work in the field and sometimes need to wear FR.

      I’m no size 0, but I am on the smaller side, and everything in this industry is oversized for various reasons (people usually want to layer when it’s cold, etc.). So when I get a men’s small…I look like a puffy snow woman.

      I’m glad somebody raged on my behalf when they blanket ordered men’s sized uniforms and I (the only woman who got one) looked like a little kid. They were all like “well can’t you make it work?” until then.

      Tailoring wasn’t an option either because these came from a uniform company and were technically on loan.

      What really upset me though was when they found replacements and how much crappier the women’s sized items they had available were. No jeans for us…

  2. alexcansmile

    Can #2 get the shirt tailored to fit better? Expense it if they insist in making you wear it but don’t get a shirt that actually fits well enough to look professional.

    1. Turanga Leela

      I came here to say this. Take the shirt to a tailor and see if you can have it altered to fit you. It shouldn’t cost a fortune, and it will look nice. I’m not sure you’ll get a better shirt any other way. Many companies don’t order women’s sizes, and if you’re a size 0, even a women’s small might be too big. Conference shirts tend to run pretty large.

      1. kkcf

        Seconding the need for a tailor. Go on Craigslist and post an ad for a tailor or search for Your City Sewing or Your City Tailoring. If it’s a t-shirt a friend with a serger can take care of that in 5 minutes. I’m a tailor myself and if OP is interested I may be able to help her out depending on time frame and location.

    2. Blue Anne

      This is what I was going to say as well. This would take a tailor just a couple of minutes and it would be very reasonable to ask the company to pay for it.

      1. dancer

        I actually disagree with this. If the shoulders are too large, which is very likely if it’s a men’s shirt, the tailor won’t be able to do much without it costing a lot. I usually get my clothes altered and I’ve learned to watch out for that.

        1. techfool

          Yeah, you might as well make a new one from scratch.
          If you’ve ever tried to redraft a dress pattern in the shoulder and arm scythe you’ll know what I’m talking about

            1. TootsNYC

              So glad to learn that term! I know the problem, but didn’t know the vocabulary.

              You can’t easily alter the armhole/armscye, but you can dart at center back or along the shoulder. For a T-shirt, it would probably be OK. A more tailored shirt, you can’t do much with.

        2. Blue Anne

          Really? I used to tailor t-shirts to fit me better all the time in high school, as a short, busty and crafty teenager. It didn’t seem very difficult and came out looking fine, but I probably didn’t do it very neatly.

            1. Hlyssande

              Not always.

              I’ve seen some interesting DIY shirt alteration tutorials wherein you just lay a shirt that fits the way you want it to over the one that’s too big and redraw armsyce, sleeves, and sides from the one that fits.

              1. Mephyle

                For a t-shirt, I think it’s not such a priority to get the shoulders fitting right the way you would care about if it was a tailored shirt or blouse.
                I think you could just do the quick-and-dirty alteration where you take in the sides, doing each side in one long seam from the bottom of the sleeve to the bottom hem.

        3. Elizabeth West

          This happened to me with a maid-of-honor dress for my sister’s wedding. They could only find an XL and it was like a tent on me. When I took it to a seamstress, she told me she would have to take the entire dress apart and remake it. It wouldn’t be worth the time or the cost. So I sent the dress back to my sister and her matron-of-honor (she asked both me and her BFF) filled that role and I did the guest book. I wore something I bought at Macy’s that actually fit me. The BFF looked great in the dress–much better than I did. The lavender went with her blond hair and she had more up front to fill it out. Worked out perfect. :)

    3. Nethwen

      As others have said, tailoring might not work if the shoulder are too big, but the shirt might be able to be cut down and resewn entirely. Every year, I have to wear branded t-shirts. I order two or three sizes larger and have a basic T-shirt pattern to recut everything. It will cost more than having a tailor take in the sides, but at least the shirt will fit (assuming the cutting pattern fits you). If you have someone do this for you, expect to pay to have the pattern adjusted to your measurements (it can be used indefinitely) and to pay for the shirt reconstruction.

      1. Nethwen

        If you have someone alter your shirt for you, make sure they understand the differences between working with knits (t-shirts) and working with wovens (button-ups).

        1. TootsNYC

          working w/ knits is not as hard a people think–basically, just stretch the seam slightly while you sew it. And a lot of home sewers nowadays have sergers, which make this easy.

    4. OriginalEmma

      Shirt decals, brands, etc. are sized to fit the original size of the shirt. If she sizes down the shirt, the branding won’t be proportionate and depending on its placement, will look weird. The “NIKE” splashed across the front of a women’s small or child’s large is sized differently to one splashed across the front of a men’s small. Unless she wants the N and the E, for example, crowding her armpits she needs the right shirt to start.

      1. TootsNYC

        But if this is an inexpensive, bulk-buy T-shirt, I bet this isn’t true. The logos are probably just silk-screened onto every single shirt from one stencil.

        Sure, it’ll take up more of her front, but she’s small, so it won’t be that unexpected.

    5. INTP

      I got the sense that it’s the vendor asking the OP to wear this shirt at the conference, not the employer, so the employer might argue that they shouldn’t have to pay as they aren’t requiring her to wear it. Of course, it would be in their best interest to pay for it because having the OP represent the company as an expert will help the company’s profile, and no one is going to recognize her if all the other experts are in identical shirts, but I would definitely ask about reimbursement before taking the shirt to a tailor.

    6. OP #2

      Tailoring is something I thought of, and would have been an option for this conference — although, the shoulders are still huge on me, so it would have been a complete remake like they mentioned below. (It looks like I’ve got it worked out with the vendor to wear business casual, though, so I think we’ll stick with that in this instance.) Unfortunately, tailoring isn’t an option when the shirt is provided the day you show up for an out-of-town conference. :/ Filing away some of these other suggestions for those instances!

  3. LadyCop

    #2 This one surprised me. I get it the OP is a small person…but were you really shocked with a mens small??? RARELY in any experience I have had has anyone been willing to order womens sizes…even women. Usually, t-shirts are ordered in a “unisex” size…which means mens, and mens shirts don’t come smaller than small. I would definitely speak up for womens shirts (because seriously, I have a small waist, and a big chest and don’t want to look like a box as much as the OP doesn’t want to look like a child), but it is probably long odds.

    My best advice is see if you can take over the ordering yourself. I once had a manager (male) who insisted on ordered all shirts in mens XL because he was too lazy to consider sizes. Even though we looked ridiculous in them, he shrugged it off until I offered to “help” by doing it myself.

    1. AcademiaNut

      I hate this – I keep getting conference t-shirts that I can only use as sleep-wear. If it’s big enough to fit my chest and hips, the sleeves are too long and the shoulders baggy and waist baggy, if it fits in the shoulders, it’s too small everywhere else.

    2. neverjaunty

      It’s 2015. I doubt any of us are shocked, but there’s no reason for OP to simply accept that this is The Way Things Are and she needs to take on office-wife duties like ordering clothes to fix the problem.

    3. Ruth (UK)

      I’ve done a bunch of things that has required the ordering of t-shirts (charity groups, sports team recruiting, kids activity camp leader, uni stuff) and have found often that even though the style of the shirt is unisex, a lot of the time the sizes have cone in women’s medium, women’s large, men’s medium, etc.

      I am an 8 in the UK which makes me one of the smaller people I know. I’m also small in general, not just skinny. For rugby shirts (which typically are hard to find except in men) I found my size is ‘large boy’ and have sometimes managed to get kid sizes in stuff sometimes when the size, not just the style is unisex. Maybe children’s sizes are an option for op if women’s sizes aren’t…

      1. Sarahnova

        This drives me bat bug crazy. I am also a UK size 8 and petite, but, shall we say, emphatically not shaped like a boy. I can’t find a rugby shirt to fit for love nor money.

        And I hate the not-so-subtle sexism of only having men’s sizes and cuts.

        1. socrescentfresh

          Gah, I know. If the situation were reversed and a male employee was given a women’s shirt to wear to an event, would he go get it tailored or request a better-fitting shirt? Not a rhetorical question; as a female person I’m honestly curious.

          1. Biff

            I believe this happened in Washington State, but it may have been Oregon — several men sued to be considered eligible for a job at a restaurant chain well-known for the waitresses’ s uniforms. In one case, the man was told to wear the uniform and I believe he did for one day to prove his point before quitting. Howver, if another case, I’m fairly certain he was allowed to wear a black shirt, black pants and black apron as per most other eateries in the area.

            Overall, I’d say it was a disapointment.

      2. Blue Anne

        This was my favorite thing ever when I was really into weight lifting! I’m short and I was a size 8-10 with broad shoulders and not a lot of boob. In other words – almost exactly the proportions of a young teenage boy. I raided the 13-14 year old boys sections and got all the best superhero shirts.

        1. Ruth (UK)

          Yes I also find the teen boy section fits me great. I do a lot of the type of exercises that have resulted in my having broad shoulders for my otherwise skinny build with small boobs.. An uncommon shape for a woman. In fitted women’s shirts I often can’t reach up even if they’re otherwise my size…

      3. heatherskib

        +1 we have a few seriously dainty ladies in our office and our conference manager ends up ordering in childs sizes for them.

      4. Elizabeth West

        I feel huge in UK sizes. I’m a 16 or 18 off-the-rack over there because of my broad shoulders, and a 14-16 at home. And of course the sleeves are too short. :P It’s all relative, I guess, since sizes aren’t consistent in any one place, let alone internationally.

        I died of happiness at Long Tall Sally, when the salesclerk took one look at me and came back with a 12 jean and I was like, “No no, that won’t fit.” He knew his job. They fit PERFECTLY. The number didn’t matter. I love those jeans so much I want to marry them. Too bad they cost *cough$$$$* I’d buy my entire wardrobe from them if I could afford it.

    4. The Bimmer Guy

      “My best advice is see if you can take over the ordering yourself. I once had a manager (male) who insisted on ordered all shirts in mens XL because he was too lazy to consider sizes. ”

      Seriously? Wow.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      There’s virtually no such thing as a unisex. The absolute cheapest tee shirts don’t have a male and female version, just a men’s version that somebody says is “unisex”, but once you get past the lowest price range, there’s a version cut for men and a version cut for women available.

      The problem isn’t availability. The problem is laziness of people ordering.

      1. Myrin

        My (kind of curvy) sister got a great unisex shirt just a few days ago and it fits her fantastically and definitely isn’t just a men’s size in disguise. So I’d say they do exist but it’s kind of rare to find good ones.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          :-)

          Okay: it’s possible with a name brand, actually crafted and designed tee. Alternative Apparel has a couple. 99% of the time when people are talking about “unisex” they are talking about the tubes of cotton with the old standby crewneck from Hanes or Gildan, which are men’s shirts, not unisex. If you step up one tiny price level, Hanes, Gildan, Jerzees all have much more attractive women’s choices as well as the classic men’s choices.

          Women’s shirts are typically side seamed for a contoured fit, with sleeves that are designed for women and not men. The neck lines are never that unflattering crew but are instead v neck, scoop neck or even just drop neck. A drop neck makes a huge difference in flattering.

          Alternative Apparel does a good job on their couple of unisex shirts because they are starting with fashion forward not just ‘old school crewneck”, and their shirts are more tailored and shapely to begin with.

          /geekout

          1. Blue Anne

            “…tubes of cotton with the old standby crewneck from Hanes or Gildan…”

            God, I hate those things so much. So, so much.

          2. Kelly L.

            OMG the necks on those tubes of cotton. I wouldn’t have thought I had a larger neck than most men, but it sure feels like it when their shirts throttle me. I can grit my teeth and deal with looking like a box, but those necks make me wanting to cut slits in them with scissors or something.

            1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

              V-necks! When I’m buying men’s undershirts for myself I always get the v-neck style. It’s a much more modest cut than a women’s v-neck (not that I care that much, when I wear them it’s always under something) and it doesn’t choke me.

          3. Myrin

            Yeah, she was definitely lucky here. It’s from a pretty small brand that apparently works specifically with the junior filmmaker my sister got merchandise of, so there’s probably not much mass-produced going on there. I bet that’s got something to do with it.

          4. Hlyssande

            I cut the necks out of all my tshirts to make them scoop or boat necks. Best decision I ever made.

            Now I have amazing nerdly shirts that don’t choke me and don’t look terrible. Yesssss.

    6. anonanonanon

      because seriously, I have a small waist, and a big chest and don’t want to look like a box

      This is my constant struggle with finding shirts. Honestly, I tend to wear more dresses than anything else because they’re easier to find, whereas I’m always finding shirts that make me look boxy and a lot of those shirts aren’t great for tailoring or look awful with a belt, so it’s not even like I can fix the situation. It’s really frustrating.

      1. Sarahnova

        Girl seriously. I have a significant hip/waist and boob/waist differential, which is exacerbated by breastfeeding. Stuff that isn’t properly fitted makes me look like the side of a house.

        1. anonanonanon

          Yes! Tailoring can be so expensive, too. Banana Republic used to be great for shirts that fit, but over the past few years they must have changed designers since even their XS shirts make me look like a box.

      2. MashaKasha

        Whew, I finally figured out why I’ve always felt uncomfortable wearing shirts – this is why. I just wear all kinds of knit tops, all the time.

    7. Hush42

      I was very surprised to find out when I started working here that my company provides women’s sizing for all their shirts. I work in the office so I typically wear business causal clothing but we have Polo shirts that our Techs are required to wear when working in the field. A couple of months ago I ended up having to go see a client (for a lot of reasons that shouldn’t have happened) and they gave me a Women’s Polo that was shaped very well and is actually designed to look good on women.
      Also we participated in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge and they had company team shirts made. They asked us all our sizes and then order really nice sport type shirts (not tee shirts) in both men’s and women’s sizes to they actually fit everyone.

    8. Not a men's small

      We’re you tempted to order a bunch of women’s-cut t-shirts in sum-med-lg and let the men deal? And when one complained about fit, telling him “just take it for tailoring. They can insert panels in the side seams, and it’s a stretchy fabric!” And then listen quietly for the sound of fragile masculinity shattering.

      I’d love to hear of a woman taking the all-in approach, showing up for a work event in khakis, chest bound by Ace bandages under her men’s tee, with a fake mustache, saying “since you wanted me to dress in drag I thought I’d go the full monty.”

    9. INTP

      Yeah, IME “free shirt” situations always involve those “unisex” (but actually men’s) S-XL generic boxy shirts. I do think it would be ideal for companies to start ordering shirts cut for women to promote equality, but I would not be surprised by a men’s small or if the company decided it was better to let the OP wear business clothing rather than go through the hassle of special ordering one women’s t-shirt. I think it’s a feminism issue (we don’t need more infantilizing of young women in the workplace) but it’s also a standard practice, unfortunately.

      I think it’s the vendor (I assume the conference organizers, or maybe another company whose product OP’s company uses?) providing the shirts though, so OP probably doesn’t have the ability to take over ordering.

    10. Chinook

      “but were you really shocked with a mens small??? RARELY in any experience I have had has anyone been willing to order womens sizes…even women”

      I have to agree with that. I am still tickled pink with the fleece jacket I got from one company because there were exactly 2 women working in the company and the other woman was the one ordering the jackets. She made a point of telling me she was ordering us women’s cut jackets and the boss could just eat the extra cost! Man, I missed working with her (even if we only met once – she was in California and I was in Ontario).

    11. CMT

      The fact that it happens often enough that nobody should be shocked (which, by the way, OP doesn’t say she is), doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. The onus should not be on the t-shirt wearer to get the shirt tailored. The company should be ordering the right sizes in the first place, and the default setting should not be “men”.

  4. Artemesia

    I think listing tasks like ‘office climate monitoring’ would make an applicant look weaker not stronger unless there was something particularly on point about this in the specific job. These are the jobs that get dumped on women who don’t push back or very junior people. A lot of those look like ‘filler’ on a resume or like someone who does’t have important work to do and is thus less likely to be highly skilled.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      True, but the strategic planning, on the other hand, would be good to put down. Especially if Op is the only non-manager participating.

    2. INTP

      Yeah, if the candidate is not in a role where those duties would make sense, I would frankly wonder “Why is this candidate’s employer choosing to use their time for all of these unrelated tasks rather than for work tasks?” I know that might be unfair of me, since sometimes the person might just be the one who cares enough to do a task no one else will do, but it would be my snap reaction.

  5. neverjaunty

    Did anyone else get kind of a weird vibe off OP #1’s boss? The boss unilaterally decides the office needs snacks to make people ‘happier’, although there is already a vending machine; the snack are all unhealthy, high-calorie treats; the boss doesn’t want the basket in her office because she’s watching her weight and wants to resist temptation, but is totally OK with the basket being right in front of OP and her co-workers, even when they’ve said that makes it hard to resist temptation…. Either Boss is completely clueless, or she is doing that weird thing of “I can’t have these treats so I’ll push them on everyone else” that some people do when they diet. And she’s using her role as boss to enforce it.

    OP, have you tried suggesting to the boss that maybe the office have healthy snacks instead, like fruit or vegetables in the fridge, so that you can have happy snacks but still eat healthy? Or just moving the damn basket so it’s not sitting in front of you? If your boss is genuinely well-meaning, those should be fine, but if she gets all weird and defensive and says that the problem snacks are ‘better’, or moves the basket back, then you’ll know you’re dealing with a jerk boss.

      1. uh

        Totally agree. OP should be able to control their eating just like I am expected to control my desire to tell certain people what I really think of them.

        1. Oh no not again

          Completely disagreed. If someone tells you that having something right in front of their face is a trigger, believe them and be courteous enough to not put it in their face. I was fortunate enough that I got the people I was living with to agree to hide the booze in the house (beer in basement fridge) when I quit. It was VERY important to not have this stuff constantly in my face. Now, booze in the fridge and regular places doesn’t bother me, but it sure did when I first got sober. OP’s boss should be more sensitive.

          1. Hlyssande

            Amen.

            Forcing the OP to keep that close at hand and visible could cause some serious problems if the OP is recovering from an eating disorder. It’s incredibly unkind even if that’s not the case.

            1. Oh no not again

              Yes, if the OP or anyone in a similar situation does have an eating disorder, it becomes a terrible situation. I understand a lot of people don’t have experience with addiction and/or eating disorders, so they may not think of this as a big deal, but it is.

          2. fposte

            “Trigger” seems a little medicalized, though, for the common situation of being tempted by treats that are commonly in offices. And I don’t think that just because the OP is tempted that the boss has to stop providing treats, especially because it sounds, by the absence of any totality claims, that there *are* people who enjoy this candy.

            What I think would be reasonable to suggest are some alternatives to banishing it that don’t make it such a problem for the OP–moving the basket to somewhere awkward (like the desk of somebody who does want to keep the basket), putting the candy in a closed jar or a slender-necked container where you can only get a single candy out, etc. But I don’t think it’s a reasonable expectation that the boss will remove the candy people enjoy because some people are enjoying it more than they wish.

            1. Afiendishthingy

              Totally agree with all of this- “trigger” to me says phobias, panic attacks, PTSD, etc, not the OP’s situation. Moving the basket and asking for some healthier options seems more reasonable to me. I have trouble believing the OP speaks for everyone when they say the basket hasn’t made the office happy, just fat.

              1. Helka

                There are a wide range of conditions, both psychological and physiological, that can be triggered. Basically, if an outside stimulus causes the condition to manifest, that’s a trigger. So as well as phobias and PTSD, you’ve got things like asthma, IBS, OCD, BFRBs, substance abuse/addiction, and relevant to this discussion – eating disorders.

                1. fposte

                  I think that’s the way the use is going, and maybe it’s fine; it does mean, though, that being triggered isn’t a significant thing if it’s as simple as a drinking fountain triggers your thirst or the presence of candy triggers your appetite. And I think people have been using the word to suggest an effect with a clinically significant resonance that’s valid to ask other people to change their behavior around; the more broadly the term gets used, the less other people can be expected react to the situation where it’s employed.

                2. fposte

                  @Helka–then we’re having the same discussion about a different term, and now that I look it up it’s because we’re both using it incorrectly.

                  Let’s go back to triggers–the definition you’re going for seems to be the broader one that I see in medicine net of “an event that stimulates initiation of a subsequent event or process.” I see medical text talking about triggers for good things as well as bad things, too, like “triggers remission” or “triggers weight control.”

                  Which, as I said, is fine. If that’s how we’re using the word, that’s how we’re using the word. But: what I think is happening in discourse right now is the desire to have the high-impact use of “being triggered” in PTSD-type situations expand to situations where it means merely that broader use of an outside influence of some kind of mental or physical health or behavior. In the broader use, the candy is a trigger for everybody in that office, and so is the vending machine. And that’s okay, because that means that responding to a trigger is no big deal and we all do it every day.

                  The broader the application of the term, the less meaningful the impact we’re claiming for the experience, and the less it matters whether it is or it isn’t a trigger, because there’s no special difference between a trigger, a taste, and an inclination.

                3. JB (not in Houston)

                  Yes, Helka, but you’re giving examples of situations that don’t seem to apply here or really address fposte’s point. Yes, triggers exist for a range of medical conditions, but none of those seem to be at play here, and the word is used for all kinds of things that aren’t what the term was originally meant for. So you’re both right, but your comment doesn’t really address fposte’s point.

            2. Oh no not again

              There’s no other substitute for the word trigger. The OP asking for it to not be directly in front of them is not an unreasonable request–that doesn’t mean that the OP is asking it to be taken away from everyone. If someone told me I had to keep something triggering near me, it wouldn’t stay there. I’d put it on their desk if they didn’t move it. That the OP’s boss won’t even keep it on her own desk is telling. Since the boss recognizes her own triggers, it’s quite rude to tell other people to deal with the same triggers.

              1. fposte

                Sure there is. “Temptation” is one–I just used it. I could get you a list of others.

                I think the word “trigger” here makes it sound like the boss is being medically cruel to somebody with an ADA-level vulnerability, but this is just somebody with the biologically predominant tendency to want high-energy foods. And those are common in an office, and it’s not rude for the boss to make a decision that a shared thing doesn’t belong in the boss’s office.

                This is not a bad guy and victim situation, and treating it as if it were is going to make it a lot harder to solve; it’s just competing interests in an office.

                1. Turtle Candle

                  Yeah, and I have to say as someone with a condition that matches the “old” meaning of trigger (ie, the one that refers to a medical panic disorder, PTSD, addiction, or eating disorder, among a few others), the weakening of it has been a massive disservice to me and to many others in similar situations that I’ve talked to. I get that people saying “but what if it’s a trigger?” mean well, but when triggers are used so widely they inherently begin to be treated less seriously.

                  I think it’s sort of like “but what if they’re autistic?” It’s meant to make people take a situation more seriously, but overuse means that it has the opposite effect in the long run.

                2. Biff

                  Whoa…..

                  Have you ever talked to someone with a food addiction? It is terrifying. And unlike any other drug, you can’t go cold turkey. If someone says they can’t be around a certain kind of food, take them at the word.

              2. Minion

                Reading your comment above, I get what you’re saying about needing booze hidden from you in the beginning, but the letter isn’t worded in such a way that one would infer an eating disorder or addiction. Just your average person tempted by unhealthy snacks when they’re wanting to eat healthier.
                I want to eat healthier, but when I go into one of my co-worker’s office, she keeps those little candy bars in a dish and I inevitably take one. Every time. It’s a temptation I could do without, but ultimately I’m the one responsible for my hand reaching out, grabbing a candy bar, unwrapping it, popping it in my mouth, chewing, savoring and then swallowing it. Not my co-worker. Not even if she moved the dish to a common area or even to my outer office.

            3. Not me

              +1, good advice, and I actually don’t think the OP is talking about disordered eating. I’d rather not assume that without OP bringing it up.

              1. Elizabeth West

                Agreed. It’s fine if she doesn’t want the tempting snacks right in her face. Someone who enjoys them and partakes can have the basket by their desk. If the boss doesn’t have to have them there, OP shouldn’t have to either.

            4. Shan

              Agreed – there’s a big difference between alcohol around a recovering alcoholic, and candy around people trying to lose weight. Maybe food is a trigger for someone with an eating disorder, but most people don’t – so for most people and OP, it’s simply tempting.

              Either way, though, you can’t control your environment 100% of the time. It’s important to have personal responsibility because sometimes you might be around things that are tempting or triggering.

              I say this as someone who lost 80 lbs. in college. Pizza, beer, free food was around me 25/8. I could stay away from parties or food-based events if I felt so tempted, but if my roommate wants to bake cupcakes, I can’t stop them! The only way I lost weight was by controlling my own actions, not others’. I think your suggestions on how to improve the situation for OP and her office are perfect.

          3. Katniss

            I think where you work might be a little different than people you work with, just because it (generally speaking) means fewer people have to change their routine. I say this as someone who got sober as well. I’d feel comfortable asking roommates/an SO not to keep booze around the house for awhile. But if I worked somewhere that had booze around for celebrations, which is relatively common, I’d have no real right to ask them to remove it. Same goes for snacks.

          4. matcha123

            I think that people are going overboard with “trigger” recently. It is something that is extremely useful, but I don’t think it needs to be applied to everything.
            It’s taken me decades to figure out that there are certain situations that ‘trigger’ certain behaviors in me. Once I was able to identify what was setting me off, it actually helped me a lot. Rather than expecting that everyone hide those things from me, I was able to deal with my feelings and reaction to them.

            Alcohol is typically not something that’s out in an office. Candy jars, are. I think that the OP needs to find a way to deal with her need to eat a treat. There are a lot of resources online.

            1. Oh no not again

              What word would you have people with addictions and eating disorders use? I use the word trigger because it’s completely appropriate. Speaking from experience here.

              1. fposte

                In the OP’s situation? She says nothing about addiction or eating disorder. It’s in fact perfectly normal to have an inclination toward high-fat and high-sugar foods; the problem is that that evolutionary tendency didn’t anticipate industrialized manufacture.

                1. Kelly L.

                  This. I’m actually pretty against pathologizing everyone who likes junk food or who is overweight as food-addicted. Some are, many many are not.

                2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                  Thank you!

                  Speaking as someone is 16 years into recovery from an ED, it’s really frustrating to have people armchair diagnose eating disorders.

              2. Katniss

                I think we shouldn’t diagnose the LW with an addiction or an eating disorder here just based on their letter. The letter seemed to be about temptation.

              3. matcha123

                If someone has an addiction or an eating disorder, I would use those words.
                “Trigger” is a word that I’ve seen a lot online and I was under the impression that it’s used for situations that could cause someone severe anxiety/PTSD?

                1. Helka

                  A lot of conditions can be triggered. Perfumes are a common migraine trigger. Cigarette smoke is a potential asthma trigger. And so on.

                  It’s most commonly known in relation to PTSD because that’s where we first started becoming aware as a society of the concept, with Vietnam vets being re-traumatized by things that threw them back into the wartime mentality, but the trigger concept is much bigger than just PTSD & phobias

        2. MashaKasha

          Not really. I’m very good at eating healthy snacks and controlling myself, but not when the communal snack bowl is sitting right on my desk and I’m not allowed to move it!! I’m getting a much stronger “the world is responsible for my diet” vibe from OP’s manager, who keeps bringing unhealthy snacks into the office and then insisting that she can’t have them in her office, because then she’ll eat them! Uh, nope, lady, you brought them here when nobody asked you to, that makes them your responsibility.

          To use your analogy, it’s as if the “certain people” sat next to your desk all day and asked you every 15 minutes what you really think of them.

        3. Ad Astra

          The manager seems to think “Get it away from me because I can’t control myself” is a legitimate request for her, so why wouldn’t it be legitimate for the OP? Gosh, at least move it to a different location. It doesn’t even have to be a trigger or an eating disorder or anything other than a preference. The kind thing to do is not shove things in people’s faces when you know it makes them uncomfortable.

          If nobody in the office has a nut allergy, I highly recommend Emerald’s 100-calorie packs of almonds and such as a healthier addition to the snack basket.

          1. Turtle Candle

            It seems like “Can I move the basket somewhere that I’m not looking at it all day?” would probably be an easier request to make than “Can we not have the basket at all?” (Or depending on the office atmosphere I might just move it–at my current job I’d just put it on the table behind me where I wasn’t looking at it, and let people know, “Oh yeah, I put it over there so I wouldn’t have candy temptation in my face all day!” But in another office atmosphere you might need to ask.)

        1. BRR

          It may sound harsh but it’s true. There’s a difference between the snacks being in the vending machine/grocery store/etc and in an open bowl right in front of you but I don’t think it’s that big. Also in this specific situation it depends a lot on the office preferences and how many people feel each way.

          The lw might want to try keeping their own stash of healthy snacks for when they have the urge.

          1. Daisy Steiner

            I’m going to jump in and add my data point here. For me, that’s a HUGE difference! I have very little willpower when it comes to eating, so I have to ‘set myself up for success’ by limiting my access to treats (I don’t keep them in the house, for instance).

            I’m not saying that this implies others have a responsibility to help me manage this, but I do completely empathise with the LW that proximity to snacks can make ALL the difference between success and failure on a diet.

            1. MK

              I sympathise with this, but the answer is to put the basket somewhere else or change the snacks, or some of them, to less fattening choices, not getting rid of the treat for a whole office.

              1. Daisy Steiner

                Of course, that wouldn’t be fair. Even just having it out of my line of sight would make a huge difference for me, though. I could live with an office snack basket, but I’d be unhappy if it had to live right by my desk.

                I would be really careful to tread lightly when asking for it to be moved, as it could sound super-ungrateful when the boss has made a very generous gesture.

                1. Sadsack

                  I would just move the basket myself to another prominent place. If the boss asks where’s the basket, “Oh, I moved it near the door/copier/wherever so more people see it without it being right in front of me.”. That doesn’t seem too confrontational or ungrateful to me.

                2. Happy Lurker

                  Agree with thread above. If the candy is in my face, I am eating it, a lot of it.
                  OP maybe you could create a barrier? Possibly acquire one of those 3 pane self standing poster boards to put around the bowl, so you are not looking at it? Or a large hardback book? It will look terrible and when people ask, simply respond about a lack of willpower, so you don’t want to see it.

                3. Ad Astra

                  Even if you were the embodiment of willpower, it might be annoying to have an office snack basket right next to your work space. I would think there’d be some increased foot traffic and probably a decent amount of annoying, lingering conversations. It’s like putting the coffee machine or the water cooler on someone’s desk.

            2. BRR

              I am the same way. I’m overweight and I can’t have the stuff in the house. I do think there’s a difference but there’s always going to be temptations (not to mention I think junk food is highly addictive).

            3. AdAgencyChick

              Completely agree. I’m an athletic person who used to be overweight, and the difference between me at my current weight and me plus 50 pounds is simply not allowing foods that I have poor self-control over around me.

              In OP’s case, there is *no* barrier between her and the tempting foods. The power of habit is incredibly strong — I highly recommend Charles Duhigg’s excellent book on the psychology of habits, which basically says that our brains are built to have us do things automatically, *without thinking about them*, when we come in contact with the triggers for those habits. This is a good thing when the trigger is “small child running in front of your car” and the habit is “hit the brakes,” but it’s not good when the trigger is “see a bag of potato chips” and the habit is “eat them.” Even the smallest barrier between you and the habit — putting $1 in the vending machine, or having to go to a different desk to get the treats — can be enough to get you out of the mindless state that causes you to eat the thing that you will later regret having eaten.

              So I don’t think it’s as simple as telling OP to just put down the cupcake. I would recommend that if she can’t get the boss to replace the treats with something like fruit, that she just move them somewhere else, like the break room or a conference room if possible.

              1. fposte

                The food version of this is Brian Wansink’s Slim by Design. And yes, I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that the OP is being presented with food she doesn’t have environmental barriers to protect herself from. But I think she’ll have the most success if she can get some barriers installed rather than arguing to get the food removed.

                1. Elizabeth West

                  My environmental barrier is that the vending machine crisps are $1 a packet and it’s not even two bites!! Plus, I rarely have any cash. :) I keep treats in my cube for afternoon tea, but if I buy imported European biscuits, then I tend to eat less of them because I don’t want to spend the money all the time.

                  Moving the basket is a good option. I still think it’s feasible for people in the office to see if the health factor of treats could be improved. That might make the boss happier too, if there are treats she can have that conform to her eating plan.

            4. Stranger than fiction

              I do wonder, though, is the temptation greater for those who are dieting and maybe just plain not eating enough for lunch?? We have treats here all the time at my office, and for me, they’re just not that tempting if I’ve had a normal, well-rounded breakfast and lunch. If people are dieting in an extreme manner (like cutting way way back on calories so they’re starving all the time), I wonder if the temptation then to snack is that much greater? I’m asking sincerely, because I know everyone is different.

              1. Daisy Steiner

                I’m not on a calorie-restricted diet, but I do make a conscious effort to maintain healthy eating habits. So I eat till I’m full at breakfast and lunch, but it’s that 11.30am or 4.30pm peckishness that will really get me. If there’s nothing around for me to eat then, I can manage fine till my next meal. If there’s something sweet and delicious at arm’s reach – you can be sure it’s going in my cake hole.

              2. QA Lady

                For me at least, I’ve been obese and overeating for a long time. I have successfully lost weight in the past (gained back during 2 pregnancies) Every time I reduce calories, it takes a few weeks for me to feel full again after meals, even if they would fully satisfy a smaller person. Once my body adjusts, I’m good. But during that transition I have to keep tempting foods pretty far away because I’ll still be hungry after finishing my 400-500 calorie meal (that used to be a 600-700 calorie meal).

              3. Elizabeth West

                This is a good point. If you’re skipping out on protein with meals, then you won’t get satiety from it. You could eat a huge salad of just veggies and still be hungry later. I learned this the hard way. Now I make sure I have some kind of protein, such as eggs on a spinach salad or beans/legumes if I’m doing a no-meat day. I’m much less likely to raid the kitchen later for snacks.

                1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                  I also found that adding a small bit of a healthy fat helps me feel completely satiated.

                  A few slices of avocado, or some coconut chips is usually the right thing to make me feel full.

              4. Green

                There’s a school of thought that small snacks help people get their energy up. Obviously these aren’t the right kinds of snacks, but if I were OP I’d start bringing in some dried fruit or single serve energy snacks or trail mixes that are both less tempting and more beneficial for people who do need a boost in the afternoon.

          2. neverjaunty

            Yes, it is that big a difference. AS THE BOSS HERSELF AGREES, since Boss doesn’t want the snack basket where *she* might give in to temptation. And the treats are supposed to be things people like to eat.

            I honestly don’t understand the argument that a basket of tempting snacks right next to you is functionally the same as that basket literally anywhere else.

        2. Katniss

          Why does this warrant a wow, exactly? I’m sympathetic to the OP wanting to diet and not wanting temptation around but a change in food habits means a personal change, not the world changing around you, yes?

          1. neverjaunty

            OP isn’t asking the world to change. She isn’t asking that he office vending machine (another temptation) be removed. She isn’t asking for a ban on office treats. She started off by asking Boss to move the basket of snacks, which apparently Boss herself agrees are too tempting to have in reach all day.

            1. fposte

              I don’t think it’s clear what she’s asking, and I think a ban on office treats is an implied possibility in her question. It’s not even clear if she herself suggested moving the basket to the boss’s office or if that was just something the boss declined in advance when the OP reported the problem.

              To me, that’s the failure in the OP’s plan–she’s not asking for the world to change, but she’s not specifically asking for anything else other than the situation to go away. So she needs to think about a possibility that would minimize the temptation effect while still allowing colleagues who enjoy the treats to have them, and that doesn’t involve leaving them in the boss’s office.

              1. neverjaunty

                Which I think totally makes sense, particularly as there is an area where they already have a vending machine – isn’t that area the natural place for the snack basket? – but jumping to ‘OP is asking the world to change’ seems really overblown and unwarranted.

          2. MashaKasha

            It’s not an unreasonable request. None of my coworkers are dumping their sugary snacks on my desk. OP deserves the same courtesy.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          For what it’s worth, I don’t know how useful comments that solely say “wow” are; I think it probably contributes to useful discussion more if you explain what you’re taking issue with. (Not directed just toward you, neverjaunty; I’ve noticed it periodically here and keep wanting to mention it.)

          1. cardiganed librarian

            To be fair, isn’t that your recommended response to outrageous statements? ;) (I understand there’s a difference – for one thing, I didn’t think this one was particularly outrageous, and the context is different on an online discussion site versus an out-of-nowhere comment from someone you have to work with.) But the point of it is similar, I assume to convey that you think the offensiveness of such a comment should be self-evident.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Well, it’s Carolyn Hax’s; I can’t take credit. I think it can be quite well suited to in-person conversations where you need to respond in some way and the goal isn’t “make a useful contribution that advances the conversation” but rather “respond in some way to this person who is right in front of me,” but the context on a blog is different.

              1. cardiganed librarian

                I totally agree (you can say exactly why something is outrageously offensive on this site) – I just thought it was funny, and maybe a bit of a warning as to the limitations of its use.

              2. TootsNYC

                Yeah, when Carolyn Hax first suggested it, it was intended to give you something to say when you’re on the spot but don’t want to have -no- response, and you don’t have time to think of something more nuanced or considered.

                We have all the time in the world to consider what we want to say here.

                It’s also got a “you’re SO wrong” vibe to it, and I get the impression that Alison doesn’t really want that here. I know I, as a reader, don’t, really. I would rather hear someone say “I disagree with you” or “I’m really opposed to this because of ZYX.”

                I learn so much from people here–a “wow” doesn’t help me at all.

              3. Turtle Candle

                Yes. The difference is to me that when someone says something outrageous or offensive to your face you kind of have to say something, most of the time, especially if it’s a situation that you can’t easily just walk away from. “Wow” is intensely useful in that situation. (I deployed it once when my husband’s aunt told me that my father must not have cared about my future, and it was extremely useful because I was stuck in a family social situation, and I had to say something. It worked beautifully: I didn’t come off as ‘the rude one,’ and she blustered a bit and then changed the subject and never tried that on me again.)

                But on a blog, you can very easily just not say anything. Typing in ‘Wow’ isn’t an in-the-moment response to being put on the spot by rudeness. The context is very different even if the content is the same.

                In a way, it’s like starting a blog post with “Um,” like “Um, some people really do ride llamas to work.” That comes across to many people as a lot more condescending and odd than just “Some people really do ride llamas to work,” I think because–while “um” is a more or less neutral sound when said aloud–deliberately typing it out is something else entirely, not just that you had to stammer for a response to someone’s (implied: ridiculous) statement but that you felt the need to make it clear that they were so ridiculous that you had to stumble by typing in the nonword.

          2. Arjay

            This may just be me, but with the comment threading, I often have a really hard time (or am just too lazy) to link the “Wow” to the original comment unless the original comment was so outrageous that it stuck in my head. It loses all impact without any context.

          3. Wow

            It’s been going on for well over a year…usually as a way to shut down non-regulars who make valid points that aren’t well received. Funny how it wasn’t worth bringing up until it happened to a commenter you like.

      2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        I wouldn’t have put it quite so strongly, but I do think it’s not outrageous for the onus to be on OP to manage their eating. OP, could you keep seeds/nuts/dried fruit in a drawer to snack on when you get the urge? Or drink lots of water to keep you full between meals?

        Ultimately, unhealthy food is – for now – a daily part of our culture, and you need to find a way to manage that in the workplace if you’re uncomfortable.

        1. Kristin (Germany)

          Unhealthy food may be a thing that exists, but it seems that the issue here is that it is directly in front of the OP, and not by the OP’s choice. Yes, as an adult the OP is responsible for his or her eating, but if the tempting food is *right there* at all times, the chances of its being eaten is exponentially higher than if it weren’t. I sympathize. OP, I like the idea of suggesting fruit, or at the least would it be possible to keep the basket somewhere that isn’t quite as immediately accessible to you?

          1. techfool

            I don’t buy cookies, chips, cakes, etc. They aren’t in the house so I don’t eat them. I have very little food in the house that can be just picked up and eaten. It mostly has to be cooked.
            If snacks were near my desk I would eat them. I would pick up the snacks and put them somewhere else I can’t see them.

          2. RVA Cat

            As a responsible adult the OP is also responsible for his or her drinking, but imagine if the OP’s boss knew he or she was a recovering alcoholic and decided to put a Mad Men-style open bar right in front of OP? Granted that’s a slippery slope but still…

          3. Katniss

            OP definitely has every right to ask nicely that they be moved, and I hope the boss would be understanding of that!

          4. INTP

            Yeah, unless there is something about the office configuration that makes OP’s desk the only logical place to put the snacks, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for OP to request that they be placed somewhere else. Everywhere I’ve worked, the communal foods and snack baskets were in the break room, where no one had to stare at them all day. I do think it’s unreasonable to request that there be no communal snacks at all, or that they be placed in the boss’ office, as I’m sure the boss doesn’t want to be interrupted all day.

      3. A is for A

        I got this vibe too. I work in healthcare, and at the holidays there are treats everywhere. Family members, patients, ex-patients, vendors, etc. are bringing in donuts, cookies, cakes, pizza, soft pretzels, etc. There have been years when I’ve been dieting, and it’s been hard to stay away from the food, but never would I make a fuss about people making a nice gesture. Instead, I kept a desk drawer with things like fruit, Skinnypop popcorn, etc. for when I felt the urge to snack. No one is responsible for you, but you.

        To me, it sounds like to boss wants to just do something nice for the employees.

        1. Ezri

          I intentionally don’t buy junk food very often, because I know I’ll have a bad day and just snarf ALL the things. But I am married to someone with a huge sweet tooth, and I can’t ban him from getting candy. I second your suggestion that OP keep healthy food at her desk to nibble when she gets the urge to snack. I just like the sensation of eating, and if I go for something healthy I tend to enjoy it just as much as I would candy. :)

          At the very least, I think OP can request that the snack basket be moved out of arms reach / line of sight, by saying something like ‘oh, I’m just enjoying it too much, it’s better for my diet if I have to walk to it’. If she’s polite about the request and isn’t asking to remove the basket completely, it shouldn’t offend a reasonable boss. If the boss in question isn’t reasonable this might not work, though.

      4. anonanonanon

        Me too. The very first company I worked at had a snack room and catered lunches every Friday, and that went out the door when people complained it was tempting their diet, which was disappointing (especially when the snack room had stuff like fruit and yogurt in addition to cookies and chips). Instead of getting rid of the junk food, they got rid of everything.

        I think the OP should ask for the basket to be moved from her area or to include some healthier snacks, but asking to get rid of it entirely will probably disappoint the people who do enjoy it. They shouldn’t be punished just because OP doesn’t want to eat the snacks.

        1. danr

          Maybe the basket could travel. Each week it can be on a different desk or outside a different office.

          1. socrescentfresh

            Maybe it could rotate “hosts” both in terms of who houses it on her desk and who stocks it. That way OP would get a chance to stock it with healthier options when it’s her turn, and when it’s not at least the basket wouldn’t be on her desk.

      5. Spooky

        Completely agree with Jen. OP is upset because the boss is doing something to lift morale? It’s not even like it’s freshly baked goods that smell delicious – it’s pre-packaged snacks! Learn to control your own diet and stop blaming other people for your lack of self-control.

        1. Rita

          I would agree, if the boss wasn’t then saying she can’t have the treats in her office because she ends up eating too much of them.

          1. INTP

            That was a weird thing to say, but it was a pretty unreasonable request in the first place – why in the world would the communal snack basket be in a private office where everyone has to feel awkward going to get them and the boss has to be interrupted, instead of in a more accessible area? (I’m assuming the OP is working in a cubicle, reception area, or other open area – if they are in OP’s private office, that’s a different issue.) I guess I could see myself feeling awkward because someone was talking about her weight and lack of willpower and saying that instead of trying to euphemize “They can’t be in my office because I don’t want them there and the other employees without eating problems want them to be reasonably accessible.”

        2. Not Myself

          Would it be unreasonable to ask the treat providing boss to stock some healthier options? Granola bars, fruit/fruit cups, stuff like that? The OP would have to still avoid the cake and such, but it’s easier to substitute than go totally without.

      6. The IT Manager

        I did get that vibe from the LW, but the boss was exuding that vibe too. “I want to give people treats, but can’t keep them in front of me because I will eat them.” The boss expressed the same sentiment as the LW , and then expressed zero empathy for her request.

        I oppose the idea that there should be no free snacks in the office because the LW can’t resist all day long. But I think that the LW has the right to request that they aren’t displayed in front of her unless she’s some sort of front desk/greeter/central point. If they are in front of her because that’s where the visitors/people wait, I recommend she try to remove the snacks from her line of sight.

      7. matcha123

        I agree with you and I’m kind of surprised that many people find the candy dish such a Terrible Thing. They can ask the boss to turn it into a fruit jar or to include healthier options. But, I’ve yet to work somewhere were a dish with treats wasn’t some where for the staff to use.

      8. Nervous Accountant

        Yes. I’m diabetic, and I’ve been trying to be VERY strict the last couple of months to control it, that includes getting healthy meals, taking my meds etc. Everyday, there’s a pack of snacks around (nuts, chips, sometimes chocolates etc) and drinks in the fridge. The company also frequently orders lunch or has parties, desserts, etc. I would never ever think of objecting against it….. our company is open to suggestions, but I’m pretty sure thats the extent of it.

        Also, maybe this is a stretch, but has it occurred to anyone that these free office snacks may be the only food the person gets to eat? I remember there was a post a few years ago about someone who was living off the cupcakes in the break room because they were on a tight budget. I don’t care if someone is being stingy or their budget is stretched extremely thin, I’d feel horrible being so vocal about taking away someone’s Possibly only meal.

        In short, my diet and preferences are my business, not anyone else’s.

        1. Nina

          I had a coworker who never went out to lunch, or brought any with him. Yet he would go to the 5 cent Runt machine and get candy daily, or constantly eat out of the communal candy jar. I got so irritated until a friend told me that those sweets may have been the only thing he had to eat all day. For all I know, it was. So it does happen.

      9. NK

        Huh, I didn’t read it that way at all, and I’m kind of shocked by the number of people who feel the same as you. From OP’s post I get the impression that it’s placed right in front of their desk, which sucks and is totally unnecessary at work. And OP also specified that other coworkers have similar concerns. If there are people who like the snacks, they can put it in front of their own desks. The fact that the boss won’t put the snacks in her own office because of diet concerns but insists on keeping them in close reach of others who have expressed concerns makes her a jerk. Asking to move a basket of goodies does not mean you want the world to revolve around your diet.

    1. MK

      I must say this sounds like a very baroque explanation of hidden motives and weird feelings on the manager’s part, when the only thing the woman did was provide her employees with snacks. Also, it makes nos sense to have the snack basket in her office, if it’s supposed to be available as a treat for the employees. And if she has to keep restocking it, that means they actually consume the snacks; it’s not crazy that the manager thinks they like it.

      Frankly, this comes down to numbers. How many people are there in the office and how many are included in the OP’s “we”? If it’s the OP and a couple of others who want the temptation removed in an office of 30, they need to deal with it (and yes, I know it’s hard, I just started dieting myself after putting a lot of weight in the last six months, but the world os full of tempting food and you can’t expect the world to diet along with you). If the majority wants the snacks gone or replaced with fruit, have a talk with the manager.

      One thing I agree the OP can reasonably address is the location of the basket. Unless there is a reason for it to be in front of the OP (like if it’s also for clients, so it’s lut in the lobby and the OP’s desk happens to face it), there shouldnt be any trouble to put it in a more out-of-the-way place.

      1. neverjaunty

        Well, taking the OP at her word, the boss decided on the snacks and refills it, it wasn’t something the employees asked for; the boss didn’t say ‘if the basket is in the office you guys can’t use it, she said ‘she can’t have the basket in her office because she’d end up eating too much’. It just seems very strange to me to scold the OP for being weak-willed when apparently it’s OK for her boss to be weak-willed about snacks she herself decided would be available, and the only difference is that the OP doesn’t have the power to dictate where the snacks live?

        1. Daisy

          But practically they can’t be traipsing in and out of the manager’s office every time they fancy a biscuit. Keeping it there seems like no kind of solution.

          1. neverjaunty

            The OP’s boss specifically told her the reason the basket could not be in Boss’s office is that it would be too tempting for Boss. Not “I can’t have people traipsing in and out”, not “then nobody will be able to get the snacks”. I’m not sure why people are reading in a fact that isn’t present.

        2. MK

          For the boss to have to refill the basket, it would have to be getting empty, which means people eat the snacks. And I doubt all the employees are being “weak-willed”; some at least are simply not dieting and like the snacks. If snacks just stood there gathering dust for weeks, the manager would forget the idea soon enough.

          Also, the boss didn’t scold anyone or called them weak-willed; it was the OP and some others who said this, and maybe suggested she keep it in her office, which, as Daisy says, is impractical. Frankly, if I provided office snacks and three people out of dozens came to me and told me they are on a diet and weak-willed, I wouldn’t think it reasonable to take away the treat from the whole office just to help them with their diet.

          1. Aknownymous

            Totally agree with all of this. It’s the responsibility of individual employees to choose what they do or do not eat, and asking to have the basket removed takes a nice perk away from the people who do want it there. I don’t have any good suggestions for resisting personal temptation, but you might ask if she would consider throwing some fruit or protein bars or some other healthier options into the mix, so there is something for everyone.

        3. Oh no not again

          It is strange that people are scolding the OP and not the boss, but I suspect some of the push back is rooted in fatphobia (yup, I said it). The assumption that people who can’t control themselves are one of “those people” or will become one of “those people” (fatties, which I happen to be one myself) is implied—I’m reading the same things here that I hear all the time from people who think we’re lazy and lack control. I’m a little cranky right now, I admit. Time to step away for a bit.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            I find it strange that people are scolding hte boss and not the OP! I dont’ see the fat-phobia here (and I am/have been overweight my entire life so I am familiar with it). It’s personal responsibility.

            1. fposte

              I find it strange that anybody’s being scolded here. Nobody’s behaving badly–they just want something different.

          2. Betsy

            Where does the OP say they’re fat? Not only that, but the OP pretty openly says they don’t want to become fat as a result. That’s fatphobia by definition.

    2. misspiggy

      I thought that too neverjaunty. The boss may well not be aware of what she’s doing. But if some people in the office like the snacks, all the OP can do is move the food so it’s not right in front of her.

    3. BRR

      Not really. It sounds like the boss had good intentions and depending on how often the boss needs to refill it, it might be sending a signal that people are enjoying it. I’ve also heard a lot of people say they should be watching what they eat/are on a diet but have never seen them actually doing this. Sort of like it’s mandatory to let people know so they will be perceived as wanting to be thinner (thanks society). This includes the food they bring in and the food they run out to grab for lunch. I think it’s easy to just not take it seriously when people say it.

      But I agree that they LW should ask for healthy snacks or to move the basket somewhere else. My last job had tons of junk food and somebody brought in a veggie tray, hummus, and cheese and crackers once. It was a huge hit and felt great to get a mid-afternoon boost from something nutritious.

    4. FiveWheels

      I just want to comment on the idea of healthy vs unhealthy snacks. No snack is healthy or unhealthy for everyone. I’m an athlete with a high calorie requirement, but I’m also naturally very skinny and without easy to eat, high calorie food I lose weight.

      In my working life I’ve had a constant stream if dieters who want to lose weight, see me eating high calorie food, and insist it’s terribly unhealthy and I need to stop eating it. These same people take frequent sick days whereas I have had none in years and I am healthier than them in every way.

      If my office provided free chocolate that would be great for me helping maintain my sporting weight, and if they replaced it with “healthier” fruit I’d feel like I was being punished.

      If the sweets are there people can eat or not eat. If they’re gone, they can’t eat. So why punish the people that can eat a sensible amount?

      1. ThatGirl

        I don’t think most foods should have guilt or bad feelings associated with them – individual diets, preferences, etc vary. Nobody should be lecturing you on your eating habits. And you shouldn’t lecture anyone else, either.

        But. I totally sympathize with the OP – I sometimes have problems keeping my willpower going, and at home I keep treats and higher-calorie snacks to a minimum. It is very easy to mindlessly grab snacks when they are right in front of you.

        If there were a place easily accessible to everyone that was not directly in front of the OP, or any one person, I feel like that would be a better place for the snack basket. Or perhaps things like popcorn and fruit could be added/mixed in with some of the higher-fat/calorie options.

        1. simonthegrey

          Studies have shown that every time you exercise your willpower, you deplete it and make it harder to exercise it next time – kind of like a mana pool in a game. So if you walk in the break room five times, eye the donut, and don’t take it, on the sixth time you may take two donuts because willpower isn’t infinite. Also, if you withstood temptation all day to eat the candy bar in front of you, you may be more likely to grab unhealthy food on the way home. Link in next comment.

          1. ThatGirl

            Thank you, yes, this is helpful too – I’ve certainly noticed it myself (finally giving in to the cookie) but I didn’t realize it was an established phenomenon. :)

          2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            This is amazing! Thank you for sharing!

            My friends and I were *just* having a discussion about this!

      2. Observer

        Because your situation is exceptional. There are some foods that really are generally not healthy – even in small amounts. It turns out that bitter-sweet chocolate is not of them, but most foods that are very high in fat, high is simple sugars or processed starches or high in salt are best avoided even in “sensible” amounts, for most people. So, if people are asking for “healthier” food, it makes sense to provide that which meets the broadest need.

        And, yes, no one should be getting in your face about what you eat.

      3. Ad Astra

        I agree that people often label foods “unhealthy” when it would be more accurate to say “high in calories,” and of course many foods that people label “healthy” are actually pretty high in carbs and sugar, which isn’t a good choice for some people. Even food that is straight-up bad for you, with all kinds of weird chemicals and no nutritional value, isn’t evil. I really hate when people assign morality to food choices.

        That said, would choices like fruit or nuts really feel like a “punishment” just because they’re lower in calories?

        1. FiveWheels

          No, and I usually have fruit (and chocolate) at my desk every day. The punishment wouldn’t be giving me fruit,which I also love – it would be taking away my chocolate, especially on nonsense grounds of health.

          For the record I absolutely sympathise with the OP, it is very tough to have to resist something in front of you… My only objection is couching these things in terms of health as opposed to preference.

        2. The Other Alice

          The fruit thing is a personal bugbear of mine: I’ve got IBS and can only tolerate limited amounts of fibre in my diet. A doctor literally told me to stop eating fruit and veg! So it really sucks when people are all ‘replace the carbs with a HEALTHY snack’ because, as above, healthy isn’t the same thing for everyone. For me, pretzels and biscuits are way healthier than an apple!

          That said, if someone is providing free treats out of the goodness of their hearts? I don’t complain about the nature of the treats, even if I can’t eat them. I might ask they be moved (if I have to smell delicious peanuts all day when I can’t eat them anymore I’ll cry) but it would be presumptive to ask they be removed.

    5. AndersonDarling

      I worked at a place where the candy basket was successfully changed to a healthy basket. They ordered sacks of tiny apples or tiny oranges depending on the season. I didn’t think it would work cause I’m a candy hog, but it actually went over well. People were happy to eat the apples and would complain when they were gone.

    6. Kristine

      Yes, I got a very weird vibe from this post, but then again I had a boss who had sugary desserts as a “team building” activity and questioned you if you did not eat them. Concerned for my health, I began to not eat them despite the peer pressure, which ratcheted up absurdly. Sugar can be considered a drug; it is addictive.
      1. OP’s boss may want to consider that some people have diabetes and may not exert willpower when their blood sugar is low.
      2. Sugar also exacerbates the symptoms of menopause in some women.
      3. Since this basket is in the OP’s face, I think it’s fair game to move it – or to EMPTY it into a bag, hide the bag, and make loud remarks like, “Mmmm, great candy!” A couple days of emptying and hiding, and the basket may even disappear altogether.

      1. LizzieB

        I mean, if their blood sugar is low they should be eating some candy. I don’t see a problem. An office candy dish has saved my brother from many a low.

        Menopausal women are also capable of exercising will power.

        What is the problem with just expecting adults to have some self control?

        1. ThatGirl

          What is the problem with having some sympathy? Everyone deals with their vices and habits differently. Some people can ignore tasty treats right in front of them, for others it’s harder. Would you put airplane bottles of booze in front of an alcoholic and then mock their lack of “self-control”?

          1. Kristine

            My former boss referenced above (she really was a weirdo) would yell out in front of everyone if I didn’t indulge in the “team building” dessert, “And you’re not participating WHY?” Cue the dirty looks. Yes, I was exercising self-control – in fact, I have now given up sugar forever. But the experience was just awful. The “team building” turned into a dessert one-upmanship, too. My former keeps popping up on LinkedIn, and I really never want to see her again! :-D

      2. anonanonanon

        Number 3 comes off as very petty and passive aggressive and I don’t think that would end up going over well with a lot of people in the office. Resorting to childish behavior where someone empties a bag and hides it so no one else can eat the food in it might end up causing more problems, not to mention make the OP’s coworkers view her poorly. I know I’d be raising an eyebrow if someone else in my office did it.

      3. Nonnie

        I’m kind of bothered that you would say that people with diabetes “may not exert willpower” when their blood sugar is low. Hypoglycemia is actually pretty unhealthy, and getting your blood sugar back into the normal range quickly is important. That’s not about “not exerting willpower” that’s managing a medical problem.

    7. ginger ale for all

      One of my recent bosses bought the department a Keurig and would then bring in a variety of k cups for everyone. Talk about a home run for everyone! Perhaps you can lobby for a basket of k cups?

    8. Stranger than fiction

      Yes, I did. But the fact that she said she doesn’t want it in her office due to the temptation should make it all the easier for the Op to say “neither do I”. And if boss insists on feeding everyone (isn’t that a ‘thing’? that some people like to feed others?) replace the chips and cookies with granola bars, 100-calorie packs, trail mix, and stuff like that.

    9. Anonymous Ninja

      “The boss unilaterally decides the office needs snacks to make people ‘happier’, although there is already a vending machine; the snack are all unhealthy, high-calorie treats; the boss doesn’t want the basket in her office because she’s watching her weight and wants to resist temptation”

      I thought this, too, but based on the other comments, I feel this needs to be put into context. Feeding unhealthy foods to other people while depriving yourself of them is something some people with EDs do. I’m not diagnosing the boss or OP or anyone else, but I had an ED so that’s why my first thought was that the boss was pushing junk food as opposed to just being nice. Obviously we don’t know her actual intentions, but I just wanted to shed light on why some people may think that (even if it is untrue).

      1. Ad Astra

        Everyone I’ve ever known with an eating disorder was big into baking and always brought treats to everything. I think some of them found sweets less threatening than, say, a slice of pizza or a cheeseburger. A brownie is pretty low in calories if it’s the only thing you eat all day.

    10. Three Thousand

      Either Boss is completely clueless, or she is doing that weird thing of “I can’t have these treats so I’ll push them on everyone else” that some people do when they diet.

      I think this is probably it, and I sympathize with the motivation, even though I don’t think the behavior is particularly helpful. There is a real psychological satisfaction in providing food for others even when you don’t eat it yourself.

      1. Mephyle

        Some people (who are trying to diet) also get satisfaction from feeling “better” than others who “give in” to their cravings. They even promote it by offering food to fellow dieters. I’m not pushing that forward as what’s happening here, necessarily, but noting that nothing we have been told in the letter rules it out.

    11. OP #1

      Thank you, everyone for all these comments! I’m the OP for #1. I didn’t really explain well. Yes, some people do enjoy the snacks, of course. I was speaking more about those of us in very close proximity to the snacks who don’t like it (when we hear someone grab chips, it reminds us there’s chips for example!) I don’t want to banish snacks from the office. In fact, I should mention that there are more snack baskets throughout our large office. The difference is the location. Not just because this particular snack basket is in front of me, but also because it’s not monitored. When someone has a bowl of chocolate at their desk (and I LOVE chocolate), there’s accountability when they see you take the candy. So I actually avoid all the other snacks, even the leftover doughnuts, pizza, or bagels that make it to the communal kitchen. To answer some of your questions, no I do not have an eating disorder. But I’m a stress eater (oh dear, is that a disorder? I’m going to go with no) and my work is stressful. So when I have a frustrating email or phone call at my desk (and there are so many of those), what do I do? Grab some candy and snacks. I actually took some advice from here today. The boss wasn’t here so I told a coworker we should move the basket just far enough away that we can’t see it, but that it’s still in our department’s area. We did just that. It’s out of the boss’ line of sight now, so we’ll see if she moves it back. If she does, I’ll politely request to keep it where we put it and perhaps say it’s near the copier now so more people can enjoy.

      1. OP #1

        And now I am realizing that the header for this is called “I want to get rid of the office snack basket,” which aren’t my words. Although I didn’t specify what I wanted. And it’s really one of several office baskets; just the one in my department closest to me that’s the problem.

      2. DMented Kitty

        I think moving the snack basket to a “neutral territory” within your department is a good first move. This was the first solution that came to mind if I was you. I hope your boss understands it.

  6. FTW

    For #5, keep in mind that the career services office might not be able to pull bad cover letters and resumes, and has to submit them. I experienced the same thing when I started to work at my current firm and helped with recruiting. It made me really frustrated.

    The challenge for my school is that they offer tons of very good (AAM would be proud) sessions on writing cover letters and resumes, networking, and interviewing. You have to live in a hole to avoid them… But, of course, some people don’t think they need them or go and don’t listen. These are try the few that show up and make you want to weep. For the school, at a certain point, there is only do much they can do. I mean, these are adults that are choosing not to help themselves. I’ve learned to let it go and thank these students for making my life easier as I shirt through resumes.

    All the that to say I would assess if you are looking at a few bad eggs vs a career center that needs to step up its game, and adjust your message to the school accordingly.

    1. Law School Conundrum

      There are all these articles and studies out there right now about law schools lowering their acceptance standards just to meet the enrollment numbers they need. So, when you went to law school a few years ago the standards, even for your own alma mater (I don’t know where you went so this could be irrelevant – top tier schools haven’t had to lower their standards, but the mid-to-lower-tier schools have) may have been higher. Therefore, the Career services department might be used to sending resumes over that they don’t even HAVE to worry about checking over.
      Basically, Career Services may not have realized that quality of many of the candidates are slipping. I’m sure there are still some really qualified candidates in there, but it might be a good idea to just tell the Career Services to double check before sending over. This type of situation – where the reputation of law schools as a whole is suffering (I’m a grad of 2011) – is only going to be perpetuated if the Career Services department sends you and other employers crappy resumes. There are more law grads than entry-level law jobs, and law schools are getting a bad rap for lowering their standards. But they are lowering their standards! My Alma Mater’s avg LSAT score has gone down a lot since my incoming year, the avg. starting salary has gone down for grads, and many other terrible stats.
      So, do the Career Services department a favor and tell them. They may just not have caught up yet, since each year the standards dip a little lower, so each year’s grads are a little worse than the year prior, they just might not have realized it yet.

      1. themmases

        This is what I thought too reading the letter. Standards at many sch have been lowered because there are fewer applicants overall and according to my reading fewer of them are qualified. Law school has gotten extremely expensive, even at lower tier schools, even as the public becomes aware that career outcomes for many law school grads aren’t good. People with options don’t apply or attend unless they get in somewhere great, or being a lawyer is their #1 career choice. Other schools lower their standards to fill their classes.

        The person I read on this topic from time to time is Paul Campos. He has several pieces where he tracks falling median LSAT scores and at many schools, the median is a score that might have disqualified an applicant in the past.

        1. Ad Astra

          Out of curiosity, do the lawyers of AAM think the lower admissions standards are actually leading to less qualified job applicants? Theoretically, someone with a lower LSAT might still rock it in law school and be an excellent choice for an entry-level job. But in practice, is there a strong correlation between LSAT scores and career success? I’ve known a lot of people with great credentials who were surprisingly incompetent and a lot of people with middling or unimpressive credentials who were surprisingly talented, but does that happen much in law?

          1. Busy

            I can’t comment on the LSAT directly because as an employer, we don’t really see that, but I can comment that students that went to middle-ranked schools (which would require a lower LSAT) seem to produce much better lawyers. Those students have the hustle I look for. It definitely isn’t universal – we’ve had some incredible students from Ivy League schools – but I’ve noticed a trend that the Top 14 students, and even some top 25 law school students don’t have that drive to do independent thinking; they want someone to tell them exactly what to do, and they tend to put in minimal work with the greatest expectations (i.e., highest bonus, lockstep, etc. … basically don’t recognize that the legal profession has changed and things are way different than they were in 2005 — much less scotch drinking and golf-playing, much more doc review). The middle ranked schools (somewhere around the 25-75 ranking – I can’t comment on lower than that, as my firm/company has qualification cutoffs) seem to produce students that work their butts off to produce good work product and don’t have attitude. They put their heads down and work and have much more realistic expectations about what is expected from them when practicing law. They also seem to be more plug and play. Now that I’m hiring and have limited resources, I specifically target students at the top of their class in that 25-75 range because I know that if I extend an offer, they’re more likely to accept, and I’m more likely to get a plug and play attorney for my team who can come in and draft and review contracts without me having to explain what an indemnification clause is (and how a vendor might try to stick it to us).

            Just my two cents!

          2. Anon Lawyer

            The issue is less about qualified applicants in the normal sense and more about failure to pass the bar exam. The entity that is responsible for the LSAT has data that shows LSAT scores in certain ranges correlate with bar passage rates, and the lower the LSAT, the lower the passage rate (in general). And without passing the bar, you obviously can’t be a fully-fledged attorney. This is true far more for the lower-tier and for-profit schools, and particularly true for the law schools here in California that are either not accredited by the ABA but accredited by the state or that are completely unaccredited.

          3. LawPancake

            I think talent in the law profession is measured more by the ability to bring in clients than by any kind of intellectual ability. One of my professor’s had a saying about law school performance versus career success: those who get A’s become law professors, those who get B’s become judges, those who get C’s become lawyers, and those who get D’s get rich.

            1. FiveWheels

              The ability to bring in clients is only one part of good lawyering… You can bring in all the best clients but if you and your underlings do s terrible job they’ll be gone soon.

          4. FiveWheels

            I’m in a different jurisdiction, but in my experience there is no correlation between academic achievement and quality of lawyering. Good lawyering needs an eye for detail, lateral thinking, the ability to think on your feet, and crucially you need to know when you don’t know something and convincingly bluff your way through until you find out. You also need financial instincts because the cases that make your heart sing don’t necessarily pay your firm’s utility bills. You need to be dispassionate without clients realising. None of that is necessarily taught in law school.

            Fundamentally I find the people who do well love law, even the boring bits. The people who become lawyers because they think it’s s good job for clever people, or think it will make them money, crash and burn.

    2. Snargulfuss

      Yes, Career Services offices are ethically bound to pass along any application that meets the employer’s qualifications. They can’t just look through a stack of applications and only pass along the best ones or screen out resumes that are poorly written. Career Services offices that serve small student populations may have the time to take a look at the applications and encourage a student to improve her resume/cover letter before submission, but most don’t have the bandwidth to do that pro-actively; they encourage the students to take initiative in coming for resume reviews before submitting an application.

      1. F.

        I would rather see a cover letter/resume that reflects the candidate’s actual writing skills than one that has been professionally rewritten to a level that does nor reflect the candidate’s actual abilities. It is not a problem with Career Services so much as it is with an entire educational system (primary through post-secondary) that does not teach students how to communicate effectively in writing.

    3. Busy

      To add another perspective, I’m pretty involved with my law school (and do a bit of hiring myself), and any time I see something egregious or notice a trend, I’ll call the career services folks, let them know what’s up, then send an email that they can use as a “testimonial from a hiring attorney” to show the students that they’re not talking out of their rears when they make resume/interviewing suggestions.

      If I get a candidate whose resume or CL is in poor shape, or if she commits a serious interviewing mistake (telling me she’d only work for me if she didn’t get an offer from a better firm (!) or that she has no desire to work in my states (!!) unless she have to), I make sure to pass that on because I want these kids to get hired even if they just inadvertently insulted the crap out of me and my company; most of them just don’t know better or haven’t had reality bite them in the butt yet.

      Career services then passes the feedback on; they tend to be pretty appreciative of concrete evidence of their suggestions in action so long as you’re presenting it as feedback to help the students and not “wow, you need to do a better job.” YMMV – I went to a pretty small school with a very engaged alumni base – but if you’re seeing a trend, they may really appreciate that testimonial email!

  7. Merry and Bright

    The other day there was a post about “having” to sign office birthday cards when you don’t really want to. But being asked to fork out for gifts for people you hardly know is on a different plane altogether. I’ve come across this plenty of times and it can get awkward. Sometimes the organiser will even tell you “everyone is putting in £××”! I will politely decline if that’s the case unless it is a close coworker. Otherwise I will put in a nominal amount, write my best wishes in the card and pass on. But to have present cliques and expect outsiders to chip in when it suits you is so bad.

    I suppose a charitable take on this could be that if you normally work remotely it could just be a case of out of sight and out of mind. But there’s never much harm in being on Jerk Alert. After all, if most of the others are in the same family and social networks, why not just arrange the showers and parties outside work, at the weekend for example?

  8. Ultraviolet

    #1 (snack basket) – Did you explicitly tell your boss that you’d rather the basket be somewhere else? It’s not clear to me from your summary whether you said that directly, and I wonder if there’s any chance your boss thought that you and your coworkers were just commiserating about diets and how tempting junk food can be rather than actually asking for a change. It’s really common for people to complain/joke along those lines even when they’re actually mostly happy with what they’re eating, and I think many people will mistakenly believe that’s what you’re doing unless you’re very clear about truly advocating a change.

    Either way, one possible solution is to find a coworker who likes the snacks and whose work space is approximately as central as yours, and ask if they’d mind having the snacks in their area instead. If no one is happy to have the snacks right at their desk, then it would probably make sense to propose that your boss provide a different snack or different perk altogether. I really recommend approaching it all from the premise that your boss is trying to do something nice though.

      1. Anon Accountant

        Yes! To make it more “accessible” for staff and so they will be more likely to grab a snack if they choose. Because if they want a snack but see the LW is on a conference call or doing a training webinar or something they may not be likely to take one. Some similar wording to the boss about moving it and would make it more about ensuring others have greater access to it to enjoy it.

        1. fposte

          Not just moving it, where it would be moved to. The OP needs to offer the solution and not just the problem.

    1. Nikki T

      Is there any reason why the OP just doesn’t move the basket? I’m not sure it would even occur to me to ask if there was a better place for it. Unless she knows her boss would get her undies in a bunch just because the basket was moved.

      Is it an open basket? Can you get a new basket with a lid?

      1. Ultraviolet

        From my first reading of the letter, I just had the feeling that there wasn’t anywhere to put it except at someone’s desk. But now that seems unlikely to me. Even if there’s no actual kitchen area, they could try putting it by the vending machine, or a copy/fax, or right by the door.

        Still, the thing I like about putting it at the desk of someone who’s happy to have it is that it keeps things positive. “It turns out it’s even better when the snacks are at Jane’s desk!”

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I wonder if there’s any chance your boss thought that you and your coworkers were just commiserating about diets and how tempting junk food can be rather than actually asking for a change. It’s really common for people to complain/joke along those lines even when they’re actually mostly happy with what they’re eating

      I’m trying to find it, but there was a really interesting article at the rate women say this before eating dessert or treats and the reasoning was around being socially acceptable.

      I agree with everyone who is saying to come up with a “better” place for the treat basket!

  9. hamster

    #2 Can t you just alter/taylor the tshirt? It is a fairly simple alteration, or one that can be done at drycleaners office

      1. Blurgle

        Replying to myself: I would be shocked if tailoring the $10 T-shirt cost one penny less than $35.

        1. nofelix

          It was a free shirt in the first place. More importantly, is the result worth $35, and is sorting it out another way going to mean more than $35 ‘worth’ of hassle?

        2. Sarahnova

          If she has to wear it, though, it’s an option she may prefer to wearing it as-is. If it’s a t-shirt, it’s probably also something she can do herself at home with the help of online tutorials. She shouldn’t have to, no, but ideal world etc.

          1. The IT Manager

            I don’t think it’s as easy as you make it sound. I tried to alter some t-shirts. Fortunately they were unimportant because all of them of the came out looking like a crafting failure. They wouldn’t look professional.

            1. Sarahnova

              To be fair, I haven’t tried it myself. I guess it’s just that the online tutorials make it look easy :)

              Either way, it is an option, which like all of them has certain trade-offs.

            2. Turtle Candle

              Yeah. I can take up a hem or sew a button back on, but my attempts to do things like even slightly more complicated alterations have universally resulted in failure. Even with tutorials, it does take a bit of practice and manual dexterity (and sometimes tools that you may not have).

          1. KathyGeiss

            I think that’s a false dichotomy. I think the third option is to push back and ask for an appropriately sized shirt. I sometimes have to order shirts for a team dominated by men. Just because there are only a few women doesn’t mean I get them ill-fitting shirts.

            1. Colette

              I think it depends whether it’s something she has to wear regularly, or whether it’s something she wears a couple of times. There is a price to pushing back, and it may not be worth paying. Someone knew her correct size and decided to order a different one. If it’s a uniform shirt she wears daily, by all means she should ask for a different size, but if it’s not, it may not be worth making waves.

              I mean, they should have ordered a shirt that would fit, but they had reasons for not doing so, whether they were budgetary or sheer laziness.

        3. Artemesia

          If it is about the logo then cut out the logo and sew it on a smaller shirt that fits. Yeah, sucks. It would be better if shirts were ordered that fit — but it would be cheaper probably to buy a cheap women’s shirt that fits and sew on the logo and would probably not look worse than a floppy ill fitting shirt. You could even make a pin out of the logo and pin it on another shirt.

      2. BRR

        For a point of reference I’ve had my shirts tailored for $15 each.

        But anyways if it can be expensed I say do it. Might be the simplest solution.

        1. dancer

          It’s significantly pricier if it’s not just a slimming alteration, which is likely if it’s a men’s shirt. For narrowing the shoulders, I’ve been quoted something like $50-$60. The tailor may even refuse to do it because it’s a lot of work.

    1. John

      Shrink the shirt. You can find plenty of instructions on the internet about how to do that at home. Worst case scenario it ends up too small and they have to issue a new one.

      1. Sarahnova

        The problem isn’t that the shirt is too big all over. The problem is that the proportions of a men’s fit are totally different to a woman’s. Even if she could shrink it adequately, the fit would then probably be worse.

      2. Kelly L.

        Oooh, now that’s a good call, and a cheap fix. (Sometimes they’ll even shrink on the first wash without you even doing anything to them, if they’re not preshrunk.)

  10. De (Germany)

    “Instead, it’s right in front of me. I’ve even told her I’m supposed to be on a diet”

    Can’t it be somewhere that isn’t her office and also not “right in front of” you? The kitchen or someone else’s desk? (I am assuming you actually mean the “right in front” of you literally, though).

    And don’t say you are *supposed to be* on a diet – that’s way too weak and I’d just interpret it as a “I really shouldn’t eat that *wink*”. Say that you are dieting.

    1. Anony Today

      OP, as someone with serious food issues myself, a little trick I do in my own mind is to pretend that there is something “wrong” with the items. e.g., stale, fell on the floor, whatever your preference. It helps me quite a bit. Good luck – I’m pulling for you :-)!

  11. nofelix

    I’m surprised Alison’s advice is to leave off the non-core duties from a CV. Surely they demonstrate things relevant to an employer’s needs, such as reliability and flexibility? Facilities management is a valuable set of skills, as is procurement and strategic planning. To me, the OP sounds already like someone who is more dependable than someone without these duties. Colour me confused.

    1. The Bimmer Guy

      Well, Alison didn’t strictly say to leave off core-duties. She just said that some of those things might strengthen the OP’s candidacy; others just look like chores that someone has to do around the office, and would be filler. Climate-control management probably has no business on a resume (anyone could manage a thermostat). But the writing/editing and the coordinating charity drives might be useful, especially if those duties directly relate to the new position for which the OP is applying.

    2. BRR

      I think it’s part of the overarching advice of tailor your resume to the position and that you should try to list accomplishments instead of duties. If you’re trying to show reliability and flexibility, these duties can perhaps be brought up in the cover letter.

    3. LSCO

      Thing is, it depends on what jobs the OP is applying to. If she is applying for a facilities management position then yes, including climate control may be a good idea (and in many offices it’s not just a thermostat – I know in my building it’s a complex system combining AC and heaters, different timings etc), and it may be better to leave out the writing & editing. However, if the OP is applying for writing & editing jobs, the climate control is not going to be relevant.

      Additionally, the OP mentioned “duties” on her CV, rather than achievements (something I thought Alison would pick up on). If the OP organised a highly successful charity drive for hundreds of employees and raised several thousand dollars then that could be highlighted as an achievement if the OP is applying for relevant jobs. But if the charity drive was just OP going round the 20 people in her office asking for donations then it’s not so impressive.

      Ultimately, the OP needs to focus on the achievements which are in her field. The odd jobs she does will no doubt help in terms of good references, but don’t really strengthen her candidacy and could come across as unfocussed.

      1. the gold digger

        including climate control may be a good idea

        Especially if she could say something like, “Maintained a building temperature that kept 20 women and 160 men happy.”

    4. LBK

      When you’re working with limited resume space, something has to go. I wouldn’t try to cram on skills that aren’t directly related just for the sake of “looking flexible” when the trade off is either having a jam-packed resume that’s hard to read or leaving off other, more relevant experience somewhere else. I agree with BRR, too, that you can add a line in your cover letter like “In addition to the main duties listed on my resume, I’ve been tapped to help out in Teapots Payable and Chocolate Testing, plus covering miscellaneous duties like x, y and z.”

    5. OP4 today

      I maybe should have been clearer in the letter, but yes it is a pretty specialized climate system, for a large storage facility where we maintain different microclimates in different areas. I still only spend maybe an hour per month checking up on things, but yes, relevant to the field.

      Thanks for the comments!

    6. Ad Astra

      Reliability and flexibility are good traits, but someone who’s skimming a resume is looking for more specific, harder-to-find skills. The most dependable person in the world is still useless to a hiring manager if they don’t have the skills and knowledge to do the job. If something like facilities management is in any way relevant to the jobs OP is applying for, it might make sense to include those duties. If it’s irrelevant, it won’t strengthen her application.

  12. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

    #2 make my heart hurt and my head explode at the same time.

    This is a business I might know a little something about . O.o

    For the love of all that is holy: there’s a reason there’s a men’s and women’s section in stores. The corporate clothing suppliers (designers and mills) caught onto this 10 to 15 years ago now, and, in corporate clothing you have to look long and hard to even find a style that doesn’t have a male and a female version!

    I don’t care if your budget is $15 a shirt or $150 for a jacket, there is a male and a female version right there!

    True story, we’re doing a massive rollout of you know, teapots, as above, which I’m personally heading up. About 6 months into the merchandising and we started rolling out to customers about a month and a half ago. Lots of buzz, excitement, leading with the whole women’s friendly part. An existing customer (female) calls a rep and whines “where’s all your unisex teapots? Everything says “mens” and “womens”. That’s way too much work for me to count up how many women and men I have to buy for.”

    Rep comes to me. After I pull myself out of the facial contortions, I say “Would you please tell the woman that there is no such thing as unisex. Anybody calling their stuff unisex is taking a piece made for a man and labeling it that. If she wants to buy unisex teapots, she can buy her man’s teapots elsewhere.” (And then of course with a dramatic flair I told the rep to tell her to never call here again and “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” and blah blah but I wasn’t reallllllllllly serious about that part. Unless I’d been on the phone myself.)

    Summary: all of the choices needed for everybody to be happy exist. Also, lazy people exist. And no soup for them.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Also, to be pedantic, the OP needs an XS, not an S, if she’s a 0. XS is available in virtually every women’s piece that’s made. A good piece comes in sizes XS to at least 2XL.

      1. Not me

        +1

        A men’s XS can work for a women’s S (especially if you’re tall), but OP does actually need women’s XS.

    2. Not Today Satan

      The “men’s=unisex” thing is such a blatant example of our androcentric culture. Men = default humans, women = some weird subset of humanity. Blech.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        Right? And besides that, it’s unflattering and ugly!

        Yeah it’s my little mini social crusade in the midst of my Capitalist Endeavors.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

            You’ll like this even better, *true story*.

            I’m buidling the entire (pretty massive) product line, women first. Every group that we merchandise, we pick all of the women’s styles FIRST. And then we add the men’s styles that compliment the women’s.

            Big old finger in the eye to you, Mr. Corporate World. Boobs exist!

            :p

            (Good Lord that could be the tagline for this rollout: Because Boobs Exist.)

            1. Mike C.

              Considering that I can buy clothes just by looking for three numbers, I’m surprised this isn’t normal.

              1. Anx

                I think the biggest different between men’s and women’s sizing is that since most men’s clothing is sized by dimensions of the garment whereas women’s clothing is assigned an arbitrary number (although some brands give a waist size instead that I’m still trying to learn), women’s sizes seem to be based on labeling the body a certain number. Men’s sizes are about the garment.

                1. Isben Takes Tea

                  Wow, that is SO TRUE! I’ve never thought about it like that before, but it explains why the men in my life are never as aggravated about clothes shopping. Sure, they might have trouble finding something in their size, but they can at least tell that from the rack, not after trying things on.

                2. Kelly L.

                  Yes! And men (in general) aren’t made to think they’re the problem when stuff doesn’t fit, the clothes are.

                  It’s even in the vocabulary people use. “I’m a size 18” vs. “I wear/take a 42 waist.”

                3. Liz

                  An arbitrary number which not only changes from brand to brand but also changes over time and even occasionally within colors of the same item *on sale at the same time*. Which is why I have pants and skirts labeled with sizes from 8-14 in my wardrobe.

                  And men wonder why it takes us so long to buy clothes…

                4. Shell

                  Yes, this.

                  I swear shopping, manufacturing, and everything else to do with clothes* would be easier if they just switched to empirical dimensions. Inseam is X inches long. Sleeves are Y inches long. Bust is Z, hem is A. Life would be so much easier.

                  *with the possible exception of marketing, because then you’d have solid numbers to compare against other sizes/other people’s choices

            2. Blue Anne

              Wonderful. Please use that tagline. Myself and all of my friends will buy all of your products.

            3. Meg Murry

              I love that tagline, I would buy shirts from you! We now buy from Land’s End so we can get a range of sizes/styles, but they are super expensive for what you get sometimes. After the guys picked out a bunch of styles with no corresponding women’s option (or at least, not one that would work on the women in our office which range from XS to 2XL), the boss has agreed to either let us all pick our own colors and styles within a loose framework (i.e. something with a collar and in a light color so our logo works on it) or let the women pick out styles first – because there is almost always something similar for men (except for a handful of really feminine styles) but not vice versa.

              Or for something less in your face, a more generic line might be “because your employees come in all shapes and sizes” or “because not everyone is shaped like this” with an exaggerated drawing of a person with a rectangular body (maybe something like the men’s restroom symbol).

              1. blackcat

                I totally just googled “boob teapot” and was surprised that a) other people are looking for these and yet b) there are surprisingly few options of boob-shaped teapots given the number of people asking about them.

        1. Rita

          For me, I don’t really like women’s t-shirts, though I imagine I’m a (rare?) exception. I find that usually men’s mediums look and fit much better on me than a woman’s XL. I wonder if it’s because I’m apple shaped without a lot of size difference between bust, waist, and hip. Just t-shirts though – polos, jackets, etc. I always go with a women’s fit.

      2. Blue Anne

        Yes. I’m reminded of how a lot of drugs have “weird” results/side effects on women because our hormones aren’t accounted for during the trials. (I think it was recently found that ecstasy is more dangerous for women than previously realized for this reason.) Because it’s assumed that Basic Human is male. And society/science/commerce proceeds on that basis.

        T-shirts and ecstasy, man. I just want some that fit my chest and my estrogen.

        1. blackcat

          And because of that assumption, the basic *lab mouse* is male.

          The NIH is now requiring proposals that use lab mice & rats to do trials on both male and female mice. This makes me happy.

          I have, on several occasions, annoyed doctors because I ask about scaling dosages down. I have said, repeatedly, “I’m sure this medication is designed for a 180lb male. I am half that size. What dose would you give a 12 year old of my weight?” and yet some doctors just have actually not understood my point! This isn’t even about men and women being affected differently, and I know plenty of people suffer on the other end of the spectrum–drugs don’t work because they aren’t getting a high enough dose.

          Lazy T-shirt orderers, I understand. Lazy medication prescribers? Hell no.

          1. Blue Anne

            That’s an excellent thing to ask about. Hm. I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m at the doctor…

            1. blackcat

              I make it a policy to always ask. And it’s easy for me to frame it as “What would you give a 12 year old of my weight?” because if I get push back from the doctor (“But you’re an adult, so an adult dose is appropriate.”), I can plainly state, “I am the same height, weight, and shape as when I was twelve.” I was a tall, developed 12 year old.

              Relatedly, I got my old employer to start ordering child sizes shirts for the petite women. The “women’s” shirts cost more than the mens, but the child sizes cost less and so it was an “easier” argument to win. So at least I got a shirt that was the right size, if not the right shape.

          2. Meg Murry

            Yes, I don’t understand why the exact same dosage is given to my 95 lb MIL as my 300+ lb FIL, as if they are going to metabolize that drug exactly the same way. And even weight isn’t an exact measure, as some drugs metabolize very differently in people with more or less body fat vs muscle.

            1. Bostonian

              This is so true. We all take for granted that some people can drink 5 cups of coffee a day and not be bothered and others (like me) get jittery from a single cup of tea, and that some people can drink 4 or 5 beers and feel kinda buzzed while others (me again!) feel pretty tipsy after 1 or 2. I really don’t understand why it isn’t a much bigger part of the conversation around medication. Even over-the-counter stuff: under a certain age, children’s tylenol and ibuprofen dosing is weight-based, but then it levels out to all adults having the same recommended dose.

              1. simonthegrey

                Not to mention birth control, which may be less effective if you are heavier, and yet everyone receives essentially the same dosages.

                1. Blue Anne

                  Yup. I have two more small family members than were originally expected, probably because of oral contraceptives taken by my hefty cousins.

          3. Student

            Absolutely. I just take half-doses for many medications, especially things like painkillers. I do not need the full, 180-pound male dose!

          1. Anx

            Oh my goodness yes!

            For all the size adjustments on those things, I still can’t fit on some of them, and I’m hardly petite (5’5″, 125 lbs). I have to strain to reach, or sometimes I’m not being supported by the equipment where I really should be.

            Also, big chairs and sofas. I would love a sofa that isn’t so deep. I would love to be able to lean back on a couch and actually use the back cushions while bending my knees.

            1. Kate M

              Oh my gosh yes. And sitting in a chair for long periods of time where your feet don’t touch the ground (coming from a 4’11.5″ woman) is THE most uncomfortable thing. I was stuck on a bus for 5 hours this past weekend in a seat where my feet didn’t touch the ground. My legs were aching by the time I got off.

              1. Chinook

                “And sitting in a chair for long periods of time where your feet don’t touch the ground (coming from a 4’11.5″ woman) is THE most uncomfortable thing. I was stuck on a bus for 5 hours this past weekend in a seat where my feet didn’t touch the ground.”

                I am glad I am not alone. I am 5’6″ but “tall in the saddle” and have short legs. I know which seats on the commuter bus allow me to touch the ground and which don’t. Sitting on a plane is excruciating because my feet literally don’t touch the floor and when I did pay for the fancy seats with foot rests, I was required to put it away during take off and landing for safety. Really? How is having my feet not being anchored more safe?

          2. UK Nerd

            If you haven’t already, try free weights. The machines are ergonomically designed for the average male gym user (which I am not), but dumbbells and barbells fit everyone.

            1. bearing

              Unless they have a squat rack with a fixed lower safety bar height instead of a proper, adjustable squat cage, in which case a short person cannot squat down through a full range of movement without leaving the barbell behind, four inches above the short person’s shoulders.

        2. Hlyssande

          The lack of research into how medications affect women rather than men is disgusting.

          But on top of that, how many diseases and conditions have only been researched in men? As a stellar example, heart attacks. They present almost completely differently in women and that only came to light recently.

          1. The Other Alice

            Oh, and only researched in white men too. We’re terrible at remembering that race affects disease.

            For example, the HPV vaccine turns out to be less effective in black women and girls. Why? Because they tend to carry different strains of HPV which aren’t affected by the vaccine. Drug company didn’t think to be sure their trial participants were racially diverse.

        3. xarcady

          And seat belts were tested on the “average” height man, I think 5′ 9″. Which is why on older cars without adjustable shoulder harnesses, a fair number of women had the shoulder belt come right across their necks.

          1. Meg Murry

            Whereas mattresses were tested on something like an “average” man of 150 lbs and “average” woman of 120 lbs. I can’t find the exact source right now – but it’s something waaaaaaay below the actual average American weight.

      3. LBK

        I have to admit, I didn’t realize how different the cuts were until I was grabbing clothes off a display that had mixed men’s/women’s clothing and ended up trying on what turned out to be most definitely a women’s shirt.

            1. ancolie

              I STILL don’t get the “guy way” because it looks like it stretches the HECK out of the neck.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Okay, I’m going to leave you all with a link for when Alison gets a sec to push it through. It”s a wholesaler, not a retailer, so nobody can buy directly from them but you could always ask your corporate outfitter of choice for these pieces.

      One example of the amazing women’s style available if the folks buying aren’t too lazy to explore a level. This is a pricey brand but there’s less pricey stuff available.

      I hate polos generally and I think this stuff is gorgeous!

      http://www.sanmar.com/sanmar-servlets/SearchServlet?searchString=ogio+ladies

      It’s all possible. Don’t accept men’s cuts for women. There is no reason to. (Pricing btw, is combined, men’s and women’s styles, when you order from anyone so it’s not a lick more expensive, either, if you’re doing companion pieces.)

      1. AnotherAlison

        I have that exact Ladies Bombshell Jacket. I love it. It fits great and looks good, except for the stupid yellow logo on it. ; )

        The shift did happen about 10 years ago. I used to only get men’s shirts, too, and I was about a size 2 when I started working. I saved some for maternity tops, circa 2004, though. After that, we got hideous women’s shirts, but now most of the ones we get are things I will actually wear. The tunic top at the link is a good idea — my boss would wear something like that, and she won’t wear a polo.

        1. Meg Murry

          Yes, I am so glad women’s shirts are available now, without getting a “huh?” look. I think the worst offender of this was probably the shirts we used to order in college for our sorority. Seriously, we are ordering shirts for 100+ women, not a single man, and we still had to order shirts that only come in “unisex” (aka men’s cuts)? Somewhere around my junior year someone finally found a vendor that gave us a catalog where we could pick out actual women’s cut shirts, and it was so much nicer – except even those often only came in S,M,L and wouldn’t work for people outside that range . Of course, then we also ran into problems with ordering – emails flying back saying “send me your size for the Tshirt order” and then questions regarding whether they were women’s sizes or men’s sizes so you knew which one to pick. But it was still better than the gray tubes of fabric options.

          1. Kelly L.

            There is a glorious women’s cut out there that is not the narrow “babydoll” cut. I have, like, one t-shirt like this, and I want MOAR. They’re cut with a larger bust and smaller waist, but overall roomy, and I lurves them.

            The other cut that works for me sometimes, oddly, is a men’s “athletic” cut. I think they’re meant for guys with big shoulders and pecs as compared to their waists, but voila! it also works for boobs.

            1. LeahS

              This explains a lot! I am in retail went to order new work shirts and the sizing/fits had changed to “Men’s” Women’s ” and “Women’s Men’s Fit”.

              I was so confused, but the shirts fit so well- not as wide as the men’s, but not the short short sleeves and short length. It alllllmost made me mad because the whole point of ordering extra shirts was to have more than 2, but they fit so much better that I pretty much refuse to wear my old shirts at all :)

          2. Arjay

            Yes, in a “unisex” tee, I wear an XL. The problem I find with women’s-cut shirts is that they’re so often that “girlie” cut where a 2x, if they even offer it, is too snug and too short. What I need is a women’s cut in extended sizes, and that’s hard to find in the wild. (I was excited to see the Sanmars go up to 4x.)

          3. Ad Astra

            American Apparel became a thing while I was in college and I was immensely grateful. The T-shirts cost more, but I actually wore them, unlike the $10 Gildan shirts.

      2. Bostonian

        I clicked on the link because I was completely mystified by the fact that you used the words “polo shirt” and “gorgeous” so close together. But you’re right! I would totally buy some of those shirts for everyday business casual wear, sans logo. Especially with all the jewel tones, which make up like 80% of my wardrobe.

    4. Not Myself

      So, as a total aside…

      Even unisex clothing is typically classified as either men’s or women’s when it’s being cleared through US Customs. It typically has to do with where the fasteners are, and it makes a difference because duties on women’s clothing are always much higher then on the men’s. So, even the government hates unisex.

    5. Biff

      Wakeen, are you over on Fashion Incubator? If not, please come join the fun. You sound like precisely the kind of person we like over there.

  13. Juli G.

    OP3 – If the CEO’s exhusband AND his new wife work there as well as a slew of people related to all of them and unequal parties are the most dysfunctional thing happening, it’s a miracle.

    1. Kate M

      Yeah – how did THAT happen? Did the ex husband own part of the company and decide not to leave or something?

  14. Xarcady

    #1. I used to be in charge of the office candy jar. (Talk about a thankless task.)

    Someone did a study of office candy jars and how much candy people took from them.

    If the candy was in an open bowl, people took a lot, on average 8-10 pieces a day.
    If the candy was in a covered, transparent jar, people took less.
    If the candy was in a covered, opaque jar, people took still less.
    And if the candy was in a drawer, people were down to one or two pieces of candy per day.

    So my solution would be to a) ask Boss to include a few healthier snacks, and b) ask if the treats could be put in a drawer in the break room. Or anywhere else other than right at the OP’s desk. Surely Boss will understand this, since Boss doesn’t want the snacks right next to her.

    (I experimented with the folks in my office. Putting the candy in a covered candy jar did lead to somewhat less candy being taken, except when one salesman spent his one day a week at the office–he’d go through the jar and remove all the chocolate. Putting the candy in a freely accessible drawer led to constant complaints that there was no candy–even when the drawer was full. People were just too darn lazy to walk down the hall to the breakroom and open the drawer. The covered candy jar came back.)

    1. Blue Anne

      “when one salesman spent his one day a week at the office–he’d go through the jar and remove all the chocolate.”

      Seriously? Seriously sales dude? Really?

      1. Q

        A fellow supervisor keeps a candy jar that she fills of her own accord with her own money. Every once in a while our manager will come over and take a bunch that he then uses to fill the candy dish in his office.

        1. Elizabeth West

          My supervisor at Exjob got tired of paying out of pocket all the time to keep her dish filled. But people complained when she didn’t. So she put it on the list of break room supplies I picked up from Sam’s. :)

    2. Anonymous

      Daughter played basketball in middle school and some of the schools had tootsie pops at the concession stands. One of our mothers would always buy all the chocolate ones.

      1. DMented Kitty

        Hah… This reminds me of the time I attended a wedding when I was probably around twelve. The wedding banquet consisted of food served a la carte between six to eight people on a round table (Chinese typically use round tables to facilitate “harmony” between guests). Anyway, one of the dishes was two huge, very tasty steamed king crabs. Of course, by the time the plate was passed around and got to me all the people took the claws, which was my favorite because it’s easier to get at the meat.

        Needless to say, that’s when I learned how to dig up crab meat from the carapace – which is actually tastier, kind of like the “dark meat” in crab. Also, the buttery lump of crab fat – it’s like foie gras. Yum.

    3. LBK

      As a chocolate addict, I admit to picking through candy jars to get to the chocolate, but I’d never take all of it…at least not all at once.

    4. Stranger than fiction

      I brought in to work the leftover Halloween candy (seriously, where were all the trick or treaters this year?) It filled a large bowl, picture the size you’d serve guests chips or a salad, I put it in the downstairs breakroom, which serves roughly 20 employees, and it was GONE by 9AM. (we all get in between 7 and 8)

  15. dancer

    #2: I was in this position and I ended up talking to the person who requested we wear the shirts. I pointed out that I don’t feel professional in an over-large shirt and that because I’m small and young-looking, I would better represent the company in my own clothing. She agreed despite being sceptical. Then, after the event, she agreed that I did look much more professional in my own clothes and has since relaxed the requirement on branded clothes at events.

  16. the gold digger

    I was given a men’s small.

    It is 2015 and we still have not solved this problem? Fifteen years ago, I was cranky because the guy who ordered our shirts told me, “Our vendor doesn’t make women’s sizes.”

    Right. Because 1. there are no women in the workforce and 2. there are no other vendors.

    I had to cut off the bottom 12 inches of my shirt so I wouldn’t have to go up a pants size to tuck it in. I hate those stupid ugly shirts so, so much and the attitude that goes with them is even worse.

    1. De (Germany)

      When this happened to me at the first day of my old job (and with a size L, which I can wear as a nightgown), I rolled my eyes and thought it was because 80 percent of my colleagues are men. Apparently, it is far more widespread than that :-\

      1. Bostonian

        I did use a free XL t-shirt as a nightgown – in the last month of my pregnancy with my twins.

        1. Kelly L.

          I was issued a class t-shirt when I was in the sixth grade. This was the late eighties and shirts were oversized. I was a small kid, and this was a dress on me. I had to wear it tied in a knot or you would think I was pantsless. I unearthed it at my mom’s a few years ago. I’m an overweight adult in my thirties now, and it fit me perfectly. :D

          So I guess I can say I can still wear my clothes from sixth grade. ;)

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

            At least tying it in a knot was trendy in the late 80’s. Or those little plastic things you could feed the shirt through to get a similar effect. . .

              1. Ghost Umbrella

                The hair scrunchie was totally a thing. I remember one of the older kids in the neighborhood doing that, and thinking she was just the coolest.

    2. the_scientist

      So this actually happened to me recently. As a new member of a volunteer organization, I needed to buy a black ski jacket as part of my uniform (yes, I had to purchase the uniform out of pocket). Well, the organization has a contract with a vendor to buy uniform jackets for a substantially discounted price (a good ski jacket can run up to $300, these were available for $100). The catch? The vendor had jackets up to men’s 2XL but nothing smaller than a “unisex” medium. I am 5 feet tall and typically wear a women’s XS or S shirt size; in other words, I was swimming in the medium sized jacket- it was almost down to my knees, and the ends of the sleeves were a good 8 inches below my finger tips. Tailoring that kind of fabric would be triple the cost of the actually jacket, because of the waterproof material, vents, pockets, liner, etc.

      To me this just epitomized the rampant Old Boy’s Club nature of this volunteer organization, but they literally could not see why it was problematic that I would have to spend far more money than the mostly male membership to fulfill my basic uniform requirements. I’m still a member of the organization, but it’s really soured me on their leadership (which consists almost exclusively of upper middle-class, retired white men).

      1. Biff

        If it’s the Ski Patrol, they really don’t expect you to buy via the vendor. As around — there’s a person in town who makes them ‘custom’ and pretty much EVERYONE buys from them.

      2. Biff

        Also, please don’t take this the wrong way, but this is a poor comparison point. Nearly everyone wears t-shirts and women’s sizes are available for no more money than men’s because there is similar demand. Most of the outdoor companies don’t have demand for the smallest or largest sizes in the adult range. The reason they cost more is because there’s very little demand and they cannot make money from volume. Also, if this is ski patrol — there are very few small women patrollers because of the strength requirements. I can count on one hand how many female patrollers I’ve met that are smaller than a ladies large. I use one finger and no thumb.

  17. Annony

    #1: When it comes to treats in the office, I strongly feel that as long as no one is going desk to desk pushing food on people, it’s really up to each adult to manage their own diet. No one else is responsible for what you eat.

    1. Blight

      Even if someone does come to your desk with some food I would think that enough adults cannot by forced to eat the food if they really have a problem with it. We used to have those days where Jane was bringing the box of donuts around and jokingly pushing them on us… if we did not want a donut we just didn’t take one and told her to move on. But for any that would have felt ‘pressured’ to take a donut it was their choice, even then – no one forced it into their mouth.

      1. fposte

        Sure, but I also think it’s reasonable to say “Jane, please don’t bring those to my desk.” This doesn’t have to be about what we’re obligated to do, it can be about ways to live more easily with one another.

        1. F.

          “Thank you for asking, but I believe I’ll pass. I won’t be offended if you leave me out in the future, either.” A terrific way to exercise the willpower ‘muscle’.

          1. fposte

            I’d ask even more directly for what I want. “Thank you for asking, but I’ll pass. In fact, I’m trying to cut down–would you please skip my desk in the future?” It’s a perfectly polite thing to request, and most people would be perfectly happy to oblige.

            And unfortunately, willpower works the opposite way from a muscle, as noted upthread; use weakens it rather than strengthening it.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          Having been on a team in a weird back office that never learned about treats or extra food, I often will go around to offices with food or treats I order for client meetings.

          I had a coworker say, “I don’t eat things like that. I would appreciate if you didn’t bring them to my desk.” She was kind of abrupt, so I was a little miffed at first (the “fine, I was only trying to be nice” thought), but then I realized she has a reason she is not eating cookies and dessert bars, and it was no skin of my back to respect that.

    2. Jack K

      Responsibility aside, if the snack basket is there to improve employee morale, and it’s making staff unhappy, it’s not doing its job. It sounds like OP is thinking about the snacks a lot if she views them as “in your face 24/7”, so even if she doesn’t eat them, that’s not good for staying happy and productive.

      I’m with Xarcady — the best solution is to move the snacks or make them less obtrusive.

    3. CM

      I think there’s a fundamental divide between people who have a 100% healthy relationship with food and people who have issues. I’m one of the people with issues. I manage my health by minimizing my exposure to unhealthy foods — for instance, since I know I’m likely to eat half the box of cookies, while feeling miserable about it, I do not buy the box of cookies. It’s very similar to how recovering alcoholics remove alcohol from their homes. Putting a basket of treats in front of me is like making an alcoholic stare at a bottle of wine all day. Yes, ultimately every adult is responsible for managing their own health, but unless you work at a candy company it’s reasonable to expect that you won’t be confronted by unhealthy treats every day at work.

      1. fposte

        See, I’m in your eating camp, and the “she should just have more willpower stuff” just makes me wryly laugh, but I don’t remotely agree that it’s reasonable to expect not to have accessible candy at work. That’s really, really common.

        I think some comments are falling into an approach where either the boss is unreasonable or the OP is, and I don’t think either of them are. The question is how do these two reasonable people find a situation preferable to the current one. The OP is the one who wants things to change, so it’s to her advantage to proffer workable alternatives.

        1. simonthegrey

          At one of the centers I teach at, the receptionist keeps a basket of candy on the desk for students. However, it’s separated from her by the little partition on the desk, it’s on the back side of the computer so not in line of sight, and she usually has some little decoration (right now it’s a little stand of scarecrows) so she doesn’t have to look at it all day.

        2. Turtle Candle

          I think some comments are falling into an approach where either the boss is unreasonable or the OP is, and I don’t think either of them are. — Yes, I agree with this completely. Both “freely-available snacks in the office are a nice gesture” and “I’m trying to watch what I eat and snacks available all day make that hard” are well within reasonable territory. Somebody doesn’t have to be wrong, the bad guy, ableist, whatever, in every disagreement of this type.

          (Sometimes I feel like “let’s figure out who the Bad Guy is here” is closely related to “is this legal?”–it’s a way of trying to make a question into something simple and straightforward and easy [in theory] to universally enforce.)

          I think that’s why so many people are asking whether this could maybe go on a different table or desk or drawer or something a bit more out of the way–that seems like a compromise that also falls within the realm of ‘reasonable.’

      2. BananaPants

        I share your issues with food and also the way you deal with it. I simply don’t have problem foods in the house – we don’t have chips because I’ll eat half the bag and hate myself more with every bite. I am not capable of only having a small portion of a problem food. The analogy is spot-on; putting a basket of chips, cookies, and candy in front of me is like putting a bottle of booze in front of an alcoholic all day, every day. At best it’s a distraction and at worst I’ll actually do something harmful to myself (eating that crap to excess).

        The snacks can still be provided in the office, but they need to be relocated to someone else’s desk or a common area.

    4. JennG

      Actually, research shows that our food environments strongly influence what we eat. Try reading Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, which covers some of the research he’s done at I believe Cornell around food choices, including how to get soldiers to eat more. It’s really eye opening!

      OP #1: I agree that working on the location of the food is probably your best bet. Good luck!

    5. LBK

      I think it’s easy to say that, but diets are really hard for a lot of people to stick to – I know that when I’m trying to eat better, I have to go with the “out of sight, out of mind” principle.

      We can get into a whole debate about self-control but I believe there’s plenty of recent research out there that shows cravings and urges aren’t as easy to fight as they seem and that’s why so many people relapse out of diets. If your will is so ironclad that you can happily take the salad over the chocolate bar, more power to you, but easy with the righteous lecturing to those of us who can’t make that decision so simply.

  18. Kael

    #1 – Some people in my office have handled a similar situation by asking our boss to not buy 1 specific type of treat that is their favorite, would that be helpful for you? The conversation is typically something like “Hi Boss, I’m on a healthy eating kick and (particular candy/treat) is just so tempting for me. Would it be possible for you to not buy (particular candy/treat) next time you restock?” This way the treats are still there for those that like them and your biggest temptation is removed.

    #2 – I’ve been in your shoes before! Do you (or any friends of yours) sew? The link below is a fairly easy way to resize. It isn’t perfect, but it would be an improvement and most people won’t notice. I’ve done it with my company’s polos and no one has ever noticed it. Also, if something goes wrong and it gets ruined then you have a very legitimate reason for not wearing it. “I’m so sorry, I was having someone resize this to fit me more professionally and it was eaten by the sewing machine! Can we order a women’s x-small in time or should I just wear business clothing?”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS6j7oYFTxc

  19. Blight

    #1: Not once did I see the tidbit of “I spoke to everyone and they all agree” but rather that she knows they all eat it, I feel that her claim that they all just do it because it it thrust in their faces is probably an assumption because that is what she is doing. I feel the anger about it is coming from the fact that SHE is on a diet and is feeling tempted to dip into it. If the box is CONSTANTLY being replenished then her coworkers are sending a clear “we like snacks” message.

    My boss used to do this with donuts. He’d bring in a couple dozen so that we could each have a couple… it was beautiful because they are my vice and I do not purchase them. as a result. Nothing raised my mood more when I could grab my favourite donut after sleeping in and missing breakfast or when needing a break from a stressful task.

    It was one of the reasons that I loved my job so much and put up with crap pay. But then my coworker started a new diet and became outraged at the fact there were donuts in the workplace since she had no self control. We were then punished for her lack of self control and the donuts stopped coming abruptly. No alternative was provided because she said she’d “eat anything put out”.

    She even actually thought that she was doing a good thing that was in everyone’s best interest, little did she know that people whispered about her as a result. You wouldn’t think donuts could have such a strong impact on the moral of employee’s but they did.

    She continues to lack the self control to stick to her diet despite the donut removal…. so it was really done for no reason.

    1. Former Retail Manager

      I feel your pain, however, I am the donut bringer (and not a manager). Similar rumblings have been heard around the office. I continue to bring donuts. You are an adult and I am not responsible to assist you in any way with your diet any more than I am required to assist you with any other health issue. And I pay for these donuts out of my own pocket…not the company. Sorry your flow of donuts was cut off. :)

  20. GigglyPuff

    #4: I think the climate control on the resume really depends on what field you work in, and whether it’s essential. For example in archives profession, that would definitely be something you would put on your resume.

    #5: Please say something, and the career center may not even be the best option. At my grad school, they also received complaints from area workplaces, that basically the grads materials sucked. So one of our professors actually had us do resume and cover letters to a real job opening. This allowed people in the program who had been working for 20+ years to help people like me, who hadn’t really entered the professional workforce yet. And also let the 20+ year people know what was considered out-dated practices.

    So I would also suggest saying something to some key professors, more than likely everyone in the program could benefit from resume/cover letter instruction, or even just a brush up.

  21. Former Retail Manager

    #1….I don’t think anyone mentioned it, but perhaps the vendor from whom shirts are ordered does not offer the size you requested? Not sure if they said “send an e-mail with your size” or if there was an actual order form that did list a women’s XS. If it was the former, this isn’t particularly uncommon in my experience. I used to work for a large company (5,000+ employees) and tiny ladies and large people of all sizes were not accommodated. The sizes simply weren’t offered and a large corporation wasn’t going to change vendors to accommodate the minority. And at an XS…you are the minority. We also used to have order forms with very small and larger sizes on them, you’d check the box, they wouldn’t send the sizes selected, and I found out later that there wasn’t enough demand so they simply stopped offering those sizes even though they were still on the order form. Annoying no doubt. Good luck but I don’t honestly expect that they will jump through any major hoops for you. :(

    1. Mike C.

      That’s really crappy of your company, and those sorts of sizes are offered by a ton of vendors already.

    2. Hlyssande

      This rings true for me, unfortunately.

      I work for a giant multinational industrial company and yet they couldn’t order a branded shirt in my size for my 5 year anniversary (everyone else celebrating an anniversary got one). I got a fairly sweet duffle instead, but it was pretty freaking awkward and embarrassing at the time. They’d even asked for my size in advance.

    3. Anx

      I don’t expect they’d accommodate her either, but I honestly don’t understand what the point of the T-shirts are if you’re not going to accommodate everyone.

      Morale? Branding? Team-building? All pretty pointless if people don’t feel good or can’t fit in their clothes. If you can’t afford the time and money to include everyone, you really can’t afford group T-shirts.

      1. BananaPants

        My thought is that either consciously or unconsciously, a lot of firms really don’t want people of size as the public “face” of the company. Particularly for women, studies have shown that being thin/slim is actually beneficial in the workplace compared to being of an average build, and being heavy/overweight is detrimental.

        You will rarely see someone who is obese or morbidly obese in a senior management or executive position in most Fortune 500 companies. They may make it to middle management or higher individual contributor positions and do very well overall, but there aren’t a lot of fat people in the C-suite. Our society ties weight to personal attributes; overweight people are thought of as lazy or lacking in self-control, and those aren’t attributes that you typically find in executive-level people. Weight is tied with appearance, and unfortunately those things make a difference.

        1. Nother Name

          True, and many women have noted that they can’t get sizes as large as men’s, and the OP states that she is small. (She sounds like she’d be a women’s XS.) I’ve noticed that the range of sizes for women is narrower in both directions, when you are talking about company-supplied clothing. When a “unisex” (read: men’s) medium is the smallest thing available, a petite woman has essentially received a nightshirt, not professional clothing. (Especially when some vendors default to larger rather than smaller sizes.)

          I’m not as slender as I used to be, but as a short, curvy woman, I’m here to tell you that one size never fits all. And even a women’s small doesn’t always work, or else I wouldn’t have to buy gloves and eye glass frames in child sizes…

          1. Student

            Ugh, I hear you on the “nightshirt” thing.

            I also cannot understand why so many of these corporate promotional shirts end up being essentially see-through for women, or have uncomfortably low-cut necklines. It seems to be the norm to expect you’ll have to wear at least 2 shirts to be presentable now, and I hate it with a passion. If I get a corporate tee shirt that I’m expected to wear for work functions, I’d like it to not be translucent, and I’d like it to have a conservative neckline. It’s not flattering on the men when the material is translucent either.

        2. WantedtobeAnon

          To your last paragraph, I remember a middle manager saying pretty much the same thing to me, maybe 7 years ago. He was unkindly talking about a C-suiter at the time, and based on how the middle manager was overall, I strongly believe he was doing the “Why him and not me?” internal puzzled rant in his head. Because he fit conventional standards and the C-suiter did not.

          It makes me think the Old Boy Network trumps sizism, though, for in my experience, I’ve seen all shapes and sizes of men in C-suite positions, but not so with women.

          But! The company I’m in right now seems far more accepting and *gasp* actually focuses more on merit than other companies I’ve endured.

      2. Kelly L.

        I think sometimes it’s just people not understanding sizes. People really don’t always know much about what size other people wear, especially if they’re on one end of the spectrum and the person they’re buying for is on the other. It’s a lot like the “buying a chair for heavy employee” discussion from a while back. A big burly guy buying t-shirts might look at tiny OP and think “Oh, she’s small, I bet she wears a small.” And someone the size of the OP might look at fat me and think “Oh, she’s large, maybe even extra large! I’ll buy an XL for her.” When, really, I can wear an XL, but a 2X will look better on me in most cuts. People don’t always even realize there are sizes above and below the “standard” S,M,L,XL in both directions.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      XS-2XL women’s is the most common size range offered.

      People who say they can’t get XS shirts have never tried.

      (I’ll throw you an exception for industrial work wear or safety gear, but past that, corporate clothing, XS to 2XL.)

      1. F.

        Although it is difficult to find, more and more suppliers are offering smaller sizes in construction-related work clothing and safety gear.

    5. F.

      Part of the reason may very well be that smaller and larger sizes cost more money. I can (sort of) understand that larger sizes take more fabric, but not enough to justify the entire amount of the higher prices. I can see no logical reason why smaller sizes should cost more.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yeah, I always call BS on the large-size tax! If a 2x costs more than an XL, then an L should cost more than a S, yet it never does, because it’s just a stupid fat tax.

        1. Sigrid

          Unfortunately, that’s not actually true, because of the way clothing is made. Clothing is cut in runs, meaning that a large number of pattern pieces for all different sizes are laid out on the fabric in a way that minimizes unused fabric. For most clothing, especially simple designs like t-shirts, the pieces are sized so that different sizes can be matched together to fill the fabric, so that — to take the most common example — two mediums take up the width of fabric, one large and one small take up the width, and one extra-large and one extra-small take up the fabric. This means that there can be an infinite number of mediums cut without waste, but for every large there must be a small, and for every extra-large there must be an extra-small. If anything larger than an XL needs to be cut, it would either require an XXS (ect.) to be cut, or that extra fabric between the XXL and the edge of the fabric is wasted. Therefore the cost of an XXL is not merely the amount of fabric that goes into the shirt itself, it is also the cost of the fabric that is not being used for anything because no pattern piece will fit there. This is why you usually see a price jump between either L and XL (if the line does not include an XS) or between XL and XXL (if the line does include an XS), and also why plus-sized lines tend to cost more, because they don’t have the smaller sizes to balance out the fabric use.

          While a potential solution would be to increase the width of the fabric, that is also expensive (generally more expensive). Fabric looms are standardized around the world, and only produce fabric in certain widths. Getting a garment fabric in an unusual width either requires building an entirely new loom, or retooling a loom designed to sew a different kind of fabric so that it can sew a garment fabric. All are expensive.

          Kathleen Fasanella, a professional pattern maker who also runs a blog, has a good explanation of this aspect of patternmaking. I’ll post a link to follow up.

          1. Ad Astra

            That may be true for T-shirts, but I find it hard to believe that it applies across the board. Women’s clothing sizes have changed drastically over the last 20 years, so it’s interesting that garments start to cost more at size 16 or 18, even though today’s 16 or 18 is equivalent to yesterday’s 10 or 12.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Look for corporate outfitters who offer free upsizing. We do it as a courtesy and some competitors do also. (It costs us more for the larger sizes but in the grand scheme of an order it’s not much, so it all comes out in the wash — so to speak — and then every size is treated the same customer facing.)

  22. Allison

    #1, snacking is important. Even most diets urge people to eat healthy foods between meals to keep their energy levels up! So I totally get wanting to remove the temptation to eat unhealthy foods like candy and chips, but instead of removing the snacks entirely, maybe you guys could come up with healthy alternatives you’d feel okay eating during the day.

    1. Isben Takes Tea

      Our office snack basket is replenished with fresh fruit, nuts, and healthy snack bars. People really appreciate the snacks for when they need something, it doesn’t go as fast as candy does, and nobody can complain that it’s too tempting. I’d suggest OP #1 suggest this to her boss–embrace the snacks, but redirect to healthier–but still tasty–options.

    2. LeighTX

      I agree with this. At my last company we had a weekly fruit delivery, and it was hugely popular. It didn’t cost too much–probably the same as all the pretzels and candy the boss is buying anyway.

    3. DMented Kitty

      It works up to a certain point. I used to have this huge jar of trail mix within reach in my cube – which is a healthier option compared to potato chips, however, I started realizing that I just. Couldn’t. Stop. Nibbling. All day. Same with a bag of Snapea crisps – I’d go through the entire bag so quickly in a day. Those calories still add up – and as a stress-eater, the urge is more because of cravings than hunger.

      I remedied my urge to binge-snack by not keeping the entire jar/pack of snacks with me, I just bring portions from home in a little container – that helped me condition my mind that this is the only snack I WILL have during the day, and if I want to snack later I should make that small portions last the entire day.

  23. Q

    If people stop eating it and she notices that it no longer needs to be replenished maybe she’ll get the hint. I know will power is hard but try drinking water or chewing gum instead. The supervisor next to em always has a big bowl of chocolate on her desk and its hard for me to resist but it can be done!

  24. Anx

    #2 I have so, so many feelings on the men’s shirt as a default. I don’t care so much now that I’m older and I don’t really want to wear those things, but it does stink that people who fit in one size range get free t shirts while the rest of us get free rags/sleep shirts.

    Story time: All the men’s smalls and mediums were taken for an event by the time I had access to try to claw for a shirt (all the other girls would be pretty ruthless about getting those coveted small sizes) for one event and I was stuck with a men’s large. This was for an athletic event. My elbow ended up caught in the armpit and really slowed down my race. I was pretty embarrassed.

  25. Ravenista

    #2 – I used to work in promotional products (the business of getting branded apparel done), and I can tell you that it they’re reluctance/refusal to accommodate your size request is pure laziness. Most major wholesalers who sell blank garments for this kind of thing provide a “ladies companion” option. These are almost always the same price as the men’s shirt, or at least very close (within $2). Adding even one ladies’ style shirt to their order wouldn’t cost them anything extra unless the shirt itself is a different price. The only hassle is having to then find that particular shirt when the completed order arrives.

    What I’m getting at here is you should make it clear to them that you need a ladies’ size, and that you are aware that it really should not be treated as an optional request if they truly want to you wear the shirt when representing them. It requires just about zero extra work on their part (particularly if they are working with a promotional products vendor who is any good at all). Otherwise you can go to a website like SanMar.com or BodekandRhodes.com and look for something yourself to present to them as an option. In any case, it’s ridiculous that they are taking sizes beforehand and appear to just be too lazy to get you what you’re asking for.

  26. LizzieB

    “Or is it simply our responsibility to resist 27/4 temptation?”

    Um, yeah? Who else’s responsibility would your diet be?

    1. Christian Troy

      Yeah, I mean come on. How is this any different than working next to Au Bon Pain or other fast food places everyday in your building or on your floor?

      1. fposte

        It’s hugely different, I’d say. For one thing, you don’t have to pay for it. For another, it’s about 1/100th of the distance away. For another, it’s apparently provided for the pleasure of the staff, so if it turns out the staff doesn’t enjoy it, it doesn’t make sense for it to be provided.

        I mean yeah, they’re both about available food during work hours, but the effects of those different levels of availability are huge.

  27. Meg

    I have to say, I am somewhat surprised by the number of folks whose response to the food issue is basically, “suck it up and have self-control.” While I do not think that the solution is getting rid of the treats, it is very unfair for the person on a diet to have to have an open treat dish on her desk. As someone on a low-sugar diet for medical reasons, I would be extremely unhappy with treats on my desk, but am totally fine with the fact that my assistant has a candy jar on her desk. I can make good food choices but having food that I can’t eat sitting on my desk all day would make me both sad and tempted. Nothing like being constantly reminded that you can’t eat something to make you want ot eat that thing.

    To me, the solution is find another place for the snack basket.

    1. Annonie

      She didn’t say it was on her desk (and I’m sure she would have if that were the case). They are, however, in a spot where she can see it from where she sits.

      1. Meg

        Ah, I misread. Yeah, if they are just in her view, then I do kind of agree with the “suck it up” sentiment.

      2. neverjaunty

        OP said the basket is “right in front of me”, which isn’t on her desk, but seems a little more than just in her realm of vision.

        I have to say I’m not surprised by the number of people telling OP to suck it up. Anytime you talk about diets and willpower, people bust out their inner Judge Judy. There’s so much cultural baggage around eating and “willpower” and the perception that eating habits are a matter of morality.

        1. Kyrielle

          And the interesting thing about willpower is that studies show it *can get worn out*. It takes mental energy to exercise. So seeing a tempting snack 2-3 times a day might use up way less willpower than seeing it for 6-8 hours of the day (depending on how often one is at one’s desk). “Out of sight, out of mind” is a good thing at times – it can be used as a tool. :)

          If there’s anything that can be done to place the treats where they’re not in line-of-sight of anyone’s desk (or failing that, at least not in line of sight from anyone dieting), that would be a very kind and helpful thing to do. It may not be possible, but if it is, it would help.

          (OP – are they positioned such that you could reorganize your desk/move a monitor/something to block them from your view? I know you’ll know they’re still there, but you wouldn’t be seeing them as constantly.)

          1. Kelly L.

            I read an interesting article a few months ago about that, and it also touched on how, with most areas where you exercise willpower, you still get the benefit even if you give in occasionally. So if you’re using your willpower to study for a test, and 9 out of 10 times you’re tempted to slack off, you keep going anyway, you’ve still learned a ton even if you slack off that 10th time. And if you’re using your willpower to clean the house, and you procrastinate occasionally, your house is still cleaner than when you started. But if you apply that to eating, you can pass up that donut 9 times, but if you eat it on the 10th time, you’ve eaten the donut and there’s no partial credit, so to speak.

        2. Sarahnova

          Let’s say we do acknowledge that it’s not always as easy as that. From a practical perspective, what does that change? Lots of people like snacks in the office, lots of offices provide snacks. The reality is that the responsibility to manage their level of temptation inevitably falls to the OP. Unless the majority of people in the office are equally unhappy about this, the snacks are going to remain. I do think the OP should see what she can do to have them placed a little further from her. But it’s not reasonable to expect others to protect you from the source of your temptations.

  28. Rebecca

    #1 – put the snack basket in the break room or kitchen area, and don’t look at it. This really sounds pretty passive/aggressive on the boss’s part. Plus, if no one eats the junk food, eventually it will go bad and won’t be replaced. I like the idea up thread of substituting fruits and vegetables instead, and maybe some hummus and nuts. Snacks don’t have to be fattening and unhealthy.

  29. Kyrielle

    The idea of substituting or adding healthy snacks is great. Could you identify a few that would work for you, preferably either non-perishable or with a long time they can be left to sit? (So fruits, but hummus needs refrigeration; nuts, sunflower seeds, maybe those little rice crackers? Depends on your diet, of course.)

    Maybe if you asked, your boss would be willing to add those, and you could train yourself to grab them instead of the other snack foods (still needs willpower, but less than eating nothing while looking at it). And if everyone *else* started grabbing them so the good-for-you stuff was consistently gone first, that could be used as a metric to encourage your boss to do more of the good-for-you stuff, less of the junkier snacks, until the balance of usage was sorted out. (That way, if most of the office really wants healthier snacks, the basket will trend toward healthier. If it’s you and one or two other people, you’ll have options to help you, but others will still get their preferred snacks.)

  30. Phoebe

    #1 – I would go out and buy some healthy snacks, then come in early one morning and replace the junk food with healthy snacks. I’d keep the junk food, but put it somewhere out of sight. If anyone asked, I’d just tell them that the junk food was too tempting and these snack are healthier, then if they still want the junk food, just direct them to where you’ve stored the junk food.

    1. Phoebe

      Continued from above: I’m not suggesting that I would continue to do this on a regular basis; just the once to make my point. The hope is that the boss would take this hint and refill with healthier snacks.

    2. MoveItBuster

      That would be pretty passive aggressive. I think it’s fine to move the bowl to the break room or even add healthy snacks to it, but to essentially hide all the candy would be weird.

    3. Katniss

      Why would that be a mature way to handle it? The LW doesn’t want junk food but that doesn’t mean her coworkers d0n’t. Hiding the junk food away just seems petty and also seems to send a message of “my food choices are better than yours”.

    4. Marie

      How is that a mature way to handle the situation? To unilaterally make a decision like that? The entire office does not revolve around one person.

  31. MoveItBuster

    Just move the candy. I had the exact same problem myself just this week. Someone brought a huge bowl of their kids leftover Halloween candy so they would not be tempted to eat it all themselves. This was set on a cabinet right next to my desk.

    The first day I didn’t mind, but then it was refilled again on Tuesday, refilled again yesterday, and today I decided I had had enough and I moved the bowl to the break room. I announced to the room at large as I did this. Since then I have moved any candy placed on the cabinet to the break room.

    Just frame it as a work issue: “I find it distracting to have the candy bowl next to my desk so I moved it to the break room.”

    Definitely not a stretch in my case. Every single time someone stopped to get candy they would insist on talking to me about what candy they were picking, how great the selection was, how bad it was of them to be eating them, what’s my favorite candy, etc. Multiply that by 12 people 2 – 3 times per day and needless to say I ate too much candy and did not get much work done.

  32. TootsNYC

    For #3, with the “family business,” I think I might start saying, “Oh, no, I won’t be there for the shower; that’s a family gathering/party, isn’t it?”

    1. Happy Lurker

      Excellent response! Needs a follow up line. “and I am working on X project right now.” Be sure to leave X project for that day.

      Poor, poor OP – I have seen this kind of extended family workforce in a couple companies, as both an employee and vendor – and it just seems to not work well. It must work somewhere but not that I have seen.

      I can only imagine the stories OP#3 must have (maybe share some on Friday, please?)

  33. Cath in Canada

    I helped organise a conference last year, and of my duties was to order the volunteers’ t-shirts. The main professor involved wanted to just order some of our affiliated university’s t-shirts, but they didn’t stock the same colours/designs for both men and women, and he wanted everyone to match. He wanted to just get men’s shirts for all the volunteers, despite the fact that more than half of them were women, many of whom were tiny.

    My (female) colleague and I had to really put our foot down on this one! We ended up printing our own design, in a range of men’s and women’s sizes.

    I got to add “convinced a professor of biology that men and women are different shapes” to my achievements list that week.

  34. Aaron

    Re: #1 – I’ve worked in a startup where a variety of snacks were provided. Yes, it was a problem as a temptation (I often overindulged and struggled to maintain my own diet). Yet, it was a great perk. Everyone I knew loved it. On days where I was booked with meetings over lunch, it offered me the opportunity to eat “something” (even if it wasn’t a true healthy lunch).

    It does sound like there are two reasonable requests you could make here though:

    1. Why not see if your manager will move the basket so it’s not in front of your desk? Unless your office is incredibly small, there must be some place other than in front of your desk or in her office.

    2. Why not ask your manager if she’s willing to swap out some of the unhealthy snacks with something healthier? If she’s intent on spending the money because she views this as a nice perk, if she’s a reasonable person, I’m betting she’d be willing to hear you out and consider including some low calorie options or maybe even fruit.

  35. Waffles

    To OP#1… The boss is trying to do something nice for the employees. Wouldn’t you rather work for someone who’s making a kind and generous gesture than one who isn’t? If you don’t like the snacks, don’t eat the snacks! They’re not there to tempt you or taunt you. Be a grown-up. Seriously. Don’t eat the snacks. You’re the one who is responsible for your actions. Why not throw a few healthy treats in there if if bothers you so much?

  36. Macedon

    #1. No comment on diet, but I’d be really annoyed to have the communal snack vortex on or close to my desk — a lot of people stopping by all the time, maybe even leaving wrappers. Or imagine if that thing were large and took up the spot for my world conquest calendar.

  37. Heather

    Number 1 makes me pretty frustrated. Take some responsibility for yourself and for your own health. Nobody else can make that decision for you. I’m a heavier person and this was a hard lesson for me to learn. Avoiding foods is fine when you can, but seeing a food and actively choosing not to indulge is how you learn not to give in to temptation. Just don’t eat it. You are eating to the point that you don’t like how you look for feel, so just STOP. It’s amazing what happens when you stop making excuses and just say to yourself “this is where I stop.”

    My rule for myself is that I don’t eat in my office. I know that I have trouble turning down food, so I don’t dance around it, eat one piece at a time, or tell myself it’s just one treat so it can’t hurt. I just walk away.

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