should I report my fatphobic boss or am I being too sensitive?

A reader writes:

I’m dealing with a boss now turned grandboss who has no boundaries and has some unconscious fatphobia that’s impacting her perception of me, and I’m not sure if I should report it or just let it go.

I started at my job at a mid-sized nonprofit that serves a very diverse client base a little over a year ago. At that time, Miranda was my boss. She comes from a pretty corporate background, and tends to have a bit of an old-school outlook on business practices. She struggles to accept that working from home is really working (except when she works from home), micromanages quite a bit, and struggles a lot with some of our organization’s more leftist policies. Professional boundaries with her direct reports can be a bit of an issue too. Some examples: asking really personal questions about medical procedures I’ve had, discussing another coworker’s ADA accommodations openly in the office, and one super awkward situation where somehow it came out that she was under the impression that my non-binary spouse was a trans woman and I got trapped in a conversation about my spouse’s physical anatomy (I’m a cis woman, and my spouse is an AFAB non-binary person who often presents feminine but uses she/they pronouns). She really does not respond to overt cues to drop sensitive topics, and will continue pushing until you answer her question. Most of these incidents were a while ago, and I’m just mentioning them for context.

A few months ago, we had a restructuring of the office, and Miranda is no longer supervising me. She’s supervising my new boss Andrea, who I love and get along with very well. Before this restructuring, Miranda went on a months-long leave (her idea, not a statement from leadership in any way) and recently returned. It’s been a rocky return, to say the least. As a bit of a micromanager, she’s really struggled with not assigning tasks to me and my coworkers. Andrea has had to talk to her often about not going around her and that Miranda is no longer our manager. Andrea’s style is very much not micromanagement. She is the best manager I’ve ever had, and we all feel so much better with her supervising us.

So here’s where it gets sticky. When I started this job, I was a women’s size 20, and had been that way most of my adult life. While Miranda was on leave, I had a medical issue that resulted in pretty dramatic weight loss and diet changes. I’m healthy now, but lost over 70 pounds in five months. I wear a size 12-14 now. There’s a thing that happens when you go through something like this and get significantly thinner. People comment on how great you look, how it’s so nice that you’re “taking care of yourself” now. And I was prepared for that (I was healthy when I was fat; my medical issue was entirely unrelated, so these comments can feel super crappy when you realize what these people must have thought of you before). What I’m finding the most difficult are the people who are suddenly nicer, who give me the benefit of the doubt when they didn’t before, and who interact with me with a higher level of respect for me as a professional. It should come as no surprise that Miranda is one of these people.

Miranda constantly makes comments on how great I look. At one point she suggested that my introversion would disappear with the extra weight, another time she talked about how my “whole energy is different now!” and generally she no longer feels the need to micromanage me. To be fair, some of the micromanaging has been curbed by Andrea, but from what my coworkers say, it’s been more dramatic for me than for anyone else.

This all culminated in an event I led recently where I was dressed a step above my usual business casual, and instead of focusing on the event I planned and led that had many clients and business leaders present, every interaction she had with me was focused on how great I looked. Some of these interactions included guests at the event. I was trying to talk to guests about our services and mission, and Miranda would intervene to tell these guests how amazing I looked and allude to this being a big change for me. I really dislike comments on my body in any context, and it made me deeply uncomfortable. I attempted to redirect the conversation several times, but she ignored it and I eventually gave up and just steered clear of her the rest of the night.

My organization does have HR, and my spouse thinks I should report Miranda’s recent behavior. I’m not sure it really rises to that level. I don’t have a lot of interaction with her anymore, and I’m kind of enjoying the relief of not constantly being managed or directed by her. Even if it comes from unconscious fatphobia on her part, her having a more positive impression of me is making my job easier, and I’m not sure I’m ready to burn the relationship entirely. It’ll be time for me to move on from this position soon, and she has a lot of connections and relationships in our field that would be helpful. That being said, her behavior at the event in particular was pretty upsetting for me, and might have an impact on how community members in attendance see me.

What do you think? Should I report? Am I being too sensitive? Is there another option I’m not seeing?

Ugh. You’re not being too sensitive. Miranda is making your body a constant focus — at a professional event you were leading, no less. She interrupted your business conversations to do it. That’s not okay. And neither is any of the rest of it. She thinks you’re more competent now that you’re thinner! She thinks your weight loss will make you an extrovert! (??) She’s weirdly focused on your body in a way anyone would find uncomfortable and inappropriate.

As for whether to report it … you wouldn’t be overreacting if you did. If you wanted to report Miranda, I’d fully back you up. But it also doesn’t rise to the level of “you must report this” so it really depends on what you want to do.

Some things to consider: The company should have an interest in knowing a manager is so focused on an employee’s body. It’s also possible that there have been other complaints about Miranda and this would help flesh out that picture or, together with the rest of the reports, be the ammunition that moves the company to act (if not now, then in the future when someone else reports her). Best case scenario, they could end up making it clear to her that this needs to stop and they could act to protect you from any possible retaliation from her. Realistically, though, it’s also possible that it could go differently — lots of HR departments aren’t good at anticipating and preemptively guarding people from retaliation after they complain about a manager, and so sometimes complaining about a boss ends up having repercussions. Those repercussions can be subtle ones — “you’re fired!” is pretty easy for HR to guard against, but things like not getting the projects you want or getting a lukewarm recommendation instead of a glowing one can be trickier. It’s really important to know that these repercussions don’t happen every time someone reports a boss to HR! Plenty of times it’s fine and things roll forward without major fall-out. But because those things are possibilities, it’s smart to include them in your thinking, along with what you know of how things are done in your organization.

You do have some other options though if you want to explore them. One is to talk to Miranda directly. I don’t know if you’d be comfortable doing this and it’s perfectly fine if you’re not, but in theory you could tell Miranda directly, “You might not realize but you’ve been talking about my weight loss a lot, especially at last week’s client dinner. I prefer not to talk about my body or my weight at work.” Even if she doesn’t like hearing that — and even if she tells you she’s just complimenting you (which I’m quite sure she’s going to say) — she might stop doing it if you hold firm. And if she doesn’t stop after this conversation, that’s extra ammunition if you do later decide to talk to HR.

Another option is to ask Andrea for her advice. She might be well-positioned to talk to Miranda (and if she’s witnessed any of Miranda’s comments firsthand, she could even do it without saying you’d spoken to her) or to talk to HR on your behalf or to advise you about whether or not talking to Miranda yourself makes sense. If nothing else, as a supportive boss, she’d likely want to know that this is happening and that you’re struggling with it.

But ultimately it comes down to how you want to deal with it. If I’m reading your letter correctly, you’re not itching to talk to HR, you’re leaving soon, you’d like to benefit from Miranda’s connections, and you’d be okay with just knowing she’s an ass and leaving it there. If that’s the route you choose, that’s okay too! You can take action, but you’re not obligated to take action. (Whereas you would be obligated if, for example, you were a manager and you saw her doing this to other people.) So I’d say to weigh the potential costs and benefits to yourself of each option and what you believe will get you closest to the outcome you most want, and decide that way.

That feels like a cop-out! I’d love to say “yes, report her, end of story.” But this stuff often has so many more considerations than that.

Read an update to this letter

{ 244 comments… read them below }

  1. Sitting in the Flowers*

    Sorry this happened to you. Just as a recommendation the podcast Maintenance Phase covers how to handle weightloss being treated as you becoming more efficient etc.

    1. Anon pour ce poste*

      I came to mention the Maintenance Phase podcast too. Not necessarily for OP (cause it sounds like they have a very good attitude that fat =/= unhealthy), but for others who are reading this.

      Other good sources of anti-diet educational sources are:
      – Citations Needed podcast – episode 149 “How Fatness Became a Cheap Joke and Proxy for Moral Deficiency in Pop Culture”
      – Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison (she also has a podcast called Food Psych)

      1. Starbuck*

        Love Citations Needed! Really has improved my ability to see narrative patterns, tropes, and bias in media.

      1. Software Engineer*

        I feel like I need a ringtone that is just Michael going pffffffffffft when he hears something ridiculous

    2. TPS Reporter*

      Such a beautiful podcast and so life changing. It really makes you think about how as a culture we’re so focused on talking about other peoples bodies. I’ve turned a corner in my life to not do it, especially not in a work context.

    3. Education Mike*

      I’m obsessed w this podcast and was listening to it this morning! Is there a specific episode you’re talking about? In my mind they talk more about high level societal trends and don’t usually give that kind of advice.

      However I do highly recommend this podcast for anyone, regardless of size, but esp for straight size people who want to be better allies. Or for anyone who wants to snort laugh on the bus/at the gym/in the office.

      1. Middle of HR*

        Love your username!
        And I’m also a fan of this podcast. I would also recommend it to anyone who likes health research deep dives and anyone who has strong feelings about diet/foodhacking culture in general (they’re good with content warnings on the many eps that touch on disordered eating, so folks can spare themselves if desired).

    4. Butter for Your Toast*

      In addition to Maintenance Phase, you could also check out the Burnt Toast substack newsletter by Virginia Sole-Smith. It covers all manner of anti-diet culture issues and is fantastic as a general resource (she does Q&A’s and interviews with a ton of different experts).

    5. April*

      A little late to this thread, but if you’re like me and aren’t really able to listen to podcasts (they just do not work with my attention span 99% 0f the time), most episodes of Maintenance Phase have transcripts! Good ones! I’ve been reading MP instead of listening. :D

  2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    “Your whole energy is different now!”

    One more sign that Miranda is a terrible manager, in addition to being an awful person.

      1. Anon (and on and on)*

        Ugh, this is so gross, since it’s clear that it’s Miranda’s perceptions that have changed, and those perceptions are based on antifat stereotypes.

          1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            Sometimes it’s because they are rain makers in some aspects of their job — e.g. sales, fundraising, successful marketing ideas, winning legal cases, etc. — but shouldn’t be managing people. So they get moved to a position where they can continue to make the org money, but away from having more direct reports. Top level folks tend to only directly manage a smaller number of middle managers in an org pyramid. That doesn’t obviously stop them from being asses, as the OP has noted, but from the org’s standpoint they are mitigating the problem by putting layers of management between. So I agree with Alison that the OP should try to enlist her direct manager, Andrea, to buffer the OP from Miranda.

            1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

              Vaguely off topic, but an org pyramid would be a dream. We have a top level person who was obviously a rainmaker at one point in time, but is a truly terrible and dangerous manager. Unfortunately, we don’t have an org pyramid – so everyone directly reports to Terrible Manager and their terrible-ness affects more and more people with every promotion.

          2. how a boundary crossing manager gets promoted*

            This is a question worth pondering. One possibility: What the AAM commentariat deems “boundary crossing” registers with the employer as “appropriate.”

            Not a point of view that necessarily concords with Alison’s values, but one that can still have value to those of us reading the blog and trying to navigate less-than-ideal situations.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That is the perfect response! “Andrea is a great manager and I have really been thriving in my role lately”

      3. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        “Your whole energy is different now!”

        “Ever since Andrea became my manager I’ve just been THRIVING. It’s such an…interesting coincidence.”

    1. Overit*

      I would definitely talk with your boss not only for advice, but so she is aware of the full extent of this problem. A good manager would want to know about issues which affect staff and which presemt in front of clients – both of which affect productivity and sales.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Especially because Andrea has ALREADY intervened with Miranda on the team’s behalf. Andrea knows what Miranda is like and she is trying to shield her staff from the worst effects.

        However, if you really feel you don’t want to deal with this anymore, like Alison said, that’s fine too.

      2. maggiemct*

        If I were Andrea, I would definitely want to know about this. Even if you don’t want her to take it to HR, or elsewhere up the chain. She should know the full extent of Miranda’s awfulness.

        1. Sandi*

          I think it is really important to mention it to Andrea for the same reasons that Alison mentions about HR and valuing extra ammunition. Tech has the occasional creep who doesn’t respect boundaries, and I have decided that I have no problems telling my boss and others in management about specific incidents that are vague. If it was clearly harassment then of course I would report it to HR, but there are some situations where it is an odd comment about clothing or an occasional touch of the arm. I have found this to be effective, because managers that I trust will occasionally ask me for more information. This won’t have an impact in every situation, yet if OP trusts Andrea then at the very least it would be good to mention it.

          I was going to suggest that OP might mention it to HR, with the comment that OP doesn’t want any action based on this incident yet wanted them to know in case it is part of a wider pattern of problematic behavior. This is the language that I used when I explain my own problems to managers, and as mentioned it has some effect because one manager might comment to another “I find it strange that there is more unhappiness in this team after Employee joined” and the response is “You should talk with Sandi!!!” They can’t fire the Employee, but the manager watches the team more closely and knows to address problems with Employee immediately. It is much harder when the problem is with the boss, but they could develop an informal system where Andrea knows how to rescue OP during awkward conversations at events.

          1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

            I second the language to take to HR about not wanting direct action fo this, but alerting them in case it becomes/is part of a wider pattern. That gives HR information/documentation and also a reason to pay close attention.

      3. ursula*

        Yeah, Andrea is well-placed to be the one who handles this, especially if she’s shown herself to be savvy and trustworthy.

        Also OP, as soon as you mentioned weight loss due to illness I started nodding along and knew exactly where this was going. I hate that this is so common – it’s an experience I’ve had, too, and it’s truly awful seeing how much nicer and better people are to you the thinner you get. It’s genuinely heartbreaking and it permanently changed how I see a huge number of people. Sorry you’re dealing with this.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m so glad my recent medical issues happened while I was working remotely. I didn’t get comments on weight gain or weight loss, and I didn’t have to deal with people asking if I was pregnant.

          (Or at least, not at work. Though I kind of enjoyed returning awkwardness to sender with “It’s not a baby, it’s a large ovarian tumor” and watching them flail.)

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I still remember the acquaintance who moved away for a few years, and when she moved back was half of her previous weight. All her other acquaintances came up to tell her how great she looked and asked her what her secret was. Her answer, deadpan, was “I had cancer.”

          It was perfect “return awkward to sender.”

          1. allathian*

            Yeah. A former coworker went on a 3-month leave. That’s long, but not necessarily unusually so in a culture where people get at least 5 weeks off a year by law. When she left, she was at most slightly plump, but when she returned, she had lost a considerable amount of weight. She tried to deflect the compliments she got at the coffee table until one day she just couldn’t take it any more, and when a particularly insistent coworker asked what her secret was for the umpteenth time, she’d finally had enough, and removed her wig, and said something like “chemo will do that to you, but I wouldn’t recommend cancer as a way to lose weight.” The look on the obnoxious coworker’s face was worth seeing. Not long after that, my coworker with cancer switched fields completely, and for the duration of her notice period (2 months), she stayed in her office on her coffee breaks and didn’t speak to anyone unless it was directly related to her work.

            But yeah, people like Miranda are awful. Every single person I know who has lost a significant amount of weight reports similar findings where people compliment them on their looks and they’re listened to more than when they were fatter. It makes me wonder what people really think of me, because I’ve been overweight or obese for all of my adult life. I’ve managed well enough so far, and feel that I’m professionally respected as I am, but…

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Came here to say this as well.
      Ugh! Gross!
      Miranda is a terrible human being.
      OP, you are NOT being too sensitive! She’s being an a–hat

  3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Miranda sounds like a living, breathing embodiment of a migraine headache. I’m exhausted just reading this, I can’t imagine how fed up you must be dealing with her crap day to day. I agree with Alison that you’re definitely NOT being “too sensitive” here. This would drive anyone up a wall. If it were me, I would have a candid one on one with your current manager and ask for her advice and guidance. She sounds like she could be a powerful ally here. Please update!

    1. Education Mike*

      Agreed! It anything OP is downplaying how deeply horrific this is. She asked about your spouses genitals???????? IN THE OFFICE???? She shared people’s ADA accommodations?? Is that not illegal?!? If this was one of my reports I would fire her off the actions in this letter.

      If you tell HR about this I would urge you to also include the context you added to the top of your letter. It shows a pattern of being a horrible, insufferable twat. I mean… inappropriate work behavior. If there is a case where HR is a little jaded and when they hear “behavior has changed since X” they start to wonder if it’s in your head, hearing this would nip that in the bud. It would slice up the bud into smithereens. Although hearing she interrupted a work conversation to talk about your looks to a client would be alarming to most anyone with common sense, even if they had a lot of fat phobia.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        EXACTLY. If anything, the OP is under-reacting. This isn’t a good (or even mediocre) boss who had a moment of fatphobia. This is a deeply problematic, loose-cannon manager whose awful behavior is part of a long pattern of awful behavior.

        Any decent HR would be telling OP “could you hold on, I need to conference in our lawyers” halfway through the above post.

        1. yala*

          For real. I want to say I’m shocked OP didn’t report them after the invasive questions about her spouse, but nah, I get it, sometimes you just want to pretend that Really Uncomfortable Thing didn’t happen, and hey, it’s over now, so why make A Thing out of it.

          But like, holy CATS, that woman is out of control. Sharing someone else’s private info? Asking people about their spouse’s genitals? CONSTANTLY commenting on their body?

          1. OP*

            Yeah, so originally, when she made the comment about spouse, she was leaving the company completely, so it didn’t make sense to report it. She was going to be gone in a matter of weeks.

            The CEO loves her, though, and decided to offer her a leave of absence and a restructuring (read: promotion) as a counter to her resignation. She ended up taking it, going on leave for 4 months, and coming back as the grand boss. I didn’t know she was coming back until months later, and felt like it was too late to report. I also naïvely thought that maybe she’d be different after the leave and that I owed her the benefit of the doubt. Clearly I was wrong.

            1. Clobberin' Time*

              Don’t beat yourself up; it’s hard to know what to do in a situation like this (especially with the CEO’s faves). But it’s not too late to report, and you never owe anyone “the benefit of the doubt” when they’ve behaved this badly.

            2. Starbuck*

              Ah, don’t beat yourself up about being kind and willing to give someone a second chance – wouldn’t it be nicer if more people operated that way, not fewer? Sorry that it didn’t work in your favor this time though.

    2. Reluctant Job Hunter*

      As someone who is currently getting bullied and pushed out for finally reporting a manager’s terrible behavior, please do everything you can to ensure there won’t be devastating consequences if you choose to report this to HR or even just another manager. If I wasn’t a high performer who came in with glowing recommendations from inside the firm, I’m sure they would have invented an excuse to fire me by now. My crime in their eyes? Reporting a fellow manager for bullying me for 2+ years when it started escalating and I couldn’t stomach it anymore – I even had a supportive witness who was among senior management. I miscalculated just how beloved the bully manager is among leadership. I’m scrambling to save my sanity and self-esteem, find a new job asap, and contain the fallout. From where I sit, reporting bad behavior from leaders is just too risky. Good luck to you.

      1. yala*

        I’ve been in a similar situation (although I wasn’t a high performer, but I’ve turned that around and been working my butt off to show my value), and yeah, trying to protect against retaliation from a manager is tricky-to-impossible. The manager might not even consciously be retaliating, they just Really Don’t Like You now.

        But Miranda isn’t OP’s manager anymore, so that’s definitely a point in her favor. Since she’s got a great manager now, my call if it were me would be to talk to her current manager about the comments on her body, but also the invasive questioning, and ask if she thinks it’s something HR should be made aware of. It’s not even about Getting Miranda In Trouble–it’s about getting out in front of a problem before it gets even worse. I think HR would appreciate knowing that there’s a higher level employee that could cause them legal trouble if they’re not brought in check.

        And since she’s making these comments in public, maybe it won’t immediately come back to OP? Or if it does, at least the worst she can (probably) do is be snide.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Nesting schmesting! Sorry, no, outraged about your crap experience in which leadership loves the bully manager. I hope you get outta there soon soon soon. And that your supportive witness among senior management gives you another glowing recommendation and finds enough spine to shut up the bully.

        Keep telling your self-esteem “It’s not me, it’s them” and give yourself kudos for your courage to seek the next position.

      3. Goldenrod*

        “From where I sit, reporting bad behavior from leaders is just too risky.”

        I wish I didn’t agree with you – but I do. Also from experience. I hope you get a new, better job soon!!

  4. Appletini*

    LW, this sounds absolutely hideous. I am so sorry Miranda has been treating you like this. I’m really glad you have Andrea supervising you now.

    I would lean towards talking to HR, and definitely towards talking to Andrea. I don’t usually advocate for talking to HR, but you’ve described Miranda as having a particular personality — she’s consistent in how she behaves. I think HR ought to start tracking these incidents, because there have been ones in the past and there will be ones in the future. However, Andrea knows the company and we don’t, and it sounds like you can trust her, so I definitely would talk to her first.

    (I also think you should tell HR about when Miranda grilled you about your partner’s anatomy, because UGH, and because it helps demonstrate her consistent pattern of inappropriateness.)

    Whatever you decide, good luck and you are doing awesomely at not internalizing this fatphobic crap.

    1. Mid*

      I’d also say that LW should talk to HR and Andrea, because she has some power and capital here, and the next person Miranda harasses might not feel as secure in their ability to report this, and having the pattern documented will help everyone, not just the LW.

      1. yala*

        Alternatively, the next person Miranda harasses might decide to take legal action, and land the whole company in a mess.

        But yeah, just having it on record as a pattern could be helpful. Hopefully HR can curb some of her worse impulses.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Honestly the loudly discussing employee ADA accommodations would have already taken me to HR. The fatphobia would just be another motivator.

      1. Sandi*

        I don’t think the gender of boss matters. OP isn’t unsure because of anything related to gender, it is all about legitimate reasons to protect themselves.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I agree with you, though would note that sometimes women may assume that something can’t be harassment or discrimination if it’s coming from another woman, so the “would I put up with this if it were coming from a man” test might be useful in helping a person remember that yes, it’s harassment regardless of who it comes from.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I think what you’re picking up on is that this would probably be classified as sexual harassment coming from a straight male boss. I think it has less to do with gender than whether or not sexual attraction is (or is assumed to be) in play; I think a gay or asexual male boss would get the same reaction.

        Also, sexual harassment is explicitly illegal. I’m pretty sure fatphobia, unfortunately, is not (unless it’s a result of a disability covered by ADA). HR has plenty of training and is more likely (though not guaranteed!) to handle those allegations correctly.

      3. Appletini*

        My hesitation about going to HR is entirely because a plurality of HR offices are untrustworthy or worse, which is why I suggested talking to Andrea first as she’d know about that among other features of the business. It’s absolutely not about whether or not Miranda’s behavior can be excused by anything — her behavior is absolutely inexcusable.

      4. yala*

        I thought about that too. Male boss commenting on how attractive an employee is? It rings a lot of alarm bells. With a woman commenting on another woman’s weight loss, it’s frustratingly normalized, and look, she’s just being supportive!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Would it be as creepy if the boss was gay or asexual, though? I think the extra creepy factor isn’t so much about the boss’ gender as it is the sexual harassment.

  5. lex talionis*

    You mention you are moving on soon. If you can put up with it awhile longer mention in your exit interview.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I was going to suggest this as well. Assuming you’re getting an exit interview (if not you can ask HR for one!) this is a chance to make sure it gets documented and not put yourself in the middle of a fuss.

      I would also use your exit interview to talk about how much your role improved when Andrea came on board, that could be really great for her to hear/for those above her to hear.

    2. Sylvan*


      Also, I think this person may be too tactless and overbearing to change. It’s not worth your effort if you are on your way out. Mention it in an exit interview.

    3. Reluctant Job Hunter*

      I posted my recommendation against reporting above, but I agree with this advice if you’re not worried that it might affect any future references from this organization.

    4. Smithy*

      Sigh. I agree with this.

      I recently filed a bullying claim against someone outside of my chain of command at work with full support from my manager and my manager’s manager. And….the overall results in even a supportive environment were more along the lines of “you’ll have to work with him very rarely”.

      In my case, knowing I was supported and my colleague’s behavior (which was largely sexist as opposed to fatphobic) was called out as inappropriate made me feel better overall. But even in a relatively supportive context, the process with HR involved two parts – investigating my claim and asking what a satisfactory resolution looked like.

      Maybe your nonprofit is different than mine – but mine doesn’t have the ability to file claims against sexism or fatphobia – but does for bullying (which sexism and fatphobia can easily be covered by). Therefore, the investigation and discussed resolution was all around bullying. And not sexism. Big picture I get it, and my immediate work life has been immensely improved by not working with him often. Big picture I also decided I like where I work too much to fight this further and feel less supported overall.

      So just one snapshot of going to HR, being supported by my manager, and still having a wildly mediocre result around the actual issue.

  6. Chuck*

    Miranda is an idiot and the obvious answer here is to use her response to your weight loss to angle for a raise.

  7. glitter writer*

    I second the advice to talk to your manager Andrea first. As someone in middle management, I would absolutely want to know if my boss or someone else at that level was being horrible to one of my direct reports (and Miranda is absolutely being horrible to you) so at the very least I could be supportive, and — if they wanted — help advocate on their behalf.

  8. Lilo*

    So I wouldn’t report this woman for “fatphobia” because frankly, that’s not going to get HR’s attention (and yes, it should, but it’s not as clearly a legal issue so it gets messy).

    But frankly, I think this is sexual harassment. It was sexual harassment when she grilled you about your spouse’s anatomy. And she is repeatedly commenting on your body.

    1. Education Mike*

      Yup yup yup. That was my first thought when I read about her boss GRILLING HER ON HER SPOUSES GENITALS!?!?!?

      I wouldn’t use the words sexual harassment until the end of the store. If you start with it and have shitty HR they might spend the whole story waiting for her to like, honk your boob. But if you start with all of these disgusting actions and the , when their jaws are on the ground, clearly say you feel sexually harassed because (outline the reasons w legally aligned language here) I think that would be most impactful.

      If HR doesn’t suck, they’re going to be horrified.

    2. Lab Boss*

      In addition, it’s going to be way too easy for Miranda to squirm her way out of a “fatophobia” accusation because it doesn’t sound like she said anything overtly weight-based to OP when OP was larger. It’s understandable that OP hears “You look so good now!” and takes it to mean “You used to look so terrible!” but unpleasant people who rise to high levels usually have some skill at wiggling their way through loopholes like that.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      That reference to the conversation about OP’s spouse gave me some pause. As in, I just couldn’t provide the details for how that possibly went down at all. How exactly does one go about enquiring about the physical anatomy of people’s partners?

      1. Wednesday*

        People like this will just flat out ask. I can imagine Miranda not really listening to what the OP was saying, or purposely misunderstanding and then just saying “So, okay, just be clear. Does your partner have a d*ck?” I’ve heard it happen.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          There are also people who will start with an innocuous-seeming question and escalate from there, similar to white people asking non-white people “where are you from?” and then escalating to “where are you really from?/where were you born?/where are your parents from?” The first question could be fine on its own, the later questions make it clear the bigoted intent.

          So the boss could have started with “what are your spouses pronouns again?” and escalated to “what (gender) are they really?/ were they born as a boy or a girl?/ have they had ~ThE sUrGerY~?”

        2. Cj*

          I figured she asked something like if OPs spouse has had gender affirming surgery or something similar. Not as blunt as asking if they have a dick, but it’s basically the same question just dressed up a little.

          I know trans people can also use they/them pronouns, and although I certainly don’t know any statistics on that, but it seems to me just from what I see on the internet that trans people seem to be more likely to use pronouns of the gender they transition to. So unless I was told otherwise, I wouldn’t assume somebody that uses they / them pronouns was trans. and I certainly won’t ask, because it’s none of my business either way.

      2. TransmascJourno*

        I’m transmasculine and nonbinary, and I’ve dealt with complete strangers asking me about my genitals without preamble or pause. So yeah, what the OP describes doesn’t surprise me.

      3. OP*

        I’m the OP, and I’ll tell you, because it’s kinda wild.

        My spouse and I were going through IVF at this time, and I had to ask Miranda for a lot of time off for appointments and an egg retrieval procedure. BUT, I’m not carrying the pregnancy, my spouse is (my egg, their basket). And I wanted to make that clear so she wasn’t worried about me suddenly needing lots of time for pregnancy-related things. I was still relatively new to the position when this happened and had no idea she was going to grill me about specifics. Egg retrieval happens, I come back to work a few days later, and everything is fine. Then she comes into my office and tells me she was talking with her daughters about our situation (violation #1), and her daughters told her that what we were doing wasn’t possible, and she had probably misunderstood something. So she just wanted to make sure it was safe for my spouse to carry a pregnancy. I’m really confused at this point and I’m like “????WTF?” And she elaborates, saying “well they’re trans, right? so what equipment do they have?” (violation 2-a million). I was so shocked in the moment that I answered, but did have the sense to shut the conversation down after that.

        But yeah, basically she’s got some serious audacity and really just assumes everyone WANTS to tell her the intimate details of their lives.

        1. anonymous 5*


          uh, my 2 cents, but boy howdy do I think that story should go to HR. I’m at a loss to be more eloquent about this, or at least to find language that won’t flag every moderation filter invented…

        2. Clorinda*

          My shoulders are up around my ears just reading about this conversation.

        3. Yes Anastasia*

          I hope that in many years when Miranda is no longer part of your life, you and your spouse will enjoy telling the bizarre story of the former boss who, instead of realizing they’d misunderstood your partner’s gender, decided you were engaged in some kind of cutting-edge science experiment in order to have a child together.

        4. I take tea*

          On top of this being extremely rude and inappropriate, doesn’t she understand basic biology? Did she think your partner was MtF and carrying the child in their stomach? Or that neither of you, nor all the doctors and other health care people involved wouldn’t be aware of all the logistics involved in childbirth? Maybe she thought you would go all “oh, bummer, didn’t think of that”?

          I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

        5. Mrs. Hawiggins*

          I agree with Alison that the next step in handling is up to you but after reading THIS all I can say is run fast, run far. I hope you can at some point, but I also hope that Miranda is counseled, STRONGLY about this behavior, or is shown some sort of disciplinary measure at minimum. Gawd where do some of these people come from sometimes!

        6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          That was so much worse than I even imagined!!!!! I mean, she really did flat out ask you what sexual/reproductive organs your spouse has!!!

        7. Very Social*


          I meant to make that shorter but I just couldn’t stop hitting the “a.”

          Also, I hope you and your spouse have a wonderful, healthy child or children by now (or your spouse is having a healthy, comfortable-as-possible pregnancy)!

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Yes. I thought the same. Comments on a person’s body is sexual harassment.

    5. jojo*

      That is what I was thinking. Although it is both. Fat shaming and sexual harassment. Turn the tables on her. Next time she starts talking about your hot new body tel her “thanks. As you know I already have a partner. Please stop hitting on me.” That might shut her up for a while. And have a talk with HR on your way out the door. Tell them all you disclosed in this post plus any other things you have not mentioned.
      In faCT start keeping a diary of sorts on your interactions with her. Thst way you will not forget anything on your exit interview.

  9. idwtpaun*

    OP, Miranda sucks and I’m so sorry you’re faced with this situation. Please don’t beat yourself up about being “too sensitive,” you’re not. You’re persistently being made uncomfortable at work by a person in position of seniority over you, it’s not unreasonable to feel fed up with it! You have every right to use any tool at your disposal to deal with this issue, including HR, if you decide that’s what you want.

    And while I understand if you decide you don’t want to bring up the incident about your spouse with HR and once again be forced to talk about it, I actually think that’s a huge deal that merits being reported. It’s such an overstep of any acceptable boundary, so wildly inappropriate, I really think Miranda should face some consequence for it.

    1. S*

      So many cis people think (or pretend to think) it’s acceptable though—hopefully OP’s HR wouldn’t but it’s very disheartening how often this question doesn’t just come up but is expressed and used to pester people into answering. Sigh.

      1. idwtpaun*

        OP wrote that Miranda struggles “with the organization’s more leftist policies”, which I’m hoping to mean for OP’s sake that their HR would take it seriously.

  10. Baron*

    You’re absolutely not being too sensitive. I would lean toward not reporting her, for the reasons Alison says, but that’s me – you certainly wouldn’t be wrong to report her.

    1. Pippa K*

      Same, but while I probably wouldn’t tell HR, I’d definitely be telling all my (trusted) colleagues about incidents like these. That way, if it happens to others, perhaps even more egregiously, they’ll have more context for their own decision about going to HR.

      Also, if this gets worse later and you do decide to go to HR, you may need to describe the pattern of behavior, and you’ll be able to say that while you didn’t report earlier incidents, you did tell other people at the time. (Sadly, I have come to learn that this is a thing in reporting long running misconduct, because “how do we know this is true if you didn’t report it at the time?”)

        1. RunShaker*

          I agree with Alison. Since you’re leaving soon, going to HR may not be the best. Weigh your options. Maybe use the exit interview to voice concerns but in the end as Alison said it’s up to you & don’t feel guilty. I’ve had to learn when to use my capital & when to use the crappy boss to further my career while not getting crap on me.

  11. Burnt out Fed*

    I’m probably selfish, but if it were me, I’d possibly ask if Andrea felt comfortable bringing up how Miranda treated you at the event to HR *herself*, as someone who observed an unusual amount of commentary on an employees body (in front of outsiders, no less!) The goal being it doesn’t trace back to you and gee, shoulders the company want to curv that kind of behavior anyway, if only for the sake of company image?

    Then you could keep your great references and move on up in your career without a problem.

    Ideally, anyway. Might be idealistic.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If I were Andrea I’d absolutely do this – someone in a position of authority pointing out how something reflects on the business is often a good play.

      1. Lab Boss*

        If I was in Andrea’s shoes and was already dealing with Miranda circumventing me and trying to micromanage my team, I’d want to know anything else she was doing to my team as part of creating my list of examples of her poor behavior for eventually having to escalate her problem behavior.

    2. Elle*

      I came to suggest basically this. If I were Miranda, I’d be more than happy to do what I could to handle this for LW.

  12. CheesePlease*

    Ugh I’m so sorry. I would think about a way to flag it more broadly. For example “Miranda seems to have an obsession with my weight loss in ways that hinder our working relationship and client services in some cases. I wouldn’t want this to be an issue for other employees on the team who may have dramatic weight / body changes in the future”. Because what if she starts treating someone worse for gaining weight? Or weirdly focuses on a pregnant employee’s baby weight? etc.

    You’re not being too sensitive. This woman has crossed multiple boundaries (honestly WTF if her asking for personal details re: your spouse. I’m sorry you had to deal with that) and now is routinely crossing them again, in addition to treating the consequence of a medical condition as a good thing?? (I’m glad you’re healthy! and were healthy before! But assuming that all weight loss is good is very gross). You deserve better

  13. Raven*

    I’m sorry your dealing with this. You’re not overeacting, she’s making you and everyone around you incredibly uncomfortable, is being insulting and downright patronising (being slim ‘cures’ introverion, boiling down your professional achievments to your looks etc).
    I would have a chat with your manager as suggested, she is better placed to know the potential consequences, and then you can make any complaint with your eyes open.
    I would say, given how she treats others and her unprofessional conduct, it’s worth considering how much you’ll be able to use those connections, and how those connections will view you. She’s shown herself to have poor judgement and more than likely some of those connections will be aware and wary of anyone she sends their way. Though this is the sort of thing that is dependent on industry.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think the “best” case to discuss with Andrea or HR is the behavior at the dinner. I’m trying to imagine if I was a client there to discuss business stuff and somebody kept drawing my attention to our poor hostess’ weight and body. I’d be quite confused and put off. I sort of agree the easiest way to do this might be in an exit interview, but I’m kind of a coward that way. As I recall (?) weight is one of those grey areas for protected class unless it qualifies as a disability, so technically I’m not sure OP has great protections here.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Exactly this. I’m 1000% certain that Miranda made a lot of clients at that event feel very uncomfortable, and people up the chain from her need to be made aware of that. Miranda is a bad boss, and she’s a bad representative for the company overall.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        If I was a client or stakeholder at that dinner and witnessed this I would have curled up and died from secondhand mortification on Miranda’s part. How freaking awkward would it be to listen to that? I’d be desperately trying to redirect the conversation to the point I might resort to pointing, yelling “SQUIRREL!”, and grabbing the LW to investigate said rodent.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        You don’t always need to be part of a protected class to enjoy anti-discrimination protections – eg [slur] is homophobic regardless of the sexual orientation of the intended recipient. I think HR would therefore want to reduce or eliminate Miranda’s offensive discussions because they potentially pertain to at least one protected group (pregnancy, disability).

    2. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      And what kind of reference would Miranda give? “Oh, OP has so much energy now that she’s lost a ton of weight!”

      OP, you don’t want Miranda to sabotage you, but neither can you count on a reference that will be extremely helpful.

  14. MusicWithRocksIn*

    Ugh. I lost a ton of weight years ago when I was very, very sick – and you could really tell how certain people looked at you, because a lot of people gushed about how great I looked, and others were deeply worried about me, because I did not actually look great. I was super pale, and had dark circles under my eyes and was in constant pain, and anyone who really looked at *me* and not my figure could see I was doing badly, but people either could only see my size, or thought that sickly and in pain but thin was a better look than normal size girl.

    1. GrooveBat*

      I, too, have gained and lost weight noticeably over the years, and I absolutely HATE people commenting on it. Especially when they so clearly intend it as a compliment and do not understand why it would be unwelcome.
      A few years ago, a colleague of mine lost her brother to cancer, and when she came back to the office after a harrowing couple of months, another colleague could.not.stop commenting on her weight loss. Until finally, my other colleague just snapped and said, “Trust me. You don’t want to lose weight the way I did.” I swear, the offender was about to make a remark along the lines of the weight loss being a silver lining, but, thankfully, my colleague and I just walked away and rolled our eyes.

      1. Erie*

        In college I once commented unthinkingly on a fellow student’s weight loss. She had stopped eating after she lost her brother to suicide. I learned from this and never made that stupid mistake again.

    2. Esmeralda*

      You look great:
      “Too bad I had to get [name the illness] for you to think I look good”

      “Really? Cuz I feel like crap– I’ve got [name the illness] and I’m in constant pain.”

      The folks who are worried — that’s ok, as long as they’re not prying. “Yes, I’ve been sick, but it’s getting under control.” “Thanks for your concern, but I really just want to focus on work when I’m at work. Thanks, I appreciate your being so understanding!”

    3. OyHiOh*

      Similarly, I lost a whole bunch of weight shockingly quickly when my spouse died. Thankfully, most of the people around me at the time recognized/understood the cause and said and did things that were actually supportive, rather than comment on how “good” I looked.

      I did not look “good.” I looked sick and underfed because, well, I was significantly underfed. I wouldn’t eat for a day at a time unless someone specifically reminded me to eat.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      My former boss lost a lot of weight during cancer treatment. We were at a big meeting with people from other offices and someone she had known from a previous position came over and gushed about how great she looked. The person asked “what diet did you do?” My boss answered, with the same cheerful demeanor as the other person, “chemotherapy!”

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I had that once after a bout of cholera. I responded that is was because I spent a about 2 weeks excreting 1 L of fluids an hour, lived off oral rehydration salts, lying in a cholera cot. And then I showed a picture of a cholera cot. They were a little green around the gills after that and I do not feel bad about this at all.

      1. Cookie*

        I had to google that, I really did. I don’t know how I got to be this old without even knowing a cholera cot exists. Thanks for the lesson! And also, dang, I’m so sorry that happened to you!

    6. marvin*

      I’ve had this too and it made me really uncomfortable. In my case, some people went fully into telling me how awful I had looked before and how they had been “afraid” to tell me how much my body grossed them out.

      Did I mention that I was a teenager at the time and most of the people telling me this were full adults? They were really supportive in taking my disordered eating to the next level :/

      1. Jan*

        How cruel. I’m sorry you were treated like that. I hope as an adult you’ve found more supportive people.

    7. Alex (they/them)*

      the thinnest I ever was was when I was so stressed from college I barely ate. People were so eager to praise all my weight loss :)))))))))

      1. nm*

        I remember when I came home from a thanksgiving break and my mom expressed alarm at my obviously stress-induced weight loss and my dad was like “no, it’s great that you lost weight! keep it up!” Ugh.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      This. I look sickly and underweight, because I am sickly and underweight because some days I just can’t physically eat anything, but people can get annoyingly gushy about how “good I look” and asking me how I look so “healthy”. It is certainly telling.

    9. BigandSober*

      Yep. The most praise I ever got on my body is
      when I was on drugs and basically
      not eating at all. People reallly don’t understand that thin doesn’t equal healthy!

    10. Krisya*

      Me too!!! I was pregnant but had hyperemesis and lost 15 pounds in 2 months, then barely maintained that weight until the last trimester. It was horrible, I looked exhausted and pale and sickly, and people still complimented how good I looked and how it was so great that I was ‘getting healthier’ (???)

      Thin =/= healthy
      Fat =/= unhealthy

      Once more for the people in the back.

      1. JustAnotherKate*

        Totally — I had a job I hated that stressed me out to the point that I threw up many mornings before work and basically ate saltines for months. I was 33 and looked 60, but I heard “WOW, you’ve lost SO MUCH WEIGHT, what’s your SECRET?” I was like “um, misery?”

  15. Sunny days are better*

    As someone who used to be fat, I can totally sympathize with everything that you said. When I lost weight, I had so many people complement me on how great I looked both socially and at work. It was very weird – because on the one hand, it is nice to get complements, but on the other hand, people shouldn’t comment on other people’s bodies and you don’t know why I’ve lost weight. I could be dying from cancer.

    Do people treat you differently when you are no longer fat? Most definitely. Is it annoying? Most definitely. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But there is a stigma that fat people are less intelligent and competent than thin people. People like Miranda believe it, so here were are.

    Your best bet is probably to have Andrea speak to her – assuming that Andrea has ever witnessed any of this – and Andrea should be very clear that she is speaking to Miranda on her own initiative so that you don’t suffer any blowback.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Societal expectations of weight and of losing weight are very different for men and for women.

        1. Gumby*

          This is true, but I also fielded a few questions about my mother’s health when she lost a fair amount of weight. (Questions came from people who legitimately cared about her health and weren’t intrusive given the relationship.) So it is not unheard of.

    1. TPS Reporter*

      I also went through a weight loss similar to what the OP reported. Someone in my family said something like I will now be able to advance in my career because people will respect me more. That hurt so much and now if I can a little weight I start freaking out. This kind of talk is very damaging and Miranda needs to be called out. I don’t think it has to be from HR but would support Andrea or the OP talking to her.

    2. Big Bank*

      During one of my weight loss periods, the whole work team I was on kind of spontaneously decided to get healthier in each person’s own way, so it was great to get their support because we each KNEW the situation going on and our individual goals.

      Meanwhile I ran into someone my dad knew at the time and he said “So are you the skinny one, or did you lose a lot of weight?” I laughed it off at the time but it’s still rattling in my head ten years later and plays at my lowest moments reminding me that some people describe me as “the fat one” and my sister “the skinny one”. All this is to say, shut your mouth about a person’s weight loss unless you know the whole deal.

    3. JimmyJab*

      I can’t believe how lucky I am – I had a similar situation – illness led to significant weight loss. I think I only had one person ask my “secret” and I awkwardly said, oh, illness.

      1. Boof*

        I’ve intentionally lost about 50 lbs in the last year (i did need to lose it), and i’ve managed similar dramatic intentional loss one other time 10 years ago – no weird comments that I’ve noticed, at most one or two people in grad school said something like “you lost a lot of weight?” In a neutral inquiring way – which personally i think is fine if you’re on friends level to ask about a big change you see, I appreciate it was phrased as a neutral query and not a judgement or approval. (Not saying this to invalidate other peoples stories just saying there’s hope for society to get it right!)

  16. Another fat lady*

    Please don’t leave without talking to HR. These behaviors/assumptions will not change unless we speak up.

  17. Qwerty*

    Focusing on the behavior at the latest event may be your safest option to get relief and keep a nuetral-to-positive relationship with Miranda. I’d have a different response if you weren’t looking to retain access to her contacts and on your way out.

    Talk to Andrea – she sounds like she’s been effective at buffering the micromanagement, so she can help here. If she witnessed Miranda’s behavior at the event, maybe she’d be able to talk to Miranda. But I think you can weaponize the defense of “good intentions”, where *of course* Miranda would want to know that the comments make you uncomfortable and detract from your business dealings at the event and how it is *so unlike her* (yes, you know it is very much like her, but its more effective to play to her positive image of herself).

    On your way out the door though, please please have an honest exit interview with HR with the full history. If they don’t schedule one, set it up yourself your last week.

  18. Anon, good Nurse*

    I think a good framing for talking to Miranda directly is to focus it fully on the business context of the event. “Hi Miranda, I feel awkward bringing this up but I think it is important. When we were at the Llama Signature Fundraiser I was speaking to external stakeholders about [important thing] and when you came up to compliment my outfit and weight loss, I felt it really diverted the conversation and may have affected how some stakeholders think about me. I understand that you are giving me compliments, but can we please agree that compliment and message are received and no longer bring this up?” and then if she does it again internally you could be like, “Hey we agreed message received! No need to keep giving it, can we talk about [thing]?” And ask your boss’s support in the redirects, be frank with your boss.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Don’t let Miranda think these are compliments — even for the sake of preserving the relationship. Miranda was WILDLY out of line, and does not get social cues. So all she will hear is “it’s okay to compliment someone in a business setting as long as I don’t over do it.” When the message you want to send is “Knock it off Miranda, this is NEVER appropriate to talk about someone’s body.”

      1. ...*

        Seconding. While of course those who experience weight loss will get it at a higher frequency, people of any size who actually like hearing these things at work are the very minor minority, if they exist at all.

        My body is just the vehicle through which I navigate the office, it’s here by total coincidence. I’d prefer if we all pretend I’m an amorphous eldritch horror while discussing budgets, thanks.

      2. Aerin*

        Yeah, definitely don’t lead off by referring to them as compliments. Make it clear that you were uncomfortable, then go with some of the ol’ Unearned Praise.

        You: Hey, your continual comments about my weight loss are making me uncomfortable, especially in front of clients, and I really need you to stop.
        Miranda: Buh? I was just paying you a ~*~*compliment*~*~
        You: I’m so glad to hear that you weren’t trying to make me feel bad on purpose! So now that you know those comments aren’t actually compliments at all, I appreciate you no longer making them. Thanks!

        Have a subject change/exit prepared so you can breeze away, and keep a subject change in your pocket for the next time she pulls that nonsense. “Oh, Miranda, we already talked about that. How’s the new llama project going?” It’s hard for anyone to perceive it as a conflict if you are being the Cheerful Steamroller. (It sucks that you have to play the Cheerful part when you might be feeling anything but. It’s diplomacy, plus there’s something extremely satisfying about how utterly flummoxed it leaves people who want to stir the pot.)

    2. Education Mike*

      This is not a good idea. Don’t tell her compliment received. Don’t agree that this insane fixation in your body is a complement. You can tell her you understand she meant it that way if you want to soften the message but saying “completely received” is the opposite of the message you want to convey.

      1. Anon, good Nurse*

        I am coming from the point of view that this OP is interested in extricating herself from the situation that she’ll soon be leaving anyway and Miranda can help her in securing a better position for herself. The person whose battle it is to fight long-term with Miranda about professional treatment of employees is OP’s boss and the executive director/board of directors, not the victim. I think OP can be perfectly frank with the boss she has a great relationship with, and from what I read it didn’t sound like OP’s cost/benefit analysis was leaning toward confrontation with Miranda

  19. Elle*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! You are NOT too sensitive- this sounds infuriating. If there’s any way Miranda can take on talking to HR on your behalf, I think that would be a good way to guard against retaliation.

    This woman is obviously a nightmare but the questioning you about your partner’s genitals is something I’ve run into as well… I feel like it happens a lot with people who aren’t super woke but who like to think they are? My ex was an AFAB nb person and I routinely got questions that hinted that folks were assuming they were a trans woman for some reason. I’m a tall, broad shouldered queer cis woman and I’ve gotten a weird amount of people basically trying to ask if I’m trans/clumsily signaling that they’re totally chill with me.

    1. darcy*

      yeah cis people who don’t actually know any trans people quite often seem to try and signal that they’re “supportive” or whatever by asking deeply inappropriate questions

  20. Empress Matilda*

    Miranda is terrible and deserves to be yeeted into the sun.

    That’s really all I can come up with, which is why Alison is an advice columnist and I am not. Whether or not you decide to address it, I’m glad that you’re on good terms with your own body! Even if the Mirandas of the world don’t care, there are always going to be some Emilys around who will see you and follow your great example.

  21. Seashell*

    I can understand why she wouldn’t want to say anything, but this probably would have been shut down entirely or in part if she told Miranda the weight loss was due to illness that has since resolved.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Nah, because 1) its none of Miranda’s damn business and 2) then Miranda will start in about keeping the weight off. What she wants to do is NOT HAVE MIRANDA talk about her body or her spouse’s body at all.

    2. LizB*

      Given that Miranda thought it was okay to talk to LW in detail about her wife’s genitals (which, LW, I totally understand freezing in the moment, but you can just walk away from that convo!!! You would be totally within your rights!!!) I assume this would only lead to Miranda wanting to know alllllll the gory details about the illness and probably blabbing it all over the office afterwards. Doesn’t solve the actual problem and also creates a new one.

    3. CLC*

      Nah. Anyone ignorant enough to make comments like this about an employee’s body and openly admit to letting antifat bias affect their management decisions wouldn’t change their behavior after knowing it was caused by an illness. It also wouldn’t make them stop this behavior or check their bias with respect to other people.

    4. Appletini*

      Considering Miranda’s well-described character (she cornered LW to ask for intimate details of LW’s spouse’s body), why do you think this particular piece of information would have caused her to back off? Even if LW’s illness were Miranda’s business, which it is not?

    5. OP*

      I’m the OP. Miranda was perfectly clear on the fact that the weight loss was due to a medical issue. This is just who she is.

  22. CLC*

    I hate that this is still happening in 2022. I think this really needs to be documented—though it’s not illegal to discriminate against someone because of their weight, Miranda has openly admitted to having significant bias against fat people (even small-fat people!) and letting that influence her management decisions. That’s not ok!!! While the LW’s job had improved because of Miranda’s bias, other peoples’ jobs are negatively affected. If the LW plans to leave soon, all the more reason to report this. Especially in a non-profit that works with diverse community members, I can’t imagine that the board wants someone with these negative biases—who also doesn’t think it’s a problem to openly flaunt them—in a leadership position.

  23. Khatul Madame*

    LW, if you don’t want to take this to HR now, then don’t. Suggestions to address this with Andrea and bring up at the exit interview are very good.
    I do want to point out the part in your letter where you mention that Miranda’s connections may be useful in your job search. Do you realize that her recommendation will focus on that. same. thing again? You better have other references that can speak to your work accomplishments, not how great you look now.

  24. FrenchCusser*

    A similar thing happened to me – a health crisis, not weight related at all, resulted in a 75 lb. weight loss and so many coworkers complimented me on it. When I would tell them to to stop, they’d just double down on it.

    Fortunately no one in my department (who were all very kind and sensitive during a really traumatic time), but the ones who did! Argh! I never wanted to butt people’s heads together so much as I did then.

  25. CharlieBrown*

    I was barely at the end of the first paragraph when I was thinking, “oh, hell no.” My jaw dropped as I continued to read the letter.

    Yes, you should report this. Report all of it, as I think some of it does rise to the level of sexual harassment, as others have pointed out. I hope it will help you feel better. But you may face this in future jobs. You have to know that you can stand up to this kind of situation. Mirandas are, unfortunately, everywhere. The solution is not to simply move on every time you encounter this.

    I honestly think you are being too kind to Miranda by calling her fatphobia “unconscious”. I doubt very much that it’s unconscious. Miranda knows exactly what she is doing and should be called out on the carpet for it.

    I wish you luck, OP, and I’m very sorry you are experiencing this.

  26. irene adler*

    OP, I am so sorry you have to endure this treatment. Been there, done that with the change in how I was treated after I dropped a significant amount of weight. It sure bothered me.

    Given this blatant crossing of the lines here, management ought to be concerned about how Miranda interacts with clients. I can’t believe she is 100% proficient with “reining it in” with the inappropriate questions/comments for clients only to cross lines with employees.

    Andrea should step in and take this to HR-before- there’s an incident with a client that could have been avoided.

    1. TPS Reporter*

      I also went through a weight loss similar to what the OP reported. Someone in my family said something like I will now be able to advance in my career because people will respect me more. That hurt so much and now if I can a little weight I start freaking out, like I’m going to be seen again as worthless and not deserving of the things I’ve achieved. Read this, hear this everyone. It doesn’t matter why the weight was lost. All people no matter the size need to be seen as equally capable. Do not comment on their bodies, you have no idea what is going on with someone and it’s not your place to pass judgment even if you are perceiving that as positive or constructive.

      1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        This is absolutely true. If I knew what words would be the antidote to your family member’s awful comment I’d type them here.

        1. TPS Reporter*

          It was so demoralizing to know that this is what some people are thinking- that I am less capable solely based on body size. This family member also happens to be in the same profession which is absolutely not based on looks or any sort of physical ability whatsoever.

  27. Dark Macadamia*

    LW, just something to keep in mind if you do choose to talk to her or HR, or just to frame things for yourself:

    It doesn’t matter that she’s “being nice.” She may genuinely intend to compliment you, or think she’s supporting an active choice on your part to lose weight, but it’s still unacceptable to comment on your body at work. If she or HR tries to defend it as “encouragement” or whatever it’s completely acceptable for you to say you don’t want ANY comments on your body EVER and that it makes you uncomfortable. Don’t get drawn into a debate about whether she’s being insulting or not. You know exactly what’s going on here but ultimately it’s the behavior that’s a problem, and you don’t need to convince anyone that this attitude toward fat bodies is hateful to ask for it to stop. It would be wrong no matter what size you were before and what size you are now.

  28. PotsPansTeapots*

    A few years ago, I was very sick and spent some time in an ICU. I’ve always been chubby/thick and lost enough weight for it to be noticible. It was awful hearing people tell me how good I looked when I was under close medical supervision and so scared.

    I don’t have advice to offer, but wanted to offer some empathy. No matter what you choose, it’ll be the right decision.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I had a similar, but much, much less experience when I had my mouth wired shut due to a broken jaw.

      I hope that you are doing okay, now.

  29. Sleepy*

    Look, you shouldn’t have to do this, but when I wanted people to leave me alone after I lost weight, I went into minute by minute painful detail of how I did it. I used this app to track calories and pre-plan my daily eating, I went to trader joe’s for x, y, z on Sundays and then got a, b, c from costco (but avoided those samples, amiright?) and then prepared d, e, f on Sundays . . . I never made it to the exercise and sleep portions. People would avoid commenting on my weight again.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Step 1. Have a health crisis.

      Step 2. Lose weight accidentally as a result of health crisis.

      Step 3. ???

      Step 4. Profit. (??)


    2. Avril Ludgateaux*

      This is a wholly legitimate and potentially effective strategy if LW is comfortable sharing, even obliquely, her private medical information. A short and pointed, “Actually, I got horribly, dangerously ill, and the unintended weight loss was an unfortunate side effect. I would prefer you stop commenting on my body as it feels hostile to my medical condition.” (hint, hint, hint.)

      Of course Miranda may just be the type who has no self awareness, so it would fall on deaf ears.

      1. FrenchCusser*

        Oh, gosh, I did that – pointed out to the worst offender that I nearly DIED and it did. not. stop. her.

    3. Anonymous cat*

      This is kind of like malicious compliance! “Oh, you want to know something? Here, I’ll tell you….detaildetaildetaildetaildetaildetail…Where are you going?”

      Can’t say they didn’t ask!

  30. SwampWitch85*

    I really recommend reporting her. Especially as a nonprofit employee she needs to be in a much more educated mental space than she is. And thank you for showing an example of fat bias. I appreciate that, it makes me feel valid about the times I know I experienced it.

  31. Choggy*

    I wanted to make a comment regarding your concern about how community members who attended the conference see you. You had no control over Miranda’s behavior and attempted to redirect the conversation which would be what they would have seen. It’s unfortunate there are people in our lives who choose, and it’s absolutely a choice, to embarrass others deliberately. I have a former manager like this, and steer way clear of her so I’m not a target of her “helpful” comments. Everyone who knows this manager knows she’s like this, and does not think any differently about those she comments about, they just think she’s a whack job. Keep doing you, being the professional you are, and trust me, people will see THAT and only that.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Agree 100%. I am not sure how great Miranda’s connections will be in the community if everyone knows that this is how she behaves, but definitely try to take the high ground in your interactions with her. Feel free to shut all this behavior down, and to report her (I vote yes but it’s of course totally up to you, OP), but be nothing but professional when you do so.

  32. DramaQ*

    I’d talk to your direct boss first since you seem to trust her and she sounds like she has already been running interference between her team and Miranda. It could very well be possible a case is being put together against Miranda and you would be the nail in the coffin. You also need to tell her Miranda is asking inappropriate questions about your partner’s sexuality. No need to share the gritty details but if you work with diverse populations that is important for Andrea to know because with someone that stupid it’s only a matter of time before she says it to a client. So in light of that stress that she made the comments at a professional event in front of clients/potential clients. HR may not always rise to protect employees but they will always rise to protect the reputation of the company. You can explain to Andrea you aren’t comfortable with it being personal and list the reasons you gave here. A good boss can lay out your complaint to HR in a way that keeps you as out of it as possible. There is no proof Andrea didn’t overhear it or a client said something to her about it in passing. If Miranda retaliates report her again to Andrea and let her/HR take it from there. I get wanting to leave and that is not a bad thing if you chose to just go but I would consider if you want to move up/on and she’s that much of a mover/shaker in the industry you’re likely going to encounter her again even if it’s not as your boss. Stuff like what she did at the party can cost you and your future employer clients. Word can spread in small industries I’m betting other people have her number too.

  33. Risha*

    LW, I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’m going to give you my advice, but first I want to give my disclaimer that this is only my advice and you don’t have to follow it if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. I just want to give you another way to handle it.

    Whenever she or any manager starts in on your weight or spouse or anything you do not want to discuss, shut it down. Shut it down firmly, professional, and don’t allow any room for argument or rebuttals. If she makes a comment about your spouse, tell her “I am not talking about my spouse at work, this is not your business”. When she talks about your body, tell her “this is not appropriate and I do not want to discuss my body”.

    I respect managers of course, but I do not subscribe to the belief that you have to let them say or do whatever just because they’re higher up than you. I’m not (general) your kid or family or whatever, I’m a professional who is trading my time to help this company make money. I’m white and married to a black man. I’ve had to shut down 2 managers in the past who made racist comments to me. One said to me “what does your dad think about you being married outside your race?”. Another one told me that my kids will be confused, not knowing what race they are. I told both of them directly they’re being extremely racist and I’ll cut them slack this one time but moving on, if they even fart in my direction, I’ll go to HR. At my last job, my manager discussed my accommodations for a mental illness with others included on the email. I emailed her back and told her to knock it off. She got offended, but she knocked it off because she knew I wasn’t playing around with her.

    LW, you don’t have to put up with this crap just because they are managers. Shut it down and report it. Then keep meticulous documentation of any subtle retaliation that they may do to you. Also, I know this is easier said than done, but look for another job if you are in a position to do so. I hate this type of crap that managers do and us lowly workers just have to accept it.

  34. Slow Gin Lizz*

    It’s also possible likely that there have been other complaints about Miranda


    Also, this: “she suggested that my introversion would disappear with the extra weight” is TOTALLY GROSS. So sorry you’re dealing with her, what a nightmare.

  35. Leta*

    I had a sexist & fatphobic boss and even he knew to not make comments about my body when I went through extreme weight loss (by choice.) He to this day has never mentioned the fact that I went from an obese brunette to a chubby blonde in the course of a year. Unfortunately, there were other co-workers and clients who wouldn’t shut up about it so I empathize with OP. In her shoes, I would go to Amdrea first.

  36. marvin*

    Ugh. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, and also that reporting this kind of crap often comes at a price for the person who chooses to speak up. I feel like the response in this case would would also really depend on the individual HR employees, since there is such a wide array of opinions out there when it comes to fat acceptance and just basic recognition that body policing is a problem. I can definitely imagine some HR reps who would not understand why aggressive “compliments” about weight loss would bother anyone.

  37. PlainJane*

    This sucks. The fact that she no longer feels the need to micromanage because you’ve lost weight is beyond gross and removes any doubt about her more complimentary comments.

    (That said, weight loss etiquette is weird. On the one hand, it’s super intrusive, especially because you didn’t do it deliberately. On the other… well, I’ve been working quite hard on it, and find myself weirdly offended that people *don’t* say, “Hey, good job!” more often. I mean, I’m sixty pounds lighter. So far, the only comment I got was a worried, “I noticed you’ve lost weight. Have you been sick?” It was discouraging to work so hard and not have it acknowledged even though my head knows that it wouldn’t be right to do it. It’s all very weird.)

    1. kicking_k*

      Isn’t it just. I lost significant weight once by putting in a lot of effort and hardly anyone noticed (including my fiancé!) and it was equal parts sweet, reassuring and frustrating.

      And then some years later, I lost weight without any effort over the course of a pregnancy – ie was slightly lighter postpartum than pre-pregnancy – and got so many comments on how good I looked for having just had a baby that it was extremely uncomfortable. I mean, better than if I’d lost it through being sick. But still very weird.

    2. KN*

      I was going to ask if these were people who knew you were intentionally trying to lose weight (if not, it wouldn’t only be bad etiquette for them to comment, but also they truly would have no way to know if it was something to congratulate you on!)

      But as someone whose weight has significantly fluctuated a few times (mostly due to intentional weight loss), I still think the best thing for everyone involved is not to say anything. I had one coworker, in private, very neutrally mention, “You’ve been looking very thin lately!” which I thought was a reasonable enough way to bring up an obvious physical change. I said, yes, I was making an effort to lose weight, she said something along the lines of “well good job then, congrats!”, I thanked her, and all seemed fine… except that I ended up gaining a fair bit of weight back over the pandemic, and then that interaction made me feel a bit more self-conscious than I would have otherwise.

      Positive feedback is great, but in the future I’ve learned I’ll be happier receiving it in venues where I’ve asked for it specifically, not from my coworkers.

      1. PlainJane*

        Yeah. Through no fault of anyone else’s, work is pretty much my only social interaction, which… is not a good thing. That’s on me, and I know it, but it does cause cognitive dissonance as to what manners apply to what situations.

  38. JelloStapler*

    I cannot help but wonder what a well times “I am confused as to why you are so concerned about my body and want to discuss it with others?” would do.

  39. RunShaker*

    I commented above how I didn’t understand how the Miranda’s of the world get promoted. It got me thinking about my last job & how head of my department was like this. He talked a great game. He was great at rallying & connecting with the higher ups. People in my department worked hard & he used that to show how great of a manager he was. We didn’t work hard due to his leadership. We worked hard due to our mission & overall company was great. We worked hard to also try to change things in our department but to no avail. To people on outside, he did look good but not to ones in his department. Finally started showing when people started leaving but higher ups still didn’t question. He also treated the Ops manager horrible due to her weight. She was one of employees that made him look good. She was one of people who left & has progressed in her career. She never said anything or reported him to HR. I don’t think our HR would have done anything due to how they handled other issues. But in the end, Ops Manager came out on top & my old department is closing down.

  40. OrigCassandra*

    I find myself rather curious about this departmental restructuring, OP. Do you know, or does Andrea know, whether/how Miranda’s general awfulness was taken into consideration? Was Miranda perhaps the cause of the whole thing?

    I ask because I think there’s a chance — maybe not a big one, but a chance — that Miranda has overstayed her welcome at this organization. If so, perhaps you and Andrea can help get Miranda pushed out the door.

    1. OP*

      Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. Our CEO is pretty enthralled with Miranda.

      My understanding (and I have no reason to believe this is a front) is that shortly after I started a year ago, Miranda put in her notice and began planning her exit. From what she’s said and others, she was feeling very burned out (micromanaging will do that, you know) and was planning to take a long break before figuring out her next move. CEO was pretty upset at the prospect of Miranda leaving, so before she left for good, made an offer to restructure so that Andrea could take over large parts of her job. Miranda accepted at some point before her last day, took a leave for a few months. When she returned, Andrea was hired and the restructuring was solidified.

      I can say that I do know there have been a couple of complaints about her over the years. We as a team also had a conversation with Andrea when she arrived to explain what she was getting into and ask her to get Miranda in check. I also know that a few people were very frank in their exit interviews about her driving them away. So while I do think HR has a certain awareness that there are issues, HR had a lot of turnover and I’m not sure the new folks would know about it unless they were looking for it specifically. Basically, I don’t think there’s reason to believe it caused the restructuring.

  41. jane's nemesis*

    I’m also thinking about all the fat people in OP’s workplace – we’re everywhere – and how they feel as they’re overhearing Miranda’s better treatment of OP and obsession with OP’s thinness. Can’t feel great!

  42. Cindy*

    I have been personally fighting my own perception of overweight people being less intelligent for decades. I don’t know when/why it started. It lessened when I met and married my husband in 1983, as his father (with a PhD in Education and Dean of Math/Science/Engineering at a local Community College) and his older sister (with a bachelors in Mathematics and masters in Computer Science and was a highly regarded software engineer for a large aerospace company) were considerably/visibly overweight.

    It may reflect on my view of myself. I was never considered attractive, and was overweight growing up. Only in my 40s did I hit the mark where my BMI put me as “obese”. I never counted calories until then. And since I carry my weight at my waist, my coworkers don’t think of me as overweight (which totally confounds me).

    I always thought that anyone who is intelligent should be able to lose weight, including diabetics. Recently I read something about insulin injections causing/contributing to obesity; I always thought that it was the reverse. Everything that we consume has side-effects – we have to find balance between the good and the bad.

    When I first meet someone who is visibly obese, I have to (mentally) step back and tell myself not to judge. I believe that this is challenge that I will be continuing to fight for the rest of my life.

    1. cubone*

      I think it’s great you’re self-aware of this and working on it. As other folks have mentioned, the podcast Maintenance Phase is really great, especially because it gets into some of the things you’ve talked about (the problems with the BMI, as one example). I also would strongly recommend the book Body of Truth by Harriet Brown. My mom loves the work of Christy Harrison (she married my dad the same year as you, so you might be similar ages).

    2. SongbirdT*

      While it’s good that you’re trying to deal with your fatphobia, it’s worth noting that it’s not particularly helpful, and could in fact be harmful, to post about it here.

      1. Cindy*

        I thought this was a safe space to share that there are those of us fighting to not show or act on our prejudices (to not pre-judge someone).
        I’ve been a reader of AAM for several years and only recently started commenting. You won’t see my name in the future.

  43. pcake*

    Years ago, I lost a lot of weight because I was quite ill for several weeks. When people started saying to me “you look great!” or “whatever you did worked!”, I told them frankly that what happened was I was very ill and unable to eat, and the experience was awful. I didn’t hear from anyone I said this to about how great I looked a second time.

    Btw, I didn’t look great. I was gaunt with deep shadows under my eyes, sunken cheeks, corpse-grey skin, and my hair looked dead. Apparently to the average person, thin is the only metric to looking great.

  44. April Alter Ego*

    Any ideas for what you would say to your boss if you were Andrea and someone brought this to you? Giving feedback to your boss is always hard, even if in the process you are being a good manager yourself.

  45. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP —

    When I become Dictator of the Universe, my first act will be to decree dire punishments for people who make personal comments about anybody’s body, face, voice, or eating habits. Even those intended as compliments often land wrong, for exactly the reasons you describe.

    As to what to do: A lot depends on what you know about your organization’s culture and the effectiveness of your HR department. Do they have a track record for effective handling of bullying and/or harassment? If they’re not known for their effectiveness, I’d save it for an eventual exit interview.

    If you do decide to make a formal complaint, you’re going to have to start telling Miranda that you find her comments unwelcome. (It’s the first question HR will ask you.) “You’ve commented several times about my body since I lost weight. I appreciate your interest, but it’s making me a little uncomfortable. I’d really like your input on our outreach program to Bandersnatch, Inc.” Yeah, I know that seems weaselly, but you say you want to preserve the professional connection, and redirecting her may take some of the pressure off you in the moment.

    Whatever you decide to do, definitely brief Andrea. She needs to know this is happening. She may have some useful advice for you, or be able to buffer you somewhat.

    You said you were making plans to move on from this position. I’d recommend speeding up those plans — you don’t want to wait until you’re so sick of Miranda that you dread going to work. You’ll find lots of good stuff in the AAM archives.

    Sorry you’re going through this. Please send us an update.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      You will make an exception to that decree for healthcare professionals, right? I think it would be hard to work with my dermatologist if she is unable to make comments on my rosacea! LOL!

  46. Avril Ludgateaux*

    The LW wrote that she tried to redirect the conversation multiple times, but did she at any point tell Miranda, without mincing words, “this topic of conversation is inappropriate. I do not appreciate comments on my body. I am not asking, I am telling you to stop”? (Being as diplomatic as need be, but still nonetheless direct and unequivocal.)

    1. Veryanon*

      It sounds as though she tactfully tried to change the subject and anyone with a modicum of social awareness would have picked up on this. Miranda clearly needs to be hit over the head with it, though, and I think LW should report it.

    2. Avril Ludgateaux*

      BTW the fact Miranda pressed for details about your spouse’s anatomy is truly nauseating and so far over the line that you can’t see the line anymore, over the curve of the horizon.

    3. Spencer Hastings*

      I dunno, I think a lot of people would hesitate to speak like that to someone who outranked them at work.

  47. LaFramboise*

    Quite honestly, OP, I’d take her glowing recommendation and parlay it into something good for you–and in the process, turn her crazy to your good, playing her like a rundown honky-tonk piano. Let her eat your dust. And never, never put forward her name professionally. Let her wonder why, when and if her career starts circling the drain.

    Forward momentum!

  48. This is It, Really*

    Terrible people get to continue in their terribleness in the workplace because of the inaction of bystanders. If this was a racial issue, no question that the recommendation would be to quickly shut own these aggressions, micro and macro, by any means necessary. But no, it’s just fat people being victimized and discriminated against.

    OP, report it all, and sleep well at night knowing you did the right thing. This person is an awful human being and you have done a very good deed if even one person is spared this hateful nonsense.

    Why don’t some folks get that in 2022, any talk abut other people’s bodies is a no-go? Referencing yesterday’s discussion, even though I’m Christian, I use no form of bless in any of my work communications, only with those I know for sure share my faith and then outside the workplace. Is that so hard?

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If it was a racial issue, Alison might still be advising the OP to think about whether it was worth addressing and if so how–because as she notes, subtle retaliation can be hard to prove.

      That’s separate from it being harder to shut things down when they are unethical but not illegal.

  49. This is It, Really*

    Oh, and if your workplace has a DEI initiative, that would be a good place to report all of this also.

  50. HollyGolightly*

    I lost weight during lockdown because I was so stressed. I’m 5’0, so every two pounds shows either way.

    A coworker I didn’t even know well complimented me on my weight loss in front of everyone in a Zoom meeting.

    Also, I was a size 2 to begin with. I really wasn’t trying to lose weight, but then you get comments like that and feel like everyone around you is taking inventory of your body.

    I NEVER comment on other people’s weight. EVER.

  51. BethRA*

    “Your whole energy is different now!”

    “Well, you’ve been gone for months, that would improve anyone’s mood….”

    She certainly deserves to be reported to HR. But like Allison said, you should handle this in the way that feels best/safest for YOU. You’re the one who has to deal with her, and you’re the one who has to do the work and deal with any blow-back if you opt to confront her or go to HR.

  52. stelmselms*

    My spouse’s employer has a Miranda. Unfortunately, it’s the CEO. It’s well known that if you’re overweight, you’re (seen as) unprofessional, and low-energy because if you wanted to lose weight, you would. (Even though there are lots of reasons why people can’t or don’t want to.) Most positions are public-facing in his company, and they want fit, pretty people in those roles. There have been a couple of folks who lost significant amounts of weight and were promoted to high-level positions afterward. (Trust me, it’s related.) He heard a conversation discussing a job candidate whom they decided they weren’t going to hire because although he was definitely qualified, he didn’t have “enough energy” for the position, and referenced his appearance/him being overweight.

  53. OP*

    Wow! So many great comments and suggestions! I’m the OP, and just want to address some of the questions so far:
    -I’m in the middle of a performance evaluation of my first year. Miranda and Andrea are working on that together (since Miranda was my supervisor for part of the year and Andrea for another part), and it will be tied to a small merit increase, so I am hesitant to do anything drastic until that process is complete over the next couple of weeks.
    -Related to that, I did note in my evaluation on my end what a difference Andrea’s management style has made in my performance, with particular attention to the trust and independence I’m really thriving in from her, so at least there’s a written record of my experience in that regard.
    -While I was actively looking when I wrote this letter, I’m not sure I’ll be in a position to leave until summer 2023 because my spouse is now pregnant! YAY! The benefits and parental leave here are unreal and make up for the terribly below-market pay, and I haven’t found anything comparable that I’m qualified for. So while I am still looking, I doubt I’ll leave super soon.
    -Before I read this advice, I did have a conversation with Andrea about some of Miranda’s behavior (she’s been trying to go around Andrea and assign tasks to several new staff members who are young and pretty green, don’t know how to say no) and Andrea dealt with it IMMEDIATELY. She witnessed at least one comment at the event I mentioned, and was clearly uncomfortable with it. She has gone out of her way since to tell me how professionally competent I am and how happy she is with my performance. I do plan to talk with her more about Miranda’s behavior once we get through this evaluation process.

    Hope this clarifies! I’m trying to keep an eye on these comments and engage where I can :)

    1. BethRA*

      Congrats on you and your partner! That’s fantastic news!

      Since Andrea has already intervened in positive ways, and you seem to have a good relationship with her (and you aren’t ready to leave), I’d take the concerns you’ve shared her to her. Even if you decide you want to be direct with Miranda and tell her to stop commenting on your body (even if it’s a “compliment”), having Andrea know what’s going on will make it easier for her to have your back if Miranda doesn’t respond well.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Choosing to not say anything while your performance evaluation is in the works is a totally valid (and smart) move. Whether or not to raise this issue, and if you do want to raise it, when are both important things to consider.

      And congratulations to you and your spouse!

  54. silly little public health worker*

    hello OP! it’s possible someone’s written a comment to this effect (i haven’t read all of them up until now) buuuuut having been in a VERY similar situation re: unintended weight loss and body changes, i’d strongly advise you to bring this up to Andrea as some of the commenters suggested above. i know that you’re planning on leaving shortly, but things can get thrown for a loop and you may be here longer than anticipated, or you may leave and come back, or you may run into Miranda at some other point in your career if you’re in a small field. if you gain the weight back, you may receive harsh treatment from Miranda in the future, and you may want documentation of changes in treatment from the period when you’d initially lost the weight. you don’t have to do this! but it might not be a terrible idea.

  55. BBB*

    just… ughhhhh
    I’m sorry OP. I’ve gone through the ‘lost weight due to unrelated health issues’ thing before and the comments really felt extra gross and slimy when I was struggling with my health and being praised for how I looked because of it. drastic unintentional weight loss because of health issues is never a good thing, doesn’t matter what your start weight was.

  56. Compliments Are Not Always Kind*

    This happened to me too — I went through a surgery (not deliberately) which caused a really awful shift in how my stomach processed food, so I went from a size 22 to a size 16 in about 6 months. I eventually lost over a 100 pounds. This was a really small office so everyone knew I had this really painful surgery but all they talked about for months was how I looked. If you looked at my face, you could easily see I was dealing with a huge nutritional deficit. I did not look healthy. My boss at the time was really bad. I was a professional technology trainer and had to stand in front of classrooms of people and all I kept thinking was ‘wow’ what did they think of me before? She kept bringing it up and wanted me to give her ‘dieting’ tips. I got really sensitive about it and I started saying things like, “you know, I am still sick, right?” and “this is because of my illness”….it never seemed to help. After a year or so, the doctors were able to get my stomach back to some type of normal (I still have issues), and so I gained back some of the weight…and then the comments came back that I was ‘letting myself go’. Body comments are so not necessary — if you like how someone is looking — compliment the outfit or the color and not the body that is in it!

    1. Clorinda*

      So sorry you had to deal with that. People can be the worst. Treating your return to health like a bad thing because it came with some weight…ugh. Words fail.

  57. Reluctant Manager*

    I think “keeps making inappropriate, intrusive comments about my body, my coworker’s body, and my spouse’s body, even after she’s been repeatedly told that it’s a problem and asked to stop” keeps the focus on the general nature of the problem in a way that “talks about my weight loss” doesn’t–it’s easy for people to get distracted by the details (if I lost weight I’d feel good and want compliments; I’d privately wonder about nonbinary people too; I don’t know how to talk about ADA accommodations) and frames it in the kind of language the company would need to include in a write-up. This isn’t a gray area; this is a repeated pattern of behavior that is damaging the business.

  58. H3llifIknow*

    Ugh I feel this. Literally. I had weight loss surgery and lost 94 pounds in like 6 months. Shouldn’t have been that fast, but I had some complications and literally ate nothing solid for 4 months, so I was losing like almost a pound a day for a long time. When I came back to work, I was at the coffee machine putting creamer in my cup and one man said, “you’re lucky you can do that since you clearly don’t have to worry about your weight. By the way, I’m Ed are you new?” and I said “Ed, I’ve worked here with you for 4 years. I sit in the staff meeting every Monday with you. He said “Oh yeah… that’s right! I know you!” and I said, “Ok, so what’s my name?” and he couldn’t say it. When I was 225 pounds I was completely invisible to this man. Suddenly he “saw” me. I got a lot of microaggression about my weight loss and people also wasted sooooo much energy on it and how “great” I looked instead of “Hey congrats on that $2.5M contract award you won!” So frustrating and hurtful. I’m so sorry your boss is making you feel that way. I think before I went to HR though, I’d one FINAL time say, “Please stop obsessing over my body/looks. It’s unprofessional and starting to really creep me out.” IF it continues, straight to HR, stat!

  59. Goldenrod*

    I have to preface this by saying I’m biased against HR – the most abusive boss I ever had was VP of HR, which made me lose whatever little faith in them I’d had.

    So: my 2 cents. Be happy you have a great boss and no longer report to this horrid person, and do whatever makes YOU feel most comfortable. If that means never reporting or addressing this, and going on your merry way, do that. You are not obligated to take any action (I agree with Alison).

    In my experience, going to HR is pointless. If it were me, I might mention it to my (nice) boss before I left. But in general, living well is the best revenge! Get out of there, live your best life, keep your reputation and glowing references intact, and be glad this goblin won’t be in your work life for much longer.

  60. Been there*

    I greatly empathize. I gained 40 pounds over four years due to a medical issue and some depression. I later lost 50 pounds over a year. That meant some people who hadn’t seen me in months saw me looking (to them) quite different.

    I usually responded with “yes” before going back to what we were talking about before someone commented. For repeated comments, I found a simple “Yeah, I’m not talking about that” — applied consistently as often as needed — shut down a lot of people. With nothing to latch onto, they just gave up.

  61. JustAnotherKate*

    I actually shut down a bully/manager who interrupted me in a meeting to say “that dress makes you look like skin and bones, you need to eat a sandwich” (the day after asking if I knew how many calories were in whatever I was having for lunch — she liked to whipsaw people with insults about being too fat/thin, too young/old, etc.). I usually can’t think of what to say in these situations, but I actually managed to say “Stop talking about my body, please” in a firm tone and she actually backed off! I don’t think it was out of respect for me; she just realized people would think she was icky for focusing on her team members’ bodies at work.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      A lot of times people stop doing icky things not because they agree that they’re icky but because they don’t want negative reactions from others. Well done.

  62. Maggie*

    My Mother has struggled with weight her entire life. She tried several different diets with varied results. One time she lost a lot of weight and people like neighbors or co-workers were wondering if she was seriously sick. Her experience made me realize to never comment on anybody’s weight loss unless it’s a close friend and I know they are actively trying to lose weight.

    You never know if weight loss was intentional or due to medical reasons. Additionally, stating someone looks great now implies they looked terrible before the weight loss.

    I would really like an update on this letter.

  63. Dawn*

    Since you have such a good rapport with Andrea, I think that would be my move, to take it to her and ask if she can bring it up while keeping the fact that you talked to her out of it.

    That should be pretty easy for Andrea to do; if she didn’t actually witness it herself, she can say something like, “Hey, I heard (from some of our clients) that you kept interrupting OP at the society dinner to talk about her weight loss instead. I hope you can see how that could really undermine her and us as she was there representing Company professionally; do you think you could avoid bringing up her weight loss going forward?” Or something to that effect. Or she could take that positioning to HR which once again gets you out of the direct line of fire.

    The trick is to establish, you don’t want her to know that you brought this up because you’re concerned about how it could chill relations between the two of you, but you felt it would have been irresponsible not to because of the impression it gave clients – while it’s 100% understandable that you are feeling this personally as well, you often get better results focusing on the consequences to the company.

  64. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    “She said my “whole energy is different now!” and generally she no longer feels the need to micromanage me.” So she thought she had to micromanage you because you were overweight? YIKES!
    This person should not be a manager.

    I’d be really tempted to call her on (very loudly so everyone hears) it with a “Miranda, you seem excessively focused on my weight and body and you continue to make disturbing comments about it. What’s up with that?”

  65. M&M*

    From another fat person, I’m sorry this is happening to you. It’s such shit. A similar thing happened to me – I lost weight from being so sick from antibiotics to treat recurrent UTIs and a kidney infection – and a boss continually told me how “great” I looked. I was young then, but I wish I had replied stone-faced with “actually I’m on an aggressive antibiotic and can’t keep food down” or something like it. I hope that being direct, like Alison suggested, will shut it down! I also sometimes just literally walk away from people who say things like this…that may not be a good option for you, but to protect your own mental health I super encourage you to feel free to leave those conversations if you can. Sending solidarity!

  66. Wow, really?*

    I would also like to add, start documenting every Miranda episode, in case you do decide to report her to HR. Maybe even mention it in your exit interview. Her behavior may drive off other potential employees.

  67. Meg*

    I just had to add that a few years ago, I lost a bit of weight due to illness, and when acquaintances told me I’d clearly been taking better care of myself and looked healthier now, I wanted to kick them. So good work just trying to redirect the conversation and not kicking your nosy, fatphobic boss for those annoying comments!

  68. Thin isn’t necessarily heathy*

    Just wanted to send some solidarity. I’m a “thin” person who lost an additional 15 pounds very quickly because I had a traumatic event take place. This event was not something most people knew about. I was a wreck. And I was simultaneously inundated with comments about how AMAZING I looked. Which was incredibly weird and upsetting. And honestly, I looked AWFUL. Anybody looking at my face could see I was struggling. But people are obsessed with thinness and all they saw was that I was thinner therefore I must look great? It sucked and it was very confusing. I’m sorry this is happening to you!

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