thongs at work, the best interviewing order, and more

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

1. Thongs at work

The other day, while I was at a healthcare facility where they do both clinical visits and operations, I saw a female employee walking by me, wearing her perfectly-acceptable scrubs, who was clearly an operating room doctor or nurse. For whatever reason (lack of sleep, my own HR awareness, curiosity) I noticed her buttcheeks were very … wiggly. She was slim, so it wasn’t super noticeable, but it definitely looked as if she was wearing a thong or other kind of cheeky underwear. For personal context, I’m a cis het woman, I’m an HR manager (not in a healthcare setting anymore, though I have been before), I’m not slim by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t personally wear any undies that can rise up my butt — though I used to, but never for work. I don’t really care what anybody wears under their clothes, as long as the clothes themselves are appropriate for the work the person does. Still, something didn’t sit right with me being able to see that woman’s butt wiggle in that specific setting.

She wasn’t my doctor or nurse, and I don’t know how I’d feel about it if she had been. So, my question to you is: the discomfort of having a piece of floss up one’s butt (while doing surgery!) notwithstanding, is what she was wearing ever okay?

I don’t know how we could conclude that what you saw was about her underwear rather than just … the way her body is? Regardless, though, as a general rule we’re all better off not thinking about what underwear anyone else is wearing or not wearing! Some butts are jigglier than others. Some boobs are jigglier than others. (And for that matter, not everyone finds thongs uncomfortable; some people find them more comfortable. Bodies are different.) As long as everything that should be covered is covered, we’re all fine.

2. Should I tell my trainers one of their examples was in poor taste?

I was just in a mandatory training for work about storytelling — more of crafting a story to get buy-in from stakeholders, etc. in business settings.

The very first example they led with to demonstrate strong and to the point storytelling was the famous “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn” example attributed to Hemingway. I lost a niece at eight months old in a very sudden and tragic way. To add to that, she died right around Christmas, meaning I had to donate/regift presents I had bought her for what would have been her first Christmas. This was four years ago and I’ve been to therapy and I have mostly been able to avoid any overly emotional reactions to about her at work. They started to ask people what they thought about the story around the room and I could already feel tears welling up, so I exited quickly and went to the bathroom but the waterworks had started and I could not stop them. I got them mostly under control, but when I came back in I kept welling up and I KNOW it looked like I had been crying. Some coworkers I’ve worked with long enough that they know what happened, but others don’t. Luckily it was a larger group of like 40 people, but I know the table I was sitting at could see what I looked like and to make matters worse I was sitting in the very front of the room.

Was using that example in poor taste or was I being too sensitive in that moment? I’m usually not that emotional, I truly could not stop the reaction once it started. They’ll give us a survey tomorrow when the training finishes, should I tell them to consider changing their example?

It’s a really common example of powerful storytelling using only a few words so I don’t think it’s outrageous that they used it in a work event … but their training will be stronger if they think about how things like that might affect participants, since they want people engaged with the training, not having to unexpectedly deal with intense personal feelings that they didn’t realize would be triggered today. They’ll never be able to stamp out all mention of things that might cause a strong personal reaction from someone, but I’d sure want to know how it landed with you if I’d been your trainer. So yes, go ahead and be honest on the survey. (And I’m sorry about your niece.)

3. What’s the right interviewing order to use?

When interviewing several candidates, what are your thoughts on whether the strongest candidate should be seen first, last, or in the middle? And if you were a candidate, which would you hope to be?

I don’t think it matters all that much! That said, if I were pressed to choose, when I’m hiring I’d rather have the strongest candidate at the end — because if you talk to them first, you’re measuring everyone else against them and that can lead you to overlook/dismiss other people’s strengths.

As a candidate, I don’t think there’s any point in caring. If you’re first, you can set the bar for everyone else. On the other hand, there can be power in being toward the end so you’re fresher in their minds. On yet another hand, sometimes if you’re at the end they’re already sold on someone they talked to before you and aren’t considering you as seriously. There are so many factors that can go into it, and they can change with every hiring manager and every interview process, that there’s no point in thinking about it too much.

4. Can I contact my partner’s employer to thank them for a perk?

Are there any reasons outside of emergencies where it is appropriate to contact a partner/spouse’s employer? Of course the standard answer here is no. But what if it’s to say thank you for a perk my partner received that I also benefited from?

My partner works for a company that often gets tickets to various sporting events as a perk. Think VIP passes for employees to woo clients and network, comped tickets to be enjoyed with friends and family or as a team-building activity, or tickets gifted as a bonus after a tough project or a job well done. My partner has been working on some really big projects and their director asked what he could get us tickets to to say thank you. We are fans of a notoriously expensive international sport which the director is also a fan of, so my partner asked if tickets to an event in a country we’ll be traveling to in a few months would be possible. The director was enthusiastic and not only got us tickets to the full multi-day event, but is continuing to work with his contacts to get us access to parts of the event that aren’t open to the general public. I am beyond grateful, this is a once in a lifetime experience for my partner and me, and we would have been thrilled to even have the chance to experience the event at all, let alone the (very good) tickets and extra perks that the director is working to get for us. For context, our tickets were about $1,000 USD each, and the additional experiences and access are based solely on the director’s social capital and string pulling.

I know this is a drop in the bucket compared to the kind of revenue that my partner alone generates for them, but I still feel compelled to say thank you (especially because the director included me specifically in offering tickets for the two of us)! I work at a nonprofit where this kind of thing just isn’t a thing, so I don’t have a context for this. Would a simple handwritten thank-you note for my partner to hand off next time they’re in the office together be appropriate? Or would I come off as boundary crossing or somehow too effusive? My partner is equally thrilled and has expressed their thanks via email directly, and doesn’t have much of an opinion on a proper thank you note.

Don’t do it. The director is giving those tickets to your partner as a business move, not a social one; he’s doing it to reward your partner, build their morale and make them feel appreciated, and increase their loyalty to the company. You’re benefitting from that, but it’s not a social situation. Your partner needs to be fully in charge of managing that relationship; they should certainly express appreciation, but it would be a little off to bring in a thank-you note from you.

{ 754 comments… read them below }

  1. Nodramalama*

    As an Australian I was expecting thongs to refer to shoes and thus found it doubly weird how much attention LW is giving to someone else’s butt. Maybe just keep your eyes on your own work!

    1. goth associate*

      I too was like “well they’re a bit casual for the office usually but it depends where you’re working & what sort of thongs they are, I guess?” & then I read it & was like OH I see, we’re talking about butts not feet, never mind, that’s actually a weird thing to notice lol

      1. lyonite*

        Ironically, that kind of thong WOULD be inappropriate for a healthcare setting. I work in a research lab, and still remember the time we had to tell a summer intern that her platform flip-flops were not okay.

        1. RedinSC*

          I was thinking that too! Flipflops in a medical care situation? What about dropped needles!

        2. Yellow rainbow*

          I mean it depends – a nurse might pop some thongs on cause their theatre shoes got messy and need to be washed and better thongs than barefoot while there’s no local hazard.

          But at this point it’s really hypothetical since the issue was a jiggly bum – not actually safety.

          1. AMT*

            I had to look up “theatre shoes” because I’d never heard that used before to refer to clogs! I’d better not use that term in the U.S. in case “theatre shoes” turns out to be a euphemism for “underwear that makes your butt jiggle.”

            1. Ari Flynn*

              That’s probably “theatre” as in “operating theatre”, usually called the OR in US English. I imagine those foam clogs (comfy, easy to wash, hard to ruin) are as popular with healthcare workers elsewhere as they are here.

        3. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, we don’t even use thongs to mean footwear in Ireland (at least I’ve never heard it used that way here), but I was wondering on seeing the headline and first line if it were going to mean that because I could see flip-flops being a problem in a healthcare setting whereas underwear? I can’t even imagine how anybody would notice.

          1. Clisby*

            My first thought was a bathing suit, but when I saw it was healthcare I figured no one in healthcare would be crazy enough to wear a bathing suit to work. Although it seems like crazy’s getting commoner every day now.

            I agree about thong underwear not being a problem, but now I’m wondering whether places where bathing suits *are* appropriate would be OK with thong bathing suits. I would have been taken aback if a lifeguard at my neighborhood pool had showed up wearing a thong. I’ve never seen a lifeguard wearing anything but regular old Speedo-type bathing suits, so don’t know.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              I actually started laughing out loud at the thought of a doctor going in to do surgery in their bathing suit.

        4. DannyG*

          I taught sterile procedures for a decade. Flip-flops were absolutely verboten. Day 1, hour 1 I did a demo with my students dropping needles/syringes and other sharps on various types of footwear. Leather, closed toe shoes were the only ones that provided consistent protection.

          1. Rainy*

            My late husband, who worked in medicine for many years, had a story about a tech with tray full of contaminated paracentesis needles, a double-action door, and bad timing, which he called “the least fun way to get syphilis”.

        5. Sopranoh*

          Right, flip flops would be especially inappropriate for an OR with all of the blood and sharps you are dealing with on a near constant basis. Thong underwear, totally okay, though I did know more than one OR nurse/Scrub Tech who wore long underwear because the OR is so cold.

      2. Lydia*

        I am in the US and grew up saying both thongs and flip flops, so that was my first reaction, too. “It’s a great way to show off a new pedicure, but it’s a bit casual and probably not OSHA approved.” Then I realized they meant underwear.

    2. Daria grace*

      Same. Depending on what part of the country you’re in thongs (the footwear) would be a non-issue. A friend in Darwin talks about her casual thongs and going out thongs

    3. Cmdrshprd*

      If I understand correctly OP1 is saying thong = jiggly and fuller coverage underwear (briefs/boy shorts etc…)= not jiggly. but unless the briefs/boy shorts are made of metal I don’t think that is the case.

      I can say from personal observation experience (my partner) and knowing what kind of underwear they had that jiggling happens with all underwear, not just thongs. This might be different for other but I don’t think jiggle automatically means thong.

        1. Observer*

          Very much this.

          I do have to say, though, that although I think that the whole letter is weird, jumping to this conclusion with really no basis just makes it a tad weirder.

      1. lyonite*

        Honestly, she could be fully commando under there, and it still would be none of your business, as long as the outer garment was sufficiently opaque.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          LW1 you are seeing the unfortunate reality of scrubs: They have no structure to support bodies. Medical professionals use them anyway,l for ease of frequent laundering, speed of changing after a messy patient and most importantly low cost because frequent sterilization wears them out quickly.

          1. RD*

            LW1- From one HR manager to another, I say this as nicely as possible. Please do some personal work on why this is a thing you thought and then cared enough to write in about. We all have our biases and as HR staff, it’s our responsibility to never stop examining them.

            1. William Murdoch's Homburg*

              Cosigned. I don’t work in HR but I’m still wondering why on Earth the LW thought it appropriate to be paying that much attention to/commenting on someone else’s body.

              1. Be Gneiss*

                My cube neighbor is pregnant and has suffered through SO MANY comments on her body that I have started saying loudly “Wow, I can’t believe anyone thinks it’s okay to comment on someone’s body at work!”

            2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*


              If that was their first response, because sometimes you can’t help but notice people’s bodies, their next response should be ‘is this somehow inappropriate for the workplace due to safety or professionalism reasons?’ Like, is their actual butt crack showing or is their butt just extra cute and noticeable because it jiggles and therefore it must invite attention? Kind of like folks with large bosoms, they get sexualized no matter what they wear even if it’s a scarf and turtleneck just because people are noticing the size and haven’t yet figured out that bodies come in all sizes).

              (And … not that this is relevant AT ALL to this situation…but just taking the logic train the rest of the way because I must. What on earth would non-thong (like full coverage) underwear even do to provide support to someone’s butt? Or does LW think they need to wear something like Spanx? This whole logic train derails, even though it never should have left the station in the first place).

              1. Rainy*

                Yup. Like, do I notice people’s bodies at work? Yeah, sometimes. Do I keep it to myself? Yes, always, without fail. People are there to work, not to be ogled.

            3. Petty Betty*

              Cosigned by this manager of many bodies too.

              You focused on one slim woman, but you never spoke about a need to focus on any male body (boxers provide no structure or “bounce” restrictions either).

              I don’t know why you chose to focus on this poor woman, but many undergarments do nothing to support or even restrict bodily movement in the nether regions. They’re meant to cover and ensure the trousers don’t chafe delicate bits.

        2. Beth*

          Yes!! LW claims that they “don’t really care”, and apparently does. This still doesn’t make it their business.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Came here to say the same thing, Beth. The OP seems to care very much about what people wear under their clothes.

            1. LostCommenter*

              and it’s someone who works in HR looking at someone’s butt closely aand intensely enough to be able to determine which underwear they are wearing? I hope I never have an HR representative like that.

              1. AmbivalentUnderwear*

                Me too. LW sounds like she was staring at the poor girl’s butt like it was giving out free lasik!

              2. MigraineMonth*

                Yeah, honestly that sounds like an HR violation to me. Do not stare intensely at other people’s body parts, particularly breasts/crotches/butts. Even if they don’t notice, it’s deeply uncomfortable and creates an unnecessarily sexual environment for everyone who does.

                1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Exactly. Unless you’re a doctor, or possibly a tailor, staring at someone’s physique is not okay.

                  And when someone starts policing and/or griping about what people might have on *under* their clothes, they have crossed a line.

                2. Petty Betty*

                  As a costumer, I would never stare at someone’s posterior without permission. And even then, I don’t need much of a look, I need measurements, and I ask before I whip out my measuring tape.

          2. AngryOctopus*

            Yeah, I was thinking to myself “wow, this is a long letter for someone who ‘doesn’t really care’ about the topic.” *eyeroll*.
            LW, you clearly DO care, although I don’t know why, and my advice to you is blunt. Stop staring at people’s butts, unless you are a dermatologist looking at a questionable mole.

            1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              To be generous, I’d imagine someone spending time at a hospital where they don’t work, suffering from lack of sleep, may be having quite a bad time and looking for any source of distraction at all. Writing a letter about it later is a bit of a lot though.

              1. La Triviata*

                I was once having my hair done; it was Halloween and most of the stylists were in costumes. One young woman was in a “sexy baseball player” costume and, when she bent over, all I could think was, “oh honey, underwear is a GOOD thing.”

              2. Simona*

                Right. Humans notice all sorts of things and have all sorts of thoughts, many of which are not appropriate and many that are simply fleeting. To verbalize those thoughts or…write a letter about it is a choice.

              3. kupo*

                My source of distraction in these scenarios is trying to find the repeat hole pattern in the ceiling tiles, not inappropriately ogling the staff.

        3. Juli G.*

          Agree. I’m also in HR and I do not care about your undergarments or lack thereof. Once, I had a supervisor complain to me about one of my HR managers. The supervisor reported that she did not think that an employee was wearing a bra and her shirt was low cut. My team member was in a cranky mood and said “Can you see bare nipple? If there’s no bare nipple exposed, I don’t care.”

          I had to coach her later that right intent, maybe wrong delivery lol.

        4. LostCommenter*

          Yes I hope the “HR awareness” never translates to it being okay to examine my buttocks at work.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Talk about dress codes that create a disproportionate burden on one sex. “For safety reasons, only the following footwear is allowed. For puritanical reasons, only the following underwear is allowed. HR will conduct random shoe-and-underwear checks throughout the day while you attempt to do your actual, challenging and underpaid jobs.”

            1. Rainy*

              Shades of that letter where the manager announced they’d be hugging everyone to determine whether or not they were using fragranced body products.

      2. I've got the shrimp!*

        Somehow I now have stuck in my head “My body don’t jiggle jiggle”

        Also as the owner of a somewhat larger behind I would hate to have someone watching it carefully to check what underwear I was wearing!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, me too. I’d hate anyone to comment on the ladyboxers/granny knickers I typically wear because the half-buttock ones can show through slacks. I’m fat, I have a big behind and it wobbles, whatever I wear.

          That said, I can’t imagine anything more uncomfortable than a thong, but whatever works.

          1. Florence Reece*

            Yeah, I was going to comment on this part:

            and I don’t personally wear any undies that can rise up my butt

            With the way my butt and hips are shaped, undies are rising up there no matter what I do. “Full-coverage” undies just scrunch into my buttcrack and visibly cut into my cheeks, through any pants without large pockets on the back. This has been true since I was a stick-thin teenager and it’s especially true now that I’m older and fluffier. Thongs are my way of *minimizing* that.

            Some scrubs emphasize jiggliness, and not necessarily just in the butt. She’s covered and wearing appropriate attire for the occasion. Would you be asking this question if her scrubs emphasized a jiggly little belly instead? Or would you recognize that as impolite?

            1. UncleFrank*

              Pre-pregnancy this was true for me and I only ever wore thongs. But post pregnancy everything is shaped differently and I had to buy all new underwear. But I’m pretty sure my butt still jiggles plenty!

          2. Lady Danbury*

            As someone who is also blessed in the buttocks area, thongs are more comfortable to me bc it’s only a small amount of fabric that is intended to sit between the cheeks, as opposed to a large amount of fabric that will still migrate between my cheeks. With the right fit and material, I can’t even feel it on. An ill-fitting thong, on the other hand, is an instrument of torture.

            1. Minimal Pear*

              Man, you and Florence might be selling me on thongs, because I also have the problem of all underwear crawling up my butt.

              1. Bossy*

                Things are good, I’ve only found them uncomfortable if they’re too tight, like if the thong doesn’t give when you bend.

                1. Clorinda*

                  I am just popping in here to say how much I love it that dome people’s autocorrect are changing the thongs to things! it makes for some hilarious exchanges.

                  Otherwise, this woman who works in HR (!) really needs to stop staring at butts.

            2. Anon for underwear convo*

              I have found my people! I love thongs because I hate having the whole amount of theoretically butt covering fabric from my underwear wedged in between my cheeks and that is 1000% where it will end up.

              My advice for anyone wanting to try thongs is to size up a size or two from your normal underwear/pants size. A well-fitting thong you can’t even feel! But a tight thong is an abomination.

              1. Kivrin*

                I have in the past valued thongs for this exact reason, but I have migrated to the wafer-thin microfibre type knickers that don’t show lines on my substantial butt. None of them have any impact whatsoever on the jiggliness or non-jiggliness of my behind. When you have a thought about “that person’s body is jiggling” the next thought should be, “I wonder why I’m fixating on other people’s bodies, which are none of my business — I should stop.”

            3. Ineffable Bastard*

              that’s why I switched to men’s boxers and I love them. They do not rise up, they do not torture me, and on top of that they look great on my giant rear end :)

            4. Hermione Danger*

              This is exactly why I started wearing thongs when I was in my 20s when I was thin and fit and why I continue to wear them in my 50s when I am not.

            5. Aldabra*

              I’m the opposite, rather athletic with a small butt, and I wear thongs 99% of the time because regular panties seem to cut into my cheeks. They truly are more comfortable for me. I have to change clothes at work too, and I just try to point my butt away from my coworkers when we’re in our very small locker room. (We have a shower room anyone could change in; most of us don’t though, we just don’t look at each other while we’re changing!)

        2. ferrina*

          New fear unlocked- stranger watching the jiggliness of my butt and guessing my underwear style.


          1. Alexia*

            Same. I don’t stare at butts in the workplace, and I’d like to assume other people are professional enough to do the same. But apparently this woman (in HR, no less!) is not?

            1. Lydia*

              Not that it excuses the focus on underwear, but the LW wasn’t at work. She was at the facility as a patient. Still not okay to care so much on what the person was wearing, but not as egregious as scanning butts where she works to guess underwear configuration.

              1. metadata minion*

                As a patient I do tend to get more of an eyeful of staff backsides, because I’m often lying on an exam table and then my eye level is at more or less waist height for most of the staff. I had an ultrasound of my neck recently and ended up just closing my eyes because it was that or stare directly at the doctor’s crotch and that felt very weird.

              2. So Tired*

                Sure, the LW wasn’t at work this time, but her comfort to look at someone else’s butt long enough to form an opinion on the jiggliness and the type of underwear, *and then write in to an advice column* about that, tells me that it’s not unlikely she’d find herself doing similar things in a work setting. Her not being at work doesn’t make it suddenly ok that she was staring at this doctor’s butt in the first place.

            1. Petty Betty*

              I absolutely loathed the “whale tail” fad. I had the body type that was “in” for the style at the time, but I hated the low-rise jeans. Boot cut was fine, low rise was not. I do not understand how they expected any of us without hips or rear ends to keep low-rise jeans UP when the “belts” were generally just scarves and useless.
              And I see that the fad has come back into play? I am so glad I’m an old now.

      3. Dr. Vibrissae*

        This reminds me of a friend in high school telling me advice from hey mother that you shouldn’t wear ‘no-show’ underwear because if you didn’t have a faint panty line people would think you were wearing a thong. Even at the time I thought it was bizarre advice weirdly focused on monitoring clothing that want your business.

        1. Lady_Blerd*

          Funny thing is that for a long while, a VPL was a major crime of fashion. You can’t win with this one.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            You can’t win with this one.
            So funny thing about the rules for women’s acceptable appearance…

          2. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

            Remember the “C” panty, because even a G-string thong could conceivably leave a detectable line somewhere?
            … it was an adhesive pad.

          3. Ama*

            Yeah when I was first working office jobs in my early 20s (this would have been early 2000s) I can remember my dad telling me to be careful about visible underwear lines. This was really unlike him, I suspect he’d heard women in his office be judgy about it and so thought he should warn me.

            I told him he had no idea how much thinner women’s work pants were than men’s and that if people are looking that closely at my butt when I’m at work that’s a them problem.

          4. Kay*

            Yes! I went thong so that I wouldn’t have a very unprofessional VPL (that my very young self received commentary on) in my very professional slacks/skirt in very stuffy and professional industry.

            Once I found the right style thongs are extremely comfortable. I never feel them, never have a line – it is great!

            I can understand noticing a VPL – I’m slim and I couldn’t find a way to avoid it without a thong – but to have someone analyzing my derriere to determine what kind of undergarment I’ve got!!!! From HR no less!!!!! Shocked horror face emoji is needed.

            1. Lydia*

              And sometimes with some clothes, you might choose a thong because of the look you’re going for. I remember having a skirt that fit closely and I wanted the lines to be smooth. Thong was it to avoid a VPL.

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          Historically, there were companies that made this an actual policy for female employees. The anecdote I remember involved telephone operators, to contextualize the level of misogyny and employee “rights” that would birth that kind of bull…

          1. Meh*

            I worked at JCP my final year of college in 2000ish and a sales manager (F) remarked on being able to see my thong panty line and how it was inappropriate. I told her commenting on it was more so. I don’t think I made a friend that day but it was one of the few times I can recall standing up for myself to an authority figure.

          2. starsaphire*

            Then, of course, there were the airlines.

            I recently watched a documentary on the history of the flight attendant job (on PBS I think) and, wow. “Girdle check” was a thing. Someone (generally a senior woman in charge of “grooming and appearance” or something) would actually smack or flick your behind to make sure you were wearing a girdle.

            Also you could be fired if you gained weight. Or turned 30. Or got married. Or…

          3. Lady_Blerd*

            I have a friend who wore white scrubs when she was a nursing student. She was told she had to wear white undies so they’d be visible under her scrubs otherwise people would think she’s not wearing underwear.

            1. Petty Betty*

              I worked in a hospital kitchen. Our uniforms were white scrubs. I was required to wear a white bra and panties underneath so my nipples and pubic hair wasn’t visible. It was in the dress code. ALL kitchen staff were required to wear white. And they couldn’t have stains. And we (lowly paid workers that we were) were required to supply our own scrubs.

        3. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I remember this advice too! I think (as perhaps in this letter) there is a persistent idea that thongs are SEXY underwear, and therefore mostly Not Appropriate.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m now wrinkling my brow over this, because I don’t think I have ever worn underwear that has locked all movement down, rather than be a washable layer that moved with my body. I have seen girdles on Mad Men, but they were not being presented as the logical thing to wear for surgery.

        And where girdles are worn for support, it’s for support–like to protect the back on long motorcycle rides. In that context the girdle does nothing for concealment that typical motorcycle wear does not already have covered.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I hope this woman never sees my butt because I am a die-hard fan of granny panties but I assure you my a** still jiggles. Middle age will do that to you.

        Side note: Thongs (the shoes) would be absolutely unsafe and inappropriate in any healthcare setting I’ve ever seen.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Honestly, I was like 1-I hope this is about shoes, which would probably be an inappropriate choice given the setting, so just tell the person and 2-I suspect it’ll be about underwear, although I thought LW would be complaining about being able to *see* the thong, a la the early 2000s ‘whale tail’ nonsense. Instead I got an unexpected third thing, which is an LW who cares entirely too much about what kind of underwear they think a staff member might be wearing under their scrubs. MYOB, LW. (here b can stand for business OR butt, as you like).

        2. Ultimate Facepalm*

          Right? The only way I am not going to jiggle is if I am in double Spanx. Which I am not going to do. In my younger days I always used to wear a thong so that I would not have VPL. Once you get used to it being there, it’s no different than wearing a bra. Not the most comfortable but oh well.
          Glad to see the OP getting all the ‘BYOB’ feedback. I think it’s a bit priggish and busybody behavior so I hope this is an educational experience for them.

        3. Snoodence Pruter*

          Yeah, I’m fat and 40 and I’m pretty sure every damn part of me jiggles, despite the fact that I buy underwear for maximum coverage.

      6. Not A Girl Boss*

        To be clear, its weird to think about coworker’s underwear.

        But I actually tend to wear thongs at work because I think they’re MORE professional because it helps avoid VPL. Now I know that choice potentially comes with a risk of jigglier butt so guess there’s no winning??

      7. some dude*

        I’ve never associated thongs with jiggling butts.

        I’ve also never noticed if any of my female (or male) colleague’s butts jiggled. Because I don’t look at their butts.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        British, and same, particularly with the healthcare context.

        Just *imagine* complaining about a coworker’s non-visible underwear.

        1. londonedit*

          I assumed from the headline that it would be something along the lines of being able to see a colleague’s thong underwear when they bent over or reached up to get something off a shelf…but no. The OP has absolutely no idea what sort of underwear their colleague is wearing, can’t see said underwear at all…and is making an assumption based on the amount their colleague’s arse is jiggling. That’s just…so bizarre I can’t really comprehend it! Your colleagues’ underwear choices are of absolutely no concern to you, OP.

          1. WS*

            I was supervising a number of teenagers in the workplace in the early 00s and had to give regular reminders to please wear pants or a skirt that covers your entire butt crack when you bend over, because the job involves some bending over. Changing fashion trends fortunately solved the problem for me! So I thought the question was going to be something along those lines.

            1. Nonanon*

              One of the reasons I’ve defaulted to high-waisted pants is precisely because I used to have a decent amount of bending over/squatting/reaching in day-to-day job related activities. Due to my anatomy and where waistbands sat, the only way to prevent riding down was elastic waistbands/sweatpants (which I didn’t think were “professional”), or high waists. I chose the latter and have never looked back.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            Especially since I don’t think most underwear (outside of Spanx or similar) would prevent butt jiggle. It’s a piece of (possibly elasticized) fabric, not a supportive garment. Boxers, full-coverage briefs, or granny panties wouldn’t support the buttocks either.

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          And just imagine if OP hadn’t specified that she was a cishet woman…

          1. ferrina*

            “I stared at a clinician’s butt so I could assess what underwear she was wearing under her scrubs. She’s the one that did something wrong, right?”

            Nope, there’s no way to make that sound less creepy (though coming from a woman, at least I’m less afraid that the clinician is about to be stalked. I don’t think we should count that as a win, though)

            1. Rex Libris*

              Seriously. Why on earth anyone A) would notice and B) would think they have some sort of standing to pass judgement on someone else’s underwear is so far beyond me, I can’t adequately describe.

      2. Yellerdog*

        also an American, also assumed they meant shoes…because how on earth would I know what kind of underwear people are wearing at work?

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I thought it was a “whale tale” situation, which would be weird because scrub pants are generally not low-slung. But, no.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, like maybe she bent over to, you know, move the patient as part of the routine physical labor of providing patient care and her scrub waistband slipped low enough that you could see the top of the thong.

            In any case, the advice is the same: look away and stop creeping on this poor employee’s body!

        2. Moira's Rose's Garden*

          The irony here being that thongs/flip-flops or indeed any open-toed shoe in a clinical or lab setting WOULD be a supervisory issue! They are verboten for safety and infection-control reasons.

      3. Lady_Blerd*

        Canadian here and same. I think it’s the plural s that threw us off because the underwear is a thong. Regardless OP, last week one of my colleagues had visible camel toe and I minded my business. Your mind went where it didn’t need to go.

    4. Medusa*

      The OP was a patient, not at work, but I agree. If her butt or her thong were exposed, I’d agree that that’s inappropriate. She was wearing scrubs. Mind the business that pays you.

    5. Curtis E Interview*

      As soon as I saw the title of this post I was like “I can’t wait to read the comments from Australia” :)

      1. ChurchOfDietCoke*

        I’m in the UK and my first thought was ‘oh no, someone in Australia has a colleague who wore flipflops on a building site or somesuch crazy inappropriateness’. I was NOT expecting someone with a bizarre obsession with someone else’s arse.

      1. If my husband reads this, my cover is blown*

        When my son was young, we went to Costa Rica, and he really enjoyed watching the toucans. Every time they would call, they would also wiggle their tails, so he very quickly named every toucan he saw Waggle Butt (Waggle Butt 2, Waggle Butt 3…). To this day, toucans are waggle butts.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My elder dog’s name is Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus.

      3. lp*

        We put Mr. Wiggles as a bonus name on our cat’s collar because of a weird wiggle butt thing he did a lot. And then I forgot it was there for years until at a new vet, they commented on it.

    6. Jamboree*

      The only time I advise anyone to think about another person’s body at work is when they’re stressed, like making a presentation or interviewing, when I remind them “They’re all naked under their clothes.” Disclaimer: I am not in HR, fortunately or not.

    7. Dandylions*

      OMG this reminds me of when I was in Oz and saw a sign at a bar “No thongs allowed”. I asked my roommate horrified “What!? They check!?” while pointing at the sign.

      She replied “Um. Yeah…it’s pretty easy to tell.” incredulously and we went in to sit down.

      The whole night I was terrified of the waiter. Even making a point of saying at one point, “Please don’t check but I’m not wearing a thong OK?” He just laughed and said “Obviously not. No worries mate!” and I got really embarrassed!

      Finally my friend asked me “What on earth do you think things are???” so I answered. “You know, G-string underwear!” My entire table errupted laughing at me before managing to explain what thongs meant in Australia (and apparently also the UK).

      1. londonedit*

        Nope, they’re flip-flops in the UK, but we have enough Aussie cultural crossover that I think a fair number of people know that in Australia ‘thongs’ are footwear.

        1. Phony Genius*

          In my (American) family, we call them thongs if they have that piece that fits between your toes, and flip-flops if they don’t.

          1. Ess Ess*

            Exactly. I’m amazed at the number of people who are in the US that don’t seem to know that basic word. They were thongs in the US long before g-string underwear became common.

            1. Hush42*

              This must be regional. I am from the US (east coast) and have never once heard anyone (outside Australian TV or Movies) refer to flip-flops as thongs.

              1. RC*

                I feel like I’ve heard older relatives use thongs to mean flip flops (western US). It’s always awkward (maybe because The Thong Song came out when I was in high school?).

                Personally I often go with flippy-floppys a la Lonely Island on a boat.

                1. It's Susie now*

                  Almost definitely generational. I grew up in the 70s in New York and we definitely called them thongs. Now I only use that word when I’m talking to my mother at the beach, because anywhere else it’s misinterpreted as meaning underwear

                2. different seudonym*

                  Agree–the term “flip-flops” came in as a cutesy new word for kids, like the recent “plushie” to mean stuffed animal, in the mid-80’s. Before that they were thongs.

                  Interestingly, I literally never saw *slides*–the shoes that flip and flop but do not go betwixt your toes– until at least the 90’s. They were somehow not a thing? Except occasionally as Danielle Green slippers for grandmas?

              2. Clisby*

                I’m in South Carolina, and grew up in a beach town. I never heard anyone call flip-flops thongs. I also never heard anyone call shoes without the part between your toes flip-flops. They’d just be sandals.

            2. Phony Genius*

              OK, I have the audiocast of the Cricket World Cup on. It’s in a rain delay, and they just had a discussion on this very topic (thongs vs. flip-flops). Do the announcers read AAM?

          2. Old Cynic*

            We called them thongs when I was growing up. I was chastised by a friends mom; she maintained they were called zories. (apparently this is a brand name.) I’ve called them flip-flops for years now.

            1. Clisby*

              It might be a brand name, but “zori” also is a generic name for what I’d call a flip-flop.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Except for the plastic sandal type known as “sliders”. Nothing like a little burger!

          (I’m finding Duolingo moderately difficult because I have to add a step translating through US English to my own British English)

      2. PineappleColada*

        Haha yeah it used to be the same in America. I still hear it used occasionally. I’m curious how old you are. I’m 40 and I think when thongs/flipflops were coming back into style for fashion in the 2000s, is when I saw the term shift.

        1. Kay*

          I vaguely remember my mom using the term growing up, but not since. About the same age as you. :-)

        2. metadata minion*

          I’m the same age and have only ever heard flip-flop in the US. Maybe “thong” lasted longer in some regions?

          1. Star Trek Nutcase*

            Born in 50s and raised in Florida (so sort of southern), and we lived in flip flops outside school & church. In a brief 3 yr stint in Tennessee in late 1960s, we couldn’t even find flip flops to buy. I don’t remember hearing “thongs” until well in my 30s, back in Florida, and had to ask my transplanted coworker what she meant. Language can be so regional.

            But LW obviously has forgotten crucial manners: don’t stare & don’t comment on others’ bodies. Only exception is nudity and then call 911.

            1. Clisby*

              Same here in SC. I’ve never actually heard a person call flip-flops “thongs”. Maybe there are transplants who do, and I certainly don’t go around asking people what they call their shoes. But for sure if you said “thong” to me, I’d think bathing suit or underwear. (I’m 70 and still like my rubber flip-flops).

        3. Cherub Cobbler*

          Same here. But I was not about to use the word “thongs” for sandals once I learned the expression had become associated with underwear.

    8. BW*

      1. As an American, I grew up with thongs being flip-flops. It was only when I was older that I heard the term thong referring to G-string style underpants.

      2. Thongs are surprisingly comfortable, if you wear the right size. The legs never creep up your ass, and you’re never sitting on a thick band of elastic. You’re not flossing your crack. The string up the back isn’t that tight.

      3. That said, I now wear above the knee, stretchy bike shorts / slip shorts under my clothing, and there are zero panty lines and they don’t creep up my ass. They are not compression garments. They’re very stretchy. I have the same amount of butt jiggle as if I was going commando, or wearing a thong, or regular granny panty. How do you know she wasn’t wearing those underneath her scrubs? You don’t.

      4. Why are you staring at her ass and judging her butt cheeks anyway? Have you looked in a mirror at your own butt lately, because you might be surprised at what other people are seeing?

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        That’s a good point re #3, I have undies like that and same. Also as a person who can never 100% hide my nipples, I want the LW to mind her own underwear.

    9. Knighthope*

      An American middle school principal caused an uproar when she declared on the intercom, “Students may not wear thongs!” Teachers were laughing, kids were saying “WHAT??? Can she do that???” “How would she check???” A long pause, indistinct talking. “I mean FLIPFLOPS!”

    10. Lady Danbury*

      I thought it was going to be an employee at the pool situation where she was wearing a thong swimsuit. As someone who is extremely blessed in the bottom department, any panties that I wear are making their way into my butt crack anyway. I mostly stick to thongs because it’s far more comfortable to have a small amount of fabric that’s designed to be there than a giant wedgie because my butt is eating my panties. LW definitely needs to stay in her lane and not be so focused on her coworkers’ bodies.

    11. Kat*

      I’m in the US, and when I was getting ready for my Catholic confirmation, the old woman who ran the program admonished us to not wear thongs to the confirmation mass. We were all extremely shocked that she would police our underwear. Turns out she was talking about the shoes. She meant no flip flops. Extremely funny mixup.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      My underwear are full coverage granny panties, but have no ‘body sculpting’ properties. I dunno if my butt jiggles, but I do know my underwear would not impede the jiggles if it did.

      If the body parts are covered in a non-transparent way, not anybody else’s business. (And yeah, I think the same about bras)

    13. Ann O'Nemity*

      Eh, I think the issue is that scrubs are thinner than a lot of other professional dress garments are, and therefore more likely to show jiggles and wiggles. I’m not sure regular whitey-tighties would have been better. Maybe some compression or slimming undergarments would have helped, but I would NEVER recommend that a healthcare worker sacrifices their own comfort to hide a little booty jiggle.

    14. TPS Reporter*

      I’m way more grossed out by seeing someone’s bare feet in a hospital than a butt jiggle

    15. lilsheba*

      I also think of shoes when someone says thongs, that’s what we called “flip flops” back in the 70s and 80s. Those were the thongs. I have no idea why it changed but it’s ridiculous.

  2. Archi-detect*

    I’ve been reading the blog long enough to know #4 was going to be no almost immediately. I imagine him passing along “my wife really enjoyed it” would be appropriate though, as then the employee is in control

    1. Techie Boss*

      I thought so too, but was thinking through possibilities as I read, and I thought the hand-written note delivered by the employee was just distant enough not to be boundary-crossing. It still ensures the employee endorses the communication (rather than mailing it directly, for example). But I can see how it could also come across weirdly, too. If this was a workplace where boundaries are a little too fuzzy and the boss knows the spouse more directly, I could see how LW could arrive at that idea.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Same. Yes, it’s a business perk for business reasons… but gratitude for a kind gesture is never out of style. This is one of the few times I disagree with Alison completely. I think a personal, handwritten note would be a lovely gesture. This may be the Southerner in me, but I can’t imagine being able to indulge in something so wonderful and only having my partner express our gratitude. What his boss did was incredibly thoughtful, and should be reciprocated by (at the very least) a small thoughtful gesture. Because this IS a business transaction, a handwritten note, in neat handwriting, strikes a perfect balance to me between a thoughtful gesture and any sort of repayment. I’d also include some little trinket from the event – like a piece of the free swag, or a sticker – with the note. Nothing too expensive, but a small thing that hubby thinks would bring the boss joy. (I tend to think of these things more than hubby, but that small gift would be presented by hubby to boss.)

        If you think a note from you wouldn’t be well received, could you write the note yourself and have both of you sign it? That way boss is still receiving the appreciation but it might feel less awkward for spouse?

        Regardless I hope you have a blast and make tons of memories!!

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I wonder if traditional gender roles are playing into this at all. Growing up, my mom handled the family’s social obligations–sending thank you cards, gifts, arranging calls on special occasions, etc. (Yes, this included communications with his own family.) So it seemed normal to me that the boss gave this gift to the family, and LW would respond with a thank-you note.

        Except Alison is right, this isn’t a gift to the family; this is a bonus granted to LW’s husband that happened to include LW. I agree that since it is part of LW’s husband’s job, he should be the one thanking the boss. If they run into each other in person, LW can certainly mention how much she enjoyed the bonus, but she really shouldn’t be managing the relationship between him and his boss.

        1. Nonym*

          I think there is a traditional gender role component here, possibly in the LW and certainly in some answers. If a woman was the employee getting that perk, would there be an expectation that her husband write a thoughtful note in neat handwriting and shop for a small gift, for his wife to pass along to her boss? If a note from both was suggested, would the suggestion be that the husband, who doesn’t know the boss or work there, be the one to write it while the actual employee wife just sign it? I highly doubt it. On some level, that advice is given because it’s seen as a woman’s role to write notes and manage relationships.

          IMO, it makes more sense for the employee to convey thanks on both people’s behalf, including if it’s through a note. As others mentioned, it would be nice for LW to mention it if she meets the boss in person.

          1. Leenie*

            I agree that there would often be a gendered component. But I mentioned below that my husband wrote a thank you note for being able to accompany me on a work award trip. I didn’t sign it, and wouldn’t have, because it would have been a bit like me sending a thank you note for a bonus. But he was very happy with the accommodations that were made for the guests, and thought it would be a nice gesture. I was fine with it. I do think he was the only male spouse present, although one of two of the guys may have brought male friends. I have no idea if any of the other spouses wrote similar letters. Honestly, didn’t think it was a big deal either way, and still don’t.

            1. LW 4*

              I really appreciated your comment about your husband writing a note! Folks in the comments are assuming I am a woman/my partner’s wife, and my partner is a man/my husband, and this is not entirely accurate! I think the assumption of that gender binary definitely plays into peoples opinions on writing a note or not. I’m not at all bothered by the assumption, I just do wonder how the traditionally gendered associations of thank you notes and also sports are playing into people’s advice here!

              1. Leenie*

                I’m happy if my comment was helpful or affirming. It’s interesting that your partner seems to be landing about where I did on the thank you note – no strong feelings. For what it’s worth, I still think it’s fine for you to write a note, as long as your partner really is comfortable with it. With this being their business relationship, it’s important that you defer to their judgment. Beyond that, I wouldn’t overthink it. Have a fabulous trip!

    2. Yellow rainbow*

      Also appropriate to mention you yourself loved it is you are casually in conversation with them at a time not too distant. So if it was 2 weeks before the work Christmas party, mention it. If it was 2 months probably not.

      1. Pottery Yarn*

        This was my thought. Mention it in person at a social work event if there’s one available. It would be a very natural thing to comment on in that type of setting and would help get the thank-you bug out of their system!

        1. Ashley*

          I would definitely mention it at the next work social gathering of your husbands you attend. Especially because he boss enjoys the sport also it gives you safe discussion topics. (I loathe work after hour social events; they are bad enough when they are my colleagues but when they are for someone else I really do have to prepare myself.)

          1. All het up about it*

            Yep! And for such a big event “VIP access” situation, even if it was several months later at the holiday party saying thanks for that special experience and then sharing a moment to talk about a mutually loved sport wouldn’t come off as weird in my opinion.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. If you see someone responsible for this in person, a “gosh we sure did enjoy those tickets to the traditional caber toss” is fine as conversational fodder.

        But you shouldn’t treat it as a personal gift deserving a personal thank you note, any more than you would write those if your spouse earned a bonus, or a raise, or an extra week of PTO.

    3. EKM*

      It’s interesting because I work in a biglaw firm in New York and we frequently have perks like this (tickets to hockey/ basketball games, occasional concert tickets or extra entries for a broadway show, etc) and at both of the firms I’ve worked at if a senior person went out of their way to do something special like OP 4 wrote about, a thank you note from the spouse would be incredibly appreciated and not weird at all. It would be a little weird for the basic tickets available to everyone/ you put your name in a hat, but for something out of the ordinary like this it would be…not expected to get a note necessarily? But certainly appreciated. Different work environments create different expectations for sure, and it sounds like the person working at the business doesn’t have the sense it would be expected, but in my industry at least a response like the author suggests would be appropriate and appreciated. Food for thought!

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I agree. Where I’ve worked this sort of thing would be appreciated.

        I don’t think that these perks are purely transactional. They blur the lines. A blurred line response isn’t an inappropriate response.

        1. PineappleColada*

          Such a great point! Sounds like the director really went out of their way for this one.

        2. LW 4*

          I think the “not purely transactional” is what gave me pause! My partner’s director is using personal connections for parts of this experience that money can’t buy, and that’s the part I’m most inclined to write a thank you note for, he could have written a bonus check worth more money to my partner and that would have meant less to both of us.

          I really do appreciate knowing that a note would be totally normal for many situations, so I know it’s not a case of my “southern etiquette” bulldozing my “professional behavior” instincts. I’m not planning to write a note per Alison’s advice, but my partner will certainly share some pictures from the event along with our thanks, and next time I see the director in person I’ll be sure to express my thanks personally then too.

      2. Alexia*

        I work at a consulting firm also in New York. And we get similar perks, sometimes for wooing clients but sometimes just for us (still sad I missed out on the Beyoncé tickets one). And writing a thank you note would be normal. So like you said, it definitely depends on context.

      3. Leenie*

        My husband wrote a thank you note to the CEO when he got to go on a CEO award trip with me. He asked me what I thought before sent the note, and I was comfortable with it. Yes, it was something I earned through high performance at work. But it was still a choice to allow guests and to have a full itinerary that considered them. I’m on a first name basis with the CEO, though we’re located across the country from each other. It was the only time husband had met him. I still think it was a fine choice/nice gesture. Anyway, it happened several years ago and I’ve been promoted since then, so I don’t think it tanked my career…

      4. Blue Mina*

        I agree, my previous job was with a non-profit arts organization, and this type of note or communication is fairly common and appreciated. I think it really depends on the field and the office culture. I certainly understand that Alison’s advice is in line with the norm, but it’s one of the few times I’d gently push back on it.

      5. Annie*

        I also work in an industry with these kinds of perks. A personal thank you note for this kind of perk (particularly where someone has pulled strings etc. to arrange something significant / personalized) would be perfectly acceptable. Certainly not necessary – I would personally probably err on the side of an in-person thanks at the summer barbeque (or whatever) – but not out of line.

    4. Distracted Procrastinator*

      My husband was given a large event style gift from one employer. It was done as a “bonus.” He thanked his bosses for the gift and I thanked them at the next company party I was invited to. It was a lovely, once in a lifetime experience that we both very much enjoyed, but neither of us wrote a thank you note and everyone was happy and felt the “gift” was properly appreciated and acknowledged.

    5. Nathan*

      Yeah, I too expected the answer to be no. I don’t fully agree with that answer.

      When we had our first child, my company gave us a gift basket. It was very nice — some diapers, a company-branded onesie, and a few other goodies. Total value probably about $100. It also had a nice card.

      My wife and I wrote a thank you note to the office manager who sent the gift, just as we wrote notes to everyone else who gave us stuff. She seemed happy to get the note and it was a nice human touch acknowledging the gesture.

      I don’t think a thank you note from the partner would be at all expected, but I also don’t think it would go amiss (especially if it were from both the employee and the partner and delivered by the employee).

    6. Orange You Glad*

      I agree, plus the tickets/experience were the Director’s thank you to the LW’s partner. Do we need to endlessly go back and forth with thank you gestures? I see this as the employee did a great job, the boss wanted to show his gratitude.

      A brief “thanks, we really appreciated it” in conversation makes sense or if they are close enough with this boss they can send them a photo of them at the event with a “thanks again” text. I don’t think anything more is needed.

    7. TPS Reporter*

      I was actually surprised by the answer. The wife was included on the communication and it does seem like the boss is going the extra mile. A note back is a pretty low bar. It’s not like the OP wants to send an elaborate gift.

    8. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I wonder could the wife write a note or card to the boss and have her husband give it to them?

  3. Happy meal with extra happy*

    For #1, I thought it was going to be some type of whale tail issue (which, honestly, I wouldn’t care enough be too pressed about either), but just that there was wiggle?? Geez.

    1. Tiny Soprano*

      Or like, light-coloured scrubs that sheer when you bend or something (which would then be an issue with the scrubs, not the undies, for clarity). Not just… normal butt movement? Is she going after jiggly tummies next?? Will the entire department need to wear spanx?

      1. Wolf*

        I was wondering if OP also rated other people’s bras as “inappropriate” if there is a jiggle when the person moves.

        1. Strawberry Snarkcake*

          And for those of us “blessed” with extra the only way we can completely eliminate jiggle is by wearing an industrial strength sports bra. No thanks.

        2. Quill*

          The same issues that make OP decide that wiggle on a body is a bad thing are why the rest of us started hating having to do jumping jacks in gym since age 12

          1. Star Trek Nutcase*

            Unlike me for whom no amount of jumping jacks would stop my jiggling. My front jiggles and so does my backside. I’m aware I jiggle but short of a straight jacket & 2 spanx, I’m jiggling. I don’t comment on others’ bad complexions, hairstyle choices, visible genital adjustments, etc, so would appreciate no comments on my jiggling.

    2. CityMouse*

      Scrubs are also a mixed bag and the nurse simply could have been wearing a stiffer pair of scrubs. Scrubs are made of a material and cut you don’t normally see on other pants. so this may have had absolutely nothing to do with her underwear.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That was my first thought; it’s just as likely to have been about the cut and fit of the scrubs as anything else. Then my second thought was it’s just not this person’s business anyway. I’m actually not sure of the order of the thoughts. They were basically simultaneous.

        1. Strawberry Snarkcake*

          My first thought was I don’t think I would have noticed at all, since I don’t tend to zoom in on that body part on others, especially in a health care setting.

      2. Smithy*

        The other “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” thing that came to my mind was the fear of VPL, or visible panty lines.

        A lot of people I know (including myself) have at times adopted thongs with the explicit intention of being MORE professional because it reduces risk of the visual line at the seam. To be explicit, I’m clear on the side of this being a “not her business” perspective, but I really wanted to call out how this policing of women’s bodies leaves that no win situation.

        1. All het up about it*

          I thought the juxtaposition between this letter and the update on the non-violation dress code letter yesterday is interesting and telling. Here we have another woman judging how professional a women looks based ostensibly on her clothing choices, but really how her body looks in those clothing choices.

          It’s not really what you meant, but it does feel very “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

          1. Smithy*

            It’s just all so interconnected!

            Because while for the OP, this may appear to be just one question – for so many women this feels like an all the time thing. Dressed more formally than your peers – it means X. Dressed very trend forward, or traditional forward – it means something else. Clothes too tight – too club, too sexy, to jiggly. Clothes too loose – pajamas, frumpy, unkempt.

            1. Strawberry Snarkcake*

              Too true! Ladies, do we just want to go ahead & start wearing full length paper bags to avoid judgement?

        2. fidget spinner*

          Yeah I’ve noticed lately that I’ve gained some weight so my pants are a little tighter. (They still fit because I always end up buying clothes that are too big for me, somehow). But you can see my panty line. I haven’t actually done anything about it because I just hope no one is looking that closely at my butt, and I’m kind of hoping to loose this gained weight and it won’t be a problem anymore, so I don’t want to spend money on clothes.

          But APPARENTLY there are people out there looking closely enough to see “butt wiggle.”

        3. EngineeringFun*

          I have a big soccer butt and have not worn anything but thongs for the last 20 years. I can get VPL thru jeans. One size up and it’s not too tight. When I see women wearing yoga pants with granny panties I am embarrassed for them. I think VPL is unprofessional. I will say, my muffin tops are very unprofessional as well but I like cookies.

          1. Moonstone*

            Why are you staring at so many women’s backsides that you are noticing VPL and feeling embarrassed for them? I don’t care about VPL for myself or anyone else – it wouldn’t even occur to me to look for that and I certainly don’t care what others think of my behind. I think checking out your coworkers bums to be much more unprofessional than some VPL. You and LW need to stop.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      Can we all just promise to stop looking at (and judging!) other people’s butts at work? I’m disturbed that this person had the gall to write in about this rather than just minding their business.

      1. Wolf*

        Yeah, I can see the nurse writing in “My patient keeps staring at my behind, which is perfectly covered by scrubs, how can I ask her to stop?”

        1. Op 1*

          I was not her patient. I only saw her in passing. It was a genuine question of whether thongs are ever ok to wear and Alison answered it (and, of course, she’s right).

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            But why ask then? And why did it bother you so much? This seems to be so much for something you saw “in passing”.

            1. LC*

              I think that’s a little harsh – there’s lots of people that ask Alison hypothetical questions or years later about what they should have done. I see it as being more in that realm but sparked from something observed.

              And hopefully others learned something from the answer :)

            2. Hlao-roo*

              Why ask? Because OP1 was curious and wanted to know the answer. And now Op1 does know the answer, so I consider this to be a success all around.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Like, thank heaven she asked here rather than at the nurse’s office. Or her own office.

            3. Ashley*

              You ask in a safe space and in a way that won’t put others on the spot. In the 90s I could see the answer being different, and I am glad as a society we have evolved. I am looking forward to the day when someone wonders when it became acceptable for women not to have to wear bras at work and everyone responds to that this same way they do about thong underwear.

            4. Nya*

              Well to be fair, probably better to ask here anonymously if curious than risk it saying to someone you know and getting this same reaction and/or offending. A colleague of mine got drunk and started ripping into thongs as a style of underwear when we met up for drinks and I gotta be honest, I know she had too much, I know she wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings (no way of knowing that’s pretty much all I wear), but I still think of her as narrow minded and judgmental. Would have been Better if she had ranted into the online void…

            5. Yup*

              This. It’s a loaded question, not a curiosity one. It’s policing what women wear at work and wrapping it up in an innocent-question bow.

              1. Knittercubed*

                I wore scrubs for decades as a nurse. They have traditionally been unisex sized which of course means designed for men. I never once had a pair of scrubs fit well until I found a company that used women’s standards. Even so they do nothing to “contain and prevent” jiggle.

                My solution was to wear tunic length scrub tops that covered my butt. However that was just my solution for modesty.

              2. Jake*

                It’s not though because OP accepted the answer. We cannot assign malice when people are asking questions about this stuff and then accepting the answer, or else everybody will just stay in their original, “thongs are automatically unprofessional” mindset.

                If you don’t let people ask without judging them harshly, then they will stop asking. One of Alison’s rules is to assume good faith, and I think this is the perfect example of why that rule is important.

          2. Jiggle Measurement*

            I’m also in HR and I’m a little bit surprised to see that you’re in HR and had to ask this. I guess I must have missed “Butt Jiggle: How Much is Too Much” at the last SHRM conference.

                1. ScruffyInternHerder*

                  To whom do I address the invoice for a keyboard replacement if I can’t get all the diet coke out of this one, thanks….

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              “I’m a little bit surprised to see that you’re in HR and had to ask this.”

              Hm, this is an interesting take. We all have blindspots and we always have more to learn, so it’s good that LW1 asked. I think it’s way better to ask and learn rather than stay in ignorance.

              1. Jiggle Measurement*

                I agree, however this is a “101” item. OP is a manager. Yes, I’m surprised to see an HR Manager ask this, and she’s doubling down below on sexist dress code standards.

                1. I should really pick a name*

                  Based on the letters that come into this site, it’s not as much of a 101 item as we might wish it to be.

                  A lot of companies still have sexist dress codes.

                2. Jiggle Measurement*

                  A lot of companies having sexist dress codes doesn’t mean we should make excuses for a manager who wants to uphold sexist dress codes (see OP’s comments below).

              2. Kay*

                This is HR we are talking about – if you haven’t gotten basic sexual harassment figured out you shouldn’t be in HR!

            2. jane's nemesis*

              OP also justified noticing the Butt Wiggle as being BECAUSE they’re in HR and that they were looking through an HR lens, which just confuses the ever-loving daylights out of me.

              1. Catwhisperer*

                Same, I would think staring at a colleague’s butt is a potential sexual harassment issue and thus much bigger than the type of underwear someone wears. It seems to me that OP1 caught herself doing something inappropriate and looked for ways to blame it on their colleague instead of questioning their own response. This is the exact train of thought that leads to women being asked what they’re wearing when they’re assaulted, as if their clothing has anything to do with another person’s choice of behavior.

          3. CommanderBanana*

            Why would any sort of underwear be inappropriate at work? It’s literally under your clothing.

            1. Labrat*

              Not an objection to type, but price. Chemical manufacturing generally requires control clothing and showers before the person goes home to reduce chance of carrying contamination home. The site I’m thinking of provided boxers for the men, but allowed women to buy their own work underwear with reimbursement and wash at home… Until someone submitted a $200 Victoria’s Secret reciept. I don’t know the exact details of that fallout as this was over a decade ago and relayed by a manager. But I think they decided to provide underwear for women and have the company use a “gentle cycle”.

          4. Need Coffee*

            I just cannot understand why thongs would be considered inappropriate by you, millions of women wear them exclusively to avoid visible panty lines.

            1. TPS Reporter*

              right? if she had panty lines then OP would complain too? so the woman has to wear a full pant under the scrubs? what is the solution?

          5. watermelon fruitcake*

            I stand by “there are no stupid questions,” but I am confused about the thought process behind “are thongs ever ok to wear” in the first place. Why “ever” wouldn’t they be? Underwear is underwear. As long as it is UNDER, then it is never inappropriate to WEAR.

            Going commando is also not inappropriate unless it’s done as sexual harassment – and the simple act of not wearing underwear, in itself, absent other behaviors, is not sexual harassment. Meanwhile, staring at an employee’s butt long enough to determine that the level of jiggling must assuredly be caused by a lack of cheek containment… could be construed as sexual harassment.

            I, like evidently several others, first expected this question to be about inappropriate footwear – which would be a much more significant point of concern in a medical/clinical environment – and when I saw it was indeed about underwear, I thought “surely it must be that her scrubs are falling down and showing her bare ass,” which is the only time I would think counseling an employee about their underwear would be appropriate. i.e. when that underwear (or what is beneath) is overtly showing.

          6. Meep*

            I think it is how you kept fixating on “jiggly butts”. The question could’ve been asked without the drawn out, frankly obsessive language and it would’ve come off as more genuine over fixated.

          7. Not a sandwich*

            Not to pile on – you were probably thinking that uncomfortable clothing can impact care, just as a tour guide wearing high heels or a plumber wearing a 3 piece suit – you would be uncomfortable so wouldn’t they too? However, comfort is usually only brought up in general in the dress code by companies because it is so personal. Just as we can’t pull someone aside and say “your shoes appear uncomfortable and I worry it will impact your work here today” or “your socks don’t match and my socks not matching would drive me bananas and unable to focus so you must not be able to focus so you should make sure your socks match from now on” dress codes don’t require specific undergarments.
            Dress codes only talk about visible clothes but they don’t specify that clothing should be comfortable to the wearer. That is assumed. So even if someone may find pants constricting and uncomfortable and only wear dresses, it does not mean others don’t have comfortable pants and their ability to work is impacted by seemingly uncomfortable clothes. We trust that people aware what fits their comfort and needs. But from HR point of view – unless the underwear is visible outside of clothes, there isn’t anything HR should do. There is no dress code violation.

        2. jasmine*

          I don’t think they were staring and I think people are being too hard on the LW. It’s like how you can sometimes tell someone’s not wearing a bra. You don’t have to stare, sometimes you just notice. That’s why people ask about whether or not you need to wear them to work, even if they’re undergarments their presence is visible. In this case, thongs aren’t the only explanation for what OP noticed, which is fair to point out.

          1. Smithy*

            I think the upset and pushback at the OP is how regularly and often women’s bodies are policed at work to be appropriate.

            For many women panty lines have been stressed as being unprofessional/unpolished and with women’s clothing often being of thinner material and having tailoring for an inconsistent waist/hip ratio reality – thongs are a significantly more cost effective way to not have that visual. As opposed to doing something like getting your scrubs tailored.

            So to hear from HR that there’s a concern in a bottom’s jiggle – I think it’s worth sitting with how triggering this can be for so many women already trying really hard to dress professionally, appropriately, and like themselves at work. For women who are larger or have larger bottoms, women with a more dramatic waist to hip ratio, etc.

            From a pragmatic sense, this was a question that was asked and answered. But I for everyone pushing back that this isn’t a big deal, please listen to women who are upset and stating how frequently this kind of monitoring for appropriateness happens. This is an area of bias that predominantly negatively affects women, and for women with other challenges in society – it often managers to be compounded.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Yeah, it’s bad enough work wants to dictate what we wear, now they want to police our UNDERWEAR?!

              F*** right off with that.

            2. MigraineMonth*

              There’s also a power differential. This isn’t new intern Claire wondering if thongs are appropriate at work, it’s a *manager in HR*. She likely has the power to create and enforce dress codes, so this indication that she’s thinking of policing the amount of acceptable butt jiggle women (and almost certainly ONLY women) are allowed is genuinely concerning.

          2. CommanderBanana*

            Noticing and being SO perturbed by someone else’s backside, someone that you don’t even work with or know that you feel compelled to write to an advice column is really next level.

            Personally, I wouldn’t want an HR “professional” on my staff that was so obsessed with what’s covering other people’s buttcheeks.

      2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        Agreed! It is so weird and disturbing for someone, in HR no less! to be playing underwear police, even if it is not in her own workplace.

        Regarding the presumed discomfort of that kind of underwear, I knew someone who wore thongs for the indisputable reason that every other cut of underwear she’d tried always gave her wedgies, so if that was going to happen anyway it might as well happen with as little material as possible.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, personally I’m not a thong person but I have friends who always wear thongs because they find them the most comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about VPL under trousers etc. As long as you can’t see the thong (or any other kind of underpants) then of course a thong is appropriate for work! The idea that it wouldn’t be is bizarre. People have bodies, those bodies move in different ways. That’s it.

        2. T.N.H*

          Thongs are truly the only underwear that work for me. Everything else leaves lines or feels like wearing a diaper. I promise you would notice a lot more if I had on granny panties.

          1. cee*

            Same here. The first time I wore a thong was life changing. Exponentially more comfortable for me that any other style as the rest feel like diapers.

            The fact that some people prefer thongs for comfort really doesn’t feel like news though, I’m surprised that it never seems to have entered into the OPs thought process.

      3. Jake*

        Asking the question isn’t inappropriate (how else would we learn?), as long as the answer is accepted and implemented.

      4. Meep*

        It was the fact she kept focusing on the “jiggling” for me. It comes a point where you write jiggling butt so many times, adding that you are straight is just going to make you appear vapid.

      5. Danish*

        Truly. “I don’t care what other people wear” LW says, writing in to an advice column about this nurse’s supposed “butt floss” with “was this EVER okay?”

        LW clearly cares quite a bit.

    4. Michigander*

      That’s what I thought too from the title, which would have made a lot more sense. You assume you know what kind of underwear someone is wearing based on how much their butt jiggles? And somehow this is enough of a problem for you that you don’t know if you’d want her to be your doctor or nurse? How about you just keep your eyes off of other people’s butts and let them do their jobs without trying to analyse their underwear?

    5. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I’m sure my butt jiggles even with briefs or boyshorts. For me, the only way to stop jiggling would be shapewear. And I personally do find thongs uncomfortable, but shapewear is much more uncomfortable for me. Sometimes bodies jiggle even with two layers of fabric.

    6. LaurCha*

      right? OH NO NOT JIGGLING. Maybe just keep your eyes above the waist, ma’am. So rude. And I don’t care if LW is plus size or not, it’s fat-shaming to be offended by jiggle.

    7. lilsheba*

      Frankly I think the OP needs to mind their own business and not worry about what other people are wearing, especially when it comes to underwear. That’s like saying you don’t want them to have tattoos, when they will make NO difference in care. Worry about your own underwear.

  4. Feelings sticker chart victim*

    1. Even if they had been your doctor, I’m not sure what you’d even do with the information had you got confirmation it was inappropriate? It’s not really the kind of thing that would be worth the stress of changing doctors over and it would be weird to raise with them

    1. Nodramalama*

      I’m kind of surprised LW was in HR because if I was in HR and someone said to me “I was looking at someone’s butt and I think they’re wearing a thong,” my first thought would not be, better find that employee and demand whether they’re wearing a thong and tell them to change into other underwear.

      1. duinath*

        yeah, one would think her “hr awareness” would have alerted her to the fact that looking so closely at the wiggling of someone’s butt while they’re working is Not Okay, and as alison alluded to, i don’t think my butt’s wiggling has anything to do with the type of underwear i’m wearing unless there are spanx involved.

        lw1, if this ever comes up at work, i think it’s best you talk to the person about how it’s not okay to comment on your coworkers’ bodies and underwear, not what kind of underwear is work appropriate.

      2. Op 1*

        But if that person was not wearing a bra, I would be having a conversation about what’s appropriate for work. This question was along the same lines.

        1. Isobel*

          I’m pretty sure questions about bra wearing have been raised in the past, and the answer is pretty similar – if everything’s covered up, policing people’s undies isn’t acceptable.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Don’t. As Alison alluded to, policing boob jiggling is not any better than policing butt jiggling.

        3. Rain*

          Why? What business is it of HR if someone chooses not to wear a bra? And why are you spending so much time worrying about people’s knickers?

        4. scandi*

          maybe you should spend some time reflecting on why you think women’s natural bodies are inappropriate in the workplace.

        5. Inkhorn*

          If you had that conversation with me, I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on how I could make my breasts magically grow large enough to actually fill out a bra.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Small breasts don’t have the same, uh, range of motion, though. The issue with “not wearing a bra” isn’t the lack of bra, it’s the motion associated with not wearing a bra. I’m in that weird middle ground where they’re big enough to bounce but not big enough to weigh themselves down. No bra is very noticeable.

            1. Flor*

              But by that reasoning, the issue is that the way some bodies are naturally is “unprofessional” so we have to wear potentially uncomfortable or even painful undergarments to make them “professional” (and before anyone says “but a properly fitted bra should never be painful!” well, uh, the fact that mine are properly fitted is *why* they leave dents in the sides of my torso).

              1. Lenora Rose*

                I am of a size where not wearing a bra hurts more (and makes for truly horredous sweat issues, as opposed to the normal sweat issues), and have three “properly fitted” bras – one can rub welts if I’m not careful (A strategically placed bandaid works), one will leave marks that will last a day or two, and one doesn’t. It IS possible to find the right bra that doesn’t hurt or leave dents. It takes work, and far too $&#%*# much money at times, but they really do exist.

                1. Flor*

                  Honestly, I think in my case it’s a function of my shape, because it’s always the same place they dig in, and this is over 15+ years of different bras, +/- 15kg and +/- 3 cup sizes.

                  I pretty much only wear bralettes or corsets these days; both are much more comfortable (bralettes because they let everything sit where it wants to and just kind of contain movement, corsets because the support comes from below).

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  Mm. I love corsets; I really should try and get a couple again. Haven’t tried a Bralette but have considered the idea; my maternity bras proved it was possible to support my size without underwires, but I thought some extra structure below would have helped.

        6. Rebecca*

          Ugh, why?

          Genuine question – I have seen some men who could, for lack of better words right now, fill out a bra. Would you have the same conversation with them if you could see that under their work shirts?

          1. not applicable*

            Or in another vein, there are quite a few men who you can see nipples through their shirt (it can be cold in the office!) I would assume that gets a talking to as well no? If we’re policing other people’s chest area?

            1. Phony Genius*

              I once worked with somebody who wore a very worn-out t-shirt. He seemed to be willing to wear it as long as it had one t-shirt molecule left. You could see right through it, nipples, hair, and all. As a fellow man, I found it quite inappropriate for an office workplace. As an intern working under him, I said nothing.

        7. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, you shouldn’t be doing that either. How is anyone’s chest HR’s business?

            1. MistOrMister*

              I used to wear camisoles under button down shirts at my first office. The same as a lot of the other 20 somethings. As in the exact same – from the same store even! Mine fit me properly. One day I got a talking to from my boss saying some of the men were finding my chest distracting and could I please cover up. I asked her if she had already had or would be having the same conversation with the others who wore the same outfit and she said no. So I said, ok well as long as you’re only singling me out, I am not going to change what I wear. Me and my covered areolas kept on wearing the exact same thing as everyone else until the day I left, I can tell you that!!

        8. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          Even for not wearing a bra, I don’t think there’s room for a conversation, actually.
          There *might* be grounds for a conversation about shirt thickness if there’s a lot of nipple topography visible (which can happen with or without a bra). But my employer doesn’t really have grounds to tell me I need to be in pain all day so I have better lift and separation.

        9. CommanderBanana*

          If someone, especially someone in HR, was scrutinizing my butt so closely they were worried about what type of underwear I was wearing, we’d be having an entirely different conversation that would likely end up involving lawyers.

        10. Jiggle Measurement*

          And unless you’re also requiring men to wear bras, that would be a terrible “might get your company sued” idea.

        11. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          You would be wrong. Unless the lack of a bra means breasts are exposed, it’s also very much none of anyone’s business at work. It also ends up being related to body size – people with smaller breasts can often go braless and have it be completely unnoticeable unless they’re doing something like jogging.

        12. House On The Rock*

          Respectfully, you should probably take a step back and ask yourself what part of “HR functions” involves policing people’s undergarments and making judgment calls about how their bodies look and move. The bra example doesn’t support (ha) the point you think it does, it just makes you and/or the culture in which you work, seem even more odd! I really hope you are not having conversations with staff about this and if you are, rethink that!

          1. Rex Libris*

            This. My first thought was that maybe the OP works for HR at IBM in the 1960’s and is somehow contacting us via time warp, but barring that, I’m finding their willingness to judge the “appropriateness” of other people’s clothed forms wildly out of line.

        13. Huh?*

          that’s a little too far. it’s obviously fine because Alison chose to answer and publish it. clearly OP had a question that other people might have. and as mentioned elsewhere, better to ask here than almost anywhere else.

          allow people to ask questions.

        14. 15 Pieces of Flair*

          Any sort of underwear policing carries an undercurrent of sexism. When someone both notices jiggle and feels entitled to comment on someone else’s body, the body in question is almost always female. Can you imagine anyone telling a man that he needed to wear more constrictive underwear (or a bra) because his body isn’t work appropriate? I understand that most women have internalized society’s sexist expectations around what constitutes an acceptable body, but we need to do better.

          1. PineappleColada*

            I personally disagree with this. Sometimes I think about if we ever encountered the reverse in offices…E.g., what if men wore pants so tight that you could possibly see the outline of their private parts. I personally would feel uncomfortable about that, probably because I’m very rarely exposed to it, since men’s fashion hasn’t evolved that way (yet). (Ha ha maybe at some point in the future they will will be a day where men will be saying “ladies, my eyes are up here!”)

            It’s a double standard for sure, because I wouldn’t be bothered about women’s bodies showing in the same way.

            1. Smithy*

              In support of 15 Pieces, I think the call to “do better” isn’t to say that conversation about professional dress and norms go out the window. But to truly question and sit with our biases and challenge ourselves around what is genuinely the issue at hand.

              Had this question involved something along the lines of “due to the thinness of the scrubs, I can see the detail of their tattoo” – having a conversation about the employee doing something to address that (i.e. thicker pants, different underwear, etc) would be different. Nipple piercings where a ring or barbell is visible through shirts – having a chat about that visibility not being appropriate is not the same (particularly for a more conservative workplace like a hospital). Similarly, extremely tight dress pants that have the outlines of genitalia exposed – for men and women, that’s a truly tight garment – where having a conversation about clothes being ill-fitting is not irrelevant.

              However, it’s taking a step back on the solution. The fix to visible nipple piercings might be tape, a bra, an undershirt, etc. The fix to ultra tight pants could be wearing a longer top. It’s about becoming more comfortable with naming the problem to be fixed, but not also dictating the solution.

            2. LostCommenter*

              Your comment reminded me that in a previous workplace the HR manager would bike to work, walk through the entire building dressed in his cycling clothing to his office where he changed.

              I felt uncomfortable. any woman who saw it felt uncomfortable. We didn’t know where to look because those shorts were so tight.

              1. ecnaseener*

                I mean…look anywhere other than his crotch? That’s not even anywhere near his face

              2. Kay*

                It seems that we tell men not to stare at women’s chests – I think us women can just not stare at men’s penises? I mean – most of us have “parts”, not that big of a deal if we don’t make a big deal of having human bodies.

              3. sara.bellum*

                This is so weird to me. My husband and most of his friends are cyclists, so I have seen countless guys – of all shapes and sizes – in kits. It’s not hard to “know where to look” because I don’t usually stare at people’s crotches, regardless of what pants they are wearing.

                Not to mention that bike shorts have a padded front modesty panel that smooth most things over. Have I ever caught a glance of someone who was… jostled… during a long ride? I mean – yes, that happens. And I just redirect my eyes back to that person’s face because I am an adult and I am fine with people dressing appropriately for their activities.

                1. Silver Robin*

                  I 100% agree!


                  I am imagining that the boss is walking through a cubicle farm/desks. Seated folks are a lot more likely to end up with their eyes at crotch level of a standing person, so I bet it just comes up more often.

                  The solution is still to just look somewhere else, I just understand how this might stick out due to frequency (regular work days), environment (work), of an unusual situation (male clothing tight enough to see topography).

              4. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                I say this as someone whose job used to involve a lot of hotel time and shared hotel rooms with my coworkers: you just don’t look. Look at faces, or find yourself suddenly engrossed in your work.
                I’ve shared rooms with coworkers who felt the need to walk around in lace bras, and one coworker who memorably did his stretches in ill-fitting running shorts right outside the lobby windows while the rest of us had breakfast.
                We’re humans, we notice things. But we’re also adults, so we let it go.

            3. I should really pick a name*

              I don’t think the comparison really works.
              I can see the shape of someone’s breasts whether they wear a bra or not.

        15. Yup*

          Lots of people don’t wear bras for lots of reasons–from it hurts to it’s too hot to they just don’t want to.

          Why do we insist in policing what women wear like this? It’s not like the doctor was walking around in a t-rex costume and couldn’t reach her patients because her arms were too short. This isn’t an innocent letter–there is misogyny all over it. I’m glad AAM settled this.

          1. Tree*

            “Lots of people don’t wear bras for lots of reasons.” Yep. I’ve got a shoulder injury right now that prevents me from putting on my bra. I’m a 36J. Thank god I’m remote so no one is calculating the amount I jiggle while working.

            Side note, I’m delighted by the image of Dr. T. Rex.

        16. BW*

          If a man was wearing a thong and his butt was jiggling, or if he was going commando and swinging as he walked, would you be having a conversation with him?

        17. AnonyMouse for a Reason*

          Nooooooo. Stop fixating on which parts of women’s bodies you find too be too jiggly. This is inappropriate and gross. As mentioned in the response, bodies are built differently and none of this is actually unprofessional. There are days when even a thick tshirt bra isn’t going to cover up my nipples and after breastfeeding multiple children, they jiggle a lot more than they used to even when well supported.

        18. Braless*

          There are plenty of times I don’t wear a bra at work and I doubt anyone has ever noticed. How would you address that with me? What about man boobs? Should guys wear bras in that case?

        19. Leenie*

          That feels like a very 20 years ago conversation. I’m in finance, which is a conservative industry, but I’m surprised that HR departments in any industry are still talking to people about bras. It feels sexist and intrusive.

        20. Catwhisperer*

          It is never appropriate to be this invested in a colleague’s breasts, butt, or genital areas.

        21. Irish Teacher.*

          This is probably going to sound more critical than I intend it to, but honestly, I would say that while there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about not wearing a bra at work, I would think it is very inappropriate to comment to somebody about whether or not they are wearing a bra.

          If somebody came to you, as HR and complained that somebody was not wearing a bra, I hope you would point out to them that it is not appropriate to be speculating as to what underwear colleagues are wearing.

        22. Observer*

          If someone comes to you and tells you that they were looking at how much someone’s breast moves, and therefore they assume that she’s not wearing a bra, your reaction is going to be “Thanks for telling me” to the complainer and a “conversation” with the the their victim? Seriously?

          You *really* need to rethink that. NO ONE should be looking so closely at someones breast and the draw conclusions about whether they are wearing a bra or not. If someone comes to you to complain that someone’s bust is “too jiggly” you should NOT be going to their victim. You should be making it clear to the complainer that they have no business staring at some woman’s breasts!

          Having said, your question is lot worse than that. Both because your conclusion is less tenable, it requires even more looking where you shouldn’t be than that.

        23. Meep*

          …. No it is not. Some people don’t need to wear bras and you will never notice. Stop being obssessed with women’s bodies. It is gross.

        24. Anonymous Gentry*

          Are you having the same talk about chest coverage with male-presenting or otherwise smaller-chested employees?

        25. Star Trek Nutcase*

          If you did, it would be inappropriate too. I’m old and know my views on appropriate clothing in public & at work skews conservative – but over 40+ yrs working am just appreciative when I don’t see nipples, butt cracks, and men’s genitals. Cleavage & jiggling don’t make the cut. And as someone with significant amounts of both, I would file & pursue complaints against a coworker, boss or HR who mentions this to me.

      3. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, a “wow, you are thinking way too much about other people’s underwear and I never want to hear anything like this again, unless someone’s clothing is a clear safety hazard” would be my go-to.

      4. Meep*

        My mom and sister both work(ed) in HR. It is kind of like nursing. You get a lot of good people who genuinely care. And then you get some high school mean girls on a power-trip who NEED to look like they care about the every day person while while not caring at all. And then the in-betweeners who just ended up there.

    2. Cat Bell*

      Some of us do better work when we feel sexy. I wear thongs to work because it holds my Feminine Features in place.

  5. Pop*

    OP4, I think it would be appropriate to mention your gratitude casually next time you see the manager, if there’s a company picnic, you stop by the office to go with your partner to lunch, or at the holiday party. It’s not true for everyone, but after a few years my husband and I both have (casual, friendly) relationships with the other’s manager, and it would feel remiss not to mention it at all the next time we saw them.

    1. Secretly Nice*

      Yes, but I would also add: play it cool if you do ever thank them in person. I think your sense of the enormity of the gift could turn out to be culturally at odds with how the boss sees it?
      To be clear, it seems like an enormous gift to me (non-profit person) too.

      I’m thinking of this from my personal life: People of my cultural group are often quite warm and generous in manner, and I sometimes notice that waiting staff (in another culture, where I live) don’t respond well to my usual nice/generous manners – they can be a little cold with me. But when I consciously cool my manner (Eg, don’t say thank you), they become more polite and warmer! Most of the time I can’t be bothered to change my manner (it feels strange to deliberately not say thank you, for instance), but when I do I really notice its effectiveness. Sometimes, for cultural fit, dampening down an innocent appreciation is the way to go. [shrug emoji!]

      1. ariel*

        I agree with this! Generous rewards are par for the course in some contexts, I’ll sure OP’s partner is expressing gratitude. I recommend not going overboard with thanks but saying “we had a great time, thanks so much for going above and beyond with that” and then moving on will be sufficient and also not make it A Thing.

    2. Sopranoh*

      I was thinking something along these lines. A quick thank you and a mention of how much you enjoyed the trip at the next holiday party. Since the boss is a fan of the sport mentioning a few interesting things that happened during the event would probably be good small talk material too.

  6. Person from the Resume*

    If you can actually see someone’s underwear enough to know what they’re wearing then it’s generally inappropriate for work.

    OTOH the LW didn’t see a thing and is making a wild guess based on “jiggliness” but there is no logic to her guess that I can see. Reasoning is flawed.

    1. Nodramalama*

      I don’t know if I necessarily always agree with that first sentence. You can see the lines of underwear in a LOT of women’s clothing. In fact its precisely that reason why many women wear thongs in the first place.

      Which goes to your second point, which is that unless someone saw a whale tale, makes it even weirder that someone thinks they can tell if someone is wearing a thong.

    2. Sapientia*

      Well, sometimes people misjudge how visible their underwear is under a particular piece of clothing. As with all faux pas that people cannot change right away (stains on clothing, ripped seams mended with security pins) I think it’s most polite to pretend not to see anything.

      If it’s a regular issue, their manager could speak to them privately.

    3. Rebecca*

      No thank you please.

      I recently went shopping for new work pants, and my husband was surprised at how much time and energy I had to spend finding pants where there was no Visible Panty Line, and then, failing, how much time and energy I had to spend going to go buy new underwear.

      Like many people, I don’t have a large clothing budget, and am mostly shopping for work clothes at the mall, and like many people, I am pretty curvy. It is hard to find women’s pants and skirts that don’t cling. I spent my entire 20s hearing that we should all be wearing thongs to work to avoid the dreaded seam of the underwear line at the edge of our butt.

      I would really like to rent this part of my brain out to something else please and thank you.

      1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        Agreed on the 20s and the visible panty lines. I definitely grew up with the impression thongs, like other uncomfortable clothing, are the Most Professional choice, which adds another layer of bafflement to this question.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          (And in case it’s unclear, also agreed that this is all nonsense. Let’s all just wear something comfortable and practical for the work we’re doing and let everyone else get on with their own work!)

        2. AnonyMouse for a Reason*

          Nooooooo. Stop fixating on which parts of women’s bodies you find too be too jiggly. This is inappropriate and gross. As mentioned in the response, bodies are built differently and none of this is actually unprofessional. There are days when even a thick tshirt bra isn’t going to cover up my nipples and after breastfeeding multiple children, they jiggle a lot more than they used to even when well supported.

        3. SpaceySteph*

          Yeah this was how I grew up as well. Like how dare you have a VPL from your comfy briefs, when you could squeeze yourself into some butt floss and sacrifice your physical comfort for everyone else’s mental/emotional comfort. This is basically how I understood being a woman, for the first 30ish years of my life. I’m happy to be in my swamp witch era now.

      2. Hot Flash Gordon*

        I never understood the pearl clutching about VPL. I mean, I get it from a fashion perspective, but who cares if you can see the outline of someone’s underpants?

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          The rationale, as far as it goes, is something like – seeing panty lines (or bra straps) leads to thinking about panties (or bras), which leads to thinking about the body parts covered by the offending undergarments. Women are apparently supposed to do everything we can to avoid the seductive power of metonymy, like that apocryphal story about Victorians and table legs.

        2. Smithy*

          To trauma teleport….I always encountered the VPL as a real impossible gauntlet.

          If the panty line could be seen that almost seemed to indicate the wearing of a “granny panty” and thus being uncool. Or an indication of fatness, and that’s why it was visible. So essentially the reality of pants that were tight and fitted, but then also showed no panty line. (insert evil laugh)

      3. Observer*

        and my husband was surprised at how much time and energy I had to spend finding pants where there was no Visible Panty Line,

        I think that there is a difference between VPL and actually seeing the panties. You don’t have to be wearing sheer fabrics for VPL, but if someone can actually see what you’re wearing, it’s because the fabric is too see through or you simply don’t have adequate coverage.

        And that would be the case regardless of what body part it is, and gender of the wearer. So I also don’t want a guy wearing so many buttons open on his shirt so I can see his undershirt (or lack thereof).

    4. I DK*

      Yeah, I don’t follow the “jiggliness” to thong ratio rationale, some butts jiggle some don’t, doesn’t mean either of them are wearing a thong.

    5. Moira's Rose's Garden*

      You know, a lot of ignorant boys I grew up with thought things like “if you can’t see a girl’s panty lines, she’s a slut”. Sexist af, and utterly revealing of their immaturity and possibly a dearth of good sex ed info. As written, this statement reads to me almost like the flip side of that same coin.

      My org’s dress code can be summarized as “No backs, no bellies, no loud, distracting footware (as a way to get to the essence of the flip-flop problem)”. So it’s possible that a bra strap or waistband of undies being visible could be inappropriate, but it would be because the clothing doesn’t provide enough coverage – in which case the problem is specifically the cut of the clothing/coverage, even if the undergarments were not visible. Any identifiable unmentionables are a symptom, not the problem.

      Whereas an errant bra-strap or waistband that peeks out with certain kinds of movement or visible from particular angles is just one of those frustrations in life, and not a violation of the dress code.

    6. Hipster*

      I’m a health care provider. LW needs to worry about her own underwear and stop staring at our butts. We are working 12 plus hour shifts. I find the letter offensive.

    1. Rain*

      Seriously. Bad enough to be staring at some strangers but making judgments about what you think they’re wearing, but then to write to an advice columnist asking if it’s some sort of HR issue?

      That is beyond the pale in my opinion

      1. Thegreatprevaricator*

        Further: If it’s some kind of HR issue in an organisation that they don’t work in? Seems odd.

        As the possessor of ample bosom, I would love it if we could stop making women’s bodies the problem. The sexualisation of the body is happening in the eye of the beholder. Butts are jiggling, scrubs are *not designed for women*. Having a larger bust is always going to make it more visible. Thats not me being work inappropriate . You can make up a story about the line of my underwear visible under my clothes but that’s on you, not me!

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        This is not even OP1’s workplace. Surely what a medical professional wears under her fully-covering outerwear is none of her business.

        Perhaps OP1 needs some sensitivity training from a wiser HR professional.

    2. Alan*

      This is just like when someone says “I’m not racist but…”. You know something racist is about to be coming out of their mouths. “I don’t really care what anybody wears under their clothes”? Yeah, you do, and if you were a guy people would rightly calling it creepy.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Any time someone says “I’m not X but” or “I don’t mean to be Y but” you know that the next thing out of their mouth is going to be X or Y.

  7. Maggie*

    Does your butt move less in full coverage underwear? Do you think you should start requiring panty lines? I’m afraid you’ve lost the plot LW1. Stop staring at and assessing people’s butts! Some of us have dump trucks ok. And they do be moving

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Heeeeeeee @ dump trucks

      I would go with “blessed in the booty,” but dump trucks certainly, ahem, covers it. Unlike this lady’s thong.

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, I’m not going to apologise for the fact that some parts of my body are jiggly. Some parts of most people’s bodies are jiggly! What are we meant to do, cover ourselves head to toe in loose fabric lest anyone catch a glimpse of a less-than-toned arm or bottom?

        1. londonedit*

          Not the one the OP lives in, presumably. Maybe I should have said ‘cover ourselves head to toe in hessian sacking’ or something – surely you get the point?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Those inflatable gerbil balls.

        I recall a photo thread from a fitness model demonstrating “Okay, here’s how I look when I stand on my toes, clench every muscle in my core, and do half a dozen other things that are the norm for these photos. And here’s how I look in the same basic pose but just relaxed and not clenched up.”

        Part of “How do they look like that?” for the model fit is “They pose in a very specific way.”

      2. Cat Tree*

        Honestly, this is why shapewear is such a big industry. I hate the narrative that women’s bodies can’t jiggle. Even when I was young and thin, I was still made to feel insecure that my thighs jiggled and were bumpy. We’re not allowed to just have bodies that follow the laws of physics.

      3. Nonanon*

        Wasn’t it a REALLY BIG DEAL a few years ago when a closeup of Wonder Woman’s thigh showed it JIGGLE after landing from a jump (the HORRORS… of having a body that obeys the laws of physics)? And it was SUCH a big deal because Female Director(tm) wasn’t directing for the male gaze? By adding a Normal Human Jiggle?
        Anyhow. Just a thought.

        1. londonedit*

          This whole thing reminds me of the horrors of the 90s/early 2000s, where tabloid newspapers and Heat magazine etc would literally print photos of celebrities with red circles around any perceived flaw. That’s how women my age grew up with the idea that cellulite, folds of skin, jiggle, basically anything that wasn’t stick-thin, toned and bronzed, was something shameful that should be hidden. Not to mention that any woman showing any skin was automatically ‘flaunting’ their body. I still struggle with the idea that I ‘shouldn’t show my legs off’ because my legs are fairly large, pale, cellulite-ridden and jiggly. I vividly remember the horrified discussion of Princess Diana’s cellulite (and whether it was indeed – shock horror – cellulite or perhaps she’d just been sitting on a wicker chair that had marked her thighs??) Horrible.

      4. jane's nemesis*

        actually I think the preference would be full-body compression spanx, to reduce the jiggle.

    3. House On The Rock*

      This confused me too! Not to get too TMI or off topic, but the underwear I (a cis woman) prefer are cotton hipsters or boy shorts. These are not particularly structured and don’t have compression! Given that my job is not Professional Fitness Model with 3% body fat*, there’s probably some jiggle going on in the back, especially if I’m moving quickly (as a clinician might at her job in a health care facility!).
      *I’m in no way conjoining size and fitness level, only saying there are no Buns of Steel here!

  8. Ginger Cat Lady*

    OP1 stop staring at people’s butts. I don’t buy that you “just happened to notice” the jiggliness.
    You don’t know her, have no authority over her, and definitely have no business speculating about her underwear!

    1. Leenie*

      Yeah, the LW seemed to commit to staring at and assessing this woman’s reportedly jiggling posterior, while acknowledging that it wasn’t “super noticeable.” As far as how patients would feel about the scandalously unrestrained caboose, I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed my health care provider’s butt. If I ever did, I would think it was my issue to manage, not theirs.

  9. Armadillidiidae*

    I have to disagree with part of the answer to LW #2: just because something is common doesn’t make it appropriate at work. Many, many people have trauma around the loss (or near loss) of children, and it’s a heavy subject to treat so lightly.

    LW #2, I think you should indeed note on the survey that using that particular short story was inappropriate at work. It’s up to you whether to share your own experience; you’d be on solid ground justifying your objection in the general terms I used above.

    The onus should be on the people running this workshop to find examples that are appropriate for the workplace. If they’re unable to think of even one alternative, then they’re probably not good enough storytellers to be leading such an event.

    1. Lizard the Second*

      I agree. That is a very common example of the powerful six word story, but I wince every time I see it.

      Child death is a sensitive topic, and many people would need to brace themselves before discussing it, not have it dropped into workplace training as a casual example.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s powerful because of what it evokes. It’s a little frustrating for the people running the seminar to be like “Stories evoke powerful emotions in us–whoa, why are a bunch of people crying after my story about the death of a child?”

        I don’t even mind including it as one of many examples–but it’s a very bad place to focus. Because the story you tell to get buy in from Spouts for the new TPS Cover Sheet Initiative should not be a gut punch of grief and loss.

        1. Venus*

          This is where I am too. It’s reasonable to read it out briefly at the start or have it on a slide, but WTF were they thinking when they pushed everyone to discuss it? It’s not a story meant to sell a project, so they really should focus on something more related to business.

      2. JC*

        A trainer at my job used an example of losing weight to look sexy at the beach – which I thought was wildly inappropriate for 2024, off base as an example in a professional training course and insensitive of anyone with eating issues. I reported it both to my manager and the feedback training form and hope someone took notice. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t realise the sensitivity or appropriateness of topics and need the feedback.

      3. TPS Reporter*

        I don’t think I had ever heard that story before this post and I’m horrified at the thought of presenting it a work training.

    2. Two-Faced Big-Haired Food Critic*

      LW2, sorry for your loss.

      Also, Hemingway did not write that. That alone would have aggravated me. He did not write “Baby Shoes”, and he did not write it on a bet at the Algonquin Round Table, if they claimed that, too. He was hardly ever in the U.S. during their heyday, and even when he was, a hotel dining room was not his scene. Not sure who *did* write “Baby Shoes”, but not anyone who was known for anything else.

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        To be fair, they did say that the story was attributed to Hemingway, which is true. He’s one of these people who has things attributed to him that he didn’t actually say. See also Mark Twain.

        1. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

          Like Yogi Berra, who didn’t say half the things he said!

        2. Smithy*

          My favorite attributed to Mark Twain quote is something like “when it’s my time to die, take me to Cincinnati because everything happens there ten years later”.

          As someone from Cincinnati, I find it amusing but whenever I say/paraphrase it – I always say “attributed to Mark Twain”. Both to not take credit for it, but also to acknowledge that I know the provenance isn’t clear.

    3. RandomTriggers*

      Speaking as a writer of documentation and (less frequently) training materials, there are no examples without that capacity to kick off a bad reaction in someone. If it’s not racist, sexist, anti-semitic, or otherwise actively inappropriate I’m going to use it, especially if it’s a powerful example of what I need that likely will more quickly/fully/completely illustrate a particular point. I would be empathetic if something did trigger a highly negative reaction, but filtering all possible causes ahead of time is not really a viable option.

      I’ve had people get triggered by examples that talk about car color, use a common first name they associate with something negative, and other similar unexpected bits of examples I’ve used. There literally is no way to win/make everyone happy.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Worth mentioning it to the trainer. That example can easily be altered to ‘wedding dress, never worn” or something that’s admittedly not without potential for upsetting someone but perhaps in a less visceral way. Or, in the event of it ever coming up again, you can reframe the Hemingway-attributed quote (even if it’s not real) to mean something else happier: my daughter never wore tons of her baby clothes, including shoes, because she grew so quickly!

        I’m very sorry about your niece.

        1. ChurchofDietCoke*

          I use wedding dress, never worn as an example in my communication training!

          1. Phony Genius*

            I’ve heard “parachute, use once, never opened,” but that’s probably too dark for a work audience.

          2. RandomTriggers*

            I guarantee you it will trigger folks who want to get married, who have lost a spouse, had a partner die before the wedding, had a loved one die before they married, had a loved one who talked about their wedding die young, etc.

            I assure you, this is not better.

        2. londonedit*

          Yeah, ‘wedding dress, never worn’ gets the point across without being nearly as likely to touch a nerve. Of course you might come across the occasional person whose partner left them before their wedding, or whatever, but given how common miscarriage is, as well as how common it is for people to be going through IVF treatment etc, I’d steer clear of the ‘baby shoes’ example.

        3. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings*

          The wedding dress story is also better, in some respects, because it tells you very clearly that something went wrong…whereas the baby shoes story can sometimes be interpreted as humorous, since many baby shoes go unworn, as they are the sort of cute thing that are often gifted to new parents, but are functionally useless and get forgotten or set-aside along with overly frilly onesies and other vanity baby presents.

          1. Ess Ess*

            That was my original take when I was reading the original 6-word story until I read the OPs reaction. I grew up never wearing my shoes so I had read it as receiving a useless item because babies don’t walk so don’t need shoes, and when they do start walking they always demand to be barefoot.

          2. SpaceySteph*

            I think part of the intrigue of this particular piece of flash fiction is that is does have multiple interpretations. As someone who multiple times has given away kid clothes never worn by my kids as they grow, that’s always my first thought as well.

            That said, the wedding dress could also be not worn for any number of reasons, some of them good/empowering (you got fatter, you got thinner, you decided you hated it, you eloped, etc)

        4. CommanderBanana*

          They could replace it with the saddest 2-word story ever, which, as we all know, is Jeb Bush saying “please clap.”

      2. BubbleTea*

        I think the death of a baby is a sufficiently common and upsetting thing that it sits separately from being triggered by yellow or the name Claudia, though.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Where do we draw the line?

          In this case, the OP was very upset due to the death of a relative’s child several years ago. Changing it to “wedding dress” might upset someone else whose fiancée dumped them a week before the wedding. Repeat for pretty much everything, including positive and cheerful stories that would be upsetting to someone who had experienced a similar situation with a negative outcome: one involving welcoming a new baby when an audience member had just had a miscarriage, for example.

          The whole point of a story is that it evokes emotions. If it didn’t, it would just be a newspaper article.

          1. Florence Reece*

            I mean, “death” seems like a pretty clear and easy line to draw. Someone might be upset by being left at the altar but — not to undermine how awful that is — as a society we tend to agree that death, especially of an infant, is a different and deeper kind of pain than a breakup.

            It’s not possible to account for everyone’s experiences and reactions, that’s definitely fair. But “baby death” is so far to one extreme that ‘where do we draw the line’ feels a little disingenuous. There’s plenty of room to draw a line — there’s even a convenient categorical difference between “pain about someone who is still alive” and “pain about someone who is dead and who I will grieve in some way forever.” You heal over time, of course, but IMO there’s no emotional closure for a dead baby which makes it particularly hard. It’s not like you can reflect on what a good life the baby had, or reminisce about your favorite shared memories.

            (And yes, obviously maybe someone was left at the altar by their fiance who then got in a car crash and died, so the wedding story would be extremely upsetting for them too. Yes, you can’t predict how someone will react. But there’s accidentally upsetting someone with unusually tragic circumstances, and then there’s intentionally evoking a type of pain that is not uncommon. There’s a clear difference, I think.)

            1. Smithy*

              Yeah, I also feel that this the reality for “workplace training” is very different than a hobbyist, academic or professional writing workshop/course. Signing up to take a class on writing, particularly if any part of the course indicates personal stories, it’s going to a space that is looking to emphasize, teach and focus on the genre.

              But workplace training around story telling may ultimately just be about getting our colleagues in Finance to write better or more engaging office wide emails about sending in expense reports. And getting insight and improvement on effective story telling can genuinely be helpful there, but it’s not exactly the same as looking to tell a powerful personal story.

          2. Tired*

            Child death is obviously over the line. Come on. If you can’t see the difference between someone being upset by a generic name vs a story that clearly evokes child death you’re being willfully obtuse. Literally nothing said in a workplace training seminar is important enough to risk triggering someone who has experienced that.

            1. Reebee*

              Well, of course. The point, though, is any story about anything is going to trigger something for someone at any time.

      3. Lionheart26*

        I was with you for the first paragraph, but you lost my vote in the second.

        Sure, it’s impossible to know what might trigger someone, and unrealistic to expect to never upset people. But your examples are not the same as baby shoes. Names and car colours are completely neutral, and anyone getting triggered is unfortunate but unexpected. Child loss is not neutral, and it’s completely reasonable and understandable that someone may be triggered by that story. In fact the reason it is oft quoted as a powerful example is because of the emotional response it generates.

        I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be used, but I don’t think it should be used carelessly or without good reason, and I think lumping it in with “sensitive people are gonna sensitive no matter what you do” is missing an opportunity to show empathy.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I agree with you, but I just want to slightly challenge the part about “an opportunity to show empathy”. This isn’t just something you do to be nice, or as a favour to people, it’s good professional practice.

          Some people talk about training as if the point is to stand up and deliver information, and whether or not people actually learn anything is just a random uncontrollable factor. But the point of training is what people learn and retain when they leave the room, and if you have people processing discomfort, sadness, anger, grief or whatever other big emotion when you are trying to teach practical business topics, they are not learning and your training is quantitively less successful. Supporting people to stay in the frame of mind where they can focus and retain information isn’t just a, “hey, can’t please everyone *shrug emoji*”, it’s a critical part of your job as a trainer.

          Obviously being a empathetic person is a worthy goal in itself, but when it comes to stuff like content warnings and avoiding upsetting topics in practical business training it’s not just about your personal ethics, it’s doing your job. You are not a good trainer if it’s not important to you that people in your class are able to learn and something you’re always actively trying to improve!

      4. Varthema*

        I totally agree and sympathize, but I’d venture that maybe baby/child death qualifies to go on your list. I have (very thankfully) had no direct contact with baby death but I am a whole 21 months postpartum and my throat closed just reading that short story that I’ve seen a thousand times before. I’ve heard similar things from pretty much all of my friends who are parents – something which was just sort of unpleasant before now creates a visceral, physical reaction that’s hard to overcome without work (my friend who’s a public defender on the juvenile docket is having to do that work and it’s hard). but not something we really advertise because, society.

        or really, death in general – feel like enough people, parents or non, have intense emotional reactions around death that it’s not such a niche thing to avoid like car color or names.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yes. I have never lost a baby. But starting from when I first got pregnant, I can’t handle the thought of babies dying. I remember seeing a shocking scene in a film about women in a concentration camp, and just switching the TV off saying no I can’t see things like that. I have never watched anything about concentration camps since, it obviously traumatised me. So I missed Schindler’s List and Sophie’s Choice even though I love the actors and everyone says they’re brilliant. So for someone who just experienced the trauma of losing a baby, it can only be so much worse than for me.

          1. Snoodence Pruter*

            Same here, and I’ve heard other parents say the same thing. I used to love the film Trainspotting but I know I’m never going to be able to watch it again because of the baby in it. I enjoy crime shows but I have to check in advance of each episode to see if it involves children, and if so I skip it. It’s a very immediate, visceral reaction that I really can’t control, and I haven’t even experienced that loss or anything like it.

      5. Claire*

        As a trainer myself, “A common first name you associate with something negative” seems so obviously fraught to me. You are explicitly asking participants to bring up something with a negative connotation. “David, the name of my abusive stepdad.” “Karen, the name we have started using as shorthand for the endless barrage of everyday racism faced by Black folks.” “Charles, the name of the man who had an affair with my wife.” How would you NOT trigger something? It also immediately reminds me of all the research around implicit bias in the workplace against people with “ethnic” sounding names. I would maybe ask participants to share a company or brand name with negative associations for them, but not people.

        1. Dandylions*

          Karen’s aren’t just a stand in for racism though? That’s not even how I mainly see it used.

          It’s used quite widely for a rude woman who mistreats service workers. It’s a big part of the work reform conversation. I’d be careful assuming someone is addressing racism if they call someone a Karen.

          1. Anonymous Gentry*

            Through popular usage, Karen has become a catch-all for all women, but this has been a term in the Black community for far longer than it’s been mainstream popular. It was meant to encompasses the various “VERB-ing while Black” problems that occur often at the hands of white women.

            Your interpretation is the current usage, but certainly not the original meaning of the term. This is something that happens frequently– see also: woke.

        2. Venus*

          No no, the point was that a random story might have the name Claudia and it will cause someone to have a surprise negative reaction.

        3. Jaydee*

          I didn’t get that from the examples given. I thought it was more that RandomTriggers told a story involving someone named David and an audience member had a reaction to it because “David was the name of my abusive step-dad” or some other negative association they had with that name – something RandomTriggers couldn’t possibly have known.

          1. RandomTriggers*

            Yes, exactly this. There honestly is no way to avoid or predict what people will or will not take issue with.

            As mentioned in my original post, I’ve had some go off about the color of a car (because their car of that color was recently totalled).

            People are people. Each of us has different backgrounds, experiences, triggers, and tolerances. You will never fully sanitize anything.

        4. Nancy*

          They were giving an example of something that can surprisingly trigger someone, not asking people to share painful stories.

        5. Prof*

          I mean…in that case, people can just not share then name they think of. I have a name that does that for me, and yeah, I’d think of it when asked…and not volunteer the example as I won’t talk about the whys at work, and move on. Things like this are different because of course it’s a name, and other people use it and we have to just deal with our feelings if we have had a bad experience with someone of that name (cause after all, it’s not really about the name). And every name in existence is probably on someone’s list, and so it can’t be avoided. On the other hand, baby death can be easily avoided (heck, maybe just avoid death? since literally everyone has dealt with that and we don’t want to talk about that at work?).

      6. Lenora Rose*

        There’s a difference between a random odd trigger it’s impossible to plan for and a really big obvious one that hits a lot of people. Even the person with the weird unexpected trigger knows their issue is not one the same level as that of “Don’t refer to child death, pet death or sexual assault in professional workplace materials”.

    4. Yellow rainbow*

      I too would be unlikely to change my training material. It’s really not as simple as find another 6-word story. That is a really powerful example, and I’d need a replacement that genuinely took its place. Also – 6-word stories isn’t the point. It’s storytelling for business, and that’s not easy to find good examples for general discussion. Although I’m likely very biased by the fact that if I took out enriching people have been upset by I’d have nothing left with some of my courses.

      I think LW should mention it, because it does affect her and is relevant feedback. But the fact that LW was strongly affected isn’t on its own a good reason to remove the training material. Part of what makes that example so powerful is the fact that it does lead to an emotional response. And if in general most people are good with the examples, a very small number upset might just be the reality.

      1. metadata minion*

        But is the storytelling they’re doing supposed to be powerful *in that way*? If we were talking about a fiction workshop I’d think that encountering upsetting material was kind of inevitable, but they’re learning storytelling for marketing. Why not use an example that’s actually from business?

        1. Not that Jane*

          I agree with your take. I lost a newborn daughter to a sudden medical event, and I would absolutely have the same reaction as LW2 to this story in a work training. I’ve been around the block with grief enough to know that emotional triggers can be really unpredictable and vary from person to person… but in a WORK context where we are supposed to be focused on WORK, I think it is not only more compassionate but more effective to avoid the obvious grief triggers.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          “Mr. Burns collapsed into his coffee.”
          “Mr. Burns fled with six million.

          Where “Mr Burns” is the head of the company.

          It’s powerful. It’s evocative. It’s only six words. But does it really tell you how to craft a story that will get employee buy-in for the change in health insurance coverage?

        3. blurghhh*

          yeah, it’s also just not an effective example for a business context– because it relies on inference, it does not successfully tell a clear and concise story. I’d use it as an example of poor storytelling, where the writer intended to communicate simply that they were selling brand new baby shoes and overlooked the tragic implication.

          1. blurghhh*

            I mean, I wouldn’t use it in that context for all of the other reasons people are listing, but also…

      2. Varthema*

        Exactly, it’s storytelling for *business*, why make people think about babies dying? There are plenty of amazing advertising/marketing campaigns out there that accomplish the same thing. Or even ask ChatGPT “what’s a good alternative to ‘for sale baby shoes never worn’? I also create training materials for a living and taking that kind of thing into consideration is literally part of the job.

        Think about it like an accessibility feature – everyone knows that there’s no such thing as perfect accessibility because of duelling needs (color blindness vs ADHD) and there’s always going to be one person with a disability you didn’t account for, but that’s no reason not to add alt tags to your images.

      3. Prof*

        except that it is NOT ok for my work to be bringing up this kind of emotional response. It’s too personal and has no place in the workplace. The beauty of training is that you prepare for it, so prepare and find a better, less emotionally fraught option.

        Also, seriously you think the OP got what was intended out of this workshop? More likely they were extremely distracted by their emotional reaction and therefore didn’t receive the intended training effectively.

        1. Kyrielle*

          And I’d guess that some of the people at their table, especially the ones who knew about the OP’s niece, also didn’t get as much out of the training as they might have. If I were one of them, I would have been concerned about the OP and what they’d just been put through, and it would distract me from the training also – though obviously not to the same degree.

      4. B*

        The point of the training is that good storytelling should evoke a response… the response you want! The “baby shoes” vignette evokes an undesired response and is inappropriate for the context in which it is being told. It’s the opposite of a good example and suggests the trainers are not all that skilled in the topic of their training.

    5. JSPA*

      It’s arguably fine to use the example at some point.

      But to use it as the jumping off point for the entire workshop / presentation, and then make people give their personal take on it (I mean, what on earth are they fishing for, by that???) is some weird amalgam of sensationalism, pseudo-psychologizing in the workplace, sheer time-filling laziness, and/or general emotional carelessness.

      Note that the (probably false) attribution to Hemingway says it was written on a bet, which excused the cheap appeal to gut-punch trauma. (Per google it has been traced back to nineteen hundred, when child death was a near-universal trauma.)

      There is absolutely nothing about that “short story” to be drawn upon for effective writing in the average workplace.

    6. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I agree. I think there has to be a much better example. Can you imagine if someone had just lost their baby?
      I don’t think it would be bad to tell the trainers that it might be better to find another phrase, or change it somehow.

    7. SusieQQ*

      Yeah. I think that “let’s avoid examples that involve dead babies” is, like, a good general rule to follow in the workplace. I would not use that story.

  10. takeachip*

    LW1 I would urge you to reconsider what falls under the umbrella of “HR awareness” because scrutinizing people’s bodies and speculating about their underwear ain’t it. Please don’t bring this kind of thing into your own workplace. Nobody needs HR focusing on their butt. Seriously, I think you should step back and ask why you’ve given this so much attention. It’s odd and potentially compromising to yourself, if you were to bring up these sorts of petty and body-focused things in the workplace.

  11. Sara Frances*

    Regarding #2, I saw an amazing piece of graffiti that I will think of forever when the topic of those those six word stories come up:

    Noelle—said thank you, not sorry

    Feel free to spread that far and wide instead of baby shoes. I still hope to meet Noelle or the graffiti writer if they aren’t the same person

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I don’t understand what “Noelle—said thank you, not sorry” means, can you explain?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I think that’s the point. We don’t know, exactly, which gives the mind lots of room to explore different meanings. I interpret it as the writer addressing Noelle, telling her that the writer had said ‘Thank you’ to her and not ‘Sorry’. Even with that reading, it’s still not clear what the topic of discussion is!

        1. Zombeyonce*

          It just sounds like some sort of nonsensical inside joke to me, but maybe Sara Frances knows something we don’t.

        2. Sara Frances*

          That’s usually my interpretation of it, though sometimes I wonder if the writer is telling a third person what Noelle said.

          The whole thing fascinates me, though. What kind of situation has both “thank you” and “sorry” as viable responses? What kind of situation would also lead someone to make it perfectly clear that they meant “thank you” and not “sorry”? If you’re not sorry, why do you even care enough to say “thank you”? If you’re saying “thank you” while not being sorry because you were raised with manners why are you graffitiing it on the wall of a residence?

          It’s not a linear story, but it contains a universe.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I sort of assumed it refers to that meme that says something about “try saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry,’ like instead of saying ‘sorry I’m late,’ say ‘thank you for waiting'”.

            So I just read it as “Noelle followed the advice of a facebook meme.”

    2. Awkwardness*

      I do not think this is completely comparable to the “baby shoes” example, because it leaves more room for interpretation coming from personal experience (think male/female perspective). I am not sure if it would have resonated with me or if I would have understood it without the discussion on the blog, while the event described in “baby shoes” is easily recognized and understood even without personal experience.

      I think “baby shoes” is a really good and powerful example, so I do not blame the trainer. But OP should give feedback so the trainer can work in this! Maybe the whole situation would have felt differently if it was mentioned, but the discussion was on a different piece. There might be other possibilities too.

      1. Kloe*

        Baby shoes is equally up to interpretation. That it’s about death is up to you. Might also be that the baby grew too fast or was too big already, so shoes not needed any more. Shoes where wrong color. Shoes were hand made by baby shoe hobby maker who does not have any baby to give shoes to or wants to recoup material costs.

        The powerful baby death thing is nothing but interpretation. You can interpret misery or happiness into many other sales offers at your community center, because that’s what this is: a sales offer

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I know that it’s usually intended to be read as “death” but I actually remember very clearly seeing it for the first time and thinking “okay, so?” because my mind went “parents didn’t like the colour/look”.

        2. Awkwardness*

          Ha, of course you are right.
          But even with all the options you listed, it is irrelevant at worst, highly emotional at best. None is “Huh? What should that even mean?” as with the example mentioned above.

          Some comments suggested to just find other examples and I think there is a reason baby shoes is so heavily used. I tried to google other examples this morning, but most of them were either very much “in your face” or did not make sense because they were clearly referring to a very specific situation.

        3. metadata minion*

          If you’re being presented with the story as an example of powerful, concise storytelling, it seems clear that you’re meant to take the more emotionally wrenching interpretation. If it’s just a minimalist sales listing on your neighborhood Facebook, what’s interesting about it?

        4. MistOrMister*

          Yes to this!! The first time I saw the baby shoes thing, I pictured a garage sale in the 40s or 50s and a pair of pristine shoes the parents just never got around to using so they were noting that they hadn’t been worn to keep the price higher, meanwhile said baby is now an adult and happily living their best life. I did realize on one level it could be alluding to the baby having died, but I don’t interpret it that way so it likely wouldn’t have occurred to me that it would upset someone.

        5. JSPA*

          It dates from a time when the meaning would have been obvious (shoes were expensive, such that people had to save to afford a single pair; child death was common).

    3. Inata*

      I have no idea what that is meant to convey, and it has no impact other than making me think “huh? that’s weird and makes no sense.” That is not what they are going for.

      I’m glad it apparently was deeply meaningful for you, but it is not remotely comparable.

    4. hello*

      I also have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, and Google says this comment is literally the only place that combination of 6 words has been strung together in that order, so congratulations, you’ve (for now) created a Google search with only one result.

      1. allathian*

        In many places, women are socialized to apologize for their very existence, it seems to me.

        Responding to critical feedback with a “thank you, I’ll keep that in mind for next time” rather than “so sorry I failed to comply with your instructions” is a small protest against the self-effacing expectation.

  12. Glazed Donut*

    LW1, what an odd thing to feel strongly enough about that you wrote in to ask.
    Maybe she’s not wearing any underwear at all! Maybe something happened that required a change of clothes and she didn’t have her preferred underwear. Maybe she works better when she is comfortable in a thong!
    I’m really not sure what the point of any of this was. Had she been your doctor, would you ask for another because you believed her butt to be too wiggly? As if that has any bearing on the care you receive? Would you reject another because her shoes don’t seem quite sturdy enough in your view, or because her hair is down and you think it’s too flowy? It sounds like you do in fact care about what others wear under their clothes.

    1. toolegittoresign*

      I have to laugh to myself thinking of trying to make “I can tell by the way your butt moves that you’re not wearing adequate underwear” sound professional, reasonable and relevant to anyone’s work in a healthcare setting.

  13. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    “She wasn’t my doctor or nurse, and I don’t know how I’d feel about it if she had been.”

    As a cancer survivor who has been fortunate to receive exceptional care, I could absolutely not give a shit about the undergarments of my care providers. Keep me comfortable and alive and we are all good.

    1. Op 1*

      Oddly enough, this was at a cancer center where my husband is getting treatment, and is only slept about 2 hours only to drive a 4-hour round trip to the center. So I was already a bit frazzled when I saw her. It was a question along the same lines as “is not wearing a bra ever appropriate?” which Alison has answered before. I’m happy you’re a survivor and I wish you many, many years of excellent health!

      1. Observer*

        Oddly enough, this was at a cancer center where my husband is getting treatment,

        I hope that your husband gets excellent care and that the outcome is good.

        *Odd* is a really good word here. I simply cannot imagine why the underwear of medical staff would make even the slightest impression on you, much less so much that you not only kept thinking about it and asked someone for feedback, but that you would even think it might be a problem if this were a member of your medical team.

        I mean you’re driving hours to this center because you want the best medical care. But you might get side-tracked over someone’s *underwear*? I really, really do not understand. Not as a survivor myself nor as a primary support for a cancer patient who didn’t survive.

        1. Labrat*

          When my mom was in hospice, my mind kept focusing on unimportant things, when the big, important thing got too much. It’s possible this is a coping mechanism.

          1. Observer*

            I hear that. And that’s why I understand *noticing* a detail like that, when you normally would not.

            But it’s going from that to, essentially “Despite the need for the best quality healthcare, I might get into a tizzy over what type of underwear my highly qualified medical staff is wearing” that I’m confused by.

            1. Labrat*

              Sometimes smaller tizzies are are easier than the freakout you don’t want or feel you can’t have. I hope I didn’t do it myself, but I think this may be the case here. The OP wrote here. She is not complaining to the treatment facility or anyone that’d actually take time from the husband’s care.

            2. Irish Teacher.*

              I think sometime when one is stressed, it’s easy to get annoyed by things you wouldn’t care about under normal circumstances.

              I had a cancer scare three years ago that thankfully turned out to be absolutely nothing but at the time, our health service was hacked and I was waiting the entire summer to get it confirmed that nothing was wrong. It ruined my summer and my final receiving a permanent contract and my excitement at one of my best friend’s finally having a child after she and her husband had been trying for 7 or 8 years. And yes, I was angry, but it was no-one’s fault (except maybe those freakin’ hackers, but I don’t know who they are) so I often found myself going from thinking of that to thinking of a time my brother started mansplaining and getting mad at him then.

              It’s not quite the same, but I understand getting annoyed by unrelated matters when you are dealing with something stressful.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m sorry to hear your husband is getting treatment at a cancer centre and I wish him all the best. I’m not at all surprised you were frazzled under those circumstances.

        Try not to take our comments here to heart – the personal stuff, I mean. Do take it to heart that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a thong to work and that it’s a perfectly normal and unremarkable thing to do, but don’t take too much notice of the stuff that got personal. People, for the most part, are responding to the situation described and not thinking of you personally and certainly, nobody was aware that you were in a situation where a lot of us would not be thinking straight.

      3. AnonHospital*

        Please don’t speculate about medical provider’s butts and underwear. We absolutely have enough on our plates. I’m sorry about your husband but you need to check this behavior. Don’t even look at our bottoms. Let alone judge.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      Half of my medical visits involve a doc or physical therapist seeing me without underwear and putting her fingers into my – anatomy, which means we’re intimate enough that they can wear whatever underwear they want.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Honestly, if I were a doctor and my patient was sooooo disturbed by me having a backside that they felt compelled to not only scrutinize it but also write to The Internet about it, I’d fire them as a patient.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      Plus, since this woman was part of the surgical team, her patients would be out cold and thus spared the sight of any kinetic flesh.

    5. pally*

      +1 to this!
      The docs, nurses, care team that looked after me earlier this year was first rate (still singing their praises!). Haven’t the slightest clue what kind of underwear they wore. Nor do I care. Pretty sure it didn’t affect the quality of care they provided.

      Until today, I had no idea this was actually a topic for discussion.

  14. Allthesingleparents*

    LW1: My first thought was “Wow, she’s literally wearing just underwear under her scrubs, and a “thong” at that. Bold.” Then I realised that she was in fact wearing clothes, but just had some HR lady staring at her butt and speculating on her underwear.

    LW1, if an employee came to you and complained that someone asked them what kind of underwear they wearing and commented on their jiggly butt, what would your response be?

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Based on their response above if someone wasn’t wearing a bra, they would have a chat with the person with the jiggly butt, not the person reporting it.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        If HR called me into their office to tell me that someone complained that I had a jiggly butt, I’d be like “You cannot be serious right now saying those words to me. What is wrong with you??”. And then I would probably start job searching. Because seriously. What a thing to take seriously.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Wait, I’m confused. Do health-care providers commonly wear clothes under their scrubs? I always assumed that the scrubs *were* the clothes. Come to think of it, I had a friend who was an RN, and I’ve seen her get ready for work and come home from work, and that was true for her.

      1. BlueCactus*

        Occasionally on chilly days I’ll wear long underwear and/or a long sleeved shirt under my scrubs because they have the insulating capacity of wrapping paper (though that’s not allowed in the operating room – short sleeves and hospital supplied scrubs only for the OR!), but in general the scrubs are the clothes.

  15. Isabel Archer*

    Now that’s interesting, because I’m a longtime AAM reader too and I thought for sure the answer was going to be “you’re overthinking this, of course you can send a thank you note.” The reasoning behind Alison’s actual response hadn’t occurred to me at all. I learn so much here!

    1. AnonyMouse for a Reason*

      Same. I don’t think it would be the biggest faux pas since the gift was specifically tailored to them, rather than a general perk or “Hey, I have tickets to this, anyone want?”.

      1. gyrfalcon*

        No, the thank you note relayed from the spouse through the employee sounded definitely off to me. If the debate between LW and spouse is whether a handwritten paper note is needed in addition to the email thank you, and they end up agreeing a paper note would be good, then it is *employee* who needs to write and send that note.

  16. Myrin*

    I’m so (not necessarily positively) amused by #1. In no particular order:

    – I knew immediately that people were going to be weirded out by OP’s butt-looking in general. The thing is that if you are naturally observant, you just notice these things. I could identify almost all of my coworkers (and in fact everyone I see somewhat regularly) by their butts. I could also identify them from their hands, noses, and often smell. That’s just how I’m wired.

    However, it’s quite clear that OP isn’t like me or else this wouldn’t have been the literal first time she’s ever seen this; I’ve been noticing jiggly butts and underwear lines since I was a child. She would also know that, just like Alison said, there are people with naturally more jiggly bodies in general and it has little to do with what they’re wearing unless it’s like, compression sleeves or something.

    – I wear thongs basically every day, which inevitably also means at work. I find them suuuper comfortable (and also happen to have a ~tragic backstory~ around regular panties) and until this very moment it hadn’t occurred to me even once that for some nebulous reason that could be seen as unprofessional or inappropriate? Colour me astonished. OP asks if thongs are “ever okay” in such an… absolutist way, as if you needed some sort of extuenating circumstances to ever wear a thong at work. I’m genuinely boggled.

    – “Wiggle” does not mean “cheeky underwear”! See above re: general jiggliness of bodies.

    – OP didn’t even see the alleged thong! I agree that you shouldn’t do like a former classmate of mine who wore a bright red, bejewelled thong under white trousers (the jewels were peeking out at the top) but there wasn’t even any visual thongage going on here! Again: some bodies wiggle more than others, and that’s fine!

    – What’s “cheeky underwear” anyway? I feel like that might be the heart of the matter – OP seems to think there’s something inherently sexual or titillating or stimulating about thongs and I can firmly tell that that is not the case! Like, if you look at the letter through that lens, it kinda makes sense – if OP thought the nurse wore something specifically to arouse her while working in a healthcare setting, that would indeed not be okay (in the same way someone reading steamy erotica at work wouldn’t be okay; we had a letter about that in the past)! But if that’s the case in her thinking, there are some seriously crossed wires going on. OP, listen to me: it’s just underwear! There’s nothing inherently erotic or arousing about it! You can firmly lay that matter to rest.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      This is why I’m scratching my head on this one; if OP were typically this observant she would have seen lots of jiggly bums before that day – ones which are wearing thongs and ones which aren’t. I’m tempted to assume something was going on at this clinical setting that was out of the ordinary for OP and therefore putting them in a different mindset (or let’s hope so, because surely their regular HR mindset doesn’t mean policing women’s bodies for jiggling). Either that or it’s just the relative strangeness of seeing people in scrubs – they sit differently on the body than most clothing. But that doesn’t add up either, because OP says they’ve worked in a clinical setting before.

      1. Nodramalama*

        I think its likely that it’s what Myrin speculated – that LW sees thongs as inherently sexual and thus inappropriate for a workplace.

    2. Inkhorn*

      I read “cheeky underwear” as meaning underwear cut high at the back, revealing the wearer’s buttcheeks rather than covering them. And while I’ve never worn a thong to the office I have worn “cheeky cut” knickers under my business casual.

      Guess what, LW? No-one complained and no-one was scandalised.

        1. metadata minion*

          I mean, the one often leads to the other, for those of us with jiggle-prone physiques :-b

    3. amoeba*

      Yeah, I was also so confused. I don’t own any other underwear since I was, like, 14 or so. And that’s definitely for comfort reasons, I hate the feeling of too much fabric there! They are also plain black and not at all supposed to be erotic or whatever. Just… normal underwear.

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      Agreed! Many, many, many people wear thongs ALL THE TIME.

      Under work clothes. Under casual clothes. To the gym. Around the house. I promise you, plenty of people are wearing thongs to work. Today.

      Thongs are not just bedroom wear. Lots of people wear them much of the time.

    5. Quoth the Raven*

      Yeah, I think you’re on to something with some people assuming thongs = inherently sexy or sexual and I mean, they can be for some people. That said, as someone who wears mostly thongs (or men’s boxers, depending on what I’m feeling that day) for comfort, you’re absolutely right they’re just underwear.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        So OP1 is imposing her own sexual mores onto another person in the workplace. Sounds like an HR issue.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            I mean, she literally asked Alison if it was OK to wear your underwear of choice under your clothes at work. If that’s not imposing your own internalized sense of what is/isn’t sexy on someone else, this is. Because many people wear thongs for comfort no matter what LW1 thinks of them, and it’s none of her business.

            1. KitKat*

              Sure. But asking about office appropriateness, to a neutral 3rd party, is not imposing mores. OP did not even speak to the person in question. And, the idea of an association between thongs and sexuality was introduced by a commenter, not by OP.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                But if the LW didn’t associate thongs with sexuality why would they find it any less professional than other underwear? I think the fact that the LW is in HR is what makes this different than most letters. Fair or not, there are expectations that come with a role like that.

            2. KitKat*

              And, there are plenty of scenarios in the workplace in which “imposing sexual mores” (i.e. defining what sexual behaviors are appropriate) is normal, and not unkind! For example, I think it’s inappropriate for you to have sex on my desk. I think it’s inappropriate for you to wear your fetish collar to work.

              OP has asked a question to an advice column. They have NOT harassed the person in question, made inappropriate comments to their own coworkers, instituted an inappropriately invasive policy, etc. The comments section is piling on in ways that spin her question drastically out of proportion.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                “I think it’s inappropriate for you to have sex on my desk. I think it’s inappropriate for you to wear your fetish collar to work.”

                These are different, and I think you know that.

              2. Jennifer Strange*

                And, there are plenty of scenarios in the workplace in which “imposing sexual mores

                Sure, but this isn’t one of them.

                OP has asked a question to an advice column.

                Yes, but as HR OP should know that someone having a jiggly but isn’t unprofessional. The OP also isn’t helping herself by stating elsewhere that she would ding a woman for now wearing a bra.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Given what the LW said about the discomfort, I wouldn’t be surprised if she assumed they are something nobody wears regularly and that they are something people only wear when they have a particular reason for which they are willing to endure discomfort.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Can the tragic backstory be told in six words, thus replacing the baby shoes story?

    7. Impending Heat Dome*

      Yeah. I’m a creative and, having taken many drawing and painting classes, have actually been formally educated in looking at people’s butts. I’m also short so everyone’s nipples are at my eye level. The solution here is to just not look.

      The woman was fully clothed in appropriate professional garb, and it’s nobody’s business how the laws of physics affected her flesh at a given moment, from a given perspective. Hospital employees dress for mobility and cleanliness. Move eyes above waist and move on. This would be like going to a yoga class and complaining about the revealing nature of yoga pants.

  17. Free Meerkats*

    For #3 from the candidate’s side, if given the option, I always liked to go right after lunch. My reasoning for this was that they already have interviewed people before me, so they have a something to compare me to, they are fresh back from lunch, so they are likely relaxed, and they aren’t fatigued as they would be at the end of the day.

    1. Orv*

      This reminds me that there was a study once that judges gave harsher sentences to defendants just before lunch than to ones they saw just after lunch.

    2. Wolf*

      I’ve seen a study stating that students in oral exams get slightly better grades after lunch, because everyone is in a better mood after eating.

    3. Nodramalama*

      Yeah agree. When I’ve been interviewing people all day of course I try and give them my full attention and interest. But at 4:00pm after my seventh interview hearing someone use the STAR technique it can be hard to remain engaged!

    4. Anax*

      For #3 from the candidate’s side, I always like to interview around mid-morning, about 9-10am – late enough that I’m fully awake, but minimizing the time to give myself anxiety. Psyching myself out has been a bigger issue for me than anything!

      And just for completeness – having a strong candidate in the middle of the interview process can also be great, because it means the hiring manager has something to compare you to, but they aren’t too fatigued with the process. I think if I had the option in the future, I’d prefer to be somewhere in the middle.

      I was the very first interviewee a few months ago, and the hiring manager hadn’t worked out the kinks in their process yet.

      Unfortunately, they had an issue with their interview request which probably caused LOTS of misinterpretation – but since I was the first interviewee, I was the one who seemed most unprepared because they didn’t know yet that their instructions were unclear. And they didn’t have a basis for comparison yet, so they couldn’t ask me good follow-up questions to distinguish me from everyone else who misinterpreted the request.

      (What they ASKED for was this: “Be prepared to display KPI Dashboards you have made in the past. These dashboards should have the most real time data possible. You’ll also need to articulate how and where the data came from.”

      … which sure SOUNDED like they were most concerned about proper use of data sources. It also wasn’t a request most external candidates could fulfill, since KPI dashboards often have confidential information. Mine sure did.

      Apparently, what they actually wanted was a purely visual mockup using fake data, because what they wanted was a coder with a good eye for graphic design. They didn’t care about the data at all.

      I’m still a little exasperated about that one. If five people before me had ALSO been confused, I would have had a much better shot at that gig.)

      1. just here for the scripts*

        I would considered a bullet dodged. Think about—if this is how poorly worded their interview questions are, I can only imagine how poorly worded their task assignments are once you’re in the job.

        1. Anax*

          Honestly, the actual tasks sounded pretty fun – but you’re right.

          At that time, it really stung, because I was unexpectedly unemployed and would have taken almost any WFH IT job that offered a salary and health insurance. Even if it sucked, at least I would be able to pay the mortgage without being sick all the time and risking serious injury.

          Things worked out in the end – my current job is a dream so far – but I definitely got very lucky and could have been unemployed for much longer.

          (I’m disabled and need to WFH for medical reasons – which is why I lost the last job. EEOC complaint is continuing, but that’s a sloooow process. In the current RTO climate, it’s really hard to get employers to accept that some of us *need* to work from home, and it’s not just a ‘lazy millennial’ thing.)

      2. Analyst*

        For what it’s worth, my portfolio consists of: fake or open sourced data and data I have rights to. I’ve been strongly advised that any actual work I’ve done for a client shouldn’t be used even if I have permission since it will look like I don’t know standards around confidentiality. Check out Maven Analytics and DataCamp for free and varied data you can use for your portfolio.

        And yeah, it’s completely frustrating to have to do special portfolio projects or redo projects with fake data (I wanted to present something I did for an NGO, but couldn’t so I changed the subject and made up data so I could basically redo the project quickly).

        1. Anax*

          That’s sensible, and I’ll have to try that; thanks!

          I’ve built KPI dashboards but it’s about 10% of my work, so I hadn’t even considered preparing demo materials prior to this interview.

    5. Analyst*

      I guess I’m not seeing how going after lunch means that you’re not the first one they talked to? Places I’ve interviewed at generally offer a number of different days/times as they are fitting in interviews around normal duties, and aren’t just interviewing all the candidates on one day.

      1. lina*

        Yes, we don’t do “interview days”, we just schedule on the basis of availability for all concerned. We typically try to do all of them the same week, sometimes during a two-week stretch. You’re just as likely to be the first candidate at 10am on a Friday as you are to be middle-of-five on Monday at 2pm. As a candidate, I’d have no way of knowing when other interviews are scheduled; I may or may not know how many other candidates are being interviewed (typically 3-5 in our org, but it varies). So, as a candidate, I schedule what’s best for me – midmorning on a Tuesday or Wednesday so I’m at my sharpest point of the week – and as an interviewer, I just expect every candidate to do their best to impress me and score accordingly.

  18. Anne*

    There used to be a group on DeviantArt that did six words stories based on either a word or theme prompt. It was so much fun to participate. Maybe the “storyteller” could be directed that way for other short stories, though I am not sure if there are some kind of rule/copyright over using them in a business setting. Perhaps the “storyteller” could simply write his own six word story?

    1. Nodramalama*

      I mean there’s a reason why it’s been (falsely) attributed to Hemingway. It’s a famously well crafted, poignant complete story in six words. It’s not really something anyone could just write.

      1. ecnaseener*

        There are plenty of excellent examples if you search for six-word stories. Even if you don’t believe anyone could’ve done better than the original, they’re plenty good enough for the point – after all, the purpose of the training is not to teach people to write Hemingway-level fiction.

      2. C*

        It’s not poignant or complete. Have you ever had a baby? There’s nothing poignant about their ability to outgrow their clothing in the blink of an eye.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            That is, however, an interpretation. It’s probably the one intended by the author, but not the only one. Someone who has experienced child death or pregnancy loss is of course very likely to have this interpretation, but it’s not universal.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yeah, I assumed the first time I saw it that the child had grown too quickly or been given a lot of shoes by relatives. The child dying wasn’t something that occurred to me. I think that says a lot about the fact that child mortality rates in the UK are very low but a lot of people get more baby clothes than they need.

          2. C*

            There is no evidence that the baby died. That’s something people make up to justify their weird insistence that this ad is a story.

            1. ecnaseener*

              It’s been circulated as a story for decades and afaik was never a real ad. What’s so weird about interpreting art as art?

            2. Florence Reece*

              Eh, by that logic there’s no evidence that the baby outgrew the shoes. There’s no evidence there’s a baby at all. Just shoes. We infer a lot of things in stories.

            3. Irish Teacher.*

              Like ecnaseener said, it is a story. As far as I know, it never was a real ad. There are no actual baby shoes on sale. It was written as fiction. The story behind it, about Hemingway being challenged to write an emotive story in 6 words may not be true but there is nothing to suggest it was ever an ad rather than fiction.

    2. Jill Swinburne*

      I love the two sentence horror sub on reddit! Probably not entirely appropriate in a work setting though…

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        There’s a famous short science fiction story called “Knock” by Frederic Brown which lends itself to multiple interpretations. It’s two lines long. Technically it’s still under copyright so I won’t quote it here but googling will find it.

      2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        My absolute favorite of those was by someone who held a “two sentence horror” as a Halloween library event at their middle school:

        “I told the genie ‘I wish to have a lot of pets.’

        Sixteen thousand raccoons”

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          OK, I want to do this with our students now. *keeps it in mind to suggest to my colleagues in October* (We do sort of go in for Halloween as a school.)

    3. Anax*

      There are a number of similar ones; I think the Reddit community is currently most active, and there are some pretty good ones. (And some terrible ones and some boring ones, but that’s people for you. I liked “Voyager probes returned; littering tickets attached.”)

      Honestly, I like the idea of having attendees come prepared with a six-word story they liked. That feels like a mild enough time investment, and it might give a more authentic reaction and a better look at the group’s character than reusing the same famous story every time.

  19. Mavis*

    LW4, I suspect being employed in the US may have something to do with your impulse. Our workplaces have set the bar so low (both for expectations around workloads as well as for compensation) that when we get anything above the bare level, we feel like we’ve won the lottery.

    My partner used to work for a company in the US that was highly sought-after employment but located in a not-very-sought-after place. Recognizing they needed to really sweeten the pot if they wanted to get people to move from “cooler” urban centers with public transportation, diverse cuisine, etc., they’d need to offer not just a high salary but also the Cadillac of healthcare plans plus great leave policies.

    It worked for the most part but I noticed that people started to give a little too much credit to the company, treating these as gifts. NB: The employees worked their tails off and I’d wager that the company still came out ahead with a little wage theft.

    There was also an annual holiday blowout and a lot of other partners got it into their heads one year that we should all write a holiday card to the company owner stating our thanks for being a great employer. I tried diplomatically to say that this was becoming weirdly feudal – these “perks” were in fact a business decision, not something they did out of the goodness of their hearts AND it’s mainly noteworthy because the US sucks so much in this area so by comparison, it seems great when it’s really just how everyone should do business. A few people privately agreed with me but Operation Thank You Card carried on and I stayed out of it.

    ANYWAY! I hope you and your husband enjoy your well-deserved trip – if it’s what I think it is (first matches start today?) I wonder if I’ll bump into you as I live in one of the host cities. :)

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      If they’re in the US they’re more likely to be interested in another international sportsfest taking place in late July early August in my home city.

    2. CTT*

      Given that the LW said this is a notoriously expensive international sport and if it’s the sport I am thinking of, then this does not have to do with being in the US since tickets are also expensive and difficult to get if you live in, say, Monaco.

      1. Phony Genius*

        You and I have the same suspicion, especially the part where they speak of having access to areas where most of the public can’t go.

      2. Ellen*

        I think what Mavis means is that US employees are used to being overworked and under-rewarded, not that the tickets are especially expensive for people located in the US.

        1. CTT*

          Totally agreed that US norms are messed up, but I think it’s a reach in this situation because most international sporting events have become so bonkers expensive that even people who work in places with great benefits and work culture might feel the need to thank their employer for access to the event because it might be impossible to get tickets on their own (to use another sports example, the average Dortmund or Madrid fan would have had trouble going to the Champions League final because they sell so few “fan tickets” and you can quickly be priced out.)

        2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

          I’m kind of curious where tickets to multiday international sporting events including VIP access is normal enough that you wouldn’t think that extra thanks were in order. I understand that people in the EU get forty-seven weeks of paid vacation or whatever, and I get that falling all over yourself to thank the company for things like health insurance is probablematic, but is it really so usual to get World Cup (or whatever) tickets that you’d consider it not needing of thanks?

          1. ABC*

            Agreed, the original comparison to thanking the company for health insurance and commuter benefits is silly. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater by considering thanking an employer for anything that they give you (like premium sports tickets) a form of bootlicking.

      3. LW 4*

        I appreciate the guesses! It’s not football/soccer (this season is well underway), and it’s not the Olympics (that would be amazing though) CTT is closest by mentioning Monaco though, that was an exciting event for the winner this year :)

        1. StellaDoodle*

          Is it the Spanish Grand Prix? If so, or if it’s another one, I’m so excited for you!!!!! If I had full tickets and special access, I would likely die of happiness if I got to see Sir Lewis up close :)

          1. LW 4*

            Sir Lewis’s home track actually! Some of the string pulling may put us in the same space as him and if that happens I will die, so my question will be irrelevant anyway.

            1. KTB2*

              I am SO JEALOUS. I want to go to Silverstone so badly.

              LOL, I immediately guessed F1 when I read this.

            2. Phony Genius*

              I knew it when you said tickets are very expensive and spoke of the special access. Paddock passes are very hard to get and often go to A-list celebrities. Thank your partner and let them handle any thanks that they feel are due to their director.

    3. Nancy*

      Do employees in other countries get passes to expensive multi-day international sporting events plus insider access at a rate that they would think it no big deal?

      I don’t see anything wrong with thanking the company in this specific case. It’s not comparable o extra PTO or a better healthcare plan.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        In Ireland, I would say definitely not. If anything, I would tend to associate impressive perks like that with American companies (but that is probably because the American companies in Ireland tend to be huge international ones – often ones looking for an English speaking country in the EU to be their European base – and therefore the most likely to have the money for such perks).

    4. Steve Jobs' ghost*

      Our workplaces have set the bar so low (both for expectations around workloads as well as for compensation) that when we get anything above the bare level, we feel like we’ve won the lottery.

      If the company has gotten box tickets for the World Cup or the Olympics or what not, then that is well above the “bare minimum.”

      While I would almost never endorse a spouse contacting a workplace, in this particular case, I dissent from AAM’s recommendation. The gift was directed not only at the employee, but his partner as well. Social courtesy and showing gratitude for a gift is a thing. OP should either write a short thank-you note, or co-sign one with her partner.

  20. Awkwardness*

    #1: If you were a male colleague, it would creep me out to know you pay this much attention to butt jiggles and underwear, even more if you were a male HR manager. Do not allow yourself behaviour and judgment that would be unacceptable coming from a man.

    1. Bossy*

      I mean, plenty of women are creepy as hell as are many men.
      Hate to be rude but LW is pretty gross and ridiculous in my opinion. Judging the (unseen) underwear of random people who are just trying to do their jobs/living their lives is bizarre. Thinking of a particular type of underwear as automatically sexual is weird too – apparently LW sees things as someone tryin to be sexy where as others just see them as useful, like, ya know, underwear.
      And then LW is the one staring at someone’s ass but think that that someone is the one who is “off”? Yikes.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Women in some extremist male-centric religions are tasked with policing other women, implicitly and explicitly.

        1. Steve Jobs' ghost*

          There is no evidence that’s the case here. Hear hooves, think horses, not zebras. The odds are much better that LW is a prude.

    1. Wolf*

      They probably are.

      In a perfect world, scrubs would be cut so they don’t show panty lines. If a work uniform makes the underwear visible, the required change should be better uniforms, not different panties.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, very much this.

        Although the best solution is to not care what people are wearing under their clothes.

    2. not nice, don't care*

      They are. And they don’t creep anywhere they shouldn’t, depending on size/brand/cut.

  21. Anne*

    Is jiggling always a sure thing with thongs? I’ve only ever seen it once, on a woman in leggings in college. I wondered how she didn’t find it uncomfortable but then I moved on, because not my body, not my business. I am pretty sure the LW has seen a lot of people wearing thongs and just been unaware of it.

  22. Op 1*

    Okaaay, I’m the A-hole, and apparently I’m gross (!) for noticing a jigglier butt. I was asking the question along the same line as “is it ever OK to not wear a bra.” It was something noticeable and I wanted a course-correction, but instead got called names in the comments. Thank goodness Alison showed more grace than the commenters in answering my question! For the record: I didn’t judge her and I don’t know her. Considering where she works, the woman is at the top of her field and I know that. Could a lawyer show up to court wearing thongs and would it matter? I have no idea. So, is it OK or not? Would it hurt professionally or not? Is wearing undies like those in the same category as wearing no bra? Still don’t know. I guess I should have rephrased the question. But the name calling was a bit much.

    1. Observer*

      It might help if you actually read the comments. Most people understand that someone you notice stuff. But you went much further than that. And you also are asking a question that is deeply problematic. And lastly, you say that you “still don’t know” if a lawyer could show up to court with thongs.

      To start with the last item- I don’t see how you could “still not know”. Alison was pretty clear, as were others, that what’s under your clothes doesn’t matter.

      Beyond that, why are you drawing conclusions about what kind of underwear people are wearing? And honestly, why does it matter? Also, why does it matter if someone’s butt jiggles? So much so that you think you might have an issue if someone on your medical team either wore a thong (which how on earth would you know?!).

      You say that you know that she’s at the top of her field, but this still bothers you *that* much, that you might be bothered and needed to ask if it’s “ever appropriate”?

      The problem is not that you noticed – I really do get that. I do get that when you are stressed and tired you tend to notice details that would otherwise pass you by. What’s causing so much reaction is where you went with this truly trivial detail that you noticed. The fact that you note in the comments that you would actually take a complaint about a woman’s bust so seriously that your go to reaction would be to NOT say anything to the complainer but have a conversation with the woman confirms that your norms around women’s attire need some adjustment.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      It’s not gross to notice, that is normal! This is what I think you should reflect on:

      “Still, something didn’t sit right with me being able to see that woman’s butt wiggle in that specific setting.”

      What didn’t sit right? Why?

      Frankly this part did come across a bit judgemental:

      “So, my question to you is: the discomfort of having a piece of floss up one’s butt (while doing surgery!) notwithstanding, is what she was wearing ever okay?”

      The whole “floss” comparison is a bit much (though maybe it’s supposed to be a joke?). But the real kicker is that “is what she was wearing ever okay?” is strange, in that the question presupposes that there are times at work when we should be policing women’s underwear at work, when the general consensus is there are no circumstances where it is appropriate to police women’s underwear at work.

      Anyway I hope you aren’t too soured on AAM from the commenters. I think “policing women’s outfits” brings up a lot of feelings in people.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Of course it’s appropriate for a lawyer to wear a thong. Their choice of underwear doesn’t diminish their legal expertise, and the judge and jury should be paying attention to the trial instead of staring at the attorney’s ass. I don’t think not wearing a bra is an HR issue, either, as long as everything is covered that needs to be covered. And some people jiggle whether they’ve got a bra or not, just the same as someone’s butt can jiggle regardless of their choice of underpants.

      People are calling you gross because you said yourself you had to really look to notice her butt jiggling, and staring at people’s butts in a business context is gross.

      Furthermore, she wasn’t even an employee of your company so why do you even care?

      When it comes to people’s personal choices, butt out. Pun intended with malice aforethought.

      1. SusieQQ*

        FWIW I don’t think that people should be calling LW1 “gross” (I can only see one instance of that happening, although it’s possible that it happened more and those comments were deleted/removed), but I think it’s completely fair to express the opinion that the _behavior_is gross.

        Seconding whoever said that a lot of commenters are having strong reactions because there’s a good chance they themselves have been the victims of body-policing.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      Hey OP 1. I don’t know if you’re still reading (I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t), and I’m sorry for the name-calling; I’ve been reporting where possible so hopefully the worst will be removed.

      I think the reason you’re getting such a strong reaction is twofold. The first is that a lot of readers have been in or can see themselves in the position of the woman with the butt you noticed. Have you thought about it from her perspective? She’s gone through a lot of school, taken on a huge amount of debt, has fought past barriers that men didn’t have to and is now near the top of her field doing difficult, life-saving work. Yet someone she doesn’t know is speculating on what underwear she is wearing and trying to decide if the way her butt is shaped is inherently unprofessional. Unless you’d be doing the same to a man with a jiggly butt, that is sex-based harassment.

      The second reason is that you identify yourself as an HR manager. You have a lot of power in how dress codes are enforced. Alison has talked a lot about how dress code enforcement is unequal. Dress codes have traditionally been weaponized against women, gender minorities, racial minorities, the poor and other disadvantaged groups. Alison has also changed her stance on bras, saying that she no longer thinks they should be required.

      As an HR manager, I think you have an obligation to consider whether the way that you handle complaints about dress code violations is in fact policing women’s bodies and putting a disproportionate burden on women in your company.

      1. Moira's Rose's Garden*

        As someone who works in a clinical setting and gets to see what women surgeons often go through- ALL OF THIS, MigraineMonth!

        Someone dressed for an operating room has moogoo things that had better be on their mind instead of their own or their colleagues’ scrub fit, unless that fit is so off it presents a hazard eg – long enough to trip over/ get in the way of care, dirty enough to raise infection control concerns, so small the fit doesn’t provide adequate protective coverage* & etc.

        That extra feeling of “eyes on me as a woman” (esp. in male dominated settings) is another real barrier to equity and equality in surgical professions – and not because women are too self conscious or not self-concious enough about the fit of their clothes. Any considerations other than the performance and safety of clinical uniforms have more to do with biases and assumptions. We ALL have those. The accountable & personal growth response is noticing our thoughts and doing the work of interrogating our biases so that we can be better at thinking of each other and thus treating each other more fairly, kindly, and professionally.

        And OP1, asking the question is a good way to get feedback to help you do this. It’s a brave thing to do, because it stings to hear critique! The comments here contain insights and perspectives I hope will prove useful to you in the long run. If this is helpful – feedback in clinical settings is often brusque and sometimes personal – stakes are high, emotions follow along. One thing clinical trainees are told is “put a mental raincoat on & let the personal stuff run off so that you can take to heart what you need to learn”. I’ve found it useful to adopt both professionally and personally over the years.

        *Part of the job and design of scrubs & white coats is to provide protection from being slpashed by bodily fluids during the course of care. In the OR, full coverage is an important aspect of infection control.

      2. Hroethvitnir*

        I hope she reads this! I agree that this comments section is quite reasonably going to be too harsh for most people, but many individual comments are very insightful, and yours is immaculate.

    5. Evelyn Carnahan*

      I think that if you can describe the person in question as at the top of their field, we can assume that their underwear does not affect their ability to do the job. I understand feeling defensive about the comments (having once been a AAM LW who also got some unfriendly comments due to most commenters misunderstanding the context, I Get It), but your letter essentially said that people can’t wear the underwear of their choice because it’s distracting even when the underwear isn’t actually visible. In the US at least, many women have been victim to dress codes that were based on girls and women not “distracting” the boys and men around them. I genuinely hope you can recognize that it touched a nerve for a lot of us.

    6. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      I am not a lawyer, but I would hazard a guess that a significant percentage of lawyers wear thongs to court. Lawyering is probably the career where professional polish is most crucial, and thongs have been a favorite solution to avoid panty lines for decades. Corporette, which I tend to think of as “that blog about lawyer clothes” has multiple recommendations for brands of comfortable thongs for exactly that reason. Pencil skirts will tend to show every line of underwear for a bikini or brief cut!

    7. Insert Clever Name Here*

      So, I just went back into the archives and looked at several posts on this topic (“is it unprofessional not to wear a bra to work” – 2015; “my employee doesn’t wear a bra on Zoom meetings — should I say anything?” – 2020; “do I have to wear a bra when I go back to the office?” – 2021; “can I go braless as a medical accommodation?” – 2022) and here is my guess on why people are coming down hard on you in a way that generally has not been the case in these other letters:

      1. With a single exception (“my employee doesn’t wear a bra on Zoom meetings”), they’re all asking about themselves, they are not looking at someone else’s body and “just asking a question.”
      2. The (male) boss writing in about his employee wrote in because a (female) employee said it made her uncomfortable. This letter is the only one to mention jiggling, and Alison points out in a comment that it’s only included because Alison had several emails with him clarifying and Alison point blank asked him if there was jiggling.

      I know we aren’t supposed to nitpick language and I’m sincerely not trying to do that but when you look at your language — “undies up my butt,” “see that woman’s butt wiggle,” “piece of floss up one’s butt” — and the way you stress that you “don’t really care what anybody wears under their clothes” it does read as judgmental in my opinion. So even though I will take you at your word that you did not judge her, that difference in language has resulted in you getting different treatment than other letter writers with regard to undergarments.

    8. SusieQQ*

      “Could a lawyer show up to court wearing thongs”


      “and would it matter?”


      I don’t mean this in a rude way, but it’s weird to me that you don’t know that. There must be some values attached to certain kinds of underwear that I’m unaware of.

    9. Savor The Peelies*

      I don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate on the appropriateness of undergarments in a workplace, period, unless you work for some sort of party mascot company and need to remind Spider-Man to wear a dance belt.
      Bodies jiggle, and there is no way to know at a clothed glance what underpants someone is wearing. AND it literally doesn’t matter at all if someone wears a thong under their clothes. I’ve worn thongs to work either because I was wearing pants that would show pantylines, or, on occasion, just because I was out of other clean underwear.
      But maybe more to your point: I frequently wear softer bras without underwires, the very comfortable matronly sort. Do I jiggle more than I might if I wore a wired longline ultra full coverage thorough padding sort? Yeah, probably! Is that literally any of anyone else’s business? No. It is not. I dress professionally and have been praised at multiple jobs for being so well put together.
      Keep your eyes and your questions to yourself! I know you claim you aren’t judging but this is *extremely* judgmental all the way down.

    10. Awkwardness*

      It was something noticeable

      And it is absolutely ok to notice. I notice every day during all hours of the day who has big boobs and who not, if there is body hair or a jiggle, or if the bra is well-fitting, or whatsoever else. But I try not to dwell on those thoughts because in 99.99% it is none of my business.
      Women’s bodies and they way they present themselves get commented on so often!

      It honestly pains me to read your question if it would hurt a lawyer to show up in court in a thong. I would have hoped that you, as a female(!) HR manager who probably has experienced gender-based treatment too, understand even more the importance to judge women on the quality of their work instead of their appearance.
      In your original letter you wrote She wasn’t my doctor or nurse, and I don’t know how I’d feel about it if she had been.. Even though, in your words, she is a women at the top of her field, you are unsure about her – because of her appearance.

    11. Irish Teacher.*

      Could a lawyer show up to court wearing thongs and would it matter?
      No, of course it wouldn’t matter. I’m sure plenty do, but there is absolutely no way anybody could know, so what difference could it make.

      So, is it OK or not?
      Yes, of course it’s OK. Every single reply has agreed on that.

      Would it hurt professionally or not?
      I honestly don’t see how it could hurt anybody professionally since a) it would be pretty much impossible for anybody to even know they were doing it and b) there is nothing at all wrong with it. Not one single person in the comments expressed any disapproval of it, so I think it is fairly obviously that really nobody sees anything at all wrong with it.

      Is wearing undies like those in the same category as wearing no bra?
      Well, there’s nothing wrong with wearing no bra either, but I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the same as wearing no bra is more like wearing no undies, but none of this is any kind of problem.

      I’m sorry you feel attacked. The comments sections was pretty harsh and I suspect it might feel even harsher when absolutely ever reply disagrees with you. I definitely don’t think you are gross just for asking a question and I don’t think it’s your fault that you noticed her butt jiggling. Sometimes we just notice things. But she definitely didn’t do anything wrong or unprofessional and somebody not wearing a bra wouldn’t be doing anything wrong or unprofessional either.

    12. Me*

      Genuine question OP – what do you think thongs are? I don’t think you know what a thong is. Do you think it’s something sexual or women get off on it? A thong is just underwear. It’s not sex related. I’m profoundly confused about why you question whether a thong is “appropriate.” A literal nun could wear a thong

  23. r.*


    Honestly I don’t know what I find more concerning, that you’re looking at other people’s butts long enough to notice they’re jiggling, that you’re speculating what underwear other persons are wearing, or that you do either of the before as a HR professional.

    Her outerwear was appropriate for the work setting; the rest is none of your business. Especially the question whether she’s comfortable wearing it; that’s a question up to her, not to you.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed. If someone is jiggly, they’re jiggly. A thong vs regular underwear isn’t going to change much. Expecting someone to wear undergarments that contain the jiggles is unreasonable – pretty much the only thing that really would do that is what they call “shapewear” – which are synthetic elasticized fabric compression garments. They do smooth and contour (and reduce jiggliness), but wearing them is an very PERSONAL decision, and it would be completely off-side to expect anyone to wear the stuff.

  24. r.*


    I think order is less important than scheduling. You should schedule interviews at a cadence and with sufficient breaks in between so you are able to give all candidates your full attention, and to prevent notions you may have formed about the previous candidate from leaking into the next interview.

    For me this means that I dislike having more than 3 interviews a day, and will schedule at least 30 minutes of pause between them where I can do something else “to clear the mind”. But that is just me. It may well be that you will discover having different preferences, and figuring out what you require to interview well is one of the learning experiences every new manager goes through.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – trying to determine an order for interviews is ignoring the fact that some people will be available at one time and not another.

      The OP would be better served by ensuring they have a very good set of interview questions, with a standard way of scoring answers. Use the same template for each interview. You can have a more free flowing discussion as part of the process, but make sure you are covering all the requirements and scoring them in a systematic way. A) this is will result in a better decision process as you will be comparing apples to apples. It will also ensure that you don’t hire someone who is fabulous with the “nice to have” aspects but who misses a key requirement. B) It’s more defensible if someone claims discrimination. C) it’s flexible enough to allow for additional information beyond the core requirements. D) it’s documented and you can refer back to your notes, so you don’t conflate or forget about candidates – human memory is quite fallible.

  25. bamcheeks*

    LW2, it doesn’t have to be, “you were objectively wrong for using this story”, it can just be “my ability to concentrate was impaired because I find this story very upsetting for personal reasons”. That’s incredibly useful feedback as a trainer, and it would definitely send me off to look for less upsetting alternatives. You want people in the right headspace to learn, and if this is not achieving that, that’s important feedback.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I also wonder if it would be helpful to provide these examples ahead of time. It could allow participants to think about them more and therefore lead to a more productive conversation, but it would also prevent people from being caught off guard in a public, professional setting. I know I personally fare better simply knowing a difficult topic will be discussed ahead of time and having the opportunity to emotionally prepare before I’m on the spot.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think that’s useful if you’re teaching short story writing or something like racial literacy where encountering and processing difficult emotions is an inevitable and essential part of the training. But when the point is, “here’s how we engage customers”, it seems like overkill! If you need to content-warn for a session on a standard, everyday business topic, that’s probably not the best content to use!

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I’d say that OP’s feedback is very important. If you’re trying to engage with customers and use that story, and the customer has had an experience like OP’s, it’s not gonna work on them is it.

        2. Constance Lloyd*

          That’s true! As the meeting leader I would remove it entirely, as someone providing feedback it can be easier for me to speak up if I can say something like, “This was awful for me, but if you really must include it can you at minimum take these extra steps to make it more manageable?” But with a topic that is so clearly difficult, there really is no need to compromise on the feedback.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I think this is a good distinction! I can understand both points of view in this situation (the need to present compelling examples and the need to be able to concentrate on those examples and engage in the discussion). I really like the suggestion above about swapping “baby shoes” with “wedding dress” which still gets the point across, but doesn’t immediately bring to mind death.

      1. Worldwalker*

        But “wedding dress” could be a case of the bride getting dumped the day before the wedding, or the groom suddenly dying, or any number of other tragedies. The baby shoes would actually be open to more neutral interpretations. (Five people gave us shoes at the baby shower, and the baby grew too fast to use more than four pairs)

        1. Person Person*

          I don’t think that’s true, but even if it was, it would defeat the purpose of using it as an example, since the entire point is the ability to convey a clear message concisely.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      can you also add something like the story should be relevant to what we’re learning about, getting us in the headspace for the topic. The OP mentions engaging stakeholders, can’t you just bring up an example from something that happened at work or a slightly dramatized version of an actual work story that you would tell to engage stakeholders on a process or policy change?

  26. MistOrMister*

    OP1 – please realize that 1) you cannot tell what underwear someone is wearing based on jiggle and 2) it is not your business to worry about anyone’s underwear. Why is a thong or other “cheeky” underwear unacceptable to you anyway? As long as none of the undergarment is actually visible outside the pants it is 100% not yours or anyone else’s business. Also, please note: going commando is a thing, so not only have you likely interacted with people wearing thongs, you probably have interacted with people wearing nothing!! Unless someone’s underwear is somehow violating the dress code, it is absolutely not your business.

    1. MistOrMister*

      Also, just to note, your letter is incredibly judgmental re thongs. I find them hugely uncomfortable and would never willingly wear one again, but I realize that some people do actually like them and find them comfortable. I say more power to them. As long as the person in question is comfortable with their choice it remains no one else’s business. I personally could not care less what underwear anyone on my medical team wears as long as it is not impeding their ability to give me the best care possible.

    2. Angstrom*

      Must be those new low-rise scrub pants and cropped top that shows visible thongage. ;-)

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      She’s probably one of those people who went into HR because she’s a busybody. She wants to know all the gossip and create some of it. Also enjoys a sense of power to control others.
      Not all HR people are like this, but some definitely are!

  27. Amy*

    Before I had kids, that Baby Shoes story always rang as tragedy (as is intended.) After having kids, it always made me think of housekeeping issues.

    “Baby Shoes, Never Worn: because someone gave you the shoes when your baby was two months old. The shoes were for a 1 year old and by the time you rediscovered them in the closet where you carefully put them away, your baby was 1.5 and they no longer fit.

    1. Me today*

      This. Not to mention all the outfits you’d get but b/c your kid has puppy dog like huge feet the shoes wouldn’t fit by the time the outfit did so you’d throw them in a drawer as the return window closed.

    2. pennyforum*

      It kind of highlights how much life has changed in the western world in the last 100 years in big ways (reduced infant mortality) and small ( cheaper and more abundant clothes even for children).

      One of the unspoken assumptions we’ve lost is that you might only have one or two pairs of shoes for children.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        Yea, this is the thing. Babies having shoes was not a priority until recently because … they don’t walk. Baby shoes were a potential heirloom item, not a disposable “just one pair out of many” until recently. Heck, people used to bronze baby shoes! They were a big deal. Baby shoes never worn in that context is clearly quite devastating.

        1. C*

          You’re not going to sell your baby’s shoes, then. No matter what happened to the baby. If you can’t bear to look at them you’ll give them away and sell something else if you need cash.

        2. lina*

          In fact, my grandmother had my dad’s baby shoes bronzed (1948? probably?) and made into bookends – they are in my living room.

    3. Hyaline*

      This has always been my interpretation (and reinforced my distaste for Hemingway whether he wrote it or not, unfairly—“oh the clueless man thinks he’s being so deeeeeep but he’s actually clueless”)

      1. Rain*

        Completely unrelated to the question, but I am happy to find someone else who dislikes Hemingway. I do not understand why he is so lauded – he bores the trousers off me.

  28. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, I would say whatever underwear she is wearing (and you truly have no idea what type she is wearing) is absolutely OK in all situations. My general feeling is that people are entitled to do what they wish, so long as it doesn’t harm others (or in a workplace, interfere with the work). Her underwear does not have any impact on anybody other than herself, so the only thing she needs to consider are her own preferences.

    It sounds like you dislike thongs and that’s fine; I wouldn’t wear them either, but what she wears is her decision. She did nothing at all wrong here.

    LW2, I would say this is neither a case of the choice being in particularly bad taste or your being too sensitive. Your reaction was completely understandable but I also think it is understandable that they would not have considered it. Yeah, having read your reaction, I can see that that story might not be the best choice and I do think that you would be doing them and future participants a favour by letting them know that it might be triggering for some people.

    LW4, could you just ask your partner to pass on your thanks, like “and my partner asked me to thank you from them too. We are both delighted with this perk and they said to be sure and let you know how much they are appreciate it”?

  29. KitKat*

    OP1: I’m sorry there is so much piling on in these comments. It is not egregious to wonder to yourself about whether underwear is part of work-appropriate dress, realize you’ve never seen it addressed in a dress code, and write to an expert to ask. It is certainly not harassment as some comments seem to imply!! You did the right thing by keeping it to yourself in the moment and asking for advice, which you seem to be taking in stride. Some of these comments are really harsh!

  30. Dasher Hadwick*

    Ok, the first letter really rubbed me the wrong way, so I’ll try and keep this short and polite.

    I wear scrubs every single day. Do you know how hard it is to find underwear that work under them?? At least in my clinic, the required scrub pants are made of awful, unbreathable and clingy material. If work outlawed thongs my coworkers and I would seriously struggle. Leave that poor woman alone and let her do her job! And keep in mind how this would look if someone came to you in an HR setting complaining about the underwear they *imagined* a coworker was wearing.

    1. JB*

      Yes! Having worn hospital issued scrubs (they mentioned surgery, so I assumed that was what she was wearing), they are not designed for women’s bodies and the fit on them is so variable. The fabric is also horrible. I feel like the LW was was off base to write a whole email speculating about what underwear she might have been wearing. Gave me the ick reading it.

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    “For sale: CEO bonus. Never spent.”
    “The TPS report rides at midnight.”
    “Everyone can take next week off.”

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Your first one made me think of this:

      “Golden parachute, unopened. Eat the rich.”

  32. whatadeebee*

    #1 just seems like policing women’s bodies to me. She’s a nurse, she is skilled and does important work. She is wearing appropriate clothing for that work. During her job, she needs to move her body, and bodies jiggle. I’d hazard a guess that you had to be looking extremely closely to notice the exact quality of the movement of her butt. And once you noticed that you decided the specific movement of her butt was a problem, and that she must have chosen to “allow” her butt to wiggle like that, and therefore that choice was inappropriate. I’d argue spending this much time and energy judging that nurse’s body is what’s inappropriate here.

    1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

      Agreed, though to gently call out potential gender bias – from the letter we don’t know she’s a nurse. She could be a doctor or other health professional.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, the LW said she appeared to be either a nurse or a doctor. It could be either or another role the LW wasn’t familiar with. Not that it matters which as all healthcare professionals are skilled and do important work but I do think it’s important not to default to nurse for female health professionals and doctor for male. (Not to assume that was how whatadeebee was thinking.)

    2. AngryOctopus*

      It’s also quite bizarre because LW makes a point of saying that the woman was slim, so the movement wasn’t that noticeable. LW, you sure then seem to have tried really really hard to notice it. It feels to me that you personally think that thong underwear is inappropriate ‘for work’, and therefore you tried to make out that this woman was wearing inappropriate underwear under her scrubs, and can’t we do something about that??? [Insert Helen Lovejoy “Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children!!” gif here]. You need to spend far far far less time thinking about what anybody is wearing under their clothes, full stop. It’s none of your business.

    3. Worldwalker*

      Women are not necessarily nurses. She could have been a doctor, you know. Maybe literally a brain surgeon.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. And to give the LW credit, she is definitely not the one pigeonholing the staff person she saw – she mentions that she was “clearly an operating room doctor or nurse” (putting the doctor first).

        I have a real problem with the question, but I also want to stick to the actual problem not something that’s just not there.

  33. Jam Today*

    LW2: The world doesn’t stop turning. Everybody has something. I lost two family members to gun violence, one to a drunk driver, and two to accidental overdoses. Life can be very capricious and cruel, and storytelling is a part of how we convey that both to exorcise the ghosts that haunt us in our own heads, and to express the human condition — sorrow and tragedy included. Stories about armed robbery, murder, car crashes, and (lately) drug overdoses are not forbidden because they remind me of painful things. They probably remind others around me of painful things, too, as well as giving a glimpse to people into experiences they’ve never had. That’s what stories do.

    I’m not saying this to sound cold, but I am saying this to make it plain that the world abounds with sorrow and if we never spoke even in the abstract about things that might be sorrowful for someone we’d never speak at all.

    1. Colette*

      But there’s a difference between running into reminders in the world and having them imposed on you in a work training. It’s reasonable for the OP to point trathat that’s a distracting thing to have in a training.

    2. Venus*

      The workshop was to talk about business stories to sell something. Focusing on a story about a drug overdose would be equally inappropriate.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think the point is that stories like the baby shoes one should be forbidden (forbidden by who anyway?) but whether the LW should mention that it is likely to upset people. Most people genuinely want to avoid upsetting others and even without being forbidden will choose to avoid something once they realise it is likely to cause hurt.

      I think we can assume the LW knows that there are plenty of other sorrows in the world, but it is very likely that those organising the event didn’t consider that this could upset somebody and would benefit from realising it can. Perhaps they will still choose to keep using it, but they will be able to make a more informed choice.

      Most of us genuinely want to avoid upsetting people and would prefer to be aware of things that are likely to. Sure, we probably can’t avoid them all, but in this case, it is probably possible to choose a short story that makes the point without addressing something extremely upsetting.

    4. Nancy*

      This wasn’t a college writing class, it was a mandatory work training. No need to use difficult topics.

      Personally, I think the story has become overused and I’d be annoyed at having to sit through another discussion about it. But clearly it affects people in a negative way, so change it.

    5. Person Person*

      When you give this lecture about language, who do you think is unaware of this? LW2 is certainly not unaware that life is capricious and cruel considering that they lost their niece tragically.

    6. not nice, don't care*

      Why are N=1 folks always so cruel? Your experience with trauma and tragedy are yours alone. The commentariat seem to disagree with your ‘suck it up’ take.

    7. Snoodence Pruter*

      Nobody needs to be exorcising ghosts or expressing the tragedy of the human condition at a compulsory bloody work training, though, do they?

  34. I should really pick a name*

    If something like this comes up again, you can ask your partner to mention your appreciation in their thank you email.

    If the etiquette side of this is bothering you, remember that the tickets themselves were a thank you to your partner (and including you was part of that thank you).

  35. L (not that one)*

    Regarding letter #1: I recently (a few months ago) started at a new job that involves changing in a locker room into scrubs or similar company-provided clothing. From the title, I thought letter #1 was going to be about appropriate-for-work underwear in that setting. As someone with very high modesty (the all girls Catholic high school might have contributed), that is definitely something I low-key worry about daily. It’s honestly strange but kind of helpful to see the comments here that thongs are fine with scrubs…although not quite the same as a locker room situation.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      Your body is fine! Your undergarments are fine! Everyone finds locker rooms in work settings to be awkward and weird, though with time, for some it starts to feel routine. I think the big rule is don’t sexualize others. Don’t stare, don’t make comments, and don’t behave in a way that might (might) be appropriate at a gym/spa with a sauna, like spending extended periods visibly nude.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      Truly, in a locker room you also need to MYOB about what your colleagues may or may not be wearing under their clothes. Let people change into their work clothes in peace and don’t give their underwear any thought.

  36. Prairie Folk*

    OP2. I experienced a similar reaction during a first aid course. It was a wave of emotion that hit me suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, related to an event 15 years in the past. I left the room, had a cry, and returned when I felt more composed. At the time, it was an uncomfortable experience and it’s unfortunate that our culture isn’t really comfortable with displays of grief, but I don’t think it is possible for a speaker to never say something that might be upsetting to someone. I think it’s the price of being a human being living in the world with others.
    I am sorry for your loss.

  37. best,*

    It’s soooo extremely weird to stare at someone’s butt and then try to pin being inappropriate on them to the point of writing a letter. YOU’RE inappropriate, LW.

    1. Worldwalker*

      It reminds me of a comment about how good manners isn’t not spilling soup, it’s about not “noticing” that someone else did.

  38. Bast*

    LW1 — I find it so odd to be focused on someone’s undergarments so much. Maybe this person finds them comfortable, or maybe, as Alison suggests, it is just the person’s body and they aren’t even wearing a thong at all. I’m not even sure I would notice what underwear someone is wearing unless either they’re running around half naked or something is unintentionally see-through, in which case I may politely say something, as I’d hope they would to me.

    LW2 — Maybe this is weird, but I had never heard of “Baby shoes– never worn” to me, and my first thought wasn’t necessarily tragedy. We gave away many unused baby clothes, tags still on because people went crazy buying “cute” stuff, with the result that the children often outgrew the clothes faster than they could wear them. That being said, while I don’t think the example in of itself was too much, we all have our “things.” I have a few triggers that while they aren’t inherently sad things, I find upsetting because of what I attach to it. There are a few songs I relate to my late sister, and depending on my mood, I may get a little weepy when they come on — but they aren’t meant to be sad songs at all, and I know I’d get looks from people if I cried during them. On the flip side, there are “sad” songs, stories, etc that I can sit through stone faced and that I don’t emotionally connect to at all. Point being that something that is neutral or positive for one thing may be negative or sad for another, and we just don’t know what is going to emotionally effect people.

    LW3 — I am sure this will vary with who you ask, but I wouldn’t really worry about it either way, because it’s out of your control. Let’s say that you want to be last, because you want to make a good impression and have it be remembered. Hiring manager tells you they are interviewing through Friday, so you book your interview on Friday. Little do you know, the interviewee before you got sick and now is being rescheduled to interviewed on Monday, so you are no longer last. Or there is a scheduling conflict and you need to be rescheduled sooner. or let’s say you want to be first, but the first slot they have doesn’t work for you. Or they actually did the internal interviews first because they are already there in the building and it is easier. Or etc, etc.

  39. Lamy*

    You’re doing training material for businesses, why the heck do you need to invoke anything about dead babies for that????
    Are they specifically businesses about child or infant loss or infertility? Then I’d argue that you should even more careful about using something like the “baby shoes” story.

    If you can’t come up with an alternative “powerful example” that generates an “emotional response” WITHOUT bringing up such a heavy topic, then maybe you need to switch careers.

    1. Hyaline*

      They brought it up because it’s probably the most famous example of microfiction ever and I’m guessing they’re not terribly creative themselves so they didn’t think to expand their example bank (ope that was mean of me).

      1. Lamy*

        Maybe this is me being dumb but I wouldn’t automatically make the leap from “business storytelling” to “famous examples of creative writing we all studied in English Lit 101”

        I sympathize with the OP. my nephew was stillborn several years ago (right before Christmas) and his parents have struggled with infertility since then, including miscarriages. I still can’t really watch movies or read books where pregnancy is a major plot point and I’m not even the one who is actually going through all of that. So if I had been in the OP’s situation, I would have probably had to step out of the room too and left negative feedback for the trainer because seriously WTF. So any business storyteller in the comments whining “but how will we do our jobs??? gets no sympathy from me in this. They again get the advice to maybe consider a different line of work if they can’t figure out how to do their job without needlessly poking people like this :-/

  40. Hyaline*

    LW4, I think it’s totally fine to mention if a specific example was a problem for any reason. They’re giving you a survey; presumably they want to know if the training was useful or not, and “your example made me miss twenty minutes of the training” falls under “not useful.” I’d also honestly assess the usefulness of the rest of the program too, fwiw—all storytelling isn’t the same and if they focused on fiction and especially lit fic overmuch maybe it wasn’t terribly helpful regardless of which microfiction example they used! Or maybe it was awesome and they could stand to brush it up a bit by refreshing an upsetting and frankly stale example.

  41. anxiousGrad*

    “Some butts are jigglier than others.”

    Ah yes, the little known sequel to The Smiths’ “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others.”

    1. Flor*

      I cackled so hard at this. And will now have this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  42. The esteemed governor*

    I feel very naive as I hadn’t heard the Hemingway Baby Shoes and I would have assumed a new family just got duplicates of the same gift

  43. I should really pick a name*

    If the training caused bad feelings, I think the trainers would want to know.

    If you don’t want it to happen again in the future, say something. Otherwise, they’ll assume there was no problem.

  44. Doctor Fun!*

    What IS it with some people’s urge to make other people’s normal, natural bodies into problems that must be solved? and WHY do they so frequently end up in HR roles?

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      And why does #1 think she needs to tell us she’s “not slim by any stretch of the imagination,” too? What does that have to do with anything?

      1. kiki*

        I think by calling out that the person she was staring at was slim and that she’s not, LW1 is trying to clarify that this isn’t her not realizing large butts tend to jiggle more. Or something? Not trying to defend, but that was my interpretation.

        1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

          I don’t think that can be it, because it’s the softness and not the size that determines jiggle. Like, I have glutes the size of medicine balls, and they don’t jiggle. I’m a big woman, too, so I feel like that’s something big women understand?

  45. McThrill*

    LW #1, you say you’re in HR -If a female employee came to you and said that a male coworker was asking her what kind of underwear she wore and talking to her about watching her butt jiggling while she walked, what would your response be?

  46. Bookworm*

    3: As a candidate (and having done some interviews with some jobs), it really shouldn’t matter what “order” it happens but who the best candidate is. And that they are genuinely the best candidate and you’re not interviewing people just because you need to.

    The only caveat is scheduling later ones to the point where you’re not at your best: that you already have a candidate and this is a waste of time, you’re too tired because it’s so late in the day, etc. I’ve been through versions of this as a candidate and it’s so frustrating.

    1. MissMeghan*

      Yes. If you’re doing lots of interviews I’d even say not to focus on the order and let it be random. If every time you expect the last person to be the best, you could condition yourself to rush through or not be engaged until the end.

  47. AnonyNurse*

    A primer on OR scrubs — the standard blue or green ones that people in ORs or other settings wear.

    They are “unisex” meaning that on a petite woman, even the XS (which many facilities don’t carry) are enormous

    They are made out of some magical synthetic fabric that can be washed & dried at extremely high heat a million times and still look as awful and be as scratchy as they did new

    All the pants have drawstring waistbands — no elastic. Getting them to stay up can be a feat, especially when you have to carry 17 pounds of pagers/phones/supplies around with you (yes, some hospitals still use actual pagers)

    You don’t have your own sets — you change into them at work and just grab a set, from a vending machine or a pile, depending on the facility

    The chest pockets are always in the wrong place for anyone with breasts

    They are the absolute worst (IMO), and the idea that anyone is judging what they THINK I might be wearing underneath is infuriating

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      We had a thing on pagers in health care settings a month or so back: No one thinks you’re checking your Facebook likes on a pager, so patients don’t mind you looking at them. The way looking at a phone signals “I am dropping my attention from you and focusing on something more interesting.”

  48. kiki*

    LW1: The main takeaway is that people’s bodies jiggle and move sometimes– that’s not unprofessional that is just being a human with a body. And underwear choice is not really a concern of an employer.

    And this isn’t the main point, but I just want to say that most women’s underwear, even full coverage, isn’t really designed to prevent jiggling? There’s some shapewear that does that, sure, but I’d be surprised to hear that most women in the year 2024 are wearing that sort of shapewear to work. Some people just have jiggly butts (myself included).

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I have a big jiggly butt. I find shapewear monstrously uncomfortable. So, yes, sometimes my butt’s going to jiggle.

      I wonder if, given the slow death of pantyhose and the growth of casual workplaces in the USA, shapewear sales are down overall.

  49. Juicebox Hero*

    I’ve done time in lingerie retail. nothing will make you care less about what people are wearing underneath their clothes faster than that. People were constantly defying expectations.

  50. Jigglypuff*

    I’m a nurse. I wear scrubs. I’m fat. I can’t control the jigglyness of my body.

    If a patient ever requested a different care provider and said it was because my ass was too jiggly, rest assured you’d probably get the side-eye from whoever replaced me.

  51. Juicebox Hero*

    Even if the woman had been wearing a thong, which there’s no way of knowing, and if that were inappropriate, which it isn’t, how would LW#1 even address it? Because no one is going to react well to finding out that somene from HR was paying that much attention to their badonkadonk.

  52. Veryanon*

    Re: underwear
    Can we all, as a society, just agree that whatever someone is or is not wearing under their clothes is none of our business? Like, are their private bits covered, and are they dressed appropriately for whatever the situation is? If the answer to those two things is “yes” then move on, nothing to see here. Literally.

    1. Bossy*

      I mean how many times have we been told that what someone is wearing AS CLOTHES shouldn’t be judged by us! Certainly the underwear shouldn’t be either.

  53. MissesPookie*

    OP who wrote about the trainer in ‘poor taste’? Thats a common way to show situations- she/they were being too sensitive because it hit them personally. There was nothing wrong with the example.

    1. person*

      Highly disagree. The point of asking for feedback after a session is to make sure everything was effective. A reasonable trainer would like to know if their example pulled someone out of the training and made them loose focus. They aren’t telling the trainer it’s inappropriate–they are giving requested feedback that can be incorporated in the future if the trainer wants to. Calling LW “too sensitive” doesn’t feel super compassionate imo

    2. Florence Reece*

      Man do I wish we would stop characterizing people having understandable emotions about their human lives and not shoving them deep deep down for our convenience as “too sensitive.”

      Oh something personal to you hit you personally? That’s your problem so I have no obligation to care or ever change my own behavior, because the emotions of people around me don’t matter to me at all! Wheee I’m a good person because I’m Right and Logical!

    3. Person Person*

      People need to stop viewing everything in the lens of “right or wrong” or whatever. No one is trying to cancel the trainer. If the trainer’s goal is to, you know, train the audience, it’s pretty good feedback that the specific anecdote backfired on that goal.

  54. JelloStapler*

    I would say, why are we staring enough at the healthcare worker’s butt to notice it was wiggling?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Very narrow application: On Better Call Saul, this response from Villain A was what convinced Villain B that Villain A was recovering from his stroke, which was important to Villain B’s extremely elaborate long-range plan for revenge.

  55. Susie*

    When I read the headline of the story, I thought someone was wearing low rise pants, and their underwear was being seen above clothing. The LW needs to stop staring at this person’s body and making assumptions about clothing that can’t even be seen. Stop thinking you can police someone’s “jiggle” because this is so out of line. You don’t get to dictate how people’s bodies are allowed to move at work, and I think the reply to you was way to generous. Keep your eyes and opinions to yourself, accept that not all bodies move like yours and spend your time on something more constructive than what underwear people are wearing.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      And even with your original take on the story based on the headline? My internal thought was “maybe don’t look then?”

  56. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-This is 100% none of your business. I have seen rules, specifically for nursing school students, that require a certain color or style of underwear bc the pants are white/too sheer. The solution there is getting scrubs that aren’t sheer but I digress. This is 1000% none of your business. Move along.

    #2-I get why it’s a powerful storytelling technique but I would have lost it too and would probably say something more than just a survey. My heart hurts for you. There are probably many more ways to teach storytelling in a work setting that aren’t prone for touching on painful topics.

    #3-I generally schedule interviews on a FCFS basis. But I agree with Alison that if I could, I’d prefer to have the strongest candidate last. But all of that is for me as hiring manager and not the candidate.

    #4-Yeah, I agree with Alison on this one too. If you were in person and it came up naturally, then maybe it would be cool. Unless of course your husband’s director got you tickets to see Taylor Swift and in that case…give a friendship bracelet. (I’m kidding. Mostly.)

    1. LW 4*

      Ha! It’s not Taylor Swift (that’s a different ticket saga in my life), but if it were I certainly would give a bracelet.

  57. Falling Diphthong*

    #3 interview order:
    The point of interviewing the top candidates is to learn more about them. Otherwise you would just make an offer to the person you now think is strongest.

    There’s a general rule when trying to convince other people that if someone says “Well, we could do A, or B, or C,” usually they are making a case for C. C is the reasonable conclusion after you consider the drawbacks of A and B. But there’s no reason to try and trick yourself with that framing when scheduling the interviews.

    1. I DK*

      We have an online ‘skills test,’ the scores of which determine the interview order, or in the case of an internal ad, all qualified applicants are interviewed in alphabetical order. No need to overthink the order, just select the best candidate.

  58. House On The Rock*

    For LW 4 while it might be an overstep to thank your partner’s boss, in some office cultures it could be expected, or at least not read as that off. Assuming best intentions, sure, the boss knows that this is a work thing and being done to reward an employee and foster loyalty. It’s not like a gift from a friend.

    Still, there’s probably nothing wrong with the LW at least having their partner convey their sincere appreciation for the perk.

    All this is to say it may be better to err on the side of slight boundary crossing, than irk a boss who actually expects to be thanked by all recipients!

  59. Lee*

    #1 – I think some respondents are being unnecessarily harsh with letter-writer #1. We see and think about all kinds of things. As an HR person, I expect it’s second nature for her to scan and evaluate dress styles. It’s not like she called anyone out personally or made the information public. OP came here to discuss anonymously in a “safe space” built exactly for that type of discussion.

    As a female in the workforce, I definitely consider how my pants lie on my body, the view from the back, how thick/thin the material is, if patterns show through, how “jiggly” things are.

    To be fair, the “best” or “appropriate” underwear to wear under scrubs is a big point of discussion within the medical community. Material, color, type. Check Reddit or any medical discussion forum (about social topics). We’ve come a LONG way since the “panty checks” of decades ago.
    But medical-related schools and hospitals do have dress codes. I think usually for underwear, it’s simply that underwear must be worn and cannot be visible. (Also a general statement that clothing should not be too tight and look must be professional.)

    Is it a big thing in the scheme of the universe? No. But we discuss a range of issues here, some lighter than others.

  60. Cat*

    LW 1 is already taking a fair amount of heat in the comments, but I do need to add a little more.

    WHY do you think it matters that you’re a cis het woman? It doesn’t. It’s grotesque for anyone, of ANY demographics, to be policing other people’s bodies this way. Stop it.

    1. KitKat*

      I think they just shared that to try to clarify that the question wasn’t driven by personal titillation. There are more elegant ways to express that but I doubt the motivation was to say that they get a free pass on any and all behavior.

      1. Rainy*

        Oh, I think it was definitely driven by personal titillation, it’s just that what gets LW1 going is the thought that she might get to berate someone.

  61. More Coffee Please*

    I had a slightly different reaction to OP4’s question. I think a handwritten thank you note would be nice. I wouldn’t be effusive (like Alison said, it wasn’t a social move), but a simple “Thank you so much for the tickets. We’ve always wanted to go, and it was a fantastic week of events.” would be a kind message that wouldn’t be overkill. I think where it would cross the line into awkwardness for me would be thanking the boss for their kindness or generosity, because this wasn’t that.

  62. 20 Points for the Copier*

    LW #2, I’m so sorry about your niece. I also lost a niece suddenly and unexpected a couple of years ago at only two months old – and now have a niece who is healthy but right around 8 months so reading your letter has totally put me in a state.

    But also… I’m not sure I’d say something in a situation like this. I’ve come to accept that sometimes getting hit with sadness happens at odd times and that’s the nature of loving and losing someone. That example is powerful because it’s so effective, even if to someone like you or me it might be even more of a gut punch.

    If you want to say something, that’s fine too, but I know my brother says that part of what’s important is feeling and not running from the sadness, because trying to avoid it is like trying to avoid her memory or pretending it never happened. Every time I’m a little unexpectedly sad (which happens less now, but still once every few weeks), I think of it as honoring the memory of the short time she was with us and remembering that, yes, she was here and we loved her.

  63. Occam's Razor*

    LW – 3

    I truly don’t think the order matters. For my last round of interviews, I was the first one they saw. I shared that with my parents and they said it was the worst to be first because they’ll forget about you after seeing so many other candidates. But I got the job that I am in now. Flip side, I helped with hiring recently and we scheduled everyone simply based on availability. Our chosen candidate was the third out of five or six candidates we saw. So I don’t think it matters all that much.

  64. AlwaysEditing*

    If you can’t see the actual underwear, what difference does it make? Years ago, an intern at my place of business wore thong underwear and habitually squatted in front of file cabinets, etc. Different story.

    1. not nice, don't care*

      Years ago thong underwear were intentionally made/worn to show at the top of clothing as part of a fashion trend. Kind of went along with the low/baggy pants thing.

  65. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

    I used to work in a biocontainment lab, where it was policy to go commando under our scrubs. (Generally, anything that went into the lab had to be autoclaved to come back out of the lab, so undergarments would have added to the autoclave load.)

    I think we all just put up a mental wall where we didn’t think about our coworkers’ bodies sans scrubs. And I don’t typically find myself speculating about the undergarments (or bodies!) of other people I encounter throughout my day.

    I suggest LW#1 adopt a similar policy.

    1. Nonanon*

      That thought is TERRIFYING for me not because of going commando or my clothing needing autoclaving, but the thought that the autoclave would totally destroy any elastic in the undergarments

      1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        They had disposable underwear you could use. They would just get discarded on the hot side before you showered out.

        1. Awkwardness*

          To learn about details like this is what makes the comment section so fascinating.

  66. Lenora Rose*

    Re #3: I can tell you how I handled this as the one setting the interview times but not the interviewer or interviewee.

    I have gotten resumes ranked or unranked. If unranked, I make sure they’re not in alphabetical order, then just call whoever’s on top first. If ranked, I call the #1 candidate first. They then get to choose their preferred time in our available window. #2 then gets the remaining 4 slots or so to choose from, and so on. (There’s usually at least one more slot than candidate, plus we will try and find alternative dates for someone whose answer is something like {real example} “Um, I’m going to be on an airplane to the Philippines, is there anything earlier in the week?”)

    IME, the candidate has often chosen the first or last available slot, and rarely in the middle (that has happened, though), but the reasoning seems to be most likely to be based around what else they are trying to fit into their day, not whether there’s a specific psychological advantage.

    1. ferrina*

      Honestly, any psychological advantage has a high chance of being nullified by extenuating circumstances. I’m first, but the interviewer was stuck in terrible traffic and in a bad mindset. I’m last, but the interviewer is recovering from the flu. I’m in the middle, and the interviewer just got off a bad client call. Or from a great client call and is in a fabulous mood.

  67. BellyButton*

    *blink* Just when I think I have heard of every single ridiculous thing that someone has been offended or outraged over, I come here.

  68. Nonanon*

    RE letter 2 and the surrounding discussion; I would like to see the six word story and raise you a five word one:
    She brought cheap ass rolls.

  69. KitKat*

    OP1: The comments here are really piling on. My interpretation of your question is that you’ve worked in places with pretty strict/well-defined dress codes, you noticed something that you’ve never seen specifically addressed in a dress code, you felt it was borderline to bring up with colleagues, so you wrote to an anonymous 3rd party to get their input. That seems like actually a pretty appropriate way to address your curiosity! I agree with Alison that undergarments are not something we need to be thinking about as part of dress codes — but I don’t think it’s absolutely wild that you asked, or that it makes you some kind of evil, body policing, body shaming, sexual harassing, misogynist, (closeted lesbian?) HR demon. Good grief.

  70. Not a convict reading AAM posts*

    LW#3 – I asked this on my LinkedIn this week, ‘What preference do you have when selecting an interview slot – first, middle, or last?’ 68% – first; 14% middle; 18% last.

  71. RD*

    LW1- From one HR manager to another, I say this as nicely as possible. Please do some personal work on why this is a thing you thought and then cared enough to write in about. We all have our biases and as HR staff, it’s our responsibility to never stop examining them.

    1. Catwhisperer*

      I’m now imagining the butt in question having spinning black and white spirals attached to each cheek, mesmerizing OP1 and forcing her to stare.

    2. I Have RBF*

      Actually, and it’s embarrassing to say, the times I most notice other people’s bodies is at the intersection of boredom, worry, stress and lack of sleep. It’s like my brain picks something mundane to fixate on, and since everyone has bodies, and they’re all different, my brain goes there. If I’m lucky I can redirect it toward counting/measuring ceiling tiles, but that doesn’t always work.

      Accompanying a spouse for all the shit associated with cancer treatment is hard, especially when it’s bad news on top of bad news. Your brain does weird things.

  72. anon't*

    Thong underwear don’t creep up any more than granny panties do. I find they are less noticeable because there are no horking big panty lines across my rear. Unless someone is wearing shapewear, no undies are supportive enough if you have a jiggly bottom.

    1. RVA Cat*

      I see what you did there!
      OP1 needs to check herself. This woman’s butt isn’t bouncing *at* her.

  73. SereneScientist*

    This is not the least bit relevant for #4, but I’m kinda curious if they’re going to a Formula 1 race hahaha.

  74. CorgiDoc*

    Apparently women just can’t win. My work provided, uniform scrubs show a super obvious visible panty line if I wear anything but a thong (yes, even so called “seamless panties” because they end up rolling into an even more obvious line). I have been called out for having “visible undergarments” because my panty line was visible so I always wear thongs, but according to this person, that’s a problem too. Also, for what it’s worth, I’m someone who just finds thongs more comfortable anyways.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      OMG I would be fighting back so hard on the “visible undergarment” Thing. That’s not what that phrase means!

  75. The Lady That You Know*

    In the early 2000’s, my brother worked at a facility that had a campus. He was relatively young and fit, and liked wearing a “utilikilt” (think cargo shorts in kilt form). He would take a lunchtime walk, and this got the attention of some women, which led to HR checking the dress code. Kilts were not in violation. It got back to my brother that someone said “but what does he wear under it?” They were told not to worry about other people’s underwear, and to leave the kilt guy alone.

  76. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    LW 1, if you told me about how much my butt was jiggling at work, I’d be putting serious thought into a sexual harrassment complaint. Some butts are just gonna jiggle no matter what kind of underwear you put them in, unless it’s horrifcially uncomfortable shapewear. If you had a dress code that specified no visual underwear, you’d be fine, and you should butt out (ha!) of this situation.

  77. Fluffy Fish*

    OP1 – just reading your question made me uncomfortable. it’s unnecessary to be in any way shape or form concerned about someone else’s undergarments. feel free next time to simply look away and concern yourself with something else that’s not someone’s body.

  78. Paris Geller*

    Letter #1 is giving me such an ick. Every freakin’ day I feel like I log on to the internet and find out another aspect of being a person someone might be judging me on. I cannot imagine noticing someone’s body moves in a normal body way and thinking it’s something I need to think about.

  79. Dido*

    LW1 is so creepy! If you don’t want to see someone’s butt jiggle, don’t stare at their butt! It’s disturbing that the LW works in HR.

  80. LW 4*

    Thank you Alison, and commenters for your responses! I’m glad to know my gut instinct of “no” was correct, but also glad to hear from many commenters that a thank you would be normal and appreciated in their workplaces, so my instincts weren’t way out of line! All in all, I’ll skip the note, but will be sure to mention my appreciation to the director next time I see him at a friends/family event with my partner’s company. The topic will come up regardless since it’s a shared interest, so I’m confident that mentioning how much we appreciate his effort won’t be out of line.

    It was interesting to note that many of the commenters who fell on the “hard no” side of this seemed to assume I’m my partners wife, and my partner is my husband. This isn’t actually the case! I guess thank you notes and sports are traditionally gendered, but it did make me think about how gender influences people’s perceptions in situations like this.

    It’s fun seeing people’s guesses at what the sport is too! So far I’m not sure anyone’s gotten it exactly, but a few commenters have come very close.

    1. LW 4*

      Oops, I think I posted a version of this twice! I thought the first one didn’t go through, and I just really love saying thank you I guess!

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Oddly, my immediate thought was that you were the wife and your partner the husband; I’m not sure why, whether it was because Alison tends to default to “she” when we don’t know a poster’s gender and a lot of us follow that or because of…yeah, the stereotype of a man and his male boss bonding over a love of the same sport or just the stereotype of a female “trailing spouse,” but for whatever reason, I actually did notice that, hey, there’s nothing to say it’s that way and I think I changed the pronouns in my comment to gender neutral.

  81. HannahS*

    OP1, some context you may find helpful–especially so because you’re in HR:

    Despite the fact that most healthcare workers are women, scrubs are made to fit men. As a woman, my options are:
    a) Wear a men’s large; have a top so drape-y that my bra shows, with roomy pants that drag on the floor.
    b) Wear a men’s medium; have a top that mostly fits, but pants so tight that my underwear line shows (and the pants still drag on the floor.)

    In either option, if I want to fully obscure all of my underwear I have to wear an additional layer on top or bottom…but I wouldn’t do that if I worked in certain settings (radiology, surgery, anesthesia, possibly respirology) because the extra PPE makes me so effing HOT that I’d sweat through my clothes, faint, or both.

    People have bodies, and some bodies jiggle more than other bodies. I see male physicians walking around with their bellies jiggling under their scrub tops, with chest hair poking out here and there, and yet somehow no one thinks they’re insufficiently professional for having bodies. If you really want women to look more professional in the workplace, consider advocating for scrubs that actually fit women, instead of expecting the women to fit the scrubs.

  82. So Tired*

    LW 1 says thy don’t care what the doctor was wearing, yet they wrote in to a workplace advice column to ask if it was inappropriate for her to be wearing them.

    LW, with as much kindness as possible, it is entirely not your business. It is never appropriate to speculate on what kind of undergarments someone is wearing, and there is nothing inherently inappropriate about thongs in the workplace. What is inappropriate is to stare at someone’s butt and then make comments to others about it.

  83. Angstrom*

    “Look at that! Look how she moves! That’s just like Jell-O on springs! Must have some sort of built-in motor or something.”

    -from Some Like It Hot, 1959

  84. Manic Sunday*

    Given what we’ve learned over the years from AAM’s LWs and commenters, I probably shouldn’t be surprised by a letter that 1) unironically asks whether a *fully concealed thong* (if that’s even what the person was wearing) is okay to wear to work, AND 2) comes from someone with an HR background.

    But I am.

  85. Bitte Meddler*

    I was an intern at a major soft drink manufacturer in the summer of 2018. There was a woman on the senior management team who had several different pairs of tight-fitting, light-colored capris. The colors were white, cream, pale peach, pale pink, etc.

    They were see-through.

    She wore thong underwear in bright, bold colors.

    She was walking in front of me in a narrow hallway one time as we all headed to a quarterly Town Hall.

    I inadvertently learned more about the number and placement of large freckles on her backside than any non-lover or immediate family member should know.

    No, I didn’t stare. I had merely glanced up from laptop (which was open because I was verifying when my post-Town Hall meeting was) and saw everything in the microsecond before I averted my eyes.

    I asked one of my managers if someone should say something to her, and my manager was like, “No. She knows. Someone did say something to her last summer. She said it’s too hot to wear pants with thicker fabric. (We worked inside an air-conditioned high-rise office).

    She also wore high-heeled, open-toed sandals so at least we got an audible warning that she was entering our area and could therefore fix our gaze so as to not see things we didn’t want to see. You could hear the warning-whisper “Clip-clop” pass through the cubicles on a floor like The Wave in a sports arena.

    1. Bruce*

      I was a young man in the 70s, learning to avert my eyes was a useful skill to avoid blushing and being mortified. A skill I practice to this day when needed, though in my current social circles it does not occur very often anymore…

      1. Bruce*

        Actually it is not the _social_ circles, it is just too cold around here for people to dress in a revealing manner most of the time!

  86. Semi-retired admin*

    Re #1, I’m horrified that there are people out there judging how much a persons body moves under their clothing and speculating on what kind of underwear their wearing. Let’s all go back to strangulating ourselves with constricting undergarments to not offend.

  87. Anony63738*

    #1 . Thongs at work

    OP, classic example of you needing to mind your own business and stop picturing what other people are wearing especially when it comes to personal undergarments. You are the one at fault here.

  88. Anony2738*

    Sorry to hear about your niece, however, the world does not revolve around you. If it’s not this example that is used, then there is always another example that will offend someone else.

    1. Goldenrod*

      Agreed, and as Alison and others have pointed out, it’s a *very* famous example of concise writing. So not a weird example to choose, really.

  89. Jr*

    I can’t believe LW #1 works in HR and doesn’t realize she/he is the one who needs a lesson in HR

  90. Boof*

    LW1 – from the title I thought we were going to be talking about a wardrobe malfunction (like low rise pants + short shirt, bending over; or possibly overly transparent leggings). But if they’re in scrubs and you’re not actually seeing their undies, they’re fine. I get that you noticed their butt and had a thought, and decided to ask AAM but be assured, the answer is to try not to pay too much attention to other people’s bodies if you find yourself starting to do so, rather than that there is something wrong with their underwear (presuming that their underwear is, in fact, covered). Similarly there’s nothing wrong with their wardrobe if they have different features presuming that what they are wearing is generally similar to the norms around them (ie, scrubs vs scrubs).

    1. SusieQQ*

      I thought the same thing. Assumed it was somebody’s thong being exposed at work. Nope, was actually about jiggly butts. :facepalm:

      1. Boof*

        A cis woman in HR judging a “slim woman’s” butt for “inappropriateness under normal clothes” no less D:

  91. SusieQQ*

    I don’t care what kind of underwear people wear at work, or if they wear underwear at all!

    I DO find it creepy that LW1 was making mental notes about the movement of people’s behinds (I get it if you happen to see it and have a reaction, but that’s the sort of thought that should remain private) while they walk and speculating on what kind of underwear they wear. I feel sorry for the employee, who fortunately probably has no idea this happened.

    1. FattyMPH*

      Exactly this. “Enough to write in to an advice column” is a weird amount to care about a coworker’s butt.

  92. Inappropriate Undies*

    Many, many years ago, a co-worker asked my boss if she could tell that I was wearing a g-string. My boss answered, “Ya know, I’ve never felt compelled to stare at Inappropriate Undies’ ass long enough to notice”. Yes, she was a good boss.

  93. SusieQQ*

    LW4 – I agree with Allison’s advice not to do a hand-written letter, but I think you could ask your partner to please pass along your gratitude. I’m a people manager and it always makes me feel really good to hear that, e.g. “Thank you for supporting my flexible work hours so that I can drop the kids off at school, and my spouse wanted me to pass along their gratitude too!”

  94. Fluffy*

    no. 1. I am suddenly reminded of the uproar this spring when baseball players discovered the official new MLB uniforms were thin enough to be see through. After loud complaints, it’s been decided that the uniforms will be replaced next year.

  95. OlympiasEpiriot*

    #2 — I had a similar situation recently. I was in an annual specialised safety training where it is normal for the group to go round introducing themselves and giving a “safety moment” with an example from the previous year. Almost always it is work related with occasional personal ones. Sometimes they are horrific as, well, I work in construction. Since, tho’, we are all sharing, they are kept short and a serious one is sure to be offset by a relatively mild one next.

    BUT, this time, the leader didn’t do the round of intros and provided the only safety moment — a slow-building story of something terrifying that had happened to them as a child. It was also inevitable…I saw where this was going almost from the start. Guess what? It has turned up in my dreams at least 4 or 5 times since that training. While they were telling it, I was checking out. It is mostly irrelevant for construction. I am glad they are around to tell the tale and I hope their family member who saved them doesn’t still dream about it themselves.

    Was it useful for that meeting?

    I say no.

    I say it was a distraction.

    The Safety Group hasn’t sent around a How Did We Do poll. I will have some comments tho’ if they do.

    1. Rainy*

      I like big butts and cannot lie. My brother likes small butts, and cannot tell the truth…

  96. CyberLady*

    I am flummoxed by the thong question. I wear thongs every day because I find them comfortable. Why is someone watching another persons hiney so closely and caring so much about their undergarments? This would call for some introspection if I had had those thoughts. Why am I so concerned with a person’s jiggly places to the point that I’m submitting a question about it? I think I also may need to do some introspection myself because for some reason her question has triggered me a bit. I suppose it just feels like women (especially) oftentimes can’t even live without being over-analyzed.

  97. Dana*

    we lost our son the day after he was born, and i’ve been haunted by that short story sentence ever since. i probably wouldn’t have the courage to speak up, and would greatly appreciate anyone who did. i think your instinct is correct here, as is allison’s advice. it’s too famous to ban, but a reminder that some of us live inside those 6 words isn’t amiss.

    1. Rain*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Thank you for speaking up here.

  98. Gretta*

    So confused on the jigglyness – it’s muscle and lack of fat that makes one less jiggly. A little bit of stretch cotton isn’t going to help? Undies aren’t bras for butts! Unless you go into the realm of male dance belts or something. But that’s a pretty rare thing that someone would wear.

  99. PMaster*

    Re: #2 – About three years ago a coworker and I attended a live online training session on discrimination in the workplace and contracting. At the time, a high-profile police homicide trial was ongoing and protests were occurring across the U.S.

    The trainers used an example where the prime contractor’s name was GEORGE Something and a subcontractor’s name was FLOYD Something. Over a private chat I could tell my co-worker and I were sharing an extremely uncomfortable “ummm…?” moment. It made it very difficult to focus on the content. After the session was over, we essentially turned to each other and said “Did you just see that? That was in very poor taste, right?” We decided not to say anything, as it was so blatant, there were several hundred participants across the state, and we figured someone was bound to contact the trainers’ agency.

  100. CZ*

    Sorry, it’s kind of amusing to not only NOTICE a jiggly butt and speculate re: underwear, but write a letter about it!!!!

  101. Is Me*

    I think that what many people are reacting to is (1) the use of the word “ever,” and (2) what comes across as a deep misunderstanding about people’s clothing choices. You keep saying is it *ever* okay, which belies a belief that it likely *shouldn’t* be okay. Any time *should* enters the room about personal choices, you’re going to piss people off. It also lets us know that you’re starting from an assumption that it *usually* is not okay, which is actually really counter to most of our beliefs here (I’m hazarding a guess on this one). Second, we hear loud and clear that you dislike thongs, and you disapprove of wearing them, from your description of what they are, to the fact that you’d ask this question. I think you’re really underestimating how many people wear things, and you’re completing missing why people wear them. Many many people wear them, and many many people find them comfortable and useful garments. I think a lot of the response you’ve gotten is because people are personally offended by your question, not just talking about this in a hypothetical. I say this as a director-level professional, sitting in my office, wearing a thong.

    So here’s the real answer to your question, of whether it’s okay for someone to *ever* wear a thong to work: Yes, and actually you can assume that many of your colleagues do every day.

  102. Mallory*

    1: IMO thongs are by far the most comfy underwear, but regardless…whyyyy do you care?! I hope no one ever looks at your butt at work with such scrutiny!

  103. Future Retired Person*

    When my mother was in nursing school in the 1960s, she was required to wear a girdle as part of her nurse’s uniform. The nursing school director would come around and slap you on the hip to see if you were wearing your girdle.

    Those were the bad old days. She also had a friend who got pregnant and had to go off and have the baby in secret, leaving him with her parents. If they had learned she was pregnant or had had a child, she would have been kicked out of nursing school.

    1. Rainy*

      My mother-in-law bragged to me about how when she was in (Catholic single-sex) high school in the early 60s, she and one of her little friends were bullying one of their teachers. As a result of the bullying it turned out that the (married!) teacher was pregnant and had been hiding her pregnancy so she’d be able to stay employed til the end of the school year. My mother-in-law wasn’t punished and they fired the teacher for being pregnant.

      She was proud of herself. She told me two MORE stories about times she’d bullied pregnant women, including as a substitute teacher herself in a public school district, bullying pregnant students for being bad.

  104. Bungee*

    Where’s that panel from Persepolis where she yells at the cops to stop looking at her ass…

  105. LilPinkSock*

    LW1, I would like you to share with the group exactly how you’d bring this up with your colleague. How would you describe this “problem” to her, and how would you tell her to fix it?

Comments are closed.