In the workplace, casual attire can make things more relaxing for the employees so they can focus more on their work. That is, unless someone decides to complain about what a coworker is wearing.
That’s what brought Reddit user Longjumping_Draw_864 to the subreddit AmItheA**hole, where users share stories to see if they were in the wrong. In a post that already had around 15,000 upvotes within 48 hours, the user wrote that her office has no dress code and everyone dresses very casually. One day recently, she was wearing long pants and a top with thin straps. That’s when she noticed her male coworker acting odd.
She wrote, “One of my coworkers ‘Brian’ was giving me angry looks all day and when I finally asked him what’s wrong, he told me that he thought better off (sic) me than to dress in ‘barely any clothes’ to work.
“At that moment, Brian was wearing pretty short shorts and was barefoot. He dressed like this the whole summer, the office is carpeted, he only puts on his slippers if he is going to the bathroom or the kitchen.
“I told Brian that I will start covering up my shoulders when he starts wearing shoes to the office. If I have to watch his hairy toes at work, he can deal with the sight of my shoulders.”
Brian’s reaction? He put in his headphones and ignored her the rest of the day. She asked her fellow Redditors if they thought she was the a**hole in this situation for not striving for better relationships with her coworkers. The responses indicate that most of the forum thought Brian was acting like a jerk instead.
The top reply, from user CrystalQueen3000, encapsulates a lot of the followup opinions. They wrote, “That was a funny response to his attempt at shaming you for gasp having shoulders.
“Also, who goes barefoot at the office?”
This cascaded into several replies about how unsanitary, smelly, and even unsafe, a lack of shoes can be at work. One pointed out that an injury caused by bare feet could ultimately lead to a workers’ comp situation. Others brought the original poster’s feet into the discussion, with user TheyCallHimEl joking about her outfit being revealing by saying, “I bet her ankles were showing, too.” That went along well thematically with many pointing out that seeing a woman’s shoulders must be very difficult to experience. Pearls were clutched in the replies.
Interactions like the one in the original post are not out of the ordinary for women. Advocates have long argued that school dress codes disproportionately target girls, so from a young age, women are apt to hear that too much of their shoulders are showing or that their shorts are too short. Having to change or be sent home and feel like someone is looking at their body can be an uncomfortable situation.
This happens, despite the fact that the ACLU points out that dress codes unevenly enforced against girls may violate sex discrimination laws. A report from the National Women’s Law Center also found that curvier girls are disproportionately targeted and that girls are often told they need to avoid being distractions to boys.
As grown women enter the workforce, posts like these show that the issue can still rear its ugly head far into adulthood.
User Ippus_21 touched on this with their reply, saying she was not an a**hole “and you should go to HR. That’s sexual harassment,” while tiny_town1000 wrote, “He’s a shoeless pervert.”
Apart from that, reply after reply said that a coworker’s attire is not a fellow employee’s business and that at the least, Brian needed to grow up.
This thread may serve as a reminder to rethink unnecessary comments about personal appearance, while encouraging people to say something if a coworker oversteps such boundaries.