July 9, 2013 4:51 pm

Not okay.

Fresh from reading this article on Metafilter regarding the reporting of sexual harassment at a convention, I’d like to tell some stories of harassment that have happened to me over the last few months, starting with the most recent.

“Looks cute!”

I was laid off from my web development job recently, and as part of my unemployment insurance requirements, I must apply for at least two jobs per week, regardless of whether or not they are a good fit for my skillset. I worked at a motel in high school, so I applied to a housekeeping job. They called me back, and indicated they wanted me to come in for a training day.

On the phone, the woman said when she saw my photo come up next to my email (thanks, Gmail) she thought, “Oh, she looks cute!” She then repeated this when I came in for the training, and held up my printed resume on which she had written “Looks cute!”

It made me uncomfortable! My looks have nothing to do with my ability to do housekeeping for your B&B. I consider myself cute, but I don’t need a potential employer – EVEN IF THEY ARE A WOMAN – commenting on my appearance as part of a job interview. It’s inappropriate, and it put me into a weird position of not wanting to say anything about it even though it made me uncomfortable because I need a job.

“…you’ll definitely lose some weight…”

Later that day, myself and the other trainee (whom I’ll call S) were gathered with the employer (the woman from the above story) and another employee, R. The employer was talking about how much running around we’ll be doing, and then said to S and I conspiratorially, “Oh, and you two will definitely lose some weight while working here, just from all the running around. Right, R?” R responded, “Oh! Yes! I’ve gone down a pants size since starting here and I’ve only been here two months.”

AGAIN. WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE. Anybody with eyes could see that S and I are both overweight – that was not the issue. The issue was that she thought absolutely nothing of reassuring us – in so many words – that we needn’t be fat forever, we just needed to work for her B&B! I mean, clearly we are fat because we don’t exercise. For all she knows, S or I could have a hormonal issue, or be suffering from an eating disorder, or be taking medications that interfere with our metabolism, or we could have a host of other reasons for being fat. There’s no reason we need to be reassured from a potential employer that we’ll lose weight if we work for her B&B.

Not okay.

There were red flags left and right at this place, most of which were more egregious than this (trying to pay me with promises of free veterinary care for a friend’s pet comes to mind), but that doesn’t mean these experiences were unimportant. They were harassment and they made me uncomfortable.

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  • Melissa says:

    What the…. WHAT. O_O That’s just incredible. “LOOKS CUTE”… wtf. Just wtf to that whole thing. I LOATHE people who think saying that kind of stuff is ok and even funny. :| So rude.

    • Meggan says:

      It was super strange. Like, it was weird to say on the phone, and even weirder to show it off to me in person like I’d appreciate it. I think I smiled politely? Kind of wish I had said something but I am not very good at thinking on my feet.

  • Melissa says:

    WTF? All of this from another WOMAN? Did she think she was dishing out compliments or something?

    • Meggan says:

      Yep. From a woman. I don’t even know where she was going with it. The whole thing really rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Cristina says:

    I find the “looks cute” one kinda weird, especially from a woman. Like what, did she need to convince a guy that it was okay to hire you or something? Weird.

    As for the weight comment, I get where you’re coming from, but is it possible it wasn’t meant the way you thought it was meant? Maybe they were trying to make girl-talk conversation? I guess it depends on the tone. I dunno maybe I’m just used to talking about my weight shenanigans because of Weight Watchers, so it doesn’t seem weird/inappropriate to me. :P

    Either way, sorry about the harassment you received. Not cool to feel uncomfortable when you’re already in a somewhat vulnerable state (I’m always so nervous during interviews). Are you going to end up working there?

    • Meggan says:

      That’s definitely possible. That said, it was the first time I’d met her, and was during my training day which was more or less my job interview. So I still think it was inappropriate, regardless of how she meant for it to be received. Basically, it’s absolutely no business of hers to comment on my weight, since it had absolutely nothing to do with my ability to perform my job. It was said in a tone that indicated this job would be doing us a favor, weight-wise, which is none of her business.

      And no, not working there. I couldn’t run away fast enough. She revealed when I came in for housekeeping training that she actually hired S for housekeeping and intended to use me for web design, web development, print work, and general office duties, with some housekeeping on the side all while paying me the same amount we agreed on for housekeeping. And she wasn’t intending on bringing me on as an employee, either – it would be a 1099 Independent Contractor job, so it would have been all the tax hassle of freelancing without the monetary benefit.

      Plus, when I indicated that I wasn’t willing to do web work and print work for the housekeeping wages, she offered me free vet care to make up the difference because they are “cash poor.” And when I said I didn’t have a pet, she asked if I had any friends with pets because they could receive free vet care! And I was left to wonder how I was going to pay my rent with free vet care for a friend.