Figuring out office dress codes can be tricky, especially early in your career when you want to make a good impression but don't have a big paycheck to blow on a whole new wardrobe for work. But for one woman on Reddit, her awful boss just made things even more uncomfortable.
Recently, u/elliegantt took to r/AntiWork to share that her boss at her internship called her out for "not dressing like a lady," as if that's even a thing. She wrote, "I'm a 20-year-old female. I'm currently an intern for a small business company, and it is my first work experience. You can literally just guess the dress code is typical formal office clothes stuff for workers."
Sounds pretty normal, but her story takes a hard left turn from there. "So, one day I met my boss as we were all about to go out for a meeting which was 20 minutes by car. We were waiting for our cars to arrive by the entrance of our building to go [to] the meeting. He suddenly commented about how I should learn on how to be like a 'lady' from one of my female colleagues."
First of all, if you identify as a lady and you're wearing clothes, you're dressed like a lady in my book. But the story continues. She wrote, "I looked at myself up and down to see what I was wearing since I was confused as to why he would say that in the first place. I was wearing a long sleeved, button down blouse with some wide pants. I had minimal makeup on (concealer, eyeliner, lip tint, mascara), wore a necklace and a ring, and had tied my hair up into a low ponytail since the wind was messing up my hair."
She went on to write, "So I asked him what he meant, and he just mentioned 'your appearance.' I had other colleagues who wore the same thing as I did, too, yet he didn't care to mention this to them. What should I do about this matter?"
And before we even get to the discussion in the comments, she added an edit that just makes things worse. "Apparently, my HR is scared of my boss (probably scared of being fired), and my other colleagues are telling me to adapt to it and saying, 'He's always like that, just let him be.'"
She also added in a comment, "Sure, one comment doesn’t matter, but then he also started calling me lazy since I don’t do manicures like my colleague. He told me to cut my hair and says 'it will grow back' when I tie my hair up nicely. Told me to get new glasses so I can 'focus better.' If it’s once in a blue moon, fine. Every fucking time I meet him, he has something to say."
In the comments, some people speculated about why this dude even felt the need to comment on how this intern was dressed. One user wrote, "This may be an attempt to make you feel insecure about yourself, which would make it far easier to manipulate you in his favor. Like business/workplace negging."
And another person pointed out that women wearing pants in a professional context is a shockingly recent development. "If he is over 50 years old, he is most likely referring to the fact that you're wearing pants. It took until the mid-20th century for men to accept that women can wear pants. Yes, I know how stupid this sounds. It took until 1972 in the USA for girls to be able to legally wear pants to school. Women were not allowed to wear pants on the US Senate floor until 1993."
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 made it illegal for schools receiving federal assistance to require women and girls to wear dresses and skirts. And in 1993, the dress code for the Senate was loosened after Senators Carol Moseley-Braun and Barbara Mikulski bucked tradition and came to work in pantsuits (I truly can't believe this happened during my lifetime and not, like, 30 years before I was born).