Professional boobs?(83 Posts)
I work in HR and have had a senior manager come to me today seeking advice re a member of staff’s chest. Apparently a few comments have been made that this lady - who they praise for in terms of knowledge and professionalism - has attended a couple of meetings recently in clothes which are too low cut for her (in the manager’s words) “ample bosom”. They wanted to know how they should advise the employee that they risked “appearing unprofessional” if they showed a bit too much boob.
I did the professional thing and advised in line with our policies, but it got me thinking. As it happens I am also big-boobed and take great care to make sure I don’t have bra showing/buttons gaping etc, but it got me wondering whether this is reasonable or not. We are very understanding of women’s needs around pregnancy and menopause as an organisation, but then judge part of their worth on how much chest skin is shown? Isn’t this part of the same argument around bhurkas?
Incidentally, I’ve never been asked to give advice on a man wearing a shirt/trousers are too tight.
I dont get the problem with having limits or standards. Sexualised or revealing clothing arent suitable for the workplace. It isnt professional to wear a skirt thats too short or a top thats too low cut, or for a man to wear trousers that are too tight.
I don’t have an issue with it either, but I don’t know whether that’s because I’ve been conditioned to it as a woman.
I guess it’s a bit like “mutton dressed like lamb” which I’ve heard all too often about female staff but never male.
And where is the line between okay and too low cut/too short/too tight?
I dont think its the same as comments such as ''mutton dressed as lamb''.
I wouldnt expect a funeral director to be showing cleavage, or someone who's job it is to give people bad news to be dressed for the beach. I dont have a problem with expecting professional standards at work.
Women had to work hard to be taken seriously in the workplace. We used to be treated like window dressing or sex toys. I guess I'm part of the generation that rebelled against that.
Same as a man tbf.
I don't want to be sat over the desk from a bloke with his buttons undone to his "cleavage"
Micky Flanagan does an awesome sketch about how each undone button sends a message...
So I think it's entirely reasonable to tell a woman to put her boobs away.
(However this is coming from someone who at her last employment received two separate complaints about the length of her skirt....which in my current employment are absolutely fine...)
My feeling is that it shouldn't be a case of a top being too low on account of an "ample bosom" - it's either too low to the professional or not regardless of the body shape of the wearer. Based on that, the dress code could state no plunging necklines (fair) but couldn't persecute an ample lady who happens to show a bit more in a scoop neckline.
" has attended a couple of meetings recently in clothes which are too low cut for her (in the manager’s words) “ample bosom”."
The problem is theirs if they can't stop looking at her cleavage, not hers for daring to have a cleavage in the first place! How much of it she decides to show is for her to decide not them. Unless they have a 'no low necklines' policy for EVERYONE, all shirts buttoned to the collar, etc etc.Otherwise it is indirect sex discrimination, trying to harass her for revealing a part of her skin that most men don't have anyway................
Women have breasts and sometimes this is obvious. What would you do if she was breast-feeding BTW, would the 'reveal' there be judged as unprofessional, or is it only when displayed in a non-functional breast reveal situation...................
Cleavage is only judged as being not suitable because MEN view is as sexual. Which is why they get all hot an bothered over breast feeding issues...................
She's professional it is her decision! Not yours or mens to police. And the ample bosom comment just shows that some people there can't get away from the whole busty barmaid/Les Dawson style of thinking. Gawd, how dare a woman with 'an ample bosom' think she can be taken seriously professionally! She should hide it or bind it, not leave it out there for everyone to get distracted by!
(Ample bosom myself, and seen too many female colleagues harassed for daring to have chests, and who have had to put up with conversations with men who focus all their attention on their chests. It's their problem, not our job to try and hide everything in case we distract them. As long as you're not standing in the centre of the office swinging your nipple tassles.......................
Sophia Loren proved that it isn’t only men who have a problem with this when she met Jayne Mansfield.
Women with smaller boobs definitely get away with wearing lower cut tops. I dress for warmth but have had a shirt button come undone accidentally and no-one blinked because it wasn't showing cleavage, whereas a woman with more average sized boobs would be.
That being said, I think there is a standard of dress at work which applies roughly to men and women - I'd definitely be more uncomfortable sat opposite a man with his chest out, than a woman with the same.
Not sure if it’s relevant but the manager who came to me is female (and has had a double mastectomy) and she didn’t say whether those who had commented were male or female.
Policy is out of date but just states “clothing must be appropriate and not overly tight or revealing”.
There was a thread on S&B recently about the trouble with being hourglass shape and how men react to you predominantly as a sexual creature. We don't know if it was men or women who complain but I do suspect that a woman who had a smaller chest would not be criticised in this way. I also think any legal policy will not specify how many inches of flesh can be revealed.
Here's a question, what would be considered too tight or revealing for a man? Can you tell me about a man who got disciplined because his trousers split when he bent over or because the buttons on his shirt were straining over his bellybutton. Or a man was sent home because his shorts were too short (rather than too casual)? We all know that has never happened because neither of those are actually considered tight or revealing. It's a definition determined by the male gaze on the female form.
The manager who came to me always wears smart over the knee dresses and heels. Never wears tights. Presumably that level of skin exposure is professional where a couple of inches of boob isn’t.
I totally understand the problem
When I was flat chested I could wear a V neck and not be accused of anything
now, I'm all right in the V neck while seated at a desk...reach under the desk to get trainers out for going home and suddenly I'm flashing people. I can see why it's unfair that clothing on one person is "revealing" and the same item on another is not. And that only applies to women....so I do think it's probably a sexist comment to make. not having a go at you OP, but I'm wondering how it works the other way - if a woman complained that her line manager had told her to stop wearing V necks but not said that to anyone else?
I think I'd be favour of saying that workplaces just have to get over the fact some women have large breasts.
We seem to have awareness days for pretty much everything else, I might request a “massive norks” awareness day. Everyone can wear a J cup bra filled with bean bags and see how they get on!
I support massive norks day. Sometimes my G cups just like to escape. I’m always pinning the front of dresses.
Massive norks day supporter here! I have an emergency sewing kit in the car for nork-escape emergencies
Have a right mare keeping mine in place on occasion. I work in a male dominated industrial business - when I fully cover them up I apparently look dowdy or matronly. If I wear anything moderately feminine, I'm tarted up or told I'm trying to impress the boss I find it infuriating and demoralising that as an experienced health professional I'm largely judged on the amount of cleavage that I have on show, or if I've put make up on
A surprising amount of clothes have too low a neckline. If you are large you do not want to wear clothes with high tight necklines (they never fit anyway) so you end up trying to find necklines scooped just below the collar bone. But most of them are quite low. I never wear v necks now.
Also clothes which look fine standing in front of the mirror can gape unexpectedly when leaning forward over a meeting table.
A colleague had a call from the individual today. Sounds like the manager handled the situation quite badly and there’s a potential grievance going to come in.
One thing that strikes me which is really sad, is that you said the person who complained has had a double mastectomy. I think you are going to have a big headache on your hands. It's not going to be good which ever way it goes.
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