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One of my best friend (a girl) works on a small but very high facility company in south Indian country. She started work just before two weeks. There are around 20 employees in that company. 3 women and others are men.

She has very tiny breasts and always she worries about them. But the problem is not that...

Almost all Coworkers in her company passes hints about her tiny boobs and laugh (other women also laughing ). When laughing they looked at her breast area too sometimes. This happens two, three times per day. She was in really uncomfortable situation, she has cried everyday when I meet her, but because of financial issues she can't resign. The salary of her is above than average (this is a high paying company).

Otherwise, they are good Coworkers. They helps her to do office tasks, etc...

There is no HR department. Both directors handle the HR also. She can't complain this about to director because of she in new, she is shy as well as she can't directly complain because these are hints... So they can said sorry we did not mean something like that....

How to handle this type of situation? What she can do without losing the job?

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    Not to minimize the problem, but could it be that she is just very self-conscious regarding her chest size? She has only been there 2 weeks - and might be attributing any criticism/fun-poking to her biggest insecurity. – morsor Nov 6 '17 at 10:14
  • Would I be right in assuming that this is more of a cultural issue than one of sexism? Having a small chest means you're not womanly enough? – Snow Nov 6 '17 at 10:39
  • @Snow Either small chest or big chest, men try to unnecessary jokes about women in our culture... But it is very law in this type of companies... I mean people are decent in this type of companies... – I am the Most Stupid Person Nov 6 '17 at 10:43
  • @JoeStrazzere In our culture(seems like it is differ than western culture as you have asked), in probation period on beginning of the job we never complain about our senior persons. It is very uncommon complaining about old employees to HR or director............... – I am the Most Stupid Person Nov 6 '17 at 12:01
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    I'm not entirely sure what being a "very high facility company" means. – Southpaw Hare Nov 6 '17 at 14:17
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People keep making these jokes only if they see the recipient is affected. When your friend won't be bothered about her tiny chest anymore, the others won't find it funny and they'll stop.

If I were in this situation I'd add a short remark in a relaxed tone, something like 'Well, they're big enough to draw your attention', or 'How come you think about my boobs if they're so small?'

Just don't give them satisfaction and they'll get tired of trying and being unsuccessful.

Another option is saying 'Don't worry, I wasn't interested in you anyway'.

  • Most (almost all) girls are not open like in our culture. They are not talking like that.... And what happen if they said who talks about your breasts? – I am the Most Stupid Person Nov 6 '17 at 10:35
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    20 years ago the culture in my country was similar. Not the same, but similar. I had to change the way I talked so that people would stop saying unpleasant things to me. It worked. – Alina Nov 6 '17 at 10:38
  • This seems like a fairly insensitive response to give someone being sexually harassed in the workplace - one should not have to laugh it off (it might be a decent way to handle it in general, but also potentially a very uncomfortable one that just addresses the symptom of a broader problem). Although I don't know how things work in India - maybe this is the only option one really has there. – Dukeling Nov 6 '17 at 13:13
  • "People keep making these jokes only if they see the recipient is affected." I am not convinced this is the truth. I am also not convinced that the recipient can simply control her reaction when she is reportedly crying every day. – TheSoundDefense Nov 6 '17 at 18:21
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    I have provided an answer according to what I used myself. If one of you is more knowledgeable, please write an answer with your experience about it. – Alina Nov 6 '17 at 22:36
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It's something that they might get tired of fairly soon.

It sounds as though this might be a cultural as well as a sexual issue. It might be an idea to see what other people do in the same situation in the same region as a Westernized response might not work as effectively.

Maybe a coping mechanism is needed. For example, wearing a looser fitting top/scarf/pashmina/whatever that makes the size more ambiguous. Other people in the same region must be addressing the same issues.

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    Note that if you start dressing differently to hide the thing they're making fun of, people may start making fun of the fact that you're trying to hide it instead (it will probably make things worse on the short term, and it may or may not help in the long term). – Dukeling Nov 6 '17 at 18:18
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    This is a good answer and I don't understand why it was downvoted (it was +4, now I see it's only +2). There are a lot of online resources about how to divert attention from certain body parts and to focus it elsewhere without transforming oneself into a nun. It's not shameful to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent mean people making jokes in a society where law enforcement is selective and where women don't have another option of defending themselves. – Alina Nov 6 '17 at 22:49
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    @Alina Many thanks for the support here. Unfortunately on stack, many people enforce a Westernized view of the world, especially when it comes to sexual/gender issues. I, like you, saw the issue here as being one prevalently of culture. I'm fine with the down-votes as long as at least some people recognize my intent here. – Snow Nov 7 '17 at 7:04
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I really only see two options:

  1. Directly tell them to stop. "Could you please stop making those types of jokes?" will suffice. To the point, without being accusatory. If that does not work, then she will have to escalate to the directors. This is basically the only way I see addressing the problem if she wants to stay in this job.

I do not recommend keeping quiet and hoping it goes away, or trying to laugh it off. She is upset, only a really good actor could make it seem they are not affected by it, and the pattern has already been established. They will almost certainly see through any act that she tries to put on, and so the act will be ineffective. Perhaps they might get bored on their own eventually. But she shouldn't have to suffer waiting for that to happen. The sooner she says something, the less awkward the conversation will be.

I also recommend recording details of the incident, and details of any requests she makes to stop. It may be useful to convince higher ups to listen to her, or if she seeks legal advice at any point.

  1. Look for a different job. If she wants to avoid confrontation, this is pretty much the only way she can try to change her situation. There's also the possibility even if she tries asking them to stop, that nothing will change anyways, and then looking for a different job will be the only option to get away from it.

As an addendum, if the directors do nothing if she tells them, depending on the laws on her area, she may have some sort of legal recourse. It might be beneficial to seek a lawyer at that point.

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This something she needs to learn to deal with herself. Lot's of people have small boobs or other perceived body image problems. It's part of life to learn to live with yourself.

Suggest she just ignores it, she's new, the novelty value will pass.

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