A recent Byrdie article reported on a very real but somehow under-reported problem many working women face. In the piece, writer Nichole Fratangelo discusses how her large breasts give her unwanted attention in various workplace settings.
Fratangelo was already well aware that dressing professional was a “must”. However, she soon learned that her breasts and how she presented them on a day-to-day basis influenced how she felt at the office, too.
For example, on days she’d wear a tighter dress or a v-neck shirt, she’d be more aware of her chest. She sometimes felt “exposed” even though she knew she wasn’t. After all, she was wearing the same thing as other female employees.
Fratangelo admits that she even felt “exposed” when she worked in a uniform, long before her office work days. “I worked as a barista for over five years, where I simply wore a uniform of black pants and a black polo shirt, and still felt ‘unprofessional’, as if I was showing too much to those buying their morning coffee,” she says.
“The judgment never came verbally (thankfully), but in the form of stares—from co-workers who perhaps thought I was using my chest to my advantage in some way, or from customers who maybe thought I chose to wear that tight-fitting shirt for the wrong reasons.”
Kozlowski says that on many occasions, she’s been told to “cover up” when wearing a blouse buttoned to her chin. And once, while working at Talbots, her manager told her to work in the store’s shoe closet “so no one could see me and my ‘inappropriate top’, which was a baggy silk tank with zero cleavage and a knee length skirt.”
Janine Low, owner of Mad Hatter Marketing & Event Planning LLC, says that although most of her experiences in professional settings have been less verbal and more through looks and body language, the judgement is bothersome. “Even when I am wearing a shirt or dress that has full coverage, I still feel judgement from my co-workers, clients, and peers,” says Low.
“I have also had several experiences with verbal sexual harassment and lots of unwanted attention from men during professional events outside of the office (expos, conferences, networking events, out of office client meetings, etc.),” she adds.
“Every time I have found myself in this type of situation, it makes me feel like less of a person and more of an object and my confidence slowly dwindles away.”
Beat the stigma and look good doing it
Low has had a lot of luck finding professional clothing that looks and feels good at Target, specifically from brands Mossimo, Xhilaration, and Merona. “They often offer some full-coverage tops that look professional and cute and aren’t as tight,” she says.
She’s also had fashion success with pieces from StitchFix, H&M, and Ann Taylor. Low also is able to find bras she likes in her size—36G—at AdoreMe.com and Herroom.com.
Kozlowski says she’d like to remind women that they should be proud of who they are and own their curves. “Don’t put them on display necessarily… because you have way more going on than just a big rack,” she says, “but don’t hide yourself because people don’t like how God made you.”
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