Here’s What to Do When You’re Being Body-Shamed at Work—From Someone Who’s Experienced It

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If you've ever felt a co-worker's wandering eyes or been the subject of your boss' dirty jokes, you know body shaming isn't restricted to Instagram comments or off-the-clock hours. But dealing with it in a professional setting is 100 times trickier to navigate when your career is caught up in the mix.

Kira Finney, a senior consultant in Omaha, Nebraska, knows the deal because it's happened to her—and she is so not here for it. She's been fielding comments about her 34DDs since middle school, when she seemingly "bloomed overnight," and those remarks didn't end when she entered the workforce.

Yes, women being objectified in the workplace is a real thing, and it's been going on for way too long.

"'Wear tighter shirts. Wear lower cut shirts. Show off your body. This will help you advance,'" her bosses have said to her throughout her career, Finney shares. "'You see that one female over there, she is going up the chain, and that could be you.'"

Yes, women being objectified in the workplace is a real thing, and it's been going on way too long—which is why it's so powerful to see women like Finney take back control of the conversation. In the spirit of women owning their own self worth, we're teaming up with Target to celebrate bodies of every shape and size, and Finney is sharing her wisdom on how to handle situations like hers.

Scroll down for her 4 pieces of advice for dealing with body shaming at work.

1. Speak up for yourself

Finney's number one piece of advice to women who are going through similar experiences is to report it. "Every workplace should have an [equal employment opportunity] department, and they need to be reported," Finney advises. "Let them know that treatment and that regarding of you is not appropriate."

If that feels scary, remember that standing up for yourself is a powerful act of self love. “Most of all, you are not your breasts,” Finney says. “You are a force and it needs to be recognized.”

2. Remind yourself of your worth

No matter how awesome you think you are, hearing those comments can sting, which is why Finney advocates for taking a moment to reflect on your self worth—even if that means getting a little angry.

“I was pissed off that men were still bringing up the size of my boobs and not my accomplishments, my intelligence, my drive to learn," she says. "It made me want to prove more that I am a woman who should be respected for being me, and not my boobs.” Preach.

3. Be proud of your body

Just like you're in charge of defining your own self worth, you can also define how you view your own body. For much of Finney’s life she was made to feel ashamed of her breasts—covering up with sports bras and baggy t-shirts, and even quitting the sports she loved when men started to tease her—but by viewing them in a positive light, she has learned to be proud of them.

The body diversity movement has had an influence on that mental transformation, as Finney has noted that she thinks seeing more curvy women in advertisements (as Target has highlighted with its new Auden line) bodes well for a shift in women's relationships with their bodies.

"Seeing someone who looks more like you break the image barrier may help more young women to be more accepting of themselves, [experience] less body dysmorphia, and even take that step to becoming part of helping celebrate our body diversity," Finney says.

Now, instead of disguising her figure under sports bras, Finney feels more empowered to support it with bras like The Bliss from Target. "This bra was a surprise winner for me!" she says. "I haven’t worn a wireless bra since I was a teenager. This bra felt like it was molded from my body. The light lining was perfect for coverage and support. I definitely will be buying every color in this one!"

4. Practice positive self-talk—for real

Instagram raves about the power of positive affirmations, but Finney took the practice to the next level by starting a real-life open dialogue with her inner mean girl.

After experiencing depression in 2018, Finney's "negative self-talk was out of control," so she made a pact with herself to find a positive to counteract every negative thought that popped into her mind. "It might be my hair looks good today, the color I’m wearing really makes my eyes stand out, even just telling myself, 'You look great!'" she says.

And guess what? It worked. “Being more positive about myself has even helped me be more positive at work and everyday life," she says. "I have even had others comment about it.”

So no matter how cheesy you feel, next time you hear that negative voice whispering in your ear, look in the mirror and tell yourself out loud that you are worthy, valued, and beautiful—in exactly the body you're in.

In partnership with Target

Top photo: Stocksy/Studio Firma

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