I am a twenty-something female working in an office with other women, most of them about 10 years or so older than I am. One of my coworkers has the most annoying habit of commenting on every outfit I wear to work. Specifically, she comments on how much each article of clothing and all of my accessories cost. She will even look up items I am wearing to find out how much money I spent on the outfit. I tend to buy designer clothing that will be worn for years and have a lot of jewelry to rotate through. I have no kids and a house that was left to me after a relative passed away, so I have a lot of disposable income. It really bothers me that she continues to talk about what I spend on clothing. When I politely ask her to find something else to talk about, she dismisses me and says it’s just a bit of fun to live vicariously through me. Except it doesn’t feel fun. The jealousy snaking beneath all of her comments make it awkward for myself and the other staff. None of them know how I should handle this situation. Lola, what should I do?
Dear Marvelous Midge,
I really loathe that you even felt the need to justify to me why you spend money on clothing and jewelry. As if you can only buy designer clothing and jewelry if you are childless and own a home outright! Obviously, this coworker has gotten into your head and made you feel the need to rationalize your spending. It is no one’s business what you choose to spend your money on, as long as it is legal and does not interfere with the work you do in the office.
It’s time to put this office ogre in her place!
I want you to prepare for battle for that is the only option you have left. You tried being polite and look where it’s gotten you – writing to a canine as a desperate last act before you lose it entirely and end up shrieking in frustration and drawing the notice of all the bigwigs at the company. I could just see the meltdown now. An extremely well-dressed young woman, fabulous clothing and high-end jewelry, coiffed hair set with just the right amount of product to look natural yet not stiff… throwing a tantrum in full view of everyone in the office.
Someone will end up recording your meltdown and it will go viral.
To avoid that sort of fame, we need to act fast. You will want to pick up an airhorn this weekend. It’s in a can that resembles hairspray but has a large cone at the top. When you walk into the office on Monday, I want you to pretend to be normal. Your pulse will be racing as you smuggle in your new weapon of war, but I’m sure you can pull this off. When your coworker makes the first comment about your fashion choices, simply ask her to mind her own business and stop commenting on your spending habits.
She will, of course, ignore your request as she searches the internet for garment prices.
This is when you shake the airhorn in preparation. The next comment out of your coworker’s mouth about the cost of your clothing should be met with the blast of the airhorn. She will react immediately and this is your chance to remind her that your finances are not her concern. Every comment she makes in this regard will be met with the blast of an airhorn until she learns how to zip her lips.
Be sure to pass out foam earplugs at this point to your surrounding coworkers.
The optimistic side of me hopes your coworkers will never need to put those earplugs in, but I lost my optimism around the time I was put on a diet ‘for my own good.’ The realistic side of my brain predicts you will most likely need to fire off that can a few more times before the offending comments stop. If, in the very rare event, the comments continue and you find yourself in need of a second can of air, please cease and desist immediately.
Obviously, you’re dealing with a deranged individual and need a new tactic.
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