Dear Office Bully: Here’s Where You Can Put Your Pencil Skirt! by @hkterry1

by Heather K. Terry | Featured Contributor

I work from my home office the majority of the time, but recently I’ve started working from a shared office space.

The other day, while I was innocently working away at my desk, I was approached by a woman who told me I wasn’t dressed professionally enough for the office.

Just Smile - Heather K TerryBefore I even realized it, I became the victim of a woman-on-woman crime.

I was floored. This woman cornered me, like something out of a TV show. I never thought in a million years that someone would approach me and tell me I wasn’t dressed properly.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I’m a spitfire and I don’t take anybody’s shit. But I was so surprised that another woman was approaching me in this way that I really didn’t know what to say or how to react. So I basically ignored her while maintaining my composure.

Now, just for reference, since you don’t know me from Adam (or Eve), I am a well put-together chick. I make a real effort when I get dressed in the morning, and I take pride in my appearance.

I do not wear blazers or pantsuits, but I always look polished. Sleek and professional.

Here’s the thing, though: I am never going to walk into the office in a pencil skirt or a suit. I’m the girl in hot riding boots, skinny jeans, and a nice blouse. That is the look that is in line with my brand. Those are the types of clothes I feel confident in.

I am not going to compromise my personal style for anyone. I am never going to pretend to be someone I’m not. I am just not going to do that. Nobody should.

Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie to work every day. I’m pretty sure nobody’s giving him a hard time about it.

(Note: The day of the suit is on its way out, people. The clock is ticking.)

The moment that woman told me I had to change my outfit, I realized that I will never sacrifice who I am for anyone.

I need to be true to myself. And if I walk into the office in a pencil skirt, I am being someone else.

When we started Nibmor, I bought a couple of good suits because I thought I would need to wear them to important events or meetings. And I have worn one of those suits . . . once—one time.

That suit didn’t feel right. It felt gross, to be blunt. When I showed up in that suit, I felt so inauthentic.

The truth is, this woman had a problem with me. And she approached me in the workplace, trying to get into my head. I’ve heard about women bullying each other this way in professional settings, but I really never thought this would happen to me.

If a man did this, it would be viewed as harassment.

Why, as women, do we feel we have the right to say something to other women about how they look?

It’s just not cool. If you have an issue, go through HR.

There are a couple of things this experience taught me.

You Will Come Up Against Petty People

When this happens, you have to remind yourself that this is their problem, not yours. You are stirring something up inside this person, and you need to just ignore them. That’s all you can do.

You Will Come Up Against Rude People

People take their baggage into new relationships and situations. You might be reminding that person of the person who bullied them in sixth grade. Ignore it and carry on.

Don’t be that petty, rude person. Get over yourself and stop putting your personal shit on someone else. There are other things you can put that energy into, like changing this world.

If you’re a victim of a woman-on-woman crime, know that she made you feel small to make herself feel better. Just smile with your head held high and remind yourself that it’s not about you.


Heather K TerryCelebrated health coach, cooking instructor, yogi, and author of the forthcoming book “My Life In Chocolate”, Heather K. Terry, is a true health aficionado. CEO of NibMor Chocolate, co-founder of the Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse, and a strong advocate of eating real, simply prepared, organic foods and avoiding genetically modified, highly-processed food-like objects. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The French Culinary Institute of Manhattan, Heather’s passion for food and nutrition are palpable.

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5 Replies to “Dear Office Bully: Here’s Where You Can Put Your Pencil Skirt! by @hkterry1”

  1. Heather Terry

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Sorry for my delayed response- I actually had a concussion last week! Anyway, I went through the proper channels to deal with this office bully and though there are still some cold moments between us, I think she knows to leave me alone now. The biggest take away from this? Her issues have nothing to really do with me. I present myself well at all times and some folks live in their negativity. I’m going to stay healthy, happy and kicking butt in my biz!

  2. ella

    If you’re both in a shared office space for the same company and you feel threatenedo go to human resources.
    If your office has a business casual dress code and your supervisor or management team wears riding boots and jeans I don’t see the issue.
    on the other hand wearing, “hot ridding boots” might be considered to casual and sends a message to prospective clients and coworkers that you’re not taking the job seriously.
    You can still keep your style and dress appropriate for a corporate setting. I think this more of a situation where you were just persobally offended because you take your personal style too seriously. As a fashion blogger I too get upset if I’m told my outfit isn’t working by someone but at the end of the day it’s just my ego. Maybe your coworker was only trying to help you.

  3. Pamela

    I’m pretty sure I would have been shocked as well.

  4. Yvonne

    I went through this same thing! And I responded the same way out of shock! Thanks so much for writing this!

  5. Brenda Lee

    Seriously? OMG, I probably would have been dumbfounded initially and then I’d be out for blood. There is a right and a wrong way to handling these situations and if this chick wasn’t from HR, she totally handled it wrong.

    So will you be going back to the office?

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