Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
I am a woman in my 20s going through a health issue that causes vomiting and necessitates frequent doctor’s appointments. I’m trying to get it resolved as soon as I can because I feel awful, but the workplace gossip is making it worse.
I’m not pregnant (like, really only having lesbian sex with vulvas not pregnant). I work in an office with a lot of older women who get very excited about baby news. Everyone seems convinced I’m pregnant, including straight up asking me when I will be due. When I deny it, I get “knowing” looks and winks. Aside from waiting until summer with no baby to show to it, how do I shut this down? I’ve only been here a year, so I don’t feel like I have a lot of capital.
— Stop the Rumors
You have a lot of options here, including quick retorts like:
“Seriously, guys, I’m not—I have a health issue. Please stop the jokes.”
“The pregnancy remarks have stopped being funny to me.”
“I’m not, but that’s a weirdly personal topic to bring up!”
“No, I’m not. And I’m surprised this the kind of workplace where it’s appropriate to tease a woman about this”
You could also think about sending an email to—or having a one-on-one talk—with some of the main offenders, asking them directly to knock it off.
I am a manager of a small team at my workplace. My industry is heavily male-dominated, and my team has one other woman on it besides me. My team member “Claudia” is professional, friendly, and intelligent. I have no qualms about entrusting her with important, time-sensitive tasks, and do so with great success.
Claudia was always very large and has gained a substantial amount of weight in the past three to four years. At this point, I’m quite sure she’d be classified as morbidly obese. Aside from being concerned for her health, I know for a fact that her weight has held her career back. Directors above me are reluctant to place her in a more client-facing role, as they believe it would appear unprofessional. I truly want the best for her and would hate to see her impeded by something so easily fixable. Is there a way to address this? Should I even try?