Every December, the company where I work throws a huge party for employees and our best customers. Everyone tells me that there is music, great food and dancing. There is also a standing tradition that the newest member of the department dresses up like Santa to hand out gifts. As the newest employee, I’m this year’s “volunteer”. One of the managers decided that instead of Santa, this year the presents will be distributed by a “Holiday Elf”. I just saw the costume and it is a micro-mini skirt and a rather revealing top. It is not pornographic or overly suggestive, but it is still not something I would ever wear to a professional event. I am trying not to view this as a gender issue – but I am the first female to be “newest” in many years. I would be perfectly happy to wear a Santa suit (complete with beard). How can I get out of strutting my stuff in front of my colleagues and customers without seeming like a spoil sport or prude?
— Chills Easily
Where is your holiday spirit? I suggest you head directly to your local library to check out some Elf Help Books.
In the meantime, tell the manager with the “brilliant” idea that you will think about dressing as an elf if he promises to run through the party dressed as one of the participants in a Santa Speedo Run – like this one.
— Evil Skippy
Stop equating “prude” with “good sense”. Tell your manager that you want to find an alternate costume because the proposed one is too skimpy. Don’t apologize and don’t be defensive. You are just stating a fact. Tell him that you’ll be glad to wear the same Santa suit as the prior volunteers (thereby establishing your team spirit) or a less revealing elf costume. The direct approach is professional and shows that you are trying to be reasonable (even in the face of an unreasonable request).
Unless your boss actually is a complete dolt, this should be the end of it. If he persists, talk to a higher-level manager or your human resources department.