Last Saturday, I experienced figure and size bias at a local clothing retailer. I learned, firsthand, like Bebe Rexha, what discrimination feels like. No one should ever experience this, most of all a young person. I hope my story can be used as a teaching moment.
There was an attractive sweater in the window of the store. I entered, looked at the four sweaters of the same design, two of which were M size and two were S. I believed the M would fit. The proprietor said, “That sweater is very stretchy.” I replied, “Yes, I was just debating on whether I want a loose or form-fitting sweater.”
I take one of the M-sized and try it on. It fits perfectly. In fact, it was a little long. But there was a problem: The left wrist cuff was not sewn properly. As we all know, you can have five of the same item, and each one is a little different.
I requested to try on the other M-sized sweater to see if the cuff was sewn properly on that one. Me: “I am sorry — did you just say I cannot try the sweater on?” Proprietor: “Yes.” Me: “Excuse me? I am going to buy one of these sweaters — I just want to make sure that the cuff is sewn properly on the other M size.” Proprietor holds the sweater I have not tried on out of my reach.
Me: “You are not going to allow me try that sweater on?” Proprietor: “I do not want you to stretch it out.” Me: “I want to be very clear about what you just said. Did you say to me that you are not allowing me to put on that sweater because you do not want me to stretch it out?” Proprietor: “Yes.” Me. “Well, you have not only lost the sale of the sweater, but you have also lost my business.”
I gather my belongings, stunned on what just transpired.
At this juncture, the proprietor is laughing with friends at the front of the store as if no figure bias, no insult, no discrimination based on my size has taken place. As I leave, I look the proprietor in the eye and say, “You should be ashamed of your behavior.” Proprietor retorts: “It is my store, and I can do as I wish.”
It is embarrassing to tell this story, but only if we stand up and say it is wrong to discriminate for any reason will change take place. This store should be ashamed of promoting figure and size bias.
Lynda PackardWater Mill
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