Body Shaming at Bloomingdales. My personal experience.
I write this to highlight how normalized body shaming is. A lot of times until someone turns on the lighbulb, we don’t see how often if happens. Don't worry, HERE I AM. I'll highlight it for you!
I was recently in the department store Bloomingdales trying on a dress for a friend’s wedding. I know what I like and I know what looks good on me. I found a few things and went to the dressing room. One dress I loved, I felt like would look best if there was a way to cinch my waist (show of my figure, duh!) This is the conversation verbatim as I came out of the dressing room to talk to the sales associate. (I rarely ever ask for help in stores, but it wasn’t a busy hour so I thought why not)
Me: “I love this dress, but do you have any belts that I could try on to wear with it? I lose my body shape”
Sales Associate: “You don’t want to wear a belt with that.”
Me: “Yes, I would like to, I lose my body shape so I want to show it”
Sales Associate: “But then it will show your tummy. You don’t want that. (says while pointing to her “tummy” for added effect and shaking head in no motion)
Me: “Yes I do want a belt. I want to emphasize my waist.”
Sales Associate: You do? (puzzled/surprised/alarmed expression)
Me: “I love my tummy. My body is awesome, Thank you.” (I did a full up and down gesture with my hands of my entire body as I said this - obviously ;) )
Sales Associate: “ok belts on on second floor” (defeated voice)
The entire time another sales associate was standing right next to us and said nothing.
Is this the worst thing in the world? No, obviously not. It is very subtle. She was criticizing me and my body and my judgements/love for my body in a very subtle way. Yes, I know most people would not say anything or overly gesture and shout how much they like their body, but most people are not me. I'm not being "too sensitive" if that's your first thought. This is not okay. I stayed firm and expressed myself. Would I have done the same on a less confident body day? Maybe yes, maybe not. (Yes, these happen. I am normal too. Just like you. There is no perfect - don't forget it).
I left the store and reached out to Bloomingdales on twitter:
They asked me to private message them so I sent them the above conversation. Then I received an email from someone in the marketing department in NYC also asking a number and a time to contact me. I gave both the number and the time, but no one contacted me. Let that tell you what it will.
In other news… thank you Nordstrom for having the dress I wanted in stock. I ordered online from them :)
No one should have to go into a shop and feel like if they ask for help, they will be body shamed. I don’t care if someone is in a larger body, a thin body, a curvy body, a disabled body- who the F cares. A body is a body. Stop making people feel bad for existing in their own body. If someone feels good (and also isn’t asking if they look good - PS I looked fucking great) then no comments need to be made.
Even if you aren’t the person that would body shame someone. Don’t also be the person or stands by and says nothing. Use your voice. If if you are body shaming yourself? Stop that too. I can help with that, click over here :)
Have a similar story to share? let me know below or you can reach me directly over email: firstname.lastname@example.org I would love for you to share this so people know and understand how much this happens - both in whispers and out loud.
UPDATE: I ended up speaking to both the store manager and someone in customer service at their main office. They were of course apologetic and felt bad, but other than shaming the employee (which is not what I wanted), nothing changed. I suggested changing their training and that I would be happy to provide my services if they wanted help in this area. All I got were apologies and shock. While I appreciate that they were sorry, it's going to happen again if company culture is not changed. Until then I'll be shopping in Nordstrom.