What Would You Do? – You’re Too Fat To Be Our Customer!

by admin on September 18, 2012

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Just call me J September 18, 2012 at 6:19 am

The teacher had almost exactly the same reaction I would have, though I would have recorded the abuse on my phone and posted it online with comments discouraging people from shopping there first…

I’m about 20-25 pounds heavier than the maximum amount BMI chart says a 5’7″ person of “normal” weight should be, but even if I lost the *60* pounds I’d need to in order to be on the low-end of “normal” BMI, I wouldn’t fit into single-digit sizes unless I had my pelvis surgically broken and re-shaped.

I once got insulted and teased by a person who was selling gym memberships outside of their gym due to my less-than-anorexic girth. I think I said something like “I know I’m fat you [jerk]” and kept walking. (I’m pretty sure I said something a lot less polite than “jerk” though.)

That was over a year ago, and I still actively discourage people from joining that gym.

Reply

Chicalola September 18, 2012 at 6:39 am

After being in retail for years, I could never imagine being so rude to a customer. This was very blatant….meant to get a response from customers, but most of them are not so blatant. They can be stabbing and mean with just one simple word or interaction. I’m so happy to see so many people stick up for someone being treated so badly. It makes me happy to know there are others out there who care for someone’s feelings.

Reply

Lisa Marie September 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

This happened to me shopping for a wedding dress. I was almost laughed out of the bridal
shop for looking there. I was a size 16. 35 years later the memory of it STILL hurts.

Reply

Aje September 18, 2012 at 8:55 am

That´s just stupid. Even if you don´t have sizes to fit that person you never know- maybe they are buying a dress with the hopes that once they reach their weight goal they can wear it! Maybe they´re trying to find some assessories to go with something they already have. If they ask for larger sizes then you can break the news, but there´s no need to discourage people from ever going to your store again… your not helping yourself out.

Reply

Nicole September 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

First, let me say that the way this was done was wrong, wrong, and most undeniably wrong.

That said, there has to be a nicer way. There are gyms that are geared toward the hardcore fitness buffs, and the pudgy yuppie may not feel comfortable in them. There are clothing botiques with high end, and tiny sized, clothing that could be damaged if a plus sized person tried to squeeze in. I believe that these people should have the right to politely discourage overweight people from their business and possibly, in the interest of keeping public relations strong, steer them to a viable alternative. But polite discouragement does not mean being rude or insulting – sometimes it is just explaining the clientale or explaining the ‘you break it, you buy it’ policies.

Reply

Cat September 18, 2012 at 10:03 am

Well, I suppose one could say, ” I am winning my battle against anorexia!” but, then, I do tend to joke about weight issues as I was dragged off to the doctor because my first grade teacher thought I was so thin that I might have TB. Now I am 63, obese, and waging a half-hearted war against it. I turned down a swimming date with a man in whom I had no interest on the grounds that it was whaling season, but that’s how my mind works. I don’t worry about much. Life is too funny to take very many things seriously.
Americans are odd people when it comes to the size women are supposed to be. When I was a college co-ed, a student from Syria asked me why, in such a rich country, our women looked like little boys. He felt a woman should have curves and that anyone under 140 lbs. was still a girl, not a woman.
I walk away from rude people. If I didn’t marry them and I didn’t raise them, they are not my problem.

Reply

Elizabeth September 18, 2012 at 10:07 am

I don’t blame the sale clerk if the store cannot accommodate this customer – the store may just not carry her size and this isn’t the clerk’s fault. It is like a vegan going to a steak house – there may not be someting suitable available. Is the steak house discriminating against vegans, or does it just want to be a steak house? Does the steak house have to offer tofu to not hurt the vegan’s feelings?

But overall, a mistake on the part of clothing manufacturers and storefront management. There is a portion of the population that is larger sized, and these people have money to spend!

Reply

Jess September 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

I live in Australia and have experienced this many times in surf stores especially. I was normally afraid to even step foot in that kind of shop because being an Australian size 26 I know I would need to lost more than half my weight to even squeeze into their largest size. I was shopping for a gift for my sister who is a size 8-10 and was told to get out. Even in clothes stores for larger women I have been told to leave….

One occasion my husband gave me a gift of money to pick out a new purse after giving birth to our son. He had a difficult CS birth and was in intensive care a long time and I suffered severe post natal depression. This gift was supposed to cheer me up but I was booted from the store instead (clothing store that sold accessories), it might not seem like much but I already felt like I failed as a mother and after that I got so much worse they had to put me on medication and suicide watch. You never know what damage bullying can do to someone….

Reply

Shannon September 18, 2012 at 10:19 am

I can’t watch the video because I’m at work, but is it explicitely said that the customer is buying for herself?
I go into stores like hollister, american eagle, etc and I’m ignored because of my size, but when I mention that I’m looking for something for my brother, their attitudes change.

Reply

Cami September 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

When I worked in bridal in the 1990s, we had a lot of customers who traveled quite a distance to reach us. In between their residence and our store were a number of other salons, so I started asking customers why they’d chosen to drive such long distances. The answer, in all cases, was their poor treatment by other salons due to their size. One bride was a size 12 and had been told she was “too fat” to buy a gown from this store. I was appalled at the rudeness.

I was also appalled at their business stupidity. So we added a lot of larger size samples to our collection and our sales went up. Way up.

Personally, I found it immensely gratifying to work with brides of all sizes because my goal was to ensure that every one of my brides not only look wonderful, but felt beautiful. I was as proud of my size 22 bride as I was of my size 2 bride, but found often it more satisfying to work with an insecure woman because I could transform their vision of themselves. When a bride who was hesitant about undressing or worried about “covering up” finally looked in the mirror and whispered, “I’m beautiful? Oh my, I’m actually beautiful,” then I was a success. I’ve never forgotten those moments and have many thank you notes from such brides that I will always treasure.

Reply

Stacey Frith-Smith September 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

The issue I have with scenarios like these is that they are staged; actors who are real provocateurs and very exaggerated victims stage these scenes to get a reaction out of bystanders while film rolls and they count up who intervened to “save” the victim or who fled the scene or allowed the “abuse” to occur. Being a hero only counts in real life and not under staged conditions. This show is both interesting food for thought and an outrage to the sensibilities of those they are provoking by treating them like unwitting test subjects. Many are upset, visibly shaken or traumatized at the end of the staged “scene” and I think that it’s unconscionable that we now have this kind of reality television disguised as news and human interest while we bystanders watch to see what will play out. That said, if you are a size zero or a size two and want to shop at a plus sized vendor, no one has the right to interfere. If you weigh six hundred pounds and want to shop at Top Shop for the Svelte and Sensational, go for it. Panels can be inserted into dresses, accessories often cross many size ranges, and you have the right to spend your green dollars where and how you please. If they don’t actually have anything in your size but want to make a sale, they ought to have the name of a few tailors or alternate but affiliated vendors on hand. Failing that, “madam, I’m sorry our size range is so limited in that dress collection- may I show you this fabulous hat? It will look amazing on you!”. How hard can that be? Snobbery is only for those who can afford it (if it should be for anyone at all) and retail clerks and shop sales persons are either salaried at generally modest levels or commissioned, meaning it pays to be nice. All sizes can offer product and consultant recommendations! Think of the scene in Pretty Woman where the heroine came back in with bags aplenty. Who missed out on all that commission? As for damaged goods, yes, it is possible if the person if foolish, but in such a case “I’m afraid this isn’t going to work for you in this size. Did you wish to purchase it and see about some alterations?” Tricky, because they might be shopping for another person and some care is needed to protect merchandise and customer sensibilities.

Reply

Wendy September 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

I think it would have been far more effective if the sales lady had actually been the store’s employee, doing this unaware she was being filmed, so we could get an honest reaction.

I had the terrible “out of place” feeling when shopping for my wedding dress last spring. A Big Name National Store was having their annual $99 sale, and while I didn’t really think they’d have anything in my size for that price, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to look. They had dresses in my size, but the salesgirl seemed less than interested in helping us find the accessories (a special bra and slip) to wear under them to try them on. I am a big girl, I admit, with a weird bra size. Twice she brought something that wasn’t even close to what I could work with. (If I say 40, no a 32 isn’t going to work!) I couldn’t figure out if she was just ditzy, or was being passive-agressive. Nearby was a girl trying on a dress who was easily bigger than I…and bustier too. And brash…standing in the middle of the dressing area (which is not separated from the main part of the store at all) adjusting herself and laughing about the size of her chest. Apparently that’s the kind of bride they cater too…super slim, or bold and brassy. Not a quiet, unassuming girl. We walked out, and I do NOT recommend that chain to anyone.

Fortunately, down the road was a smaller, locally owned boutique that had the perfect dress in my size. The sales people were all sweet and helpful and the dressing area is in a discreet location, and there was no problem with “special” undergarments.

It has everything to do with attitude.

Reply

Ashley September 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

I fully recognize that the issue is probably much worse for plus sized women, but even non plus sized women face the same issues depending on the store. I once wandered into Hollister…I was on a mission for new pants and jeans that day. I had bought size sixes at a few other stores, because well, that’s what size I am at very nearly every store on the planet. Grabbed a six at Hollister. Couldn’t get it past my knees. Grabbed a size eight. Got it up, but couldn’t button it. I couldn’t find a ten on the table, so I asked a sales girl (Sorry “models” as Hollister calls them) if they had any size tens hidden somewhere in back. I wish there was a way I could show you the look she gave me. She actually managed to make ME feel awful about THEIR ridiculous sizing. She looked at me like I was some kind of beached whale, wandered into the back for all of two seconds, before coming out and loudly announcing “Sorry, we don’t have sizes that big right now”, which of course attracted the same “beached whale” stares from other girls in the store who were thinner than me. Needless to say I left without buying anything and haven’t set foot in that store since.

If someone is in your store to spend any kind of money, you treat them well. If they don’t fit in the pants, show them accessories they might like instead. If they don’t fit in the dresses, show them some of the free form tops that are more “one size fits all”. HELP your customers. Don’t treat them rudely just because they look different than you.

I’m curious how this situation would play out if it weren’t so staged. I give the show credit for making people think, but they always go full tilt with it. What would happen if the conversation were more subtle, and more like what you would actually hear in a store?

Reply

Hemi September 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

I’m at works so the video is blocked, but I think I have seen this episode. I’m in agreement with @Stacy Frith-Smith, comment #11. The actors go farther than most salespeople just to get people to react. If no one reacted, it would not be much of a show, would it?

That being said, I know there is size discrimination. I’m a size 16-18 and have ecountered size discrimination only once, at a mall store. I was looking for a gift for a dear friend but when the snarky little salesgirl said they didn’t have anything in my size, I looked at her dead in the eye and replied that although it wasn’t really any of her business, but I was actually looking at something for a friend but since my size was a problem, I would go elsewhere. I went to another store where the saleslady was more than happy to help me. I got a beautiful sweater with seed pearls in design on the lapel- which was actually a little less expensive than the item from the other store. The saleslady got a modest but nice commission and the store has my business to this day.

I did write a letter to the parent company of the store where I was mistreated but nothing ever came of it. They don’t care if they lose one customer.

The world is full of different shapes and sizes and that is what makes life interesting and beautiful. Rude, hateful, ugly salespeople are not going to make me feel bad about my size. When they get a award for being the most perfect person on the planet, then *maybe* I’ll give them a second thought.

Reply

Another Alice September 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

This show gives me faith in humanity. I don’t think anyone would be THAT mean in reality, but it’s good to know others will stand up for each other.

I’m not overweight, but I have, um . . . large assets, shall we say? Ahem. ;-) So I need larger sizes in tops, and it is true that a lot of local boutiques around me cater to the skinny size-2. I recently went to one of my favorites, tried on three tops, all of which were disasters. But the truth is, if they were a size bigger, they might have fit better. However, when I came out of the dressing room and put my clothes on the “No” rack, the saleswoman who had been helping me didn’t bother to ask how I liked the clothes, what the problem was, if she could help, etc. She looked over, saw me put the clothes back, and went on chatting with another sales rep. She didn’t make any statement about my body or anything, but while I was tempted to ask if they would get larger sizes in, I didn’t bother once I saw her attitude when she realized she wasn’t making an easy sale. I thought, “If you can’t be bothered to ask if you can help me, which is your sole job and I am one of three customers in here, then I can’t be bothered to go to any great lengths to purchase your items.”

So, in terms of being overweight, it’s the same thing. I wouldn’t as a saleswoman say off the bat, “We don’t have anything in your size,” but rather point them to styles they might like, and later, ask if they need help or have questions. At the most, I would say, “And just to let you know, we have great relationships with our vendors and can order any size or color if you find it isn’t available here already.” I don’t believe for a second, unless an item is discontinued or simply not made in someone’s size (which is becoming more rare), that it can’t be ordered. Most women, when they love something, will gladly pay shipping or a small service fee, and most chain retail stores don’t even charge them that.

Reply

Miss Lady September 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

When in their teens, my sister and her friend were told they weren’t welcome at a plus-size store (they weren’t familiar with the chain, so didn’t know it was a plus-sized store). A friend of mine who worked at a plus-sized store said “We never run off skinny customers; they might be looking for a gift, or accessories.”

From the other side, a different friend, working at a different plus-sized store told me about a non-plus-sized woman who complained that the store didn’t carry her size. The manager politely noted the 100 or so stores in the mall that *did* carry that woman’s sizes, and suggested the woman shop at any of them.

There is no excuse for telling a customer not to shop at your store. It may be good to note “we only go up to size __,” but beyond that, the customer knows what size she wears.

Reply

nk September 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

Clerks should definitely be polite to all customers, but it’s not their fault if the store they work at doesn’t carry anything in a customer’s size. And if I walked into a store that didn’t sell a single piece of clothing that would fit me, I would prefer that someone tell me so instead of allowing me to search the entire store in vain.

Reply

Cheyne September 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

I too go into stores like Abercrombie and Aeropostal to shop for my kids. The largest sizes will fit me, but at 50 years old I am not about to wear their fashions anyway! I have never been treated rudely even by salespeople less than half my age. If I need help I tell them I am buying for my son or daughter. The salespeople are always very helpful, smiling and love to ring up my purchases.

Reply

Michelle September 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

@Cami — Your words really touched me. Just last night in my book group, we were talking about what makes a person truly “successful”, and most of us were bemoaning the old “it’s the money you make, it’s the house you buy, it’s surpassing the Jones’s” attitude so prevalent in our society. Then someone said, “I think if you’ve added some happiness to someone’s life each day, you’re successful each day.” It sounds to me like you have done this. Your success lies not in your business acumen (which appears to be considerable, btw). Your success lies in your heart.

We need more like you!!

Reply

Calli Arcale September 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

On the one hand, I agree with Stacey that things like this are staged and can be damaging to the people who witness it; an encounter like this would probably leave me shaken for hours, even with them explaining the truth, although at least then I’d leave feeling vindicated. And I’d hope they don’t do too much damage to the reputations of the stores where they film these things, which probably wouldn’t agree to the show if they were this insensitive themselves.

All that said, yes, scenarios like this do play out all the time, and if this show can raise awareness of the problem of adult bullying, it may be worth the risk. We tend to think bullying is only a childhood thing, but it’s absolutely not. I’m only slightly overweight, and have never experienced this problem — but I have encountered other abuse from sales clerks. It’s rare, but it always hurts. There’s one who I will not soon forget, who verbally abused me for making a complaint. It threw me into a deep depression for days, and also affected my children, who had to witness it. Bullies neither know nor care the damage they do. It’s about asserting their dominance, and enforcing what they perceive as the proper social order.

If you are a sales clerk, never bully. You are there to help, not to hurt, and you can be far more effective by guiding the customer than by bullying them. Butter up their feelings and they spend a lot more money. Abuse them, and not only will they not return, but word will get around, because venom has a way of poisoning the whole environment.

Reply

Shalamar September 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

That reminds me of when I decided to visit a consignment boutique that had just opened up close to my house. (I love consignment boutiques – I often find high-end fashionable items for a fraction of the cost.) The second I walked in the door, the owner came up to me and said “Just so that you know, the plus-sizes are over there.” I was flabbergasted, because at the time I was size 8 – which I very much hope is no-one’s idea of a plus-size! I turned on my heel and walked out, and I was spitefully glad when they went out of business a few months later.

Reply

Gloria Shiner September 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Yes, the scene was over-acted, but none of the shoppers seemed to feel it was outside the realm of what is possible. All who reacted did so as if they felt it was the way this person (and store) treated people. Also, did you notice that none asked to speak to the manager? I find that quite telling about the store.

Reply

Cami September 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thanks, Michelle. That job was the lowest pay I ever made, but the most satisfying by far.

Reply

girl_with_all_the_yarn September 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm

This actually happened to me at a store once.

I’m from a small tourist town in Colorado and there’s a store on Main Street that sells formal dresses. Since there are very few places to buy fancy clothes in town, most of us went there to buy our prom and homecoming gowns.

At the time I was about a size 8. I went in with some super skinny friends (you know, the type that can eat an enormous burger, fries and a huge milkshake and never gain weight while the rest of us can’t even look at a slice of pizza without putting on a few pounds) and the shop owner looked at me and said “I’m sorry, no offense, but you’re too fat for our clothes.” We were about 15-16, and stunned. We stared at her. She didn’t even know my size!

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t think I was fat. My friends certainly didn’t. And my one friend, The Incredible Potty Mouth, spoke up. After swearing at the shop owner for a minute or two, she continued to make a scene, causing several other customers to stare at the shop owner in disgust. We left, and my mother decided to take us for a weekend to Denver (about a three hour drive) to get our dresses.

The shop is still there, but heavily in debt now. We told everyone what happened. Our classmates were horrified. No one bought dresses there for the rest of high school. We’re pretty sure the only people who still shop there are tourists. If you go onto Google reviews for the shop, the story is there, as well as easily a dozen other stories of teenagers this woman has insulted.

Plus her dresses are ugly, but that’s another issue entirely.

Reply

Mabel September 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

#7–Elizabeth:

No. There’s NO excuse for this kind of behavior. Granted, it may have been exaggerated for the purpose of illustration, but no. You do NOT treat anyone like that, let alone customers. What if this girl came back months later, having lost weight, because she liked the clothes, and was at least treated with dignity? She for sure won’t if they act like that. In fact, maybe some other customers won’t either.

The salesclerk could have quietly pointed out that there are no sizes above 8 or whatever it was, without the remarks. You simply do not alienate a customer or a potential customer, EVER, because like the teacher said, you do not know their circumstances or what future circumstances may be.

I’m a bit overweight myself, but even when I was at my thinnest, none of those clothes would have fit me, as I am nearly six feet tall. Even if I were anorexic I could not shoehorn myself into a size smaller than a 12, tops. So if skinny me went in there, and the clerk fawned all over me, I would not have been able to spend money anyway. But I might have referred the shop to a shorter friend if I were treated well. So this type of behavior loses all around.

Reply

Kry September 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm

When shopping with my son, then aged 6, this happened to me. All I wanted was a new pair of jeans and the sales woman said ‘Why would you want to wear jeans when you are so fat?’ my son answered while I was realing from the insult ‘My Mummy is the most bestest and beautifullest (his words)Mummy in the world! Dont call her fat!’ Several people in the store aplauded him for speaking in my defence. Admitedly I am an australian 18-20, but there is no reason for that rudeness!

Reply

Katy September 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I’m plus size, and I haven’t had any problems at department stores, but I once went into Abercrombie to pick up a sweater for my sister for Christmas. I had the printout of the one she really wanted in my hand. I’ll admit, I wasn’t even close to Abercrombie size, but I approached the first sales person I saw to ask about the sweater. I’ll admit, even if I wasn’t plus sized, I wouldn’t have wanted to shop at Abercrombie, it’s not my style, but I wasn’t going to stay out if that’s what my sister wanted. So I walked up to the salesgirl and asked if they carried that sweater. Without missing a beat she said “It’s not going to fit, chunky,” and walked off. I stood there, stunned, then calmly went out to find my friends (there were 8 of us shopping that day). We returned, found a manager, and said that not only were they going to lose the sale of the 80-something dollar sweater, but my friends all swore that they were never shopping at Abercrombie again, and five of them were wearing Abercrombie that day. One girl said she had spent over a grand in the past year on their clothes, but she would make sure that her money went to other stores from now on. And we all promised to spread word of their rudeness to as many people in our high school as possible, and that our high school was full of Abercrombie fans. The manager apologized and offered to discount the sweater, but we walked off. I bought my sister a similar sweater from another store, and once she heard the story she refused to shop at Abercrombie.
I don’t see why anyone who is in the business of serving the public would think of being rude to a customer, especially in this day and age where you can bet your rude antics will be showing up on Youtube and shared a thousand times on Facebook. Most plus sized women are not ignorant of their size. I know there are stores that don’t have my size of clothes, but they might have my size shoe, or a necklace I like, or clothes for my non-plus size friend. It’s never a good idea to drive any kind of business out the door. If a customer asks, there are ways to let them know without being insulting. If your store doesn’t sell that particular size, quietly suggest a nearby store that might carry that size (emphasis on the quietly part). If they don’t ask, remember the old saying about assumptions, and treat them like any other guest. Would they drive a man out of the shop? Probably not, even if he’s obviously not shopping for himself.

Reply

sillyme September 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

@Another Alice:
Where I live in the U.S., the “snooty saleslady” attitude is the **mainstream** mentality. I’ve worked in environments where I knew that my size was an issue. I won’t even be the umpteenth person to talk about my nightmare wedding dress experience.

The irony? I’ve lost weight (I’m always struck that it never occurs to weight-haters that however big someone may be, he or she may still be smaller than he or she WAS), but I SEW. My husband jokes that I should design a plus-size only line and make my millions. Maybe he’s not far off base ….

Reply

Cat Whisperer September 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

FWIW, I feel that this video should be a jumping-off point for discussion of what is an acceptable way for a salesperson to inform a potential customer that the merchandise the salesperson has to offer will probably not be satisfactory for the potential customer.

All discussion of whether the fashion industry addresses the realities of most women’s bodies aside, what is a salesperson supposed to do when someone comes in and wants something that the store just doesn’t carry for them? Is it kind, or even good salesmanship, to string the customer along by “assisting” them in looking for a size or style the store doesn’t carry? Personally, if I walked into a clothing store and the salesperson knew they didn’t have clothing in my size, I’d rather they tell me that immediately than pretend that if they just keep looking through the racks they’re going to find something for me. “I’m sorry, ma’am, we only carry these styles from sizes 2 up to 14,” if that’s truly the case and said in a quiet, businesslike tone, shouldn’t be perceived as insulting. If the store doesn’t have it, they don’t have it, and the customer should be able to accept that.

Etiquette requires that salespeople treat potential customers with courtesy and dignity, and to use tact when speaking with customers; and good business sense requires that the salespeople should do their utmost to accomodate customers to keep their business. But I think that both etiquette and good business sense require that salespeople be willing to tell the potential customer that they don’t carry what the customer wants and they might want to try to get it somewhere else. I don’t see anything wrong with that, as long as the message is delivered politely, with respect for the customer and with sincere regret that the store can’t provide what the customer wants.

Reply

Anonymous September 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm

@Elizabeth: I’m both a bigger woman (5’10″; biggish C-cup, and “somewhere between 14 and 16, depending on manufacturer), and a vegan. Odd combination, I know, but it’ll work for your example. Anyway, it’d be entirely possible for me to go to a steakhouse with my meat-eating friends, just for the company, and have Diet Coke and/or salad, and it’d also be entirely possible for me to go to a high-end boutique store with a smaller friend of mine, and get myself a pair of earrings or something, or even just help my friend pick out clothes for herself. However, if the proprietor of either of these establishments ran me out of the store before I had the chance to explain why I was there, then I probably wouldn’t come back, and chances are, the friend(s) I came with would probably leave with me.

Reply

twik September 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Funny, I had a perfectly polite conversation just last week.

“Do you have this dress in a size X?”

“I’m sorry, our dresses only go up to X-2.”

Factual, and no implication that I was outrageously big, just that there was not anything available in my size. That’s all that needs to be said.

Reply

NicoleK September 19, 2012 at 3:21 am

I’m quite stout, and there are certainly stores that don’t carry much in my size, but the salespeople have always been friendly and are happy to sell an accessory or something stretchy if they can. There are always scarves.

Reply

BeenPlusAndBack September 19, 2012 at 5:04 am

About 30 years ago, I knew a gal that had worked hard, studied in Paris, and set up her own shop in a major city. She did all her clothes that she sold (she sewed what she designed and filled the shop). At this time I was a size 8, btw. At times when I visited she would have me slip on say a 12 to be a living dummy for a few while she pinned or snipped and could then work on it some more…

I had a very good friend that happened to be about a size 24. *I* had done some sewing for this gal as she had problems finding stuff to fit (and going to Lane Bryant, they’d hang the 16 in front and by the time it got to 24 to 32 it looked ludicrous, they didn’t have a clue either) and. I broached it with the designer friend about had she ever thought of making something in say a size 24? I started to explain about it would make a wonderful canvas for some of her work…. and she had this totally totally shocked look and her jaw about hit the carpet. Oh no she barely sewed any 14’s, and she CRINGED when anyone larger ever visited her shop!
***
I was going to the wholesale mart 6 times a year as I mostly selectively bought accessories and jewelry for resale, and made some myself. And I noticed that something happened one season, the season with ‘no style’ as they had offered lycra spandex fringed miniskirts and wetsuit fabric dresses to the maturing generation and they didn’t buy it… that at one upscale wholesale place next to a buyer for a MAJOR very upscale store… that the mannequins looked funny, and the models were very tall and thin even if you took their 4″ stilettos off. I asked as industry standard had been cutting 8’s for display of style and colors. The rep laying out fabric and color swatches for us said oh, they don’t cut 8’s anymore for display,they’re now 4’s. Industry standard was a 4. I wasn’t that big and I was now too big….
***
Over the intervening decades I have gone up and down in size along with the state of my health. I moved from that place to another, started to do the mart again at this new location, and. I needed some part time cash infusion so I went to the mall and applied to an upscale store geared for ‘young society ladies’. Some of the clerks were older than I was so that wasn’t an issue.

They were pretty frosty, as they said they had nothing larger than a 14 in the store. I was maybe 10# over this so I affirmed I had no problem on dealing with that, or investing in their merchandise to wear on the job (aka they wanted a certain dress code I could live with that). Equal opportunity, they went through the rest of the interview but of course I wasn’t what they wanted. For the sake of walking in the store wearing NOT their hideously overpriced clothing, and needing a size larger than they had on the rack.

Face it luvies, 2/3rds of the US population is now considered overweight. Who are you going to sell all that size 2 cr*p to? Yes I’ve seen a size 22 and on the way back down again… going to be a while until this heinder fits in a size 14 again but it’ll happen (doc mandated and he keeps on me to getRdun-he wants to see the return of my size 8 keyster)

Anybody that does that to somebody in a store, I’m going to stand up about it, I’m going to film it, I’m going to post it to Youtube and I’m going to let the universe know about the poor treatment this clerk and this store is doing to people. And you never know who that person that I know, knows. The internet has a way of never forgetting either, touch it and it’s there forever.

Even if I’m not ‘your store size’ I might be buying for someone else. The economy is so good you don’t need any business you can get?

I understand this is a clip of a staged show bit, but still. This happens offcamera too, not just staged; and. I have done enough retail sales to know, that’s not how you treat people. No matter the age, the sex, the race, the customs. Customers are a mixed bag, but you don’t go driving one off. Courtesy and respect… if I don’t have the size, I can and will politely mention the size ranges I do have (whether it be rings, bracelets, or jeans) and if I can help them I will.
***
I was working night shift, minimum wage was $2.65 an hour, and going to college during the day. I had gotten off work that morning, gone to class and it was shop/lab, and hit the mall still grungy to pick up an $8 item in a boutique shop I had been looking at for about a month.

I hit a cash machine and pulled the rent money too just because I wanted a wad to carry for awhile, working hard and all and just wanted to. So I have 22 $20 bills in a foldover in my pocket. I go into this shop and decide to look at a few things (slimy lingere, perfumes and certain costume jewelry) and a new clerk asked me if she could help me, nicely. I told her no, I was just browsing, thank you. The manager took her aside and told her not to bother with people that looked like that, they didn’t have any money anyway.

I go and unpin the jewelry I want from the display board, step up to the little counter booth thingy, and the clerk is going to do the transaction. Manager is in the little area too, to supervise the register training. I pull out that wad of 20’s, fan it with a thumb and peel one off and drop it on the counter. I made sure they could see it was all 20’s and a nice fat wad.

The manager’s face was priceless as she seen that and KNEW I had heard her tell that to the clerk. I paid, got my change and my packaged item, wrapped the paper around the bills I had and put them back in my pocket and left. Never underestimate your potential customer. I never went near that store again, moved a long time ago from there, and have no idea if they still exist.

Reply

Enna September 19, 2012 at 5:16 am

I agree with Stacey Frith-Smith – you have it spot on.

As for the comment about the vegan going to a steak-house: I don’t see why a vegan would go to a steak hosue unless they were invited to a “do” e.g. someone’s birthday celebration or something like that – most cooks if they are given notice can normally cook something up. A restruant setting is quite different from a clothes shop one as the assistants can’t physically alter the clothes.

Reply

The Elf September 19, 2012 at 6:57 am

If the store doesn’t sell that size, there are more polite ways to explain it! Besides a larger size woman could be shopping for a smaller size person. Way back when I was very skinny, I used to shop at a store that specialized in small sizes. The largest size they sold was a woman’s 9, and most of their stock was considerably smaller. I was tall and very underweight at the time, and regular stores either had clothes too large in the waist/bust or too short in the torso/limbs. Though I was only looking for basic jeans and similar things, it was a fairly trendy and upscale store that marketed the teen/young adult look. I used to stalk the place waiting for what I wanted to go on sale (only way I could afford it), so I was in there fairly frequently. If anyone was turned away for being “too fat”, I didn’t see it. (Maybe I was just oblivious.) But I did see a lot of people who weren’t size 9 or under shopping for slender daughters. Sometimes they’d ask me what was popular, which was hilarious to me since I was not in any way popular or aware of fashion trends. I just wanted jeans I didn’t have to belt to get them to stay on! Since they were spending far more than skinny me, it would have been very stupid for a salesperson to turn them away in favor of my business!

I fail to see why any salesperson would literally turn a customer away. It’s just bad business!

Reply

The Elf September 19, 2012 at 7:00 am

“I’m sorry, ma’am, we only carry these styles from sizes 2 up to 14,” if that’s truly the case and said in a quiet, businesslike tone…….

Is exactly what I would expect from a salesperson whose store doesn’t stock sizes the customer would wear. If, of course, the customer was looking for clothes for herself. It would be the perfect way to get the message across without being insulting.

Reply

scottish_lass September 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

I also think it would be better to let the customer know there is nothing in their size if they ask for it, but then I am a size 4 so maybe I don’t understand how a heavier person would feel being told this. When I was in the US on holiday I went into a store for plus-sized women – the name did not give away that it was size 12 plus and I was looking in vain through the things before I realised that actually, nothing was available in my size. When I told friends about it later they just laughed. However, I wasted time doing that and if someone had politely let me know that they could not cater for my size, I would not have been angry. As long as they said something like “I’m afraid we only stock sizes 12 and up” and not implied that I was a skinny b**** – I honestly don’t think I would have minded. I actually ended up buying a pair of earrings there so the trip was not wasted, but it is all down to professionalism and kindness IMO.

Reply

Cami September 19, 2012 at 7:56 am

@Cat Whisperer I think the question of how to handle it when the store truly does not have something in a customer’s size is a good one. From the salesperson’s POV, that situation can be littered with minefields.

For example, the bridal salon carried over 500 gown samples from over 50 different designers. We carried samples in the largest sizes the bridal industry offered. The bust measurement of the most generously sized gown was 58″. And yet, twice I had customers who would not be able to fit into those sizes. I treated both customers the same and had totally different results.

I measured them, discreetly. And equally discreetly showed them their measurements on a slip of paper. I then brought in my samples and they both realized it wasn’t going to happen. I showed them the designer’s sizing chart so she would realize that I was being honest about the limitations of the sizing in the bridal industry. I explained to her that while I could not sell her a gown, I would be happy to help her design a gown that a seamstress could make. I emphasized how special and truly unique their gown would be since it would be one of a kind. then brought out more samples and helped them ascertain which style of dress they liked and which was most flattering. I then gave them cards to seamstresses who could custom make them the gown of their dreams. One of those seamstresses also worked in our salon doing alterations and I brought her up to talk directly with the customer about the gown, while I helped design it for the bride. She was thrilled with the service, hugged me, thanked me, sent me pictures of her on her wedding day. that we made no money off of this interaction, but the customer told all of her friends and family about us and we did make money off of them. I also happily remember this interaction, so it was a great memory.

The second customer — who I attempted to give the same service — screamed and yelled at me, accused me of discriminating against her and also accused me of padding her measurements because “no way am I that big. At most I’m a size 12.” Her mother and grandmother who were with her, also accused the store of discrimination against “people who aren’t as skinny as you are” (note that I am not skinny). When I left the room at one point to get the sample that would come closest to fitting her, she grabbed a dress off of a rack and tried to put it on herself and ripped it. She caused such a scene that the store owner had to come in running and ask them to leave. They were so outrageous in their denial of the bride’s size that the owner actually thought we were on a show like WWYD or Candid Camera. But they were for real. They wrote nasty letters and got their friends and family to write nasty letters alleging similar treatment at my hands (luckily we kept records of every bride who worked with a consultant, so we could quickly see that these people had never set foot in our store, but it was still a highly negative experience).

So I can see both sides. You can do everything right, but as a salesperson you can still lose.

Reply

Jenny September 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

So I’m a size 4, and I think as a “skinny” customer and I think I would leave and then write a letter to the manager and store owner saying that I was appalled and I wouldn’t shop there anymore. I don’t like to get involved when other people are fighting just because I don’t want to escalate a situation.

Reply

Chocobo September 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

Friends, please stop using “skinny” in reference to slender or small women. It is an offensive term to women who are small: it means emaciated, or excessively thin, and is not complimentary. I realize that fashion has adopted the gaunt look as a positive, and even turned the word “skinny” into an adjective for tight pants. But saying “You’re so skinny” really is as offensive to some women as saying “You’re so fat” would be to others.

Reply

Angel September 19, 2012 at 10:13 am

I am stunned at some of the stories I am seeing on this thread! I am not too surprised about the bridal chain story–the one with the $99 sale. I myself am about 20 pounds overweight and had a horrible experience with that store too. But I don’t think I have ever been treated as rudely as some of the posters on here. That’s just wrong! I do remember liking a shirt that my co-worker had on, and when she said it came from Forever 21, I said, figures, if I go in there they’ll take one look at me and say, go back to Ann Taylor lady, you’re too old to shop in this store! But I have been in there several times and they have been nothing but nice to me. I just couldn’t imagine any sales person being so mean, to any customer, I mean unless they are an immature school aged kid who doesn’t give a crap about their job. Not to say they are all like that, but the Abercrombie story pretty much supports that theory. If someone was rude like that to me I would pretty much vote with my feet and get out of there.

Reply

Lindz September 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

As someone who has been a plus size since middle school and now in my 30’s, I am thankful that I have never had a salesperson be so rude to my face. I’ve definitely gone shopping with my sister, who is skinny, and been ignored, but at least no comments to my face. As for those who keep saying that they would rather be informed when they walk through the door that the store could not accommodate their size, I find it hard to believe that you can relate. A plus size woman knows almost instantly when walking into a store whether or not she has the possibility of fitting into their clothes. If not, all it takes is a peak at a rack or two. I still don’t want a salesperson telling me they don’t carry my size. Ask me if I need any help, and I will let you know what information I need from you.

Reply

Hemi September 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

If a salesperson tells me politely, respectfully and quietly that their store does not carry my size, I would be ok with it. It’s the rude, loud, insulting ones that make people mad. I don’t care where your store is, what brand(s) are in your store or what size your salespeople are- there is no excuse to be rude and insulting to someone who comes in your store. You never know *who* they might be shopping for.

To Katy, comment #27- she called you chunky?? You must have great self-control because I think that might have set me off.

Reply

Margaret September 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

Chocobo, my SIL is very slender (although she doesn’t think so — ARGH!!!), but one time she told me tales of all the teasing she got because of being skinny. It was an eye opener for me, a lifetime heavy person. I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what size you are, there is somebody out there willing to make nasty comments about it.

I’ll like Jenny — I might not have said anything (but then I’m overweight as well, so if I had heard that attack, I would have felt like they were attacking me as well), but I would walk out never to return.

As for the salesperson, I think the first thing you should ask is, “Are you shopping for yourself?” Then maybe “What size range are you looking for?” and then “We carry sizes blank to blank”. Because I would be insulted if someone just walked up to me and said, “We only carry sizes 2 to 14,” because I would feel awful that I was so fat that someone felt compelled to come and tell me what the sizes are (as if being fat made me too stupid to know the difference between a regular store and a plus sized store).

Reply

Merrilee September 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

I waited a day before I posted on this. I cried when I watched the video. I am a plus sized person and I have sadly met this attitude more than once while shopping and it’s not just in clothing stores. I’ve been in stores where I am standing there while clerks see me and walk past me to ask thinner versions if they can help them. It’s almost like I am invisible despite my size.

The last memorable sizeist issue was while on vacation in Arizona. We went to an outlet mall where there was a famous women’s store that has segregated the shop into one side for “normal” sizes and one size for “plus” sizes. I saw a very cute hat that I knew my SIL would like on the “normal” sized side. As I was heading for the hat, the salesperson stood in front of me, blocking my path and said in a very loud voice, “There is NOTHING for you on this side of the store. People like YOU need to be shopping in the plus sizes, over THERE.” It was in a very contemptible tone, like she was talking to someone way beneath her. She was also quite loud and people were staring at me. At the time, I was so taken aback, I turned around and left the store. I was crying outside when my husband and daughter met me and he wanted to go in and raise heck, but I just asked that we please leave. I was so humiliated. He was very angry and ended up calling the store to let the manager know what happened. To this day, I have not set foot in one of their stores.

Salespeople who make this assumption hurt themselves if they work on commission and hurt their business – no one knows why a plus sized person is in a smaller sized store, but the ONLY way to handle this is to approach a customer and ask if they can help them. Period. Only if the plus sized person is looking for garments for herself, is in the wrong area, and says so, is it appropriate for a salesperson to then address the issue. And they need to do so with kindness. There is no reason to humiliate customers, no matter what their size.

Reply

admin September 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Merrilee, If I had encountered that saleswoman, I would have fixed her with a firm stare and said, “How extraordinarily rude you are! Now please excuse me…”

Reply

Patti September 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I was shopping in an outlet mall and wandered into a plus size shop (I didn’t know that’s what it was). I am a size 4. As I was browsing the racks, a salesperson came up to me and asked “are you shopping for yourself?” I said yes and she informed me what type store I was in. That was a very polite and discreet way to handle it.

Reply

Lerah99 September 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I am a very large woman (size 28-30 depending on the designer). But my girlfriend is a size 6-8 depending on the style and designer.
So I am OFTEN in department stores to find clothes for her, mostly because she hates shoping and would rather be set on fire in our front yard than spend the day trying on clothes.

And I have had some incredibly rude sales people who act as though I am going to infect their precious clothes and customers with my awful fatness. One actually accused me of lying when I explained I was shoping for someone else. Another one screamed at me from across the department: “Ma’am! Ma’am! There is nothing here that will fit you. You need to face reality and head to the women’s department in the back.”

On the other hand, I’ve had MANY more excellent sales people who have never batted an eye when I ask if an outfit can be found in a size 6 or 8. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate professional, friendly, and courteous sales people.

Reply

Amanda H. September 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

@Chocobo, I think it really depends on context. I was a very thin girl in high school, called skinny all the time and even referred to myself as that. This is the first that I’ve heard of “skinny” being an offensive term. In my personal experience, it’s always been a matter of the tone used with the word whether it was supposed to be offensive or not.

Reply

nk September 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Chocobo, I have to disagree. While “skinny” may carry that connotation for you, it’s typically viewed as an interchangeable synonym for “thin.”

Reply

Chocobo September 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I never said “skinny” is offensive to all women — I suppose some women take excessive thinness as a compliment — I said it can be as offensive as the word “fat” and asked to please keep that in mind.

Either way, making any comment on someone’s weight or body size is inappropriate, even if that is not the intent.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: