Over 100 people told me about a Facebook post in which a mom talks about how a salesperson at Dillard’s showed us exactly how not to sell dresses to teenage girls (or really, anybody) Let’s look at it bit by bit:
Dear sales lady at Dillard’s Towne East Mall,
This is my teenage daughter who wanted to try on dresses for an upcoming formal. I found this dress and asked her to try it on. She told me this was not her style, but tried it on for me. I told her how grown up it made her look and she smiled, and told me this made her look too old but still, she let me take a picture.
Adorable mother daughter moment right? I’ll show you the picture in a minute, but not yet, because I want to highlight that what I’m about to say would be true regardless of what the girl looks like in the dress.
Right after that, you entered and told my daughter she needed to wear SPANX if she wanted to wear this dress.
What the eff? What the ACTUAL eff? What the EFFING EFF? No. Just no. World of no, Galaxy of no, Universe of no. No. How freaking DARE this woman tell a teenage girl – part of a population who are most at risk for low self-esteem and eating disorders – that there is something wrong with her body that requires giant spandex underpants to fix?
(To be clear, I’ve discussed my feelings about SPANX before, but they are just my feelings. If you want to wear SPANX that is perfectly fine – this is a literal example of The Underpants Rule. However, if you want to tell a teenage girl that she needs to wear SPANX, you are a monster and you shouldn’t be around, or talk to, teenage girls, let alone be paid to sell them dresses.)
I told my daughter to go change. I told you that she was just fine without SPANX. You continued to argue with me. We left soon after.
Continued to argue. Continued to argue. CONTINUED TO ARGUE. CONTINUED TO ARGUE.
What kind of person says something that can be seriously damaging to the self-esteem and body image of a teenage girl, and when she gets called on it, instead of saying “Oh dear god, I can’t believe I did that, I’m so sorry, how can I make it right?” doubles down and argues that teen girls need to hear that their bodies aren’t good enough to wear a dress unless they are stuffed like sausages into expensive spandex casings?
Ok, seriously, retail work is extremely difficult, and typically under-appreciated and underpaid and that’s a problem that needs to be solved. But that does not make it ok to body-shame teenagers. So while I will stand with the salesperson for better treatment, better scheduling, and better wages, I can’t stand behind her body shaming teenagers.
I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress that is all that should matter
Let’s talk about eating disorders and adolescents:
- The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 2.7% of teens, ages 13-18 years old, struggle with an eating disorder.
- 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives to control their weight.
- Over 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teenage boys are using restrictive measures to lose weight at any given time.
- 35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
So obviously it’s in every teenage girl’s best interest to be body-shamed as often as possible. Or…wait…no…the exact opposite of that.
My daughter is tall, she swims, run, dances, and does yoga. She’s fit, she’s beautiful She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect.
It’s nice that this girl has hobbies that she likes, but let’s be clear that regardless of their height, weight, hobbies, or level of fitness, no teenage girl (or person of any age) should be body-shamed, and no teenage girl (or person of any age) is obligated to smush their body into some other shape to be able to wear a dress. Again, if you want, or think you need, to wear shapewear then that is your right, but it begins and ends with you – if you suggest that other people need to wear shapewear you’ve crossed the line and you need to take your spanx-wearing ass back over it.
I hope this is shared and gets back to you so that you should not say something like that to a girl ever again. You never know what negative or positive thoughts they are thinking about themselves.
I hope it gets shared too, and I hope that this encourages not just this Dillard’s, but every store that sells clothing to teenage girls, to find ways to sell clothes and support high self-esteem at the same time. (Remember if you wanted to contact that Dillard’s and, say, ask that they apologize and create training about the difference between upselling and body-shaming, the phone number for this Dillard’s is (316) 685-0341) Especially since this isn’t Dillard’s first foray into fat-shaming.
Mother of a beautiful girl
Thank you for standing up for your daughter and against body shaming. We may not be able to stop people from trying to poison our girls with body hate, but we can do our best to stand up for them and inoculate them (and here are some simple steps to do just that.)
Here are the pictures (with the girl’s face replaced with what I thought was an appropriate expression.)
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