Imagine being body-shamed while trying on a dress at a department store to wear to your upcoming formal. That happened early this month to a Kansas teen, when a sales associate at Dillard’s told the customer, who was shopping with her mom, that she'd need Spanx in order to wear the gown she'd picked. The teen’s mom, Megan Naramore Harris, fired back with an empowering open letter on Facebook about the exchange:
Harris shared that as her daughter, Lexi, was trying on dresses at their local Dillard's for a school formal, a salesperson came into the dressing room and told the teen she would need shapewear in order to don one particular style. When Harris responded that the dress looked fine sans Spanx, the Dillard's salesperson insisted otherwise. "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," Harris wrote on her Facebook page. She continued: "My daughter is tall, she swims, runs, dances and does yoga. She's fit. She's beautiful. She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect." Harris signed the post with: "Mother of a beautiful girl."
In less than a week, the post has garnered over 330,000 likes and been shared over 56,000 times (including onto Dillard's Facebook page). Four days after Harris posted her open letter, and the inappropriate fitting room situation went viral, she wrote a follow-up post to clarify a couple things: “People have said that I should be ashamed for embarrassing my daughter,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “First, I ONLY posted this with permission from my daughter! It was her choice. Second, please know I do not want this lady fired!”
Harris also underscored that the Spanx comment wasn’t an acceptable, standard-issue salesperson move to make a commission: “The entire conversation I had with the sales lady, I will NOT repeat, but I can ASSURE you it was not a basic up-sale. I have been in sales before and know the difference between a pushy sales person trying to make a sale and someone who has gone beyond the point of being rude.” Lexi told local news station KAKE that she didn't expect the photo of her to go viral, but that since her mom posted the picture, they've received over a thousand messages of support from all over the world.
A spokesperson for Dillard's gave TechInsider the following statement about the incident: "At Dillard’s, our mission is to help people feel good about themselves by enhancing the natural beauty found in all of us. We train our sales associates with the goal of creating a completely positive experience with each visit. It is certainly never our intent to offend our customers. We have reached out to this customer and her daughter, and we appreciate the outreach of so many of our followers and customers to bring this issue to our attention."
Dressing rooms can be pretty universally stressful settings as it is. It’s definitely not a great place to be told you need Spanx in order to pull off a dress you like — but of course there's no appropriate place for that.