Dillard’s Body-Shames Teen Girl

NO Negative Body TalkOver 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,

The phone number for this Dillard’s is (316) 685-0341, that may become important to you later on in this blog post. 

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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If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

19 thoughts on “Dillard’s Body-Shames Teen Girl

  1. Yea the arguing part is just uncalled for… you were corrected for inappropriate commentary don’t further dig yourself in the fat-shame hole.

    1. Not if you can also sell them Spanx by convincing them that they aren’t acceptable without artificially compressing their bodies, apparently. *Sigh*

  2. “You need to wear Spanx if you want to wear that dress.”

    “Really? You need to wear duct-tape on your mouth if you want to sell that dress.”

    I would have made sure, before walking out without buying the dress, that the mouthy salesperson knew that she had lost a sale for her rudeness. Had she apologized for the inappropriate comment when first confronted by it, she MIGHT have saved the sale, but continuing to argue? She started off putting her foot in her mouth, and when it was pointed out, proceeded to put her other foot right in as well, and then both of her entire legs.

  3. Thanks to this mom for calling out this saleswoman at Dillard’s in Wichita, KS, where a lot of young women from rural areas of that state go to shop. Imagine having a fun day of shopping in the city ruined by this saleswoman’s insensitive comments. I hope her behavior costs this store big $$$, and Dillard’s will start training their sales force that this kind of shaming is not OK.

  4. It makes my blood boil. On what planet does someone think it’s OK to potentially damage a juveniles personal development with bigoted insensitivity? As a father of young girls I’m afraid this type of thing is a real trigger for me. Please allow our young to understand who they may be and to express that without fear and to appreciate the value of individuality. Of course they’ll crash and burn, it’s called learning the hard way it’s a strong teacher but necessary with some. They’ll always have my support as long as they’re following their path.

  5. What kind of salesperson continues to argue with the customer? I agree that the suggestion of spanx was totally out of line, but I can sort of see it on a “making a bigger sale” level. (Wrong way to do it, but I digress). Once the customer/customer’s mother said she didn’t need spanx, that should have been the end of it from the salesperson. She should have backpedaled and made some sort of comment like “Sorry – a lot of women like to wear them under their clothes! But it certainly isn’t necessary. They’re over there if you want to check them out. Is there anything I can assist you with?”

    1. Or, if she really wanted to upsell and not just crap on somebody, perhaps point out that a good set of slippery Spanx may keep a slinky dress slinking downward instead of upward. Or tried to sell her an elbow shawl or boa or filmy bolero jacket or something.

      1. Exactly. There are ways to up-sell without body-shaming.

        Here’s what I would LOVE to experience in a clothing store:

        Salesperson: “Oh, don’t you look lovely! That color really suits you, and I love the neckline on you. Hmmm. You know, that dress is designed for a slightly different silhouette, so you might find that it doesn’t hang quite straight. We can do alterations, if you wish, to make sure it hangs just right. Or, if you’re in a hurry and want to wear a foundation garment to quickly alter your silhouette to fit, there are a selection of such garments over there that can force your body into a variety of shapes, to fit different styles. Personally, I believe in choosing clothes to fit the shape of the body, rather than the other way around. For example, this dress over here is designed to hang quite well on a silhouette like yours and should be ready to go, right off the rack. See? It has these darts here and here, to change the shape, and that makes a big difference. Let’s see how it hangs on you.”

        Note – all three options give the opportunity for the store to rake in more cash (especially if the second dress is more pricey), and yet do not body-shame the customer in any way. Pointing out that a shape is different than another shape is not shaming either shape. Size isn’t even mentioned.

        And clothes hanging straight is a very real issue, even if it “fits” otherwise. Crooked hems have long been the bane of my existence, until I just gave up on skirts. When I made my own, they hung straight, but they were altered to fit that way, and it wasn’t a simple fix, because to properly change a skirt to hang straight, you alter the TOP of the skirt, not just change the hem. Especially if there is a pattern on the cloth, such as stripes or plaid. It can be done, and look amazing, or it can be done wrong, and look awful (It’s much easier to fudge it with a solid color, which is one reason why “Fat women shouldn’t wear stripes,” because fat women usually have some shaping at the bottom/hip area and the skirts are usually designed based on a straighter silhouette, and then sized up straight, so the shaping is wrong, and the stripes look weird, but if the skirt is constructed properly, the stripes look great!).

        I recently saw a video about models (the same size) wearing the same clothes, and pointing out the differences in the fit. For example, the rear of the pants – on one, it was form-fitting, and on another, it was baggy, but they were both the same size, the same measurements, but the shape was just different. And that’s OK.

        No shape is bad. However, remembering those “put the round peg in the round hole” toys we used to play with as toddlers, matching shape to shape makes a real difference with clothes. And by focusing on THAT, a salesperson could really make a lot of great sales and happy customers.

        1. Fat women shouldn’t wear stripes , bold colors, bright patterns, thin fabrics? I long ago stopped choosing clothing or colors that might make me look 5 lbs thinner. Hahaha. Big hairy deal. I also look like I’m dressed for a funeral, in order to look like I weigh 195 instead of 200. Nope – give me beautiful colors, patterns, stripes – whatever thrills me when I put the clothes on. And I have offered judgmental snipes an excuse to slam me instead of doing something meaningful with their lives. Maybe one day they’ll wake up to how unproductively they’ve spent their time.

          1. Good for you!

            Yeah, fat women can wear any pattern they like. The only thing is, if the clothes aren’t cut right, the pattern looks weird. There’s a trick to lining up the stripes and things, at seams, and at hems, and you HAVE to take shape into account.

            And since most clothing designers prefer to design for straight-lined silhouettes, it’s harder to find curvy clothes in patterns. And I think that might be where *some* of the “fat women shouldn’t wear…” BS comes from. It’s because it makes it just a bit harder for the clothing designers to do the job. But, you know what? THAT IS THEIR JOB. They really ought to do it.

  6. I love that you used the Kristin-Wiig-as-Aunt-Linda photo. It’s my favourite go-to expression to show someone when I’m completely dumbfounded by their asshattery. So much so, that I keep it handy on my phone at all times. Y’never know when it’ll need to be whipped out and shown.

    Yay for this Mom and daughter dynamic duo!

  7. The sales woman is one of many, many people who feel sanctimonious about their right to say anything they please about a person’s weight. The girl looks gorgeous in the dress and I’m sure she will look absolutely beautiful at the event.

  8. My mom was bra shopping and the cashier said you need extenders to make it fit, and that everyone buys them. My mom knows her size, and the bra bit perfectly, without extenders. But the cashier kept pushing the matter as in this situation.

  9. The fact that eating disorders are so common among adolescents shows that dieting to lose weight can be very harmful. You cannot influence the media, medicine, the weight loss industry and all the other forces that push this “solution” to stop it by giving scientific facts. How can we reach the kids who are being hurt to help them as quickly as possible with their hurt? How can we pass them the hard learned solutions which we have learned from bitter experience,quickly?

    1. I don’t know how to reach the younger generation, in general. I do, however, try to teach those individuals who are closest to me. So, I guess the answer is “One at a time.”

      It’s not enough. But every little bit helps. And if my niece and nephews learn early not to judge themselves or others based on size, and not to allow others to get under their skin with their fat-hatred, not to listen to the haters, and not to accept their malarkey, then maybe they’ll grow up to be fat-activists, too! Or, at least, they’ll grow up a whole heck of a lot healthier than the ones who fall victim to it all. And maybe they’ll influence a few of their friends along the way.

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