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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Overheard at the mall.......

One sales clerk to another: What's with all the plus size prom gowns?
How many fat girls EVEN go to the prom?

The other sales clerk didn't have a chance to answer.
No. No.
It wasn't because I said anything or gave them the ass whoopin' they deserved.
I didn't need to.
Within ear shot of that conversation was a young woman and her mother looking at the plus size prom gowns....
The young girl's eyes darted away and she seemed to almost cower behind the rack of dresses.
It was all I could do not to cry.
I knew her pain.
I felt her pain.
I knew this would be one of those moments that would stay in her memory bank....always being associated with the prom....
I could feel the lump in my throat, the tears welling up in my eyes.
I didn't want them to see me.
But, the mother caught my eye.
I gave her a knowing look.
She, in turn, half smiled at me, gently directed her daughter to another rack, not looking back at the sales clerks.
The sales clerks nervously scampered away.

The rest of the evening, I spun great fantasies in my head about how the mother head butted the offending clerk and yanked out her hair and smudged her eye liner and broke the heels on her shoes.....

I know how special certain things are.
A mother and daughter shopping for a special dress is one of those things.
At least in my world....
Last year at this time, Toni and I were doing the prom dress tour.
We were zig-zagging across Pittsburgh and beyond to find the perfect dress.
Sure, we had some frustrating moments and found ourselves losing hope at a few points.
And, there was that one time that Toni literally got stuck in the dressing room because the skirt on the Cinderella dress (I begged her to try on) was too big to get through the doorway.
Regardless of the little snafus and trying moments, it was a special time....for the both of us.
That's what I wanted for this mother and daughter.....
Yes, I's a completely irrational wish. They might hate shopping and abhor dresses or maybe the young girl is not even going to the prom and is instead looking for a dress for the mother.....
And, if you really think about it--what I want or whether they were dressing shopping or not--it doesn't matter.
What matters is the whole stigma that goes along with weight and body image.
It permeates every part of life--all the way down to whether a young girl who is struggling with weight is worthy enough to go do the prom....
And, you don't think overweight people know this?
They sure do.
Any person who has struggled with weight and would have happened to overhear what I overheard at the mall knows exactly what I am saying.
We. Know.

It's no secret that people who are overweight are often thought to be less smart, less beautiful and yes....less worthy than the thinner folks who are walking the earth.
I wish I could tell you that I didn't care about any of that and none of it entered my mind when I was contemplating my Lapband surgery.
I would be lying.
I didn't like being the chubby girl or the fat woman.
And I didn't like being less than.....
All because I. was. fat.

So, what's my point?
It's not easy to put into words
But I know you get it.
And, I just wanted to share this story with you and tell you about what the girl and I overheard at the mall.......


Jen from Oregon said...

Half of me wanted to read that you went postal on the sales person but the other half was glad you didn't! If you went to jail I'd miss your posts too much!

How sad really for everyone. And WTF? What's with all the plus sized prom dresses? Really? Um, maybe they make them out of necessity because maybe you've heard about this little epidemic happening in America? Does the salesperson live under a rock? Prolly so!
Shoot, I'm so fired up right now I might skip the coffee! It Pisses me off when I think of all the things I didn't do because of my weight.
I didn't go to prom mostly because my boyfriend, hubby now, is 21 years older and well... It would have been awkward! But there were many things I didn't do.

Hope you have a great day!

tessierose said...

This was a really good post. People are so rude sometimes. I have so many of those moments in my "bank" as you put it. The poor girl.

Kathy said...

That was a perfect post Judi dear. Those of us who've battled the bulge completely understand the feelings that go along with thoughtless comments made by some dumbass who doesn't think. I hope the girl's mother went back and told that sales clerk off.

Stephanie said...

I don't know if it is just my outspoken nature, but I would have gone all "Julia Sugarbaker" on their butt and given them the rough side of my tounge. Aside for the fact that it was horrible that they made a comment there while there was n overweight girl shopping, it's just way bad form to be speaking like that in public when you are on the job. I would have read them the riot act and then spoken with the floor manager and explained how unfortunate it was that they had two such wastes of space working for them. Then I probably would have written a letter to the company and voiced my opinion.

yeah, i'm a bitch like that, but it doesn't matter if an employee makes comments that are derogatory towards fat people, minorities, gays, whoever. If you show your ignorance at you place of business/employment, i will call you out on it and 10 to 1 will raise hell and see that you lose your job. Kharma's a bitch.

Eileen, Founder, Organizer, Mayor and Chief Cook And Bottle Washer of the Anger Management Girls. said...

OK, what store was it????? I'm calling.

Nella said...

Bitches to the 10th POWER! I would have told those clerks exactly where to go! How rude! My sister has been obese her whole life and I always had to hear the ridiculing and means words! It was awful and will stay with me forever! Kick those BITCHES!

Anonymous said...

Yes we all know that pain. How rude and nasty of that b_ _ _ h!!!

Brooke said...

Beautiful, beautiful post.

I hate when that happens, when I witness an injustice or something on the edge, so to speak and don't think to say anything in the moment, or can't or know it will only make it worse- but know that the moment has indeed impacted someone else, in a bad way.

Ugh, that poor girl. Wish I could find her and let her know she was every right to wear a prom dress, to feel beautiful and special on that night (and every night) and enjoy it.

Alexis said...

Oh man...this post got me fired up. I agree with Jen on wanting to read that you went absolutely nuts on the sales girl, but totally understand on why you stayed back. How heartbreaking for this girl, but we all do understand how she felt and how that will stay with her forever. So unfortunate.

What a great post. Really got the blood flowing!

Colls said...

People are so thoughtless. I really feel for that girl and her mother. You are right - she will carry this memory for the rest of her life and that just sucks. <3

President of Sydney's Closet said...

It was just such an outrageous experience at a mall in St. Louis that prompted me to launch Sydney's Closet, a web site (
dedicated to plus size prom dresses. A former journalist, I traded deadlines for hemlines to take the tears out of dress shopping for my curvy daughter and the millions of teen-age girls just like her. Sydney's Closet turns what had been a frustrating trip to the mall into a rewarding and happy shopping experience. In the past seven years we've proudly dressed thousands of Prom Princesses across the U.S. and around the world. Some of our teen-age customers have returned to shop with us for their wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses! Our professional dress-up consultants can help teens and women sizes 14 to 44 find the special occasion dress of their dreams. We'd love to hear from you! Email us at or call toll free 24/7 at 888.479.3639
If you're in St. Louis, Missouri please visit our flagship store.
Happy Shopping, Phyllis Brasch Librach, President & Founder Sydney's Closet

Bonnie said...

I guess the mother didn't want to embarrass her daughter further by responding to the the salesclerk, but not sure I could have held back. I think I would have sent my daughter over to look at some clothes at the other end of the store and had a few choice words to the ignorant woman. Mainly, "Where is your manager?" One benefit I've found with getting older is that I'm not afraid to speak my mind.

Jenny said...

I'm new to your blog, I have to say that what you overheard is heartbreaking. You're right to say that she will carry that with her. Thats just awful.

-Grace- said...

This breaks my heart for that mother and daughter. I hope she has a great time at the prom regardless, because I am sure she will find a dress that makes her feel and look just beautiful.

But you are probably right that this will stick with her for a long time.