I’m going to a Bar Mitzvah. I’m looking forward to seeing all my relatives and celebrating with them. I’m also looking forward to the trip back east, to the land where Autumn is an actual season. In celebration of this event (and the festivities that surround it) I decided that I might get a new outfit. Maybe. I would have to see what the store had and what my shopping tolerance was like.
I had some time yesterday afternoon, so I headed over to a store at the outlet mall where I’ve had good luck in the past. I triggered the little “welcome” bell as I walked in and headed to my left. This store is split down the middle, with plus size on one side and “normal” size on the other. The fitting rooms are in the middle and the checkout is in the rear.
I veered off to my side and began to browse. I picked a few items, and expected that any moment a sales associate would be along to see how I was doing and put the items in a fitting room. I’ve shopped here before. That’s how it works. I glanced around but saw nobody, no shoppers, no employees.
I continued browsing the racks, working my way to the rear of the store. As I passed by the fitting rooms I noticed they were open, so I dropped off the items in my arms and carried on. I picked up a few more things along the way as I arrived at the sale rack, right next to the checkout. As I browsed, the two sales associates continued their conversation about vacationing with their boyfriends. How nice for them.
Meanwhile, not ten feet away, I was shopping with my arms full of merchandise.
“How are you doing today?”
“Can I help you find something in particular?”
“Would you like to try those on?”‘
“Can I put those in a fitting room for you?”
Any of those phrases would have been appropriate. Even a simple “hello” would have been nice, but nope, nothing.
Fine. I still wanted to try the clothes on, so I went back to the fitting room and proceeded to try on all nine items that I found. Naturally it took a while. In the meantime another woman came in and was trying things on. In breezed the sales associate and asked her if she was doing ok, and could she get her anything.
I’m in the NEXT fitting room.
You can SEE my feet.
I’ve been in your store for nearly 45 minutes!
Am I invisible? I must be.
Fortunately I didn’t love anything I tried on, because at that point I would have hated actually buying anything there.
I got dressed, left the fitting room, and walked out. And no, I was not acknowledged then either.
I left with a bad taste in my mouth. Shopping is difficult enough for me. How hard would it have been for either of the associates to just say hello? Retail is a service industry, it requires that you put on a smile and be nice, even if you’re faking it. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because I’m fat. Was the other shopper trying on items from the “normal” sized collection? Is that why she received help and I did not? What else could it be? I wasn’t rude. I don’t look homeless. What then?
I’m a little embarrassed by how much the incident hurt my feelings. I felt devalued as an individual, which is silly because I know it wasn’t about me at all. I know I’m friendly. I know I’m approachable. I know I have worth. Still, I felt invisible, and that’s a terrible way to feel.