Childrearing

Mother Unleashes Righteous Fury on the Saleswoman Who Told Her Daughter to Wear Spanx

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I do not know what I would do if some meddling busybody salesperson came up to my daughter while she was trying on clothes and told her that she “had” to wear Spanx, but I would certainly not take it well. I’m pretty sure my reaction would fall somewhere on the rage spectrum between “act of violence” and “soul-crushing glare,” probably with an extra dose of “official letter of complaint to the manager” for good measure, because if someone tried to tell my daughter that she “had” to wear a girdle, I would be livid.

Nobody has to wear Spanx anymore than anybody has to wear makeup. If that’s what a person likes, then that’s fantastic for them. But none of these things should be required, and they should certainly not be the price of entry to being treated with dignity and respect. If a person wants to wear a slinky dress, that’s great, but it is not the place of random salespeople to tell teen girls to cram their butts into girdles, which is what happened to Megan Harris’ daughter recently, and she was righteously furious about the entire experience, so later she posted about it on Facebook.

facebook-post

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. Right after that, you entered and told my daughter she needed to wear SPANX if she wanted to wear this dress. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Sincerely,
Mother of a beautiful girl

Harris and her daughter Lexi were at Dillard’s trying on dresses for a formal, when a saleswoman reportedly told Lexi that she “needed to wear Spanx” if she was going to wear that dress. That’s an extremely inappropriate thing to say, especially to a minor.

When Harris told the saleslady that her daughter was just fine without Spanx, the woman reportedly had the gall to actually argue with her about how her daughter ought to be wearing Spanx.

If a salesperson had ever said something like that to me while I was trying on dresses when I was a teenager, I would have been devastated. If a salesperson said that to my daughter, I would be a flaming tower of rage.

A lot of comments on Harris’ post miss the point and assert that there’s nothing wrong with  wearing Spanx. It’s true. Plenty of people want to wear Spanx, which is why the founder of the company is a billionaire. That’s fine. I wear them all the time myself (though generally I go in for a different brand. I like Spanx’s opaque tights, but I don’t like their girdles or “shapers” very much. I prefer Rago’s for their more retro aesthetic. I like my throwback underwear, but if someone told me I “had” to wear them to be an acceptable objet d’art for the random people around me, I would be sorely tempted to whip that girdle right off and smack someone with it.)

Weirdly, there are a lot of euphemisms for what Spanx do — they “hold you in,” they “smooth out lumps and bumps,” — and it’s a weird way of talking around the fact that Spanx exist to compress fat. Fat and skin are what Spanx are “smoothing out.”  If you  have bone spurs jutting out of your belly, Spanx are not going to do anything about that. All they can do is provide a smooth surface by squishing fat and skin under a tight, elastic-based fabric casing, and that is what they are designed to do.

Yes, skinny women wear Spanx. That doesn’t make Spanx any less about fat. It just means that skinny women also have fat on their bodies, and that skinny women are also subject to shaming over insignificant variances in the human shape.

Wear Spanx if you want to. I do. But it’s weird to pretend that telling a teenage girl that she needs to wear Spanx is not the same thing as telling a teenage girl that she has visible fat that needs to be wrapped up and restrained for the sake of aesthetics.

Harris posted a photo and the story to Facebook with her daughter’s encouragement and permission, in an attempt to highlight this utterly unacceptable behavior. Lexi and her mother had not asked for advice about shapewear or underwear to go with a slinky dress. They were just looking at dresses when a saleswoman butted in to tell a teenage girl that she “needed” a girdle, and then proceeded to argue with Lexi’s mother when Harris said that Lexi was fine and did not “need” anything of the sort. I’d have been furious, too.