To Whom It May Concern:
I was in the Balboa Island Heavenly Couture store over the weekend. It was the first time I'd heard of or seen your store, and I saw a dress in the window that I really liked and wanted to get for my sister.
Unfortunately, this isn't a letter of praise.
I had a terrible time in the store, and it was due to the sales associate's apparent issue with my appearance.
I am not a typical "Heavenly Couture" girl. I'm 28, I am happily married to a wonderful man, we have two beautiful children, and we own our home. I typically wear jeans and T shirts (in 2X) with sandals almost every day, and I am far from having a couture style.
Your associates made it clear I wasn't supposed to be there.
I walked in to an empty store, meaning there were no other customers shopping in there. I got a very bland, "welcome to heavenly couture." from one of the girls; they were both in the back of the store talking, and it looked like I inconvenienced them when I walked in.
After the welcome, I asked about the dress in the window. They both actually, visibly, looked me up and down, looked at each other, and then said they were out of it; someone bought the last one that day. I said alright, and looked around the store a little bit because I thought there were some cute accessories in there!
Not once did I receive any help, no one asked me what I was looking for, no one checked to see if I was finding everything okay, it was probably the worst service I've ever had.
The best part? I saw a few of the dresses I was looking for in the back area by the associates.
Anyone who lives in Orange County knows how truly diverse this place is, despite what television and movies have made it out to be. We know there are different people, different women, all shapes, sizes, colors, races, orientations, professions, perfections and imperfections. This place is amazing, and yet, there are still so many close-minded people, women, ready to shoot down anyone that doesn't fit their idea of what a person or woman should be.
I didn't come in to the store for myself. I was certain there wouldn't be anything in there for me to wear. I went in to find something for someone else, and, regardless of why I was shopping there, I left feeling two inches tall, discriminated against, and incredibly self-conscious of my appearance.
I have a younger sister, a daughter, and a niece. I have cousins and friends. I am a role model for quite a few females in my life, and, after leaving your Balboa Island store location, I felt like a wilted flower, incapable of inspiring anyone to be the best person they can be. Incapable of telling others how beautiful they are in their own skin. Incapable of loving myself for who I am.
It's a sad situation, and it gave me an emotional cocktail I haven't had in a while. I was humiliated, sad, angry, hurt, unhappy, betrayed, mad at myself for looking the way I do, and just so self-conscious. No person should ever feel like that. No girl should ever be influenced by another person to feel that way about herself.
It took me a little while, even with the help and encouragement of my husband and friends, to remember that I am beautiful, I am proud of myself, and my body is wonderful for all it has done. But a lot of girls don't have the support system I have. They don't have a loving significant other, they don't have really close friends, they don't have supportive parents or family members... and those girls won't recover as quickly as I did.
Basically, there's one HUGE point I'm trying to make right now with this letter:
It's not fair to treat people the way I was treated, and you don't have to do that.
It's not difficult to be kind, there's no stress in being a nice person, and it's actually better for you, as an individual, to be kind to others.
I really hope you take the time to educate your employees on what it takes to work in a clothing store. You never know who your customer is going to be, and you should treat people with respect.
I truly hope this never happens again to any person ever, especially a potential customer thinking about shopping in your store.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
― Maya Angelou
P.S. to anyone reading this Open Letter, don't forget how wonderful you are. You are beautiful, strong, talented, and amazing, and I wish you nothing but the best for you in your life. Don't forget that everything amazing starts with loving yourself. Love yourself first, and everything will fall into place!