When Megan Naramore Harris took her 13-year-old daughter Lexi dress shopping for an upcoming formal last week, she didn’t expect for it be the beginning of a viral social media conversation.
Near the end of their trip to Dillard’s department store in Wichita, KS, Harris picked out a red dress for Lexi to try on just for fun. Lexi thought it looked too mature for her style but tried it on anyway.
That’s when Harris claims a sales clerk told Lexi that the dress didn’t fit her.
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Harris told Buzzfeed News that the clerk called her daughter “fat” and told her she needed to wear the body shaping underwear SPANX to fit into the dress.
“It was not a simple up-sell,” Harris said in an interview with KWCH. “It was body shaming.”
After asking her daughter whether she could write about the incident on Facebook, Harris posted a photo of Lexi in the dress.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”
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The post sparked a strong online response, with over 80,000 shares in a week.
Lexi said she didn’t like the comments the clerk made about her and has known people who react in extreme ways to body shaming.
“I’ve known girls that cut themselves because of stuff like that, or have committed suicide,” she said.
Harris said Dillard’s reached out to her and Lexi. She said they were “very kind” and were planning on using her negative experience as a teachable moment for their staff.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the department store said:
“At Dillard’s, our mission is to help people feel good about themselves by enhancing the natural beauty found in all of us. We train our sales associates with the goal of creating a completely positive experience with each visit. It is certainly never our intent to offend our customers. We have reached out to this customer and her daughter, and we appreciate the outreach of so many of our followers and customers to bring this issue to our attention.”
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The mother and daughter hope that their incident will help educate others about body shaming and open up a conversation about healthy body image.
“No matter what somebody says, if you’re fine with who you are, embrace it,” Lexi said.
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