Gabourey Sidibe details her reaction when facing discrimination in retail settings

Gabourey Sidibe penned a powerful first person essay for Lenny, Lena Dunham’s email newsletter, detailing a recent incident at a Chanel boutique where she was initially told to leave in a sort-of superficially polite but obvious way, but then given decent service once they realized who she was. She was there to buy glasses frames for herself and sandals for Taraji P. Henson. Her experience reminded me of Oprah’s in Zurich, Switzerland at an expensive boutique in that customers are profiled as to whether they’re worthy of the sales staff’s attention. Of course this doesn’t just happen at the high end shops and this is not a first time experience for Gabby. She writes that it’s unclear whether she’s often treated poorly in stores because she’s black or because she’s a larger person, and she also wonders how she should handle it. Sometimes she buys things to show she’s a good customer and sometimes she walks out, but, she writes, “Either way, they win and I lose.” It’s thoughtful, it’s sad and it’s very well written and matter-of-fact. It doesn’t sound easy to deal with, but she handles it and she’s circumspect about it.

“Can I take a look at your eyeglasses?” I asked.

“We don’t have any,” she answered. “We only have shades. There’s a store across the street that sells eyeglasses.”

“Across the street?” I asked, confused.

“Yes. In the building across the street on the fifth floor.” She gave me the name of a discount frames dealer. I had been at her display for less than a minute, and she was literally directing me to another store…

I knew what she was doing. She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money. Even though I was carrying a Chanel bag, she decided I wasn’t a Chanel customer and so, not worth her time and energy.

This actually happens to me a lot. My whole life. Both before and after I became a recognizable actress. It happened to me in St. Maarten on vacation after shooting a film, when I went to a Dior counter to look at lip gloss and the saleswoman literally took a gloss out of my hand and put it back down in the display case. It used to happen to me at my neighborhood beauty-supply store in New York, where I was relentlessly followed around whenever my mom sent me to pick up shampoo and Q-tips. Even when I was a teenager, I knew it was because of my skin color but also because of the environment. I lived in the hood. Being suspected of stealing is just par for the course. Also, I definitely went through a mini-klepto phase when I was around fifteen, so some of that suspicion was warranted. But I grew out of it, and if I weighed the times I was suspected of stealing versus the time I actually stole something, it would be about 99 percent to 1 percent…

I still had to get Taraji’s sandals, so I asked where to find them. The saleswoman seemed annoyed but walked me further into the store. As we passed through, other employees who were of color noticed me. All of a sudden, the woman who had pointed me out of the store let me know that even though they didn’t have eyeglasses, the shades they carried actually doubled as eyeglass frames, so I should take a look at the shades I’d come to look at in the first place. Just like that, I went from being an inconvenience to a customer….

I made sure to give her my email so I could fill out a customer-service survey later. But now that I have the survey, I’m not sure how honest I want to be while filling it out. If I’m honest about my experience, am I being a bad person? Do I get to complain about terrible service when it’s really all I’ve ever known anyway? Do I get to jeopardize someone’s job and livelihood just because I suspect that she treated me like I was a nuisance based on my appearance?…

To be fair, I don’t know why that saleswoman didn’t want to help me. I suspect it’s because I’m black, but it could also be because I’m fat. Maybe my whole life, every time I thought someone was being racist, they were actually mistreating me because I’m fat. That sucks too. That’s not OK. I’ve felt unwelcome in many stores throughout my life, but I just kind of deal with it. As a successful adult, sometimes I walk out of the store in a huff, without getting what I want, denying them my hard-earned money. Other times I spend my money in an unfriendly store as if to say “F-k you! I’ll buy this whole damn store!”

Either way, they win and I lose. Maybe I still feel like this treatment is owed to me from my teenage kleptomaniac phase. Maybe I can’t out-success my guilt … I swear to God. This is why I only shop online!

[From Lenny]

Like Gabby, I went through a stage in my teens when I was stealing things. I even went to court for it, but I had a lawyer my parents hired and things turned out fine for me. Even when I was a little klepto I was never denied service or treated suspiciously, because I’m white. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be treated like that, to have to brace yourself for it and to have to decide how you’re going to handle it – that time. To have it come up so many times that you’re afraid to even go shopping. Gabby doesn’t even know whether to include her negative experience in her feedback form to Chanel. If she complains, she may hurt that person’s career. If she doesn’t, she wonders if she’s been conditioned to accept bad treatment. I can’t relate to that specifically, but I can relate to thinking hard and caring about things that other people do automatically, without thinking, without caring how they hurt you. I’m glad that Gabby shared this and hope that the managers at that store at least put that salesperson on blast. I doubt they’ll change though.

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photos credit: Getty and WENN

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66 Responses to “Gabourey Sidibe details her reaction when facing discrimination in retail settings”

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  1. Shambles says:

    My heart goes out to this lovely soul.

    “If I’m honest about my experience, does that make me a bad person?”

    Such a heartbreaking and crippling fear sometimes, and one I’m trying to grow past as well.

    She seems so genuinely beautiful from the inside out.

    • Chetta B. says:

      I would agree, and I want to read her book!!

    • Anitas says:

      So true!

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Agreed. It sucks that she’s even in a position where she has to think about things like: “Do I get to jeopardize someone’s job and livelihood just because I suspect that she treated me like I was a nuisance based on my appearance?” but that, along with the “you have the privilege of wealth and fame, so you can shut up about racism and discrimination” card are both the kind of responses POC celebrities tend to get when they bring things up like this.
      And that must have been so humiliating to have a salesperson actually snatch merchandise out of her hand.

  2. eggyweggs says:

    This sucks and I’m sorry she’s been treated this way throughout the years. I’ve worked in retail. Stores are closing all over the place. Now is not the time to be snippy to in-the-flesh customers. At my most retail job, which I adored, we were trained to say hi to customers, make suggestions, and treat everyone like human beings. In turn, the shop is extremely popular and is consistently topping the best-of lists for Indianapolis.

    • Deering says:

      There’s been a lot of press as to how online shopping is putting a stake in brick-and-mortar shopping’s heart. I would give a million to know how many POC inititally jumped on net shopping and made it a habit because they were sick of dealing with this snotty, no-win-situation crap. Given how much POC spend on consumer goods, that’s quite a chunk of cumulative lost sales.

  3. QQ says:

    this: ” I made sure to give her my email so I could fill out a customer-service survey later. But now that I have the survey, I’m not sure how honest I want to be while filling it out. If I’m honest about my experience, am I being a bad person? Do I get to complain about terrible service when it’s really all I’ve ever known anyway? Do I get to jeopardize someone’s job and livelihood just because I suspect that she treated me like I was a nuisance based on my appearance?…”<——- Is HONESTLY the Essence of Black Womanhood for you, You get denied service, classed as a criminal/nuisance, too fat too loud too whatever to be given the same kindness, service and chivalry or common courtesy anyone would cede to ANYONE, and IN THE END SHE IS STILL THINKING WITH HER HIGHEST MOST COMPASSIONATE SENSE OF BETTERMENT FOR EVERYONE THAT SHE WON'T REPAY SOCIETY WITH THE SAME HAND SHE IS BEING DEALT WITH.. SHE LITERALLY ALWAYS SUBSUMES HER INNER PETTY, BITCHY, SMALL MINDEDNESS TO DO BETTER BY PEOPLE THAT DO NOT TREAT NOR WISH HER WELL

    • OriginallyBlue says:

      Preach it Sis! We are forever stuck between a rock and a hard place. We get treated poorly, but take it because we don’t want to be the “that black woman”, that stereotype, that we’re bitter and angry and exaggerating for what ever reason. It’s so hard. Complain and we’re being difficult, let it slide and it just reinforces the thought that we are not worthy of basic decency.

    • HK9 says:

      Yes lord. **eyes closed hand in the air**

    • adastraperaspera says:

      Absolutely spot on.

    • Scotchy says:

      So so true!!

    • BangersandMash says:

      SOOO TRUE!!!!!! AMEN QQ

      I know every time I go to a designer perfume store I get the question, “Have you purchased any prior…… ummm….. label brands?” or I get the … “It’s $90 dollars” before I ask to smell it.

      Girl, I get this isht even in H&M sometimes, especially in the “cosmetics” section… I don’t know why I bother because their shades of brown go about as far as Kardashian beige anyway.
      But I also get why they follow me, or are so invested in what I’m touching, cause I dress like…BAD, I know if I were cleaner dressed, they would think I have the money for it.

      But also, as one woman said on Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal, “I’m black. I always have to be the bigger person”

    • Tiffany :) says:

      So true!

    • oce says:

      @QQ et al – this is the essence of BLACK GIRL MAGIC. We can put up with a ton of bullshit, suck it up, and still sparkle. #HatersGonnaHate #BLACKGIRLMAGIC

      • Tanya says:

        What about the black girls, like me, hit with a ton of bullshit while not sucking it up? We sparkle too. #FightersGonnaFight #BlackGirlMagic

    • AlmondJoy says:

      🗣 Say it one more time for the people in the back!

    • mermaid says:

      QQ, you are an inspiration. Blackgirl Magic indeed!

    • raincoaster says:

      It was just staggering to read that perspective. At least Chanel will get the message loud and clear now.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Your posts often make me laugh QQ beans but this time I have tears in my eyes because ain’t that the ABSOLUTE F-CKING TRUTH!

  4. Karen says:

    I worked in a store when i was younger. They told us middle aged white women were the most likely to steal, as they spent money in the store they thought they were entitled to a 5 finger discount every now and again. So maybe they should change their bias.

    Yes, I think she should fill out an honest survey. Profiling customers is wrong and needs to be addressed. Who tries to send away paying customers? Idiots.

    • Mia4s says:

      Yep, I did my time in retail and the racial profiling is not only gross and wrong, practically it’s ineffective! Depending on the type of store the most likely to steal were teens (of ALL colours and economic levels) and middle aged white women. These upstanding 🙄 white ladies took stuff and openly sold it at flea markets in the area! They were the worst!! Learn your store and your customers and you’ll figure out how to secure it. I guarantee you won’t be able to do it by “race”.

    • AlmondMilk says:

      @karen @Mia4s
      Thank you, excellent points made re ‘profiling.’

      This is the way in which bigotry and racism hurts us all. When employees profile for petty theft, especially in big box and large brand stores you’re also less likely to be looking out for the pervs in the toy section (typically white, male) who may be about to abuse or kidnap kids.

      Check YouTube for these horrifying situations. I recall a man literally picking up a 9-10yr old girl and was carrying her down the aisle and out of the store until her mom rained hell down on him to finally let her go. It had to be the most bonechilling thing I’ve ever seen.

      Meanwhile i bet they had some teen of color in their sights from the time they entered the store, then jacked up by instore security on suspicion of swiping some Milani matte lipsticks.

  5. doofus says:

    she should have asked for different salesperson and given the commission to one of the employees who were women of color.

    to be clear, she should NOT have been treated in such a way but she could have really hit the woman where it hurt…in her commission.

  6. Jeanette says:

    I have store right down the road from my house that I visit at least one time a week, and I know the owners and am quite friendly with them. We actually gave them a puppy and its like their child now. There is this DRAGON lady that works there..She called the owners while they were on vacation in Puerto Rico to ask if she could take my check! It was less than $20 I think?? Then I once had to buy $10 worth of merchandise just to get 2 bags of ice, because of a minimum transaction fee thats only 5.00 for everyone else in the store?? Anyway..today I went there and she actually apologized to me! I about fell over! I feel Gabby’s pain..I dont know if she thinks because I drive a used car, and usually when they see me, its when I am off so its tshirt, shorts, messy bun and no makeup that I bounce checks? These kinds of situations always reminds me of that scene in Pretty Woman..where she tells the lady “Big Mistake! Huge!”

    • fiorucci says:

      That’s interesting ! Do most stores take checks where you live? I used to see signs at Safeway about the check policy but haven’t lately. From my own retail work and shopping I’ve never seen a customer use a check in canada or France. Still common in the USA I take it?

      • Jeanette says:

        Yes, most want them to be local. I use them all the time, but I live in a very rural area. When I go outside of my immediate area, I use my bank card.

      • Hollz says:

        My work takes cheques! (And by the spelling, you can see I’m Canadian haha)

        It doesn’t happen very often though – I’ve probably only had… Maybe five in the two years I’ve worked there.

  7. HadToChangeMyName says:

    It’s dehumanizing and disheartening. Even more so when we get accused of p”playing the race card” just for sharing our experiences.

    • QQ says:

      What I find Remarkable is that You can already see Down threat, the brown girls cosigning some variety or degree of this experience and I’m pretty sure at some point in here someone will say “She Shoulda Done__” Im Sure it wasn’t That.. instead of taking it for what it is,you know , a real thing that happens to us, some people could take the good sense to understand what my daddy poetically called ” A Million Flies cant be wrong about Sh*t” (ergo, It MUST Be Sh*t)

    • chaine says:

      It should be required that every white person spend multiple days going to the mall, Wal-mart, the drugstore with a black person and see how different the experience is for people who are not white. As white people, we are in such a bubble of privilege, so indoctrinated to discount, and ignore, and disbelieve…

      This happened as a teen the first time I went to Wal-mart with a black friend. Store security, which I had never even known about or noticed before, literally tailed us up and down each aisle. Even then, I did not understand … my friend turned and confronted the guy and asking him, “Why are you following me? It’s because you see a black man, isn’t it?” I thought, what is he talking about? What is going on? It was right in front of my eyes, but I was unable to comprehend or accept it. We calmed our friend down and we left the store and I felt embarrassed all evening, like what happened to this normally mild-mannered guy that he freaked out at this stranger? Instead of trying to understand and standing up for him, I wrote him off as paranoid and blamed him for losing it.

      …only when it happened with other black friends, again, and again, over several years, did I keep questioning my understanding and begin to accept that this was not them being overly sensitive, it was not some kind of paranoia, it was real, it was happening to every one of them.

      • Deering says:

        CVS has become my store-to-avoid because of this very thing. When you hit a racist clerk at one place, it’s a one-off. But when you start getting constant side-eye and “Can I help yous” at two or more CVSs, something is definitely up.

  8. jess1632 says:

    the same thing happened to my sister yesterday w shoes at saks. Im more light skinned and she’s dark skinned so I feel I usually get a pass or I’ve never noticed however a sales lady wouldn’t allow my sister to try on a pair of shoes coming up w excuses like go to DSW or something like that…my sister spoke to another salesperson (he was a poc) and guess they had her shoe size the whole time so she bought three pairs just to stick it to the original salesperson and it would’ve been a nice commission (if they get commission)…i felt bad the entire and was encouraging leaving. I’d never seen such blatant disrespect for a customer

  9. Tiffany says:

    Not that surprising when I hear from black celebrities about being followed in stores or being treated poorly. I use to work in retail and we were trained to look out and have dog whistle words for when an associate thinks someone plans to steal. So when I hear it, I just walk out and spend my money elsewhere.

    I knew a sales associate who worked at Coach and she gave me her Friends and Family cards for a discount at her location. So I went in and was greeted and they were on my immediately (that was one of the first rules I learned was that you are to kill them with kindness and offer to help select product). I told them that I am not sure and I was just looking to see what they had. I was not in the store more than 2 minutes before the manager came up to me and was leaning on the wall and then asked me something really stupid, trying to make small talk and I said, ‘I don’t know’. I then just walked out the store without buying anything. I went to Fossil which was across the way from them and the experience was completely different. I was greeted and then they allowed me to look and when I needed something there was someone there to assist me. I threw down a ton of money and complemented them on the great customer service.

    And then there is the one when the sales associate asked if they can take your bags while you look around. I say, ‘No thank you as I am leaving to spend my money at a place that will allow me to keep my bags and let me look around’, and then leave.

    I have a ton of them. Ahhhhh, shopping while black is an experience all it’s own.

    • ab says:

      shopping while black is the worst. I like to wander and take my time and think and compare … which is why I rarely shop brick-and-mortar retail any more. I got tired of being treated the way we get treated. so tired. now I buy pretty much everything online.

  10. detritus says:

    Someone literally took a piece of merchandise form her hands?
    what in the everlasting f*ck.

    • LaciaCan says:

      If ever there was a time and place for a “Do you know who I am?” that was it. The look on the clerk’s face would’ve been priceless.

  11. OriginallyBlue says:

    You know what I feel for her so much. I think she needs to fill out the customer survey because some places are really that oblivious to the behaviour of their employees.
    For example I go to a grocery store about 3 times a week and if a certain cashier is working I will wait in a long line or go to customer service desk and cash out, just so I don’t have to deal with her. Every other person who comes through her line she makes small talk, takes their money and hands them the change and receipt in their hands. Me or any other black person, no such courtesy. No small talk, hands us change by dropping it in our hands like they’re filthy, or just puts in on the counter. I held my hand out for my receipt, same thing, on the counter it went. One of the girls I am friendly with who works there mentioned to me and my mother that a customer had complained that that cashier was racist and she was waiting for us to say something, but we both said the customer was right. Very few black people who shop there often go to her lane. She puts on a front when the management is walking around, but as soon as they aren’t around, the act is gone.

    • Deering says:

      Yeah, this cashier needs to be nailed hard for this. The more she gets away with it, the bolder (and nastier) she’ll get.

    • AlmondJoy says:

      Ugh. And you know OB it’s things like this that the average person doesn’t even notice realize that we go through BUT WE FEEL IT. And it cuts and it hurts.

      • OriginallyBlue says:

        Yes ma’am (Almond Joy) you are correct. Like it’s something so minor, but you feel bad. This woman won’t look at you, ask you if you need bags, can’t even hand me my damn change and for what? Especially when you see her do it for every one in front of you.

  12. M4lificent says:

    I think that this type of treatment can come from one factor or any combination of factors depending on the individual you are dealing with. In Gabby’s case, she’s had race, size, age, and assumed socio-economics factoring into her situation. (Not saying any of this is OK — just analyzing it.)

    I’m white, but looked very young for my age. If I was dressed casually, I looked like I was a teenager until I was in my early 30s. Frequently, as I walked through the makeup or jewelry sections of high end department stores, the sales ladies would practically sweep their arms around their merchandise. In my 20s, they had no idea that my salary was probably triple theirs. If I was more dressed up, it was less likely to happen as I looked older and looked like I had more money.

    In one case, I brought a fairly expensive party dress back to a high-end department store after 2 days when I decided it didn’t look good on me. I was dressed neatly, but very casually, in jeans and a T-shirt. The sales lady (who was a woman of color) was very suspicious that I had worn the dress to event and was trying to return it. She made a big show of looking for signs of wear and checking to see if the tags had been reattached. Despite not finding anything out of order with the dress, she continued to try to find an excuse not to allow me to return the dress.

    I finally asked to see the manager, showed her the store credit card that I had had with that store for a dozen years — and mentioned that I would be sending a letter to their CEO explaining why I was cutting it up. I got an apology from all parties pretty quickly. I don’t blame the sales lady for being suspicious — because women do wear dresses and then try to return them. But her behavior was based on assumptions about my age and finances. If I had been a “lady who lunches” she would never have been so rude.

    • OTHER RENEE says:

      These “ladies who lunch” are the most notorious for returning obviously-worn-to-events dresses!

    • greenmonster says:

      This type of treatment comes form two very distinct points: racism and disrimination. The difference between the way you were treated and Gabourey’s experience is simple: you dress up nicely and get a nice treatment. Gabourey can dress up all she wants, the shitty sales person will still see her as an overweight WOC who probably can’t afford anything in the store. I know you didn’t mean it, but you are dismissing her experience a bit.

      • M4lificent says:

        Gabby herself said that she’s never sure which factors contribute to her treatment in a given situation. I’m just pointing out that assumed socio-economics can also be a factor. In my case, the variables of race and size removed, and people were still rude and suspicious of me because they assumed that I was too poor to belong in their establishment.

        But that doesn’t mean that I’m dismissing the fact that Gabby’s size or race affect how she is treated. Nor am I pretending that I didn’t have a much easier time of it than she does.

      • Lilly says:

        TY

      • greenmonster says:

        I understand and you are right about people being also rude just because they are simply stupid and assume someone in jeans doesn’t belong in that particular store.
        Gabby said she didn’t know what the problem was for the sales lady, if it was her skin color and/or her weight. For me that is a whole new level of being rude to a costumer. If I would go into a store dressed in ripped jeans and a shirt and get a snobby treatment, it would be based on a stupid assumption. If I get treated badly because of skin color or weight that is so different. That is based on racism and body-shaming/discrimination. What I try to bring across is, that her kind of experience is so much more hurtful. You could easily call the manager because you had your back-up (store credit-card) and you stood up for yourself. Good for you.
        But what Gabby experienced is deeply ingrained because that is a life long experience that she can’t just shake off. As others said on this thread, if she would have demanded the manager or a least a respectful treatment, she would have fulfilled the stereotype of the loud black woman.

      • M4lificent says:

        I’m not in a position to empathize with Gabby. I can understand it intellectually, but obviously not from personal experience.

        My point is that each person who is rude to Gabby is probably rude to her for a different set of reasons. If Gabby walked into a store as a thin, chicly dressed, upper-middle class black woman would she get treated differently? Probably sometimes yes, probably sometimes no.

        But, practically speaking, what do your comments mean? Should I have not shared my experiences or observations on this thread?

      • greenmonster says:

        Of course you can share your experience. I just wanted to have a conversation about different experiences and how they shape one person and their viewpoint.

        I’m sorry my comments came across as an attack, if that’s what you feel. It wasn’t meant that way. I just wanted to point out that getting shitty treatment based on clothes is something completely different than shitty treatment based on skin color or weight.

  13. aang says:

    When I was a kid I went to school in a town adjacent to an indian reservation. After school if I went to the corner store for candy with a group of white kids it was no problem. If I went with a group of native kids we would be only allowed in 2 at a time, and watched closely as we picked out the candy.

  14. Insomniac says:

    Wow. This is just awful. It really speaks well of her that even after she got service like that, she’s still worried about hurting the salesperson’s career if she complains.

  15. anna says:

    this is why i love the lenny letter and lena for creating it. they have such great content.

  16. OTHER RENEE says:

    This essay really touched my heart. I’m a white woman over 50 and have never experienced any problems in a store. But reading her story really moved me and made me think of how horrible it must be to have these experiences.

  17. Felicia says:

    She should absolutely write in! There is no point in being “nice” to people who aren’t,especially when you are a paying customer. And she would HATE living in Asia. I’m 5’8″, wear a size 8 US (french size 40) easily. The bitchy salesgirls around here pull the “oh I’m sorry Madame, but we don’t carry extra extra extra large” all the time. It annoyed the hell out of me at first, but now I just smile sweetly and say “oh you girls are SO lucky you don’t live in my country! You’d all be shopping in the children’s department.”

    • Marianne says:

      I have coworker who spent a year in China and she said she hated it because everyone would tell her how “fat” she was. And she wasnt fat in the slightest…just really tall.

      • Felicia says:

        Exactly! And they do it on purpose. Not to the men though, take that for what it’s worth. It’s a good thing my teenage daughter has a good head on her shoulders because at 11, she was taller than most locals. And they would say the same thing to her as well. After 5 years here, she thankfully doesn’t seem to have internalized a negative body image, but it’s not from a lack of hearing those sorts of bitchy remarks. Who does that!?
        On the other hand in West Africa, being thin is equated to being poor. The viewpoint there is that only people with not enough to eat are thin.

  18. Skylark says:

    I love her writing. It’s a real gift to be able to deliver the powerful punch and the outraged kick to the heart I felt while reading her beautifully measured, matter-of-fact, drama-free language.

    Every credit to her for wanting to rise above this unforgiveable and inexcusable ignorance but I would love if she sent that essay as an open letter to the CEO of the company.

  19. Lilly says:

    She was on Fresh Air and I learned so much more about her. I love her and will have to buy the book. They should carry the book in that store, and all their stores, to compensate.

    • Skylark says:

      Unless they address this publicly – and I mean walk the fucking walk not just talk the PR talk – then that would be nothing other than a deeply cynical PR exercise to benefit them and would do nothing at all in the longer term for the underlying ignorance and bigotry at the heart of Gabourey’s experience.

      If the CEO has the guts to come forward and condemn outright what Gabourey experienced as totally unacceptable and contrary to everything s/he wants his/her company to be, and vow publicly to make serious change, and then make serious change (with a zero tolerance policy for this type of bigoted profiling), then good. And if they then offer to carry Gabourey’s book, and she’s gracious enough to accept their offer, then good again, but the latter gesture would be of NO VALUE WHATSOEVER unless it’s accompanied by a serious and very public no-tolerance stand on the part of the former.

  20. justcrimmles says:

    She should absolutely send in that survey. Some people will only learn when they’re hit in their wallet. And Dior should send her a trunk of their over priced glosses, that salesperson was disgusting for that.

    Also, further hammering away how utterly backwards our culture is, there are no doubt people who would completely dismiss her experiences were it not for her eloquence. Meanwhile, illiterate hillbillies could describe the same shit, and not at all be subject to scrutiny, so long as they’re not a person of color.

  21. Patricia says:

    This is so scary, that this is the every day experience of many many fellow Americans.
    I never knew how privileged I was until my first year of college when a black friend from one of my classes told me about being followed in stores, that she didn’t even like to go to the mall because of it.
    I didn’t even know this was a thing. I DID NOT EVEN KNOW. It terrified me then, to learn that this peer of mine, whom I had wanted to befriend because she was the smartest student in the class and I agreed with everything she said in class debates, was looked at as a criminal by so many people and was mistreated to the point she didn’t even want to go to popular stores.
    I am so thankful that I learned, that she shared that with me and didn’t judge me when my eyes were wide and teary. She could have laughed in my face for the bubble I was in, for my ignorance. But she didn’t, she informed me and let me live with that.
    That’s what Gabourey is doing and it’s such an important and noble thing, to put her humiliating experiences out there for others to learn from. Maybe reading her story will awaken some other young white person like myself, and we can turn to being allies and understanding that discrimination IS alive and well and needs everyone’s efforts to overcome.

  22. Marianne says:

    You’re not a bad person if you decide to be honest about it. They gave you bad customer service most likely because they profiled you and should be called out on it. Maybe sending the survey won’t do anything. But maybe it will.

  23. me says:

    Yeah it sucks. I usually buy make-up from one particular store near my house but the ladies that work there never let me touch anything. They ask me what I need and get it for me, then keep it in their hands until I’m ready to pay. I’m not allowed to put it in my shopping cart. I don’t know if this is something they do to everyone or just SOME people but it bothers me a lot.

    • OTHER RENEE says:

      They don’t deserve your business. Maybe find another store.

      • me says:

        This store is a franchise. I went to another one of their locations and the same thing happened. I shop there because of the rewards card they offer.

    • Hollz says:

      It could be policy. The store I work in has a hard and fast rule that certain items do not, ever, go in to a customers hands or cart, regardless of who the customer is. We have customers that have been coming in multiple times a day, everyday for years (it’s a hardware store) and this policy applies to them just as much as it would to someone who has never been in the store before.

      I’m not saying it is a policy, just that it could be.

  24. aenflex says:

    I worked at Saks for some time. The people that stole from the store and were observed doing so were almost all entirely young white females who undoubtedly were very affluent.

    The way I figured it, personally, was than anyone who came into Saks was going to spend money, and understood the cost of the items for sale within Saks. So what color, size or gender they were didn’t mean a thing to me either way. So as a saleswoman, I looked at their clothing, which designer, their accessories, jewelry, etc. Even a mangy looking young thing in grungy looking boho clothes… Those clothes cost big money when they’re from Free People or Joie. Whoever looked like they had the most money were my marks.

    Still a kind of classism, sad to say. Working on commissions caused me to be a classist for a time.