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A mother and daughter who were dress shopping for a school formal got an ugly surprise in the form of comments about the teen girl's appearance from a rude saleswoman at a local mall in Wichita, Kansas. But Mom wasn't having any of it and shared her story on Facebook with a post that's now gone viral.
Megan Naramore Harris took her daughter Lexi to Dillard's, looking for a dress, and when Lexi couldn't find something she liked, her mom chose a dress for her to try on. Although Lexi didn't like the red dress because it wasn't her style, she tried it on for her mom anyway. She felt the dress made her look too old, she said, but still let her mom take a photo. That's when a saleswoman approached them in the fitting rooms and said the dress wasn't flattering and that Lexi needed to wear tummy-smoothing Spanx with the gown to pull it off. Lexi went to change out of the dress, and her mom told the salesperson her daughter looked fine without Spanx. But the lady just wouldn't give it up, and continued to argue with her.
It can be hard enough to raise a body-positive daughter without comments from strangers, but the idea of a salesperson telling your 13-year-old daughter she needs to wear Spanx to pull off a look is enough to enrage any mom. Since when is it OK to make insensitive comments to young girls about their bodies?
Body image concerns can wreak havoc on young girls' self-esteem and confidence. With all girls are exposed to in the media, parents often do their best to make sure their daughters develop a healthy body image and eating habits. After the experience, Harris took to Facebook, where she posted a photo of her daughter in the dress and a letter to the saleswoman who offended them with her unsolicited commentary:
"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.
The response was overwhelming. A few days later, she returned to Facebook to address a few questions and comments. Apparently a lot of people thought the mom "should be ashamed of herself" for embarrassing her daughter. She wanted to clear the air that her daughter actually wasn't embarrassed — she was "empowered." The mom said she shared the photo and story with permission from her middle-schooler daughter.
"So many kind words and so many inspirational girls and women and men and boys have written to us," Harris wrote on Facebook a few days after posting the photo. "I really am working on thanking every single person! Thank you for those who have shared their stories. You are inspiring! Please if you know a teenager, give them a compliment. Say they are pretty or their shirt looks good on them. Ask how they are today. Give them a smile."
As of Wednesday evening — one week after the unpleasant incident — the mom's original post has more than 470,000 likes and has been shared nearly 83,200 times. According to a news report from the Wichita ABC affiliate, Dillard's contacted Harris after the TV station reached out to them about the situation. Harris said they told her they planned to use the incident as a talking point to educate their sales staff to ensure a more positive experience for other customers in the future.