One of the greatest female past-times is shopping for clothes that you can’t really afford, with the money that you don’t really have. The bonds formed by shoe sales cannot be paralleled, and I believe that almost anyone can bond over the agreement of a hideous dress in a store window. The changing rooms however, are a little different. Nothing can hide in a 360 degree mirror, and this is usually the time that you most regret that piece of chocolate cake that you had at lunch. Nonetheless, at the end of the day but it was more about the experience and the time spent with your girlfriends more than anything else.
This was not the case for U.K. resident Joni Bendall, 26, who recently left a Primark department store in Ipswich, Suffolk, after being refused access to the women’s changing room. Following a second attempt, and pleading with the sales associate Bendall was rudely refused service and no- it was not because she was attempting to try on too many items.
Miss Bendall is transgender, born a man who now identifies as a woman. Imagine feeling stuck inside someone else’s body, someone of the opposite sex. Bendall’s courage is something that should be celebrated, not ridiculed. Sadly, this was not the first experience Bendall has had of this nature. This is a daily occurrence for her, commenting that over the course of a 30 minute walk, she had been harassed five different times, at some points with people openly shouting names at her.
As a twenty-something female who works part time in a clothing store, my attention was immediately targeted towards the root cause of this unfortunate and unnecessary happenstance. In the world of retail there are times that you must to smile and nod when you would very much rather do the opposite. But going out of the way to make someone feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, is not customer service. This is something that goes far beyond failing miserably at a job of providing customer service (and in turn, human decency) for a company whose reputation is now tainted because of one individual.
With the difficulty that Bendall has in even finding clothing that she feels comfortable in, an experience that should be fun and give Bendall that feeling of acceptance she is longing for has been turned into a discouraging place of judgement and negativity. There is already enough of that negativity surrounding girl’s and women’s body image- there is not room for any more. In a world of photoshop and unrealistic standards of “beauty”, us girls need to stick together.