What if you don’t match the stereotype “perfect mannequin” figure? Does that give someone the licence to shame you for not being fit for the ‘fashionista’ community?
The answer is a loud NO.
But that is exactly what happened to Mumbai resident Mona Joshi at Kalki Fashion, a clothes retailer. When Joshi went to the said store to buy a ghaghra (skirt) and didn’t find anything she liked, she asked the sales representative if anything was available in her size. Pat came the reply, “Óf course not”. This is both shocking and worrisome as it reflects the deep-rooted prejudice against women who don’t conform to the ‘model’ norm. An affronted Joshi asked the man where should women her size shop from, to which, he said, ‘Go to the gym’. Angry — and justifiably so — Joshi stomped out of the store that very instant.
“The moment he made that remark, I was in complete shock for a while. I felt ashamed for some reason, like I made a mistake by asking him for a garment in my size. In that moment I felt like I deserved that comment,” Joshi told BuzzFeed.
Upset at being treated in such an ungraceful manner, Joshi’s friend Shreshth Poddar — who had accompanied her to the store and was a witness to the salesman’s atrocious behaviour — shot an email to the store owner narrating the incident and demanding an apology from the salesperson. How can anyone else have the right “to tell them that they should go to the gym?” read Poddar’s email, screenshots of which, he posted on his Facebook page.
“The purpose is NOT to defame a brand. The owner cannot be held responsible for a momentary action of an employee. It is to share awareness about fat shaming and much-needed politeness and basic decency among people,” Poddar told BuzzFeed.
They shared the incident with their friends who flooded the store’s Facebook page with messages reminding them of the ruthless behaviour of their sales representative.
Responding to the barrage of complaints, the store director apologised on behalf of his employee on Facebook and informed them that the sales representative’s contract had been terminated. “We echo your sentiments and are disturbed that such an incident occurred at our store. We follow a strict code of conduct and do not condone or tolerate misbehavior and disrespect. Also, We would like to invite you to our store again and will have an appointment fixed with our head designer,” he wrote.
This disturbing incident is a reminder of how stereotypes regarding the female body are so deeply set in the social psyche.