As I walked into a clothing store, a sales representative greeted me within 30 seconds with a friendly smile. I approached her, as I needed assistance finding a blazer and a blouse for a TV interview that I had the next morning. I was excited about the interview because I was going to be discussing positive body image and my experiences as a plus-size model, and I wanted to look my best for the segment.
My first impression of the sale representative was positive and pleasant. We shared a few laughs as we walked around the store searching for the right outfit. She picked out a gray blazer and an orange blouse, and she walked me over to the change-room. Once I tried on the clothes I came out of the change-room to get her opinion. I asked her if the blazer and blouse fit me well and if the colors looked good together. She rudely responded by saying: "I don't know, I don't dress people like you".
In shock, I paused for a moment before I told her that I found her comment offensive and ignorant. She then repeated the same words: "I don't know, I don't dress people like you." I felt as if I was being punched in the gut for a second time. I was in a state of disbelief that she had never dressed a person who looked like me and confused by her apathetic attitude in not realizing that she had hurt my feelings.
So, I asked to speak with the manager. I explained to her how pleasant her employee was towards me when I initially entered the store and her sudden change in behavior towards me. I was very surprised by the manager's response to the matter. She hurt me even more, creating extra harm to injury. She said: "Everyone gets discriminated against... I get discriminated against because I am white." I explained to her that I felt offended by the employees comment, but this was all in vain. The manager continued to make excuses and justify the employee's comment towards me.
I felt that she was discriminating against me because of my race, so I asked if we could all talk about the matter and give the employee an opportunity to explain herself. The manager was hesitant. She said that the employee was in the back room because she is very upset about the matter. I found this interesting because I was the victim who was deeply hurt by her comment and by the fact that I never received an explanation or apology. I was holding back my tears and trying to remain professional as I explained my concerns further. My only goal was to create a calm and open dialogue for discussion, but the employee and store manager were not co-operating. I was convinced that this was a battle that I was not going to win, and I felt both voiceless and powerless.
At this point, I realized that there was going to be no restoration, no conversation between us from which to learn from and there would definitely be no apology. I had been silenced, and it felt as though a wave of powerlessness had washed over me.
I have long moved on from this incident, because in life, there is no need to hold grudges. Despite the fact that I was treated unfairly and rudely, I walked away, reminding myself that discrimination exists everywhere. I wasn't bitter, my dignity was still intact, and their comments served to be eye opening rather than spirit-shattering. I also found myself reflecting on the fact that this is not the first nor the last time I will experience discrimination, so there is no sense in dwelling on instances that are out of your control.
Think about it this way: no one wants to be around someone who is negative, who easily holds a grudge or simply can't let go of the battles encountered in day to day life. If you can strive to let go of things that do not matter in the big picture, you will be better off because you won't be held down by unnecessary mental baggage. Such baggage only clutters your mind and gets in the way of following my tips and being productive.
Thus, if your mind is cluttered with unnecessary baggage, your ideas will also be all over the place. Once you get rid of these distractions, you will be able to once again find your footing and regain mental balance. Make a list of things that you are needlessly dwelling on. Focus on eliminating these distractions and ignoring them as I have chosen to ignore negative comments and experiences in my life and replace them with positive experiences and memories.