Shop Girl Not Racist, Just Condescending … Period!

Published August 12, 2013 by Maryanne


Oprah Winfrey (Photo swiped from Google)

This morning I heard the account on the news about the shop assistant who didn’t recognize Oprah Winfrey, wouldn’t show her a bag that was “too expensive.” Ouch! Imagine saying that to one of the richest women in the world … how embarrassing.

Here is one of the articles about the incident:

Oprah made a big stink about it and called the shop girl a “racist.”

I’m going to side with Oprah on this one, but not because I think the shop girl is a racist. Because I think the shop girl was condescending … period.

As a woman who likes to shop, I’ve experienced so many shop girls and shop owners that act haughty, judgmental and above it all, whether they are working in an expensive boutique or a tacky Mandees. I’m sure many woman can relate to thatΒ  incident in “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts tries to buy clothes and the shop girls turn their nose up at her just because she’s not wearing what they felt was fashion-appropriate. (I thought Julia Roberts looked hot in that blue mini skirt and the sales girls looked like dullards who should have been auditioning for a “Little House on the Prairie” remake).

Face it … we live in a world where people like to feel superior and will take every opportunity to do so. They practically pounce on people with nice personalities such as Oprah because they THINK they can get away with it.Β  It’s sad that losers with low self-esteem have to resort to bitchiness in order to make others feel bad.

I am proud of Oprah for bringing this out in the public, as snooty sales girls need to be bitch-slapped. But I don’t like that she said it was racism, as this happens to so many of us white women too. I’d even say it was age-ism before racism, actually.

As a 40-something white middle-class woman, here are THE TOP THREE most condescending moments I’ve experienced because of some asshole shop girl or shop owner.

1. In an expensive Hoboken boutique (that is no longer in business — gee, I wonder why?) where I once shopped along side of Molly Ringwald and bought clothes often, I tried on a long halter top gown. The owner talked me out of buying it because she felt that I wasn’t “busty” enough. (Uh, hello, 36-C!)Β  I chewed her out and then never shopped there again. I told others not to shop there either and they listened to me.

2. In Mandees, I asked a sales girl where the pajamas were. In the most snotty, condescending manner she turned her nose up at me and said, “THIS IS NOT A PAJAMA SHOP!” Oh, excuse me, I didn’t know I was on Hollywood Boulevard, I thought I was in Union County, New Jersey.

3. In an expensive boutique that I used to love, I was at the party where they were switching owners — the new owner was under 30. She wouldn’t even look at me, which told me she was an ageist. Meanwhile she was bending over backwards to assist other 20-somethings. I never went back.

So, dearest Oprah, please don’t use the race card on this one. It’s not just you it happened to. It happened to me. It happened to Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” And it happens to many other women, I’m sure.

Oh, and that expensive bag Oprah wanted to look at — it was hideous! My $40 bags are so much cuter, thank you very much!

46 comments on “Shop Girl Not Racist, Just Condescending … Period!

  • Dear MaryAnne, sorry, I think it was racism. With Oprah, she didn’t even get to look at the handbag the way she requested from the clerk. In my opinion, your situations are very different from a straight out NO.

      • Maryanne, how old are you? Anyway, how long have you experience ageism? Not meaning to be disrespectful, but I feel black people get this mess everyday. I don’t want to be rude, I’m not being dismissive, and I believe what you feel and what you’ve experienced. Only black people and other minority groups know what I’m trying to say. Not being insensitive. Maybe we can keep trying. I am almost 50, I don’t care if the clerk thinks I am too old for something. I don’t like being ignored or dismissed or put down or some stupid act because I am black. Hope you reply back.

      • Hi Sweetie, what is your name?

        Of course I’ll reply, you seem like a very nice person.

        I’m 49 (will be 50 in less than a week) and have experienced ageism since I was in my early 40s. It happened in the workplace, which is why I left and started my own business.

        I would love to learn more about the black culture and what it is like to be black. I try my best to learn. I have a lot of black friends and clients.

        I’m all for civil rights and rights for everyone, not just minorities but also gay/bisexual/transgender and animals … everyone deserves to life the best, happiest life on this planet.

        You’re absolutely right, I don’t know what Oprah was going through when she was misjudged, as a black woman. But I can’t help wonder how she would be treated as a YOUNGER black woman if she was dressed really fancy? Would this happen if someone younger and gorgeous like Rhianna or Beyonce or Halle Berry came in the store to buy a bag? That’s all I was trying to say. What do you think?

  • My human mommy went into a local jewelry/gift store to buy a birthday gift for my human grandmother. She spent about five minutes in the store (which was in no way crowded) and she was completely ignored. My mommy will readily admit that she was not looking her very best, but face it snotty sales lady, mommy was the one spending the money and you were the one making it. Mommy left the store, called it’s parent store in New Orleans to order the gift (and also let them know about the dreadful treatment she received at the Baton Rouge store), and then called the local store where she had been ignored and had a very long talk with the manager. Mommy will never, ever again set foot in that local store. She will instead make the one-and-a-half hour drive to the New Orleans store where, no matter how she looks, she has always received the gracious treatment. Customer service–it’s not that difficult!

  • frienD pf frienD buying ?LeBoutAiN shoEs for 30th highschool reunion… waS amAzed when the sAlesgirL asked” are these for you??” she answered yes !! & the sAlesgirl sAid” wOwww .. i didnt know old women coulD wear healS!!!”β˜ͺβ™¬βœ„β€βœ‚βœ‘βœ’β™‘βž‘β£βœΌ Sent from my iPhone !!!~(*v*)~>^:^<!!! ƸӜƷ*~* ☾~✼* ✼~β˜€βœΌβ™© β™«_❀*β˜…

    • OMG, that’s gotta be the worst, Shaolin! That’s downright rotten. Give me the address I’ll go and tell the sales girl she’s “ugly” right to her face for revenge! πŸ™‚

  • Each customer should be treated the same way. The workers in these stores are profiling the customers and treating them accordingly. You were right to not return to any store, in which people were being pigeon-holed into a certain category, by salepersons, that know nothing about you, yet think they do.

    • Exactly! Like I said, people just love to feel like they are superior. It even works in the opposite way, if you look especially good and they feel threatened by you, they like to make little cracks and remarks to bring you down a notch. That recently happened to me too since I lost a few pounds and have a new hairstyle and look better than usual. I guess my confidence shows and people don’t dig that.

    • Exactly. And looks are deceiving. I used to date a millionaire who was very insecure and the biggest idiot in the world. He never wanted me to dress up because he was so deathly afraid other guys would look at me. We’d go to expensive restaurants dressed with holes in our jeans and people treated us like GARBAGE. This is the world we live in, everyone treats each other like dirt.

      This is why I love my life. I have the most adoring, wonderful husband, the best church, the best friends and family. My world is perfect. I don’t need ANY acceptance from ugly outsiders πŸ™‚

  • Haha!

    It funny what someone will buy just because its in fashion!.:)

    When I’m dressed up woman flock to serve me. When in my jeans, shirt hair just tied back, its a joke how they ignore your very existence!

    It bugs the hell out of me, because you know you have more money than they can ever make!

    Has nothing to do with racism! Hugs, Maryanne. Paula xxx

    • Exactly! Like I wrote to the poster above, when I was dating the insecure millionaire and he insisted I wear jeans to fancy restaurants because he was too bent on other guys looking at me; plus he wasn’t much of a class act either, always dressed stupid (one of those dumb times I was like, “Where the hell was my head?! LOL! It only lasted a month, thank sweet Jesus!)

      Anyway, we’d have these $500 meals that lasted three hours long, with ignorant people staring at us the whole time. (Probably wondering if we were rock stars or something).

      And that’s a good point. I don’t know what shop girls make but $15 an hour seems about right for shop managers in USA – so, yeah, I do make more money then them. I never asked about your career Paula, what do you do?

      HUGS! xox

      • I renovate homes. Buy/Sell…profit! Lol

        I’ve done it for 16 years now.
        Plus I married into money. Its why I talk about money not buying happiness. For sure it gives freedom and choices, but without that happiness? Its worthless.

        Still, its a whole new beginning, right? Xxxx

      • Wow, sounds like a great job!

        And right on about money not buying happiness. That idiot I spoke of that had a lot of money once said to me, ‘Everyone you date after me will seem like white trash.” No, sir, YOU are the white trash and I hope by some chance you are reading this, ha-ha!

        Hooray for new beginnings! I found my new beginning in 2005 when I started dating my husband and have been happy ever since πŸ™‚

      • That’s so cool. πŸ™‚

        My ex husband and I are still friends, which I’m really happy about. He would still like to reconcile. But, its too late for that..

        I want to one day feel like you do. πŸ™‚ xxxx

      • That’s awesome you stayed friends with your ex-husband! Don’t reconcile, you’re exes for a reason. He may be a great guy, but not the great guy for YOU! That’s how I feel about my GOOD exes (not the asshole millionaire I described). My good exes are like brothers and my husband likes them too. There is no jealous in our relationship, which is wonderful. We are so happy! πŸ™‚

      • I know, your right. πŸ™‚

        Going back would be easy, but for all the wrong reasons. Its 3.40 am. Lol

        I best try get some more sleep. :). Nite/ morning! Lol xx

    • “It bugs the hell out of me, because you know you have more money than they can ever make!”

      I’d like to point out that it’s not that you have more money than they can *ever* make…you just have more money than they happen to be making right now being a cashier/salesperson. You shouldn’t be offered good customer service simply because you have a higher income than the people ringing you out, it should be due to the fact that you’re a (hopefully equally polite) customer. I’ve worked as the manager of a family owned game store for the past 8 years, and I do, in fact, “only” make $15 an hour. But I love my job, I care about my nice customers, and because I believe in living simply I always have a little extra money so I can buy miniatures and games.

      Not saying you are like this, but your above comment has been said to me in various ways by others, always with the meaning of “You NEED to serve me because I make more money and am therefore INFINITELY better than you can ever hope to be!” Everyone should be treated with basic respect and courtesy…regardless of what side of the counter they’re on (or if they’re unemployed).

      • You’re misunderstanding her point, Sophia. Paula was just pointing out that people were acting condescending, as if they were superior and judging people that they feel don’t look as good as they do — and that those people probably make more money than she does. She wasn’t being literal. I know Paula and that is not her personality.

        Also, on the flip side, you get cashiers (and this happens to me all the time in Whole Foods) that ASSUME you’re wealthy and privileged and are going to treat them as you described just because everyone else does! I’m so sick and frustrated with cashiers at Whole Foods treating me badly just because the person on line before me treated them badly! Life isn’t supposed to be a domino effect! You treat people kindly and with respect.

        I NEVER ever treated anyone as if they needed to “serve” me. So, that’s a very wrong assumption and misunderstanding of what Paula and I were speaking of. We were just illustrating how wrong people can be in their idiotic assumptions!

        This also reminds me of another millionaire I knew … you’d never know this guy was filthy rich by the way he dressed. Plus, he was so nice and down to earth. No pretense at all. He didn’t want people to know how wealthy he was.

        The point of what Paula and I were saying — you don’t judge a book by it’s cover — as sales people are notorious for doing. Not all, obviously, otherwise we’d all be shopping online. But there’s a reason for stereotypes … and by what other people are posting on this thread, it seems almost everyone has a bad experience with a salesperson!

        And no one said “ONLY $15 an hour.” I said, guessing, it was “$15 an hour.” Please do not put words in my mouth.

      • “Paula was just pointing out that people were acting condescending, as if they were superior and judging people that they feel don’t look as good as they do…”

        Precisely. I was simply trying to point out that it goes both ways. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, the context of how the “$15” was written seemed off to me. Apologies for misunderstanding.

        I am willing to admit that my experiences are very different than what I’m reading on this thread, probably because I’ve worked retail since I was 17…and because I loathe shopping and don’t do it more than is absolutely necessary. I’ve also never shopped at a boutique or really upscale store…so I’m going to concede to others experiences with snotty salespeople. I’ve never encountered them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

        I agree that the “domino effect” does happen sometimes, but it’s never really affected me. If the customer in front of me is being rude, I’ll either say something directly to them about how atrocious they are acting…or if they seem completely irrational, I’ll offer sympathy and comfort to the cashier when the idiot leaves. Doing this, I’ve never experienced the “domino effect” as you have. Again, I’m positive that it does happen…it’s just not something I can count on my internal checklist of things that I’ve seen/been through.

        I also never said that you (or Paula, or anyone else) has ever treated a salesperson that way. I believe I actually said the opposite, that I was sure she did not do such things. I was just pointing out that her exact words in that one sentence have been used to excuse haughty behavior by some of the customers I’ve had. Again, I’m NOT in any way saying that Paula (or anyone else here) does this…only that disrespect can and often does go both ways in retail.

        “You treat people kindly and with respect.” Exactly! πŸ˜€

      • Shame you read it that way.

        They were the ones looking down on me as if I can’t afford it! Now, they are the ones acting as if they are better. I’m merely pointing out that I know I have more than them. But I’m not that one acting all high and mighty, they are!

        I never expect better service than anyone. Exactly my point to why it shouldn’t make a difference what I’m wearing in a shop. Everyone should be treated equally.

        No offence was intended to you or anyone.
        Please except my apology as you were offended. And that was not my intention. Paula x

      • No worries, Paula. I wasn’t really offended, per se…I understand what you meant, but I just wanted to point out that respect is needed both ways.

        Like I told Maryanne…I personally have never had to deal with salespeople like this, but I’ll take your word for it that they exist. I would never deny that you and others have been treated like this, and I think it is horrible. On the other hand, I’ve had a great many customers in my 12 years of working retail who stop just short of telling me that I’m one step above being a panhandler in their eyes.

        Two different experiences, both equally valid, eh? πŸ™‚

      • And on the same hand, I’ve had retailers give me a bottle of wine at the end of the year saying that I’m their “best” customer. As for the domino effect, I’ve seen people treating cashiers badly and I always make a joke, which makes the cashiers smile. What I resent is when I walk up to a cashier and she has attitude from the get-go. I’m the nicest person in the world and don’t deserve half the crap I’ve been dealing with from sales people and cashiers over the years. Maybe you like your job, Sophia, but most people DON’T. Which brings me to why I shop in the fancier places because if you get a good sales person, it’s worth it’s weight in gold, it’s just a matter of sifting through all the bullshit places, which is why I tend to shop more than I like to!

        I’m glad you love your job, it’s truly refreshing to hear that. πŸ™‚

      • I think if I wanted to shop in fancier places, I’d have to go down to NYC. I mean, I buy my veggies/honey/eggs from actual farmers. πŸ˜›

        As for loving your job…I think you know something about that, right? πŸ˜‰ I hear your boss is a wonderful person to work for!

      • Yeah, NYC is fantastic! I never had bad service in NYC — never, ever, ever πŸ™‚

        HA! Yeah, Maryanne is the best boss. She’s letting me chill and surf the net before the work day begins … maybe 11 a.m. today since it’s rainy and I’m pretty wiped out πŸ™‚

  • Oh wow, this was a GREAT post and lots of feed back too. i haven’t read all the comments yet, but i am going to. I agree with you in this case that it isn’t always about racisim. i have experienced many rude comments and lack of help because someone judged me as not being the type to shop in a particular place. I have had security called on me (the sales clerk thought she was being sly by calling security in to watch me) because I guess I was spending too much time in a book store- who can’t spend hours in a book store? I have had people look me up and down then turn away from me, i’ve been told something was too expensive for me, this hasn’t happened in a while though – not that I’m aware of anyway. And i’m not talking shops on Rodeo Drive here… I’m talking average mall stores. But It does happen to EVERYONE.

      • You know, after writing that, I started to recall those moments again. I think it was more agism. I have always looked very young for my age. i really didn’t start showing my age until the last 5 years. When I was 27 I was asked by a liquor store clerk if I was old enough for matches ( I had asked him for a book of matches – he was very concerned about giving them to me until I showed him my ID) I think all those people thought I was up to no good because I looked too young to have money or something – either way it always pissed me off and then would hurt my feelings.

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