Dear Victoria’s Secret, Cardiff.
I am a very open minded person. I rarely jump to conclusions first before trying something out for myself. I am more than happy with myself, although there are some things that I would like to change, I’m in no particular rush to look any certain way.
The bags. The signature bags. All pink and striped and fluffed-up with luxurious, pink tissue paper. So cute!
In all honesty, having not even looked at the VS website before, let alone going to the actual store, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I’d definitely seen ‘plus size’ Victoria’s Secret hauls on YouTube, but had never actually clicked on a video.
Tempted by a friend, we walked in.
I didn’t go into Victoria’s Secret looking for anything in particular, I just sort of wandered into one section and into another until something caught my eye, where I’d scour the hanger for a big, old XL, and when one wasn’t in sight, I was on my way to the next cute bed shorts that caught my eye. At this point, I wasn’t bothered at all. I believe, after looking once getting home that their size L is a size 12-14, way out of my sizing zone, anyway, which is fine. I obviously did not go in with the intent of picking something up, smaller than I’d usually wear, and have it fit me. It’s the same with any store, when they don’t have your size, you forget about the item and move on. Which I was very happily doing at this point, may I add.
Stores like this don’t intimidate me. Walking around this store is the same as walking around the next. I didn’t feel uncomfortable by the lack of XL’s (I actually don’t believe that I saw one in that size, anyway), nor by the 5 X-Smalls, 4 Smalls, 2 Medium, 1 Large and 0 X-Large ratio that seemed to be a common theme on the rails around the store. It wasn’t even that, that had bothered me.
I met again with my friend, after separating in the store, her going one way, me the other, and we both spotted the exact same lacy-pink, dreamy bed shorts. they were stunning. I flicked through with determination this time, looking for an XL and flicking through again for a L when the XL was clearly one of those ‘order online’ sizes. I found my L, (the only L on the rail, may I add) and turned around to see my friend a few meters away, wandering around the bra’s.
The sales assistant, a very important looking and tall lady, walked straight past my friend and stood a meter or two away from me.
I turned around with the large lacy, pink, baggy, elasticated bed shorts in hand, and went to head for my friend to show her my ‘might-fit-me-might-be-tight-but-worth-it’ bed shorts, when..
“Hi.. Are you aware of the sizing in this store?”
“Yes, fine, thanks..”
She smiled, and it just all of a sudden looked so fake. And she had a headset on that made her look so important, and the way she stood about a meter or two away from me, made me feel like she didn’t genuinely want to help me. It was only once I had gotten home and replayed the happenings in my head that I realised, had she have said that to someone weaker, or someone who couldn’t take it, or someone who genuinely went into VS to buy something to make them feel special, things could have been different.
And I shuffled away, with my tail between my legs. I didn’t even want to hold the shorts anymore. I walked over to my friend, who was being helped by a lovely lady, and I stood there in silence for about 10 seconds. Before walking back over to the rail that I picked up the cutest bed shorts ever from, and I put them back down.
My friend knew there was something wrong, but I laughed it off. I actually said the words “It doesn’t even matter, I’m literally fine.” But it seemed that this hadn’t only mildly affected me. My friend, upon discussion once leaving the shop after making her purchase, was livid. Her experience also ruined. She wanted to ring their head office, or go back into the store to make a complaint. At the time, it hadn’t really sunk in, and I didn’t feel it was her battle, it was mine. The lady wasn’t stand-offish with her, she was with me! I didn’t want to go back to complain, I didn’t feel welcome.
I understand, working in retail myself, that things can be difficult. But if she was having a difficult day and didn’t feel like she was communicating well with customers that day, then why not just ask a colleague to approach and offer help instead? Not that any help was offered to me, anyway.
I just think that it’s important that it happened to me and not anyone else. Who knows what could have happened if this passing comment from her, had been said to someone with extremely low self-esteem, someone who couldn’t handle it?
And now I’m confused, as I write this, I’m on YouTube, watching a VS haul from a well known plus sized YouTuber, and she looks great. And more importantly, she has things in her size. Have I missed a memo?
Maybe it’s just the attitude of the staff member herself, and not necessarily the Cardiff store or even VS. But even so, why after looking at their website does it seem some stuff should have fit me? Is it because I left in such a hurry once I’d been spoken to, that it was just by chance I found nothing in my size? Why was I questioned? My friend wasn’t questioned, and we were basically the only two in the store at that time, bar one or two others.
So, just to let you know Victoria’s Secret Cardiff, I spent £100 in Ann Summers that exact day, and probably got double what £100 would have got me in VS. And besides that, besides the money which doesn’t really matter, the staff in there were so lovely and kind, and no one questioned my size once, or my friends. They were helpful and informative and actually did what they could to help. They made me feel comfortable.
I don’t actually know what the sales assistant meant by her comment, but surely theres no two ways about it. I can’t even imagine another sentence that she could have tried to say.
“Are you aware of the sizing in this store?”
I certainly am now, thanks for shedding some light.