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Vancouver woman ‘body shamed’ at Richmond store selling plus-size clothing

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver woman says she was shocked and traumatized after she was “body shamed” about her weight while shopping at a Richmond clothing store.

Sherri Willis, 48, was shopping for a new work wardrobe at Reitmans in the Ironwood Plaza, when she says an employee approached and told her she shouldn’t get a dress because of her size.

Reitmans sells women’s clothing from sizes zero to 22.

According to Willis, the employee continued making unsolicited, disparaging comments about her appearance, telling her she had a big butt and thighs.

“She’s like oh, I don’t really think that would look good on you, you’re a little bit too big for that. I thought, who the hell are you to tell me that?” she says.

“How dare you talk to me like that. I didn’t do anything to you. I didn’t say anything mean to you, but you just made me feel like a monster.”

She says she told the employee her comments were offensive, but she rolled her eyes and told her not to take it seriously.

“It was just a joke. Like, can you take a joke? And I said no, not when I’m very insecure about my body shape and my size. [Employees] should be a little bit more respectful [and] not make me feel ugly. Because that’s exactly what you’ve made me feel like,” she says.

“If I want to try on something that you may not like personally, that’s not for you to decide.”

Willis continued her shopping. She spoke with another customer about what happened in the change room.

“And all of a sudden, this woman who was the sales associate, she comes over and she’s like, you need to stop that right now. And she got very stern and very rude with me,” she says.

She put down the clothing, and headed for the door.

A second employee asked Willis what happened, and then apparently told her to lighten up.

“I said no, I’m not going to shop in a store that’s going to be rude like that to me and point out my flaws,” she says. “That’s a horrible way to joke.

“Maybe I’m shamed other places as well. I don’t need to continuously hear it. I don’t need to feel embarrassed of who I am, because I am a very beautiful person. I am very outgoing, I’m friendly, I like people, and for her to actually say that was horrible.”

Willis has four children, and says her body isn’t as small as it was when she was in her 20s. She also has a medical condition that affects her weight. Willis says she’s disappointed she was treated this way in a store that advertises to plus-size women.

“I think that everybody, no matter if they’re rich, poor, fat, skinny, any different nationality, they should be made to feel welcome […] It’s frustrating that people don’t really respect the core values that their stores actually have,” she says.

“I have been really hurt and traumatized from the whole episode, and I will never go back to Reitmans again.”

A manager at Reitmans store would not comment on the situation, but directed NEWS 1130 to contact the corporate office.

In a tweet responding to this story, the company said: “We take Sheri Willis’ complaint regarding her experience very seriously. A review is underway so that appropriate action can be taken. We believe that women are beautiful just the way they are, and in diversity and inclusivity. Be assured we’re working to resolve this matter.”

An email from Reitmans to Willis also apologized for her experience.

“We appreciate your comments about the situation. At Retimans [sic] we always want our customers to feel comfortable in their skin, no matter who they are or where they come from,” reads the email.

“We are sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t to our standards. We will be reaching out to the Reitmans location and their district sales manager in order to clarify and gain further information.”

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