Like most days, I grab lunch from the street market conveniently located just outside the GPF tower where I work. And like most days, I browse through the stands selling clothes, shoes, accessories, and home products before buying food. Today I had a very unpleasant experience…
I spotted a pink suit jacket at a stall selling professional outfits. I have a lot of black and grey suits, thanks to my corporate experience, so I’m trying to diversify my professional wardrobe. The colorful jackets I was browsing were being sold for 200 to 400 baht ($6-8), so not super high-quality but it was the color I was going for not the fabric. Anyhow, I stepped into her stall and pointed to the pink suit jacket, asking if I could try it on. She looked at me up and down, and then waved her hand saying “no, no too small.” I found this to be rude, but tried not to let it get to me. Besides, as a self-aware individual I know I am no size small. Determined to try on a suit jacket, I politely responded “do you have a medium size?” She shook her head again and went back to helping her Thai customer. I was speechless. I was agitated by her reaction and appalled by the terrible customer service. Keeping my cool once again, I asked, “are there any medium or large sizes, in any color?” No response.
I walked away and felt really crummy. So many thoughts ran through my head. Was she calling me fat? Should I feel bad that I’m not a size zero? Maybe I should not eat lunch today. And why was she so quick to shoo me away? Why did she assume I was buying the jacket for myself? I have an older sister who is petite and the jacket would have fit her well. Isn’t her job to sell and make money? Why did she care about my purchase so much? Why didn’t she want my money? Was this subconscious bias?
As I pushed through the crowds to the food stalls, I also felt very self-conscious about my body, and just so crappy. I felt judged and humiliated. I decided to pick up some green tea bubble tea and process what just happened.