Unwarranted advice at the shops

Other people’s bodies are none of our business.

I recently read a status on social media by a very upset woman who went into a shop looking for a dress to wear at a wedding. Despite the fact that she didn’t ask for any help or advice, she was roundly told by the shop owner that there was nothing in her size before she even had the chance to look around.

I might have fleetingly thought that this was a made-up story had it not been for the fact that this has happened to me at local shops several times. Yes, you read that right, not once or twice, but numerous times.

Whether it’s gaslighting me about something being in stock (or even existing at all) or telling me that something won’t fit me unprompted, I’ve literally seen and heard it all when shopping locally, and I’m fed up with it. The choice most of our establishments have is dismal enough, but when you couple that with the customer service you get, it’s little wonder that even the computer illiterate are starting to ask for help to shop online.

I’ve never understood this Maltese compulsion to give advice to people you don’t know who haven’t asked for it in shops. I mean, you don’t know me, I don’t know you, you have no idea if I’m buying the dress for myself or someone else, and you definitely don’t know what kind of relationship I have with my body.

Why would you even bother to comment? What if I have an eating disorder? What if I can’t lose that pregnancy weight? Or, more straightforward still, what if I’m struggling with my body image and hate what I see in the mirror?

Unasked-for remarks are not only uncalled for but can also be extremely triggering. If no one has spoken to you, let alone asked your opinion, why are you butting in? So many people don’t know when to shut up, and it shows.

What makes all this even more ironic is that not only do most people not appreciate this behaviour, but they’ll actually make sure to avoid your shop in the future. Moreover, if they have a mouth as big as mine, they’ll tell their friends too.

We need to understand once and for all that other people’s bodies are none of our business and that having a commercial enterprise does not make you qualified to start saying random things to people you have never met. You’re not their mum, sister, or friend, and you’re not being helpful; you’re being invasive.

Think before you speak.

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