6 Sexist Compliments Salespeople Use All The Time

by Kat George

I hate shopping. I really, really hate it. Let me clarify: I don't hate buying things. I LOVE buying things. Buying things is my favorite. But shopping. Boy howdy. If you were my worst enemy, you should wish shopping upon me. That might seem confusing, but the distinction is very clear in my mind. "Buying" things means going to an online store, browsing, weighing options and purchasing, all while never leaving my couch and hopefully wearing no pants. It's all on my own time and on my own terms, and when my things arrive they make me feel good and happy, and if I don't like them, I stuff them back in their box and return them, no muss, no fuss. Shopping, now shopping is what happens when I go into a store, have a sensory overload from thumping music, unforgiving lighting, a little bit too warm temperature and racks and racks of clothes giving me a sense of vertigo.

Shopping involves trying things on, having sales staff make suggestions and being suffocated in a deluge of superficial compliments designed to make me spend. Shopping makes me walk out of a store with things I didn't want, that don't match anything in my wardrobe, and that I always regret but felt pressured into buying because of the aforementioned elements inside the store, and the pushy sales staff. Of course, it's the staff's job to sell clothes. That's not their fault. They're probably under the thumb from management to meet certain unrealistic sales goals (I've worked in retail, a lot!) and so they become desperate and cloying and overly enthusiastic in their compliments. But the inherent nature of such compliments can often be completely sexist in its nature, particularly because I've never heard similar compliments given to men in the change room. Here are some of the frequent offenders:

1. "Guys are going to go crazy for you wearing that."

Yeah, probably. I look hot. But that's not why women go shopping, or at least it shouldn't be. What about "You're going to love yourself sick in that outfit" as a change from everything being about impressing men? It's obviously a comment that's meant to be good natured, and I don't want to rip into anyone saying it too much (because yeah, sometimes we all like it when someone we're sexually attracted to is attracted to us too, equally applicable to all genders), but it's definitely perpetuating the inherent notion that women appear solely for the pleasure of men. Personally, sometimes I like to look good for my partner, but I get the most pleasure out of catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and feeling hot. Meanwhile, unwanted attention from strange men in public can be victimizing, so suggesting that catcalling is the desired outcome of an outfit is definitely dangerous and offensive when we live in a world where women are still objectified on a daily basis.

2. "Your boobs/ass looks so good in that."

HELLO. My eyes and my personality are up HERE.

3. "That makes you look so skinny!"

Urgh. I mean. I'm victim of liking to look skinny. But do we have to keep nudging women, not so subtly, towards thinness? Can't we just say "That makes you look GOOD", regardless of the silhouette it casts? We all are who we are, and outfits should make us look like us, not like a skinny person (unless, of course, you are a skinny person).

4. "You look so cute!"

As a short person, I get particularly tired of "cute". Sometimes I want to look chic and sophisticated. Sometimes I want to look professional. Sometimes I want to look beautiful. Sometimes I want to look fun. I never, ever want to look cute. Cute is infantilizing. I really hate cute, especially when it's delivered in isolation, and by a stranger. For instance, it's fine when my boyfriend, friend, or relative calls me "cute" because I might have been cute in a split second, but they also know that I am funny, hardworking, generous and smart. When a salesperson tells me I look "cute," they might as well say "You look like a teeny tiny baby you widdle biddle girlie wirly!" It doesn't really feel great.

5. "Wow, you look so curvy."

Great, OK, so it's either thin or Kim Kardashian. Please, throw more impossible body ideals at women. What about just a blanket, "You look great!"? That should cover it.

6. "This is going to be perfect for you post-diet."

While we're talking about bodies... What is that thing sales staff do when they convince someone who admits they're "on a diet" into buying something that's a litttttttttle too small about? I've had sales staff tell me I can just hang something in the wardrobe because it will look "incredible" on my "summer body". THAT'S A TRAP. My body is my body, it's not going to miraculously become some kind of other body when it comes time to wear a particular dress.

Photos: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Giphy(6)