Retail Chain Under Fire After Teen Claims She Was Ousted For Being 'Too Big'
Fourteen-year old Shelby Buster says she was told to leave the store.
On Saturday, her actual birthday, Buster says she was shopping with a friend for perfume at a Eugene outlet of rue21, the casual clothing and accessories chain, when a worker told her to leave the store. "You're too big to be in this store, I need you to leave," Buster claims she was told, as was first reported by the local ABC outlet, KEZI.
After Buster's friend finishing her shopping, the two left and found Buster's mother, Marge Wood-Buster, who was waiting for them at the food court. After hearing what happened, Wood-Buster returned to the store to confront the store's managers. On the spot, one of the store's employees apologized, according to Buster, as was reported by the Daily Mail.
But it was the first time Buster had shopped without a parent at her side, and she was upset. After returning home, she posted her story on rue21's Facebook page:
In speaking to KEZI, a rue21 regional manager said the company doesn't tolerate discrimination against overweight customers. The company, which has more than 900 locations nationwide, regularly offers clothing in extra large sizes. The regional manager, not named by KEZI, told the outlet the company is reviewing the video footage from the store before making a final decision about the fate of the employee. Rue21 posted an apology in response to Buster's Facebook post, saying the worker's conduct was "completely unacceptable." And the company was "really sorry to hear this," as was reported by the Daily Mail.
"Well 'Happy Birthday' to me! The rue 21 [sic.] in Eugene Oregon told me I was too fat and told me to leave the store! I can't believe it! Thanks for ruining my birthday rue 21 [sic.] !"
But Facebook users weren't particularly impressed with the company. "So you advertise with Notorious 'BIG' on your t'shirts but discriminate against plus size girls? that makes perfect sense! Shame on your store! SHAME SHAME," wrote Kimberley Boggs Catlin, of Pfafftown, North Carolina, on the company's wall. "Your company needs to explain what is up. The people who caused this should be fired, period," wrote Ray Anthony, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Bloggers also spoke out in defense of Buster. "To the ragemobile!" was how women's news site Jezebel.com reacted.
Earlier this year, Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire after the CEO was quoted as saying that the store only wanted "thin" and "cool" customers. The store doesn't even stock women's pants in sizes bigger than a 10. After the outcry from teens and celebrities, the CEO Mike Jeffries apologized, but sales have been in a steady decline anyway.
In a country where two out of three adults are overweight, it seems many consumers share Buster's sentiment when it comes to stores sending away heavy customers. "Seriously that's disrespectful and rude. Just because I'm bigger than you guys are, I'm not a 14 or smaller. It makes no sense why they would do that," she told KEZI.
What do you think should happen to the rue21 worker?
Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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