A Lesson in Treating Plus Size Girls with Dignity
Why stores are failing when it comes to plus size flower girl dresses
For the third time this week our company Pegeen.com received a call from a frantic mom, searching, late in the season, for a plus size flower girl dress that she could use for her daughter's First Communion. Now hear this story - when she went to a large bridal store the clerk spoke to the mom, in front of the little girl, and said "Oh, we can't serve her kind here".
This little girl did nothing wrong other than being in the wrong store. Do you give sensitivity training to your employees? Many of us have body images their whole lives. Mine was anorexia and bulimia because I wasn't as thin as my tiny (she still is) sister and all it took for me was to have one relative ask, 'do you really think you should have that bowl of ice cream?' It was my birthday for God's sake.
So, Pegeen has been on a mission for 37 years about how you treat the plus size girl, and it starts with dignity. It is not the child's fault about her size - it could be here genes, the stress of something in the family, even medications after transplant therapy can cause a child to have a bloated shape. So, when a parent takes a child into a store and the clerk thinks she is being discrete, the child hears. Some of the children don't care but others truly hear it. Did you really say to your potential customer " We don't fit her kind here" or, one of our favorites "lets cut down this woman's dress" - so what she can have breasts some day to fill it in?
When we measure kids (our parent's usually do it over the phone, we ask the mom to get off the speaker phone as soon as possible so the child doesn't hear our discussion after measurements are taken. We use the child's height as their size, ie if a child is 55" they are a size 10. Their additional measurements, the chest and waist, are part of our "magic" because we make every dress. Internally we call it a 10 plus 1 (for a child with a 35" chest, for instance.)
Here is our Mission Statement on Measuring Children for Flower Girl Dresses, Big or Small, I hope that these stores can adapt the same.
Never call a child's size anything larger than their height.
Never discuss the measurements with the child while on the speaker phone.
Ask the child to leave the room when we need to talk to the mom.
Never call a child a 1/2 Size (meaning she is not a 12 1/2) - what child is a "HALF"?
Never have put "poster child" for a plus size girl on our website unless the photograph is older than 10 years. Instead we proudly display the child's photo throughout our website like all others.
We do not believe in "Size 22 or Size 24" and so forth. Again, the size coordinates with the height, what the top/bodice size is simply added to the skirt.
And we will NEVER tell a child "We can't fit your type here".
Perhaps store owners can use the example from Miracle on 34th Street where the Macy's Santa recommends an alternative to a mother that Gimbel's has - similar here because they don't carry the child's sizing issue. Have a recommended referral list for goodness sake - it doesn't take much effort, does it?
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Flower girl dresses by Pegeen are designed and made by us at our own U.S. factory. Your flower girl will wear one of the finest couture flower girl dresses ever produced. Visit us at pegeen.com for flower girl dresses customized especially for you. https://www.pegeen.com
Design your own with our unique Pegeen Dress Dreamer
Just a reminder – although we sell exclusively online, if you are visiting Orlando, we are located just 1.25 miles from Disney World. Call to visit our factory or design studio. 407-928-2377
Marg Hyland, Founder