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Discrimination Hurts: The High Price of the Little Blue Box

Hi guys.  I know, it’s been 100(0000!) years since my last post. I really do love writing and blogging!  Please believe that!  I wish I was one of those daily blogger sorts with everything all organized and the ability to juggle a full-time job, two-hour commute, and endless (and awesome) Mommy tasks and still find the time and the oomph to blog.  If one of you amazing Blogger Mommies can give me any tips to help me accomplish this lofty goal, I’ll gladly listen and thank you with batches of the cookies of your choice.  Thanks to those of you who continue to read and post comments when I blog, especially over on Facebook.  I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, and that 2013 is blessed and beautiful for you and those you love.

I had a disheartening experience last night, and, well, I handle disappointment best via the written word.  Writing is my catharsis, and it’s certainly healthier than drowning my sorrows in ice cream.  Something many of you may not know about me is that I generally tend to be conservative with money.  I don’t like to spend it on myself, and when I do, I almost never spend very much.  I’m a mother and a wife with a mortgage and financial responsibilities and a heart that feels much happier when buying for and spoiling others than when making selfish purchases.  That’s just who I am.  But with the benefit of some Christmas cash as a beautiful and generous gift from my parents, I decided to do something special for myself.  I wanted to treat myself and to make myself feel pretty, and I wanted to buy something that would be a lasting memory of an incredible year.  If it brought a little sparkle and shine into my life, all the better.  Where do women go when they want to add a little sparkle and shine into their lives?  Tiffany.  I spent a few days doing research about Tiffany’s products – everything from swooning over photos of their jewelry to talking to (many) of my girlfriends who own and love Tiffany’s pieces. I hadn’t made my mind up what I would purchase, but I knew that my new little piece of memorable sparkle and shine would be a gift to myself in the popular little blue box from the quintessential pretty place, Tiffany.  Before going into the store, I was a little nervous.  On two occasions in the past, I’d been a victim of size discrimination in retail facilities, both somewhat swanky.  I am not a thin person, as you know.  Nor do I adorn myself with expensive jewelry or designer label clothing.  I’m not frumpy.  I’m not ugly.  I’m just a regular, normal (but overweight) person.  In the two prior instances, I was made to feel inferior, and other, thinner and better-attired customers were helped while I was left to walk around the store in heartbroken amazement.  I worried so much that this would happen again at Tiffany, and hoped with my whole heart that I would have an incredible experience at this beautiful, generally out-of-my-reach store.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

When Curtis and I walked into the Tiffany and Co. store on the Country Club Plaza in downtown Kansas City, we were both overwhelmed by the beauty of the jewelry.  Overwhelmed might be a bit of an understatement, actually!  Everything was breathtaking and gorgeous, and I felt like a queen in the midst of such incredible beauty.  Sadly, that feeling didn’t last for long.  Never having been in the store, I didn’t realize that there was an entire back portion filled with additional pieces.  I walked around (and around and around) the front of the store, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the gorgeous pieces and muttering aloud, but softly, how beautiful things were.  That was my way of hinting to the tall, African American salesman (who wasn’t thin either, let me add) that I wanted to be shown some jewelry.  When I said, “Wow, that’s beautiful,” what I was really saying was, “Please come show me some of these gorgeous pieces so that I can buy some!”  The salesman clearly saw me walk around the store multiple times, and yet made no effort to help me.  Instead, he talked and laughed with the store’s doorman.  It wasn’t long before I heard the door to the store open, and an older, seemingly more affluent couple entered.  In an instant, I knew what would happen.  And I was right.  The salesman walked right past me, nearly brushing against my coat as he did so, and approached the couple, saying something akin to, “How are we doing tonight, folks?”  I was heartbroken.  I walked toward the back of the store, where several salesladies were busy helping other customers, and browsed the incredible pieces on display, but my heart was broken and looking at these gorgeous necklaces and pendants had suddenly lost its luster.  A few moments later, a saleswoman approached me with a big and welcoming smile, and answered every question I had and showed me multiple pieces.  She took the time to get to know me, and tried to find things that she thought would be meaningful to me, but that also fell within my price range.  I ultimately decided on a pair of tiny, but beautiful earrings, but left the store feeling anything but beautiful and special.  Even though our amazing salesperson was kind and apologized for the behavior of her insensitive colleague, I still didn’t feel very good…about myself, about the experience, or, honestly, about the beautiful new earrings I had purchased.

To the salesman who refused to help me last night, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you.  Your discriminatory behavior bore heartbreaking results, and turned what should have been an incredible and memorable experience into a disheartening and sad one.  Even after purchasing those beautiful earrings and having a little blue box of my very own, I was still heartsick.  Even an hour later at dinner with my husband at our very favorite restaurant, I was still disheartened.  Even the following morning, when sleep evaded me and the compulsion to write you this letter took over, I was still sad.  Every woman deserves to feel beautiful.  The entire reason that your Tiffany store exists is to give women the opportunity to feel glamorous and beautiful.  As a woman who works hard and who doesn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to be surrounded by such exquisite and beautiful jewelry (let alone purchase any!), I was so looking forward to the experience of being mesmerized and, dare I say, pampered at your beautiful store.  Instead, I was the victim of unfettered discrimination undoubtedly fueled by ignorance.  We are each responsible in this life for helping others to learn and to grow and to become better people.  So this is my gift to you.  My message will be your growth, and, if your heart is open and you take this in the spirit that it is intended, your behavior and the motivations behind it will change for the better.  Remember that each person is worthy of your smile, your attention, your recognition.  That’s your responsibility as a human being.  It’s doubly true for you because you work in a retail capacity and the very existence of your position is to extend your kindness and assistance to others.  Don’t judge people by the way that they look.  You don’t know anything about me.  Yes, I am overweight.  No, I don’t wear designer clothes.  Yes, my sweater had a slight stain on it when I came into your store last night.  That’s because we had a potluck lunch at work for the few of us who were working over the holidays, and my plate broke.  I’m not a slob.  I am not dirty.  I was the victim of an unfortunate paper plate malfunction.  You might be surprised to know that (many!) others look (far, far) past my weight and see me.  And that “me” is a pretty amazing person.  I’m pretty funny, actually.  I make people laugh, and that makes me feel good.  I’m a writer, as you can probably surmise.  I have a huge heart, and am at my happiest when I am giving to and doing for others.  I’m an incredible wife and mom, just ask my husband and daughter.  They tell me so all the time, so I’m sure they’d tell you the same thing.  For nearly a year, cancer was in my everyday vernacular as my doctor and oncologist did everything they could to prevent me from getting uterine cancer.  While their efforts were incredible, a huge and amazing group of family and friends lifted me up in love and prayer, and although medical science might disagree with me, I know that they are the reason that I, in March of this year, was given a clean bill of health.  You were not my first experience with size discrimination.  Undoubtedly, you won’t be my last.  I experienced significant and terrible bullying as a child because I didn’t fit the mold that others thought I should.  The difference is that today, at 40, I can look at those who treat me differently with love and compassion, and see their behavior exactly for what it is – an outward demonstration of ill-informed misperceptions of how others should be.  Everyone, regardless of outward appearance, is worthy of love.  Don’t look down on people.  Use your energy to be a source of light and love for others.   Kindness and respect speak volumes for you.  So does bigoted and discriminatory behavior.  The beauty here is that the decision is yours.  You get to make the choice about how others will receive you, and, ultimately, how the world will remember you.  My name is Jennifer.  I’m a human being, and I deserve your respect.  And, quite frankly, I deserved much better from you last night.  Let me be your lesson.  Never again treat anyone with the blatant insensitivity which you showed me last night.  I am your mirror.  Look at me and see the impact of your actions and your attitude on others.  This is your learning opportunity.  I can’t wrap it up for you in a little blue box, but it does come from the heart.  Mine.  Which, by the way, beats just like yours does.  I bet it looks the same, too.

Thanks for reading, everyone.  Love to you and yours in the new year.


  1. Christi Karlovec says:

    Jennifer, you are beautiful inside and out. You are kind and compassionate and brave. You deserve those gorgeous earrings, and I hope that every time you wear them, you think of your parents and smile.

  2. Virginia Roccaforte Pretz says:

    Jen: I am so sorry you had that experience. Some people are just artificial and stupid! I agree with Christi! You wear those earrings and you will shine like Angelina !!!! That rude man is just a man and not important in anyway in this world! You are loved and admired by by many people and an important person to those who love you! THAT is what counts. Not everyone will like you or accept you or me.. We get overlooked too because we are older and yeah, it hurts..but as you said, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

    You are no different than anyone else and that guy is just a fool!!!.BUT..The good part is HE TOO will be judged someday and YOU will be at the FRONT of the line and can look him in the eye and smile at him as he gets sent to the end of the long long line to think about how he treated others here on earth! (You can also wave those earrings at him as he passes by!!! haha) Love you and come show me those beautiful earrings and your beautiful smile!!!!!! LOVE YOU <3 Mom V


  1. […] show of support and love that so, so many of you have shown me over the past few days following the events of last Friday evening.  This has become a wonderful habit, you coming out in droves with the “Team Jennifer” […]

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