How To Fight Back Against Mean

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Sometimes people will wrap up a mean comment as something else, like an innocent question. Here is a story of how to fight back against mean. Don’t understand? Keep reading!

The background

When I was in my twenties, I worked as a sales associate at an upscale department store in a local mall. I loved my job, and only a few of the people I worked with. Looking back, I can see it was a toxic situation; but at the time I didn’t know. Anyway….

Anytime I went to lunch, I would go into the mall instead of the store’s break room. There was a little snack bar in the mall’s center that sold sandwiches, drinks, etc. Usually, I would get a sandwich and a drink, then sit on one of the backless wood benches near the mall entrance. 

I loved the vast amount of natural light that came in through the four glass doors at the mall entrance. After being in a building without windows, it felt great to see what was happening outside.

My lunch break would be 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the shift. I would read a magazine or book during that time. Sometimes I would browse the shops or play a few video games in the mall arcade. 

Yes, there were places where people could go and play video games. They were like a Chuck E. Cheese without the food and drinks.

The walkways, stores, and levels inside a shopping mall. Blog graphic for blog post for How to fight back against mean--a storytime

What happened

One day, I was sitting and reading my book. Suddenly, a lady and her teenage daughter walked up to me. This woman proceeds to ask me where I buy my clothes. 

This question threw me off. First, I had never seen this woman or girl before in my life. Secondly, I work in a trendy department–the Junior’s department–so I was always asked where I got my clothes. The fact that I was not at work and got this question threw me off.

I guess she saw my confusion on my face because she asked me again where I bought my clothes. And added “Because you (meaning me) are so little. I was wondering where you buy your clothes. In the children’s department?” 

Now I ask you, what type of person walks up to a stranger in a mall and gives them a backhanded comment?

I knew I was little! I am 5 feet 2 inches, maybe 98 pounds at the time. This was such an inappropriate question and really none of her business! 

At the time, this whole thing irritated me and I didn’t like the joking tone she used either. It angered me how this woman felt comfortable enough to approach me and say something so disrespectful!

So in a firm voice I said, “Well, it depends”. Then I looked her dead in the eyes and said, “Sometimes I find clothes in the junior department. Sometimes I find clothes in the Misses department”. 

My tone must have gotten through because as I spoke the woman’s expression changed from smiling to surprise. The look on her daughter’s face had changed to surprise also. 

The mother began to back up, but I kept talking. “Sometimes,” I said with a direct look in her eyes, “I get them in the petite department. It just depends.” 

I must admit there was a little anger in my voice. As I said, I was still surprised at the woman’s gall. 

The lady said “Oh”, and walked off with her daughter.

Closeup photo of brown eye and  eyebrow. Blog graphic for blog post for How to fight back against mean--a storytime
Photo by ahmed zid on Unsplash

What I learned

I learned that there are people out there who will disrespect you but make it seem like something else.

The takeaway

Now if you don’t know you’re being disrespected, that’s one thing, but if you clearly know you’re being disrespected, you have to do something. You can either use your voice like I did, or you can just walk away.

Just know that sometimes people will wrap up mean as something else. So be aware and be ready to walk away or say something to defend yourself. 

Just saying! 

If you have a story or comments you’d like to share, please put them in the comment section below. I would love to read them!

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