Room for two?
This weekend I visited my spaces Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie store. In theory the stores both serve the same kind of purpose, selling lingerie for whatever the occasion may be. Victoria’s Secret follows the black and white color scheme (my mall’s store may be different than other locations). Black and white themed anything usually represents sophistication or class which I believe has always been something VS has been known for. The rest of the store was very organized as to what you were shopping for. In one side was the PINK section which is consists of lounge clothes and bright garments for more casual and younger shoppers. Following the PINK section, was where they showcase their latest bras that provide more support as well as matching lingerie consisting of sheer tops and sheer underwear. There’s also the cotton room which provides cotton underwear rather than PINK’s varied materials (this part of the store consists of more conservative garments). Finally, there are the fitting rooms, black doors with nicknames on the door. The workers remain in contact with the customer in the fitting room always asking how they’re doing and what else they can do to assist them. Frederick’s of Hollywood is a much smaller, darker lit store with corsets in every style hung on the wall. There are round tables around the store with different styles of underwear known as thongs and g-strings. In VS, there was more variety for their underwear appropriate for all age groups. Frederick’s has a glass box in the middle where you can ask a sales person to open the case to purchase edible bras and underwear as well as fuzzy handcuffs and pretty much anything your sexual experience calls for. Their fitting rooms are hidden in the back behind a wall where red doors lead you to a brightly lit fitting room. In appearance alone a large difference has been noticed from their color scheme to their products.
"Class, race, sexuality, gender and all other categories by which we categorize and dismiss each other need to be excavated from the inside."
- Dorothy Allison
This weekend I returned to the mall to observe customers and employees of Victoria’s Secret. As I pretended to shop around I noticed girls come in and out of the store with couples here and there. Two young women about the age of twenty two or twenty three shopped around and looked for more flirtatious attire. Both grabbed for the helpful bras that added a little lift and support. An employee came to offer them a shopping bag or assistance with anything else, the girls asked for fitting rooms. I was hoping that for the sake of my research they would both enter and ask for one fitting room, instead the lighter brunette went in while the darker haired girl waited outside of her fitting room. After a few minutes the lighter brunette opened the door for her friend to see how incredible this bra looked, her friend joined her in the fitting room and closed the door. They giggled on about how noticeable they were and which shirts would accentuate this new body. Finally, the VS employee knocks to see how she was doing, the girls open the door and allow the employee in the fitting room. Now three girls in the fitting room, the employee gives her last sales pitch before the light brunette says she needs the bra. The employee walks out and continues to walk around the store while the girls friend stayed in the fitting room. There was no fuss about more than one person in the room or whispers between employees.
I waited a little longer for a couple to enter the store and stay to try something on after spending time trying on random clothes, an older married couple came in. The wife seemed to be well taken care of and in her early or mid thirties, her husband as well. They seemed be to a healthy couple that cared for the physique. The husband stares blankly around the store since he was obviously dragged in. As the wife picked up a few lace underwear he would look to see the patterns and give a subtle “that’s nice” nod. The wife went to try on this new bra the younger girl I mentioned earlier raved about. The husband stood outside the fitting room with the shopping bag filled with underwear until he heard “babe”. The employee who helped the younger girl earlier came to assist just as the wife was calling her husband. She opened the door and said “what do you think?” the employee dove in and adjusted straps until it was the perfect fit, the husband watched and said “it’s nice” and that was it. The employee didn’t push him back or tell him otherwise. Instead, the wife changed and payed for her items and left. Employees went on to attend others and all was calm. I really expected to hear some kind of gossip, but this is starting to look like “ask and you shall receive”.
“..She is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man.
Likewise, she is never less.
Equality is a given.."
- Vera Nazarian
My interview involved two different employees, one who I have in class that works at the Northridge mall and an assistant manager of the Antelope Valley mall.
Victoria’s Secret employee:
Me: How many people can be in a fitting room?
VS employee: One can change in the fitting room but people can see by coming close to the room because not everyone wants strangers to look at their bodies half naked.
Me: So if I came to the store with my boyfriend and had him come in after I changed to see me in my bra, would that be okay?
VS employee: Well, yeah but he can’t stay in there. But if he did we can’t tell people to get out. We’re only able to say like “Um, you’re not supposed to be in there.”
Me: But I’ve been in the fitting room with my mom and sister and they’ve stayed in there while I changed. Does that make a difference?
VS employee: Well kind of because that’s your family so it’s not like you guys would be doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, like hooking up or something.
I couldn’t keep the conversation long with my classmate because it was class time. So, when I came home to Lancaster I visited the mall with my boyfriend and my mom and was able to ask an assistant manager whom I’ve become familiar hoping that the interview would go much easier.
Me: I was wondering if my boyfriend could come into the fitting room with me, is that okay?
VS manager: Well, he can’t watch you change because we don’t really want people to fool around in there, but once you’re done he can go see what you look like because we get that people don’t want everyone to see their “stuff”.
Me: Yeah, I completely get it. So, what if I brought a girl friend with me, would it be different if I have invited her in to change with me?
VS manager: Well, we don’t discriminate. So whether it’s a friend or a girlfriend we still can’t say you girls can change together because that also brings in stealing. We’ve had girls try and go in together and steal things.
Me: Let’s say my boyfriend was into cross dressing, and he wanted to try on bras and lingerie, how would you respond?
VS manager: We don’t discriminate, I’d give him a fitting room and assist him as I’d assist any other customer.
The assistant manager proceeded by telling me that the main concern for more than one person in the fitting rooms is stealing. As well as explaining that employees can not force people out of the fitting rooms. The interview was very informative and provided me the answers I pondered. Thankfully, the manager said I was more than welcome to come back for more questions.
Field Report SPACE Essay
I have never heard of the term “cisgender” before two representatives of the CSUN Pride Center came in to explain this and many do’s and don’t’s that everyone should keep in mind. Cisgender is defined as a person who feels comfortable with the gender identity and gender expression expectations assigned to them based on their biological sex. I would identify as a cisgender. With learning about being and identifying as cisgender I was told privileges I had, never knowing that I had the such simple yet obvious privileges. For example, privilege number five from the Cisgender Checklist “I am not denied entrance to appropriate services or events that are segregated by sex.” This simple privilege that cisgender’s have is easily over looked by other cisgender’s but definitely not a transgender person. How difficult is it for a transgender to walk into a fitting room compared to a cisgender? Fitting rooms was the first challenge and gender space that came to mind until I decided to go a little deeper into the realm of fitting rooms and focus on lingerie fitting rooms. As a woman cisgender, the only difficulty I face with walking into Victoria’s Secret fitting room is the reveal and whether or not people can see me in just a bra exposing my imperfect body. But how selfish is that materialistic thought compared to a transgender or cross-dresser asking for a fitting room in Victoria’s Secret? Although there are rules for fitting rooms one would only assume that lingerie fitting room rules are a bit more strict than most considering the attire being tried on; however I have seen Victoria’s Secret fitting rooms accept more than one person in a fitting room so I question whether a couple of same sex and opposite sex could share a fitting room in my local Victoria’s Secret. I believe that if there are rules to the fitting rooms, they should be applied to every customer and if
every customer and if those rules are lifted for certain customers, then those exceptions should also be applied to every customer.
Victoria’s Secret of the Antelope Valley Mall resembles just about any other Victoria’s Secret store. In my observation of the store I paid attention to the whole layout of the store as well as color scheme. The store is black and white with one PINK section dedicated to attracting the younger customers. The black and white color scheme in the store resembles a classy kind of feel to the store to match it’s reputation for tasteful and sophisticated lingerie, wanting the store to look timeless. Aside from the decor of the store, I noticed the employees which was diverse in race but not in gender. I do not recall seeing a man employee at Victoria’s Secret that assisted the customers like the women employees do; especially with a fitting room. I have seen men that work for Victoria’s Secret but as people who work in the back, unloading boxes and few men in the store only stocking the shelves with lotions and other cosmetics. I do remember seeing guy employees and thinking “Guys can’t be working here. There’s bras and underwear in here.” Though I thought that way once before, I have grown to understand that most women buy their lingerie to present to their significant others. It is still difficult for some women to see a man in the store and ignore them but for the most part is overlooked by customers and employees. I’ve always seen a woman go in to the fitting room to see her friend after she’s changed to celebrate a worthy product but have not seen or thought of a man doing the same thing.
In my interview with the assistant manager of Victoria’s Secret in the Antelope Valley Mall I asked her questions on how many people are allowed in the fitting room and who is allowed in the fitting room; she mentioned that only one person is allowed to enter change in the room and when another joins the fitting room employees can not tell the customers that they need to exit the fitting rooms. However, employees think the worse two girls can do in a fitting room is steal but when I asked about an opposite sex couple entering the fitting room the possible situation changed to the couple “fooling around” in the fitting room. The manager proceeded to tell me that stealing is still something employees would worry about but really focus on what the couple would do in the fitting room disturbing the rest of the fitting rooms and potentially disturbing the store. Following up on the question of more than one person in the fitting room with someone, I asked if two women entered the fitting rooms that were public about their relationship would then be accepted like the two girl friends who shared a room earlier. The manager responded by first saying “we don’t discriminate” and I found that quite comical because she would repeat “we don’t discriminate” over and over especially when I asked about how a man would we be treated if he came in the store asking to try on lingerie she again said “we don’t discriminate, he would be treated just like any other customer.” I found it comical that she repeated “we don’t discriminate” because she was trying so hard to prove a point that Victoria’s Secret doesn’t discriminate which really isn’t the problem because the difficult part is the customers that make themselves spectators causing a scene that wasn’t there to begin with.
This space really shows that only women can shop here and that really throws off men from entering the store. Something I tend to see a lot in the store is women walking to the store with their husbands, boyfriends, brothers, etc. and the guys will say “I’ll just wait out here.” So the store presents itself welcoming women and the customers see a man in the store thinking how strange it is for a man to be walking into a lingerie store. When in fact, Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977 by a man; men were the ones to choose their wife’s lingerie. Roy Raymond would go to department stores and notice the cheap looking lingerie for his wife that wasn’t very enticing (Victoria’s Secret). If more people knew the history of Victoria’s Secret I think that women would be less shocked with men in the store and men picking out lingerie in the store with or without their partner.
Gender does matter in this space because like Kadence said in her LGBTQ presentation “Sexual orientation is who you want to go to bed with and gender is who you want to go to bed as” and if someone wants to get in bed with VS attire on, gender in a women only fitting room is a big deal. Though society has come a long way with acceptance there is still more to follow.
Gender does matter in this space because like Kadence said in her LGBTQ presentation “Sexual orientation is who you want to go to bed with and gender is who you want to go to bed as” and if someone wants to get in bed with VS attire on, gender in a women only fitting room is a big deal. Though society has come a long way with acceptance there is still more to follow. Only the surface LGBTQ has been semi-accepted in public referring to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual which explains sexual orientation rather than gender. Victoria’s Secret can do more for their store by presenting a poster of the gender spectrum dressed in their lingerie, welcoming any gender. Gender spaces like fitting rooms really believe in pleasing many rather than few which makes sense in their economic growth for their business, but cut out the opportunity for other gender’s to be validated by others in the community outside of the LGBTQ community. For as long as people and businesses will follow the idea of what a man and a woman should look like gender spaces will continue to exist making it difficult for some transgender’s to walk in a fitting as confident as a cisgender does.