Shelby Buster was celebrating her birthday the way many 14-year-olds do — by taking a trip to the local mall in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. She and a friend popped into a store called Rue 21 where Buster was planning to buy some perfume with her birthday money when she was approached by a store employee. According to Buster, the employee decided to forgo a traditional customer greeting in favor of a much ruder message: “Hey, you’re too big to be in this store, I need you to leave.” Buster and her friend went to get her mom, who escorted the girls back to the store and demanded an apology on her daughter’s behalf. One of the employees eventually apologized, but when Buster got home, she decided to share her story publicly, writing “Thanks for ruining my birthday, Rue 21!” on the company’s Facebook page.
The company replied to Buster’s comment by saying the employee’s behavior was “completely unacceptable,” but after the story got picked up by a local news station and went viral, Rue 21 backpedaled a bit and released a statement questioning Buster’s claims:
“We have been unable to corroborate that the incident actually happened. We value diversity and welcome all customers in our stores. We train our associates on inclusion and do not condone discrimination in any form. Behaviors like that described are unacceptable and are not by any means directive of the company.”
Apparently the district manager of the Eugene store will be reviewing security footage to better determine what happened, but if there’s even a tiny grain of truth to this story (which I happen to think there is — most 14-year-old girls don’t make up stories that draw attention to their weight), I hope Rue 21 issues a proper apology to Buster and takes action to ensure all their employees are truly aware that this kind of behavior is not OK.