Really the vibe of my posts will start to improve soon…I promise, en’shallah…we’re right now going through a bit of culture shock (which is normal when relocating to another country) and also I wanted to talk about several aspects of shopping “culture” here which I don’t really agree with…one is the outlandish abayaah prices…esp on the trendy ones in the malls and the others are…
1) How ALL stores here are have MEN as their salespeople…yes sisters…EVEN shops selling, makeup, skincare products and underwear!
2) Lack of fitting rooms…because all the salesclerks are…men!!!
So about ONE…yup…every single store you go into here (cept for maybe some “female-only malls” in Jeddah or somewhere that I read about) the salesclerks are men!
Now, I’m a pretty traditional, conservative, religious Muslim women who normally, when shopping prefers to deal with female sales staff…even in the USA. But here…basically every single store in every single Mall, suq or plaza has men working in them.
Now, imagine going into a Nayomi (like Victoria Secret) to stock up on some new pajamas or *gasp* undies and having to deal with a MALE salesperson!!! How embarrasing! How humiliating…especially if your very modest. I would seriously rather pass out from shock than talk to a MAN about what size I wear! I wouldn’t even feel comfortable telling a salesmen in an abayaah store what size for an abayaah I want…I only feel comfortable saying “looser” or “tighter” or “shorter” or “longer”…definitely not…I need X-size.
EEKS! I KNOW I’m not the ONLY woman out there who feels this way. The one time I went into Nayomi, was to buy a pair of long PJ pants in a nice lightweight cotton and it was embarrassing having one of the salesclerks come up to me and ask me about what I was looking for…right as I was examining some undergarments (for posterities sake, ya know), alhamdullah for Niqab, a big bisht abayaah and having my son with me as I both blushed, phreaked out and wanted to pass out all at the same time!!! What the heck… I really don’t want a man checking out what I’m purchasing!
The humiliating feeling that I felt is probably why every other lady I saw in there had her husband with her…one women wrote down what she wanted, gave it to her husband and scurried away!!! I ended up scurrying away…too scared to look further.
…and don’t get me start on walking into a Saphora and seeing young dudes, in suits trying to sell makeup. It’s unnatural!!!! C’mon…and they are very annoying too…they really bother you when you shop, pestering you about what you’re looking for, trying to get you to try a sample…etc etc. They don’t even let you peruse in peace!
C’mon…if there HAS to be a creepy dude working in a womans store…at least he should stay behind the register unless his help is requested!!! I also scurried out of the Saphora and every other beauty store I wandered into! I couldn’t fathom any man even beginning to understand what I’m looking for…and I certainly wont flip up my niqab to show him my skin coloring to find a shade that suits me!!!
Saudi Arabia is supposed to be sooo traditional and conservative yet they have men working in shops which women frequent 99.9% of the time!!! why? CoIran which is deemed to be extremely conservative and religious does NOT allow men to work in stores which cater to women…every manteau shop, scarf shop and makeup shop Ive been in has always had female clerks…cept for maybe 1-2 very large ones where the male manager was there…but he generally didnt deal with female customers.
Even the other GCC countries have women working in womens shops… why not KSA? I think they should have a female ONLY mall in every city with female clerks so those women who don’t feel comfortable buying undies under the curious eyes of non-mahram males can go to a female-friendly shop…PLUS, a lot of what women buy requires advice, testing, fittings or being sized for an item…you cant do that when a man is helping you!
You’d NEVER see a man working in a VC stateside or a man working in a Saphora…women wouldnt allow it!
Heres a BBC article I culled up about this; Saudi Lingerie in a twist
So because men work in all the shops there are NO dressing rooms! in the overwhelming majority of stores! Now, some abayaah shops have a little nook in their storage room which a woman can dash into and make a quick try on, but even those aren’t that great or commonly found and one large “department store” sort of shop had a fitting room complete with a totally covered Saudi female attendant in uniform to assist female shoppers (I was soo surprised to see that!!!) Hence, that means most large malls have a “fitting room” inside their bathroom…so you purchase something, dash off to the bathroom, try them on and if they don’t fit…go back to the store…yeah tedious! Alhamdullah the stores in malls are good about this but the suq stores generally wont take back stuff that doesnt fit. A Kuwaiti woman back home told me to always carry a measuring tape and use that for accuracy and it’s come in handy a half-dozen times sofar!
I’m sorry but thats kind of annoying…The larger stores should do like what RedTag does and having a small fitting area with a female attendent, but again…it goes back to my first complaint…there should be female only malls in every city so women can shop in a female-friendly environment!! Isn’t that more modes, more in line with Islam? Don’t tell me that really religious Saudi guys really think it’s OK for their wives or sisters to buy undies under the curious gaze of random men?
*hmmm* Alhamdullah Bahrain is a short drive away as, as soon as we get a job and I start working (en’shallah) I’ll start doing all my shopping for femme-items on that side of the water.
As a side-note…the woman who runs American Bedu suggests in-home “ladies-garments parties”…like what goes on in the US where women sell yupperware or “intimate” items from their homes…actually I think thats a fantastic idea…I donno where, how or when that’ll start but definitely there is a HUGE market for that!!!