So, the past couple of weeks have been Market week at my internship. This means that retailers come in to view the next season’s collections and place their orders. What does this mean to little old me? The chance to sit in on appointments and get a firsthand look at the business side of fashion, but it also means free food. The company has catered breakfast and lunch for clients that are coming in to view the collections. and for the fit models. (Yes, they encourage models to eat.) Let me preface this next part by saying that I work with an amazing group of people in my department. Their level of dedication to their jobs is a great example of work ethic and they treat me with the utmost respect.
The table was full of fresh fruits, pastries, quiches of all varieties, oatmeal, fresh juices, and huge silver urns full of that magical substance on which New York runs: coffee. The spread looked delicious and terribly inviting to a girl who had skipped breakfast in an effort to get to work on time. I crossed the showroom observing the executives double kissing the buyers on the cheek and exchanging pleasantries while the statuesque models showed off the floor length gowns embellished with hand crafted beading begging to be on the red carpet during awards season. I quickly appointed Oscar nominees to each gown in my mind.
I gingerly go to grab a ceramic plate to take place in this shmorgishborg of delight and was told immediately not to eat off of the ceramic plates as those are for the guests. This little woman who stood no taller than 4’11 told me that I am to eat off of the plastic wear set aside on a window seal next to the food. I felt so embarrassed as I had to step out of line and go over to use the lesser than flatware. The women standing behind me could sense my humiliation and focused in extra hard on the task at hand of fixing their plates. By no means am I a fancy shmancy girl, but I do not eat off of plastic plates, so this was a real blow to my ego. The only thing that made it worse was that I was told I couldn’t eat from the main table when I went back for lunch. So as to not ruin the display for the clients I was told to eat from the food that had been set aside elsewhere, and it was not the same level of offerings as what had been laid out on the linen covered table designated for the clients/guests.
I shamefully arranged my chicken breast with butter sauce, salad with avocado, and roasted vegetables on my little clear plastic plate and sauntered downstairs to eat with my plastic cutlery out of my paper cup.
Myself and the other interns laughed at our second class citizen treatment and enjoyed our free meal nonetheless, but I made a declaration unto myself at the very moment that I was turned away from that table that I will never allow my sense of self worth to be dictated by someone else. That woman was just doing her job, and it was nothing personal against myself or the other interns, but it still made me feel some type of way. I chalked this up to a brief, harmless lesson in humility for the day, and as soon as I got home that night I prepared myself a meal and ate off of my own ceramic plates.