Whitney Way Thore Just Wanted To Buy Gum, But He Wanted Her To Smile First… Social Media Reacts To Her Story

Body ImageGenderSocial MediaWomanhood 5 Comments

This past Saturday, Whitney Way Thore, a body-positive activist, author, founder of No Body Shame, and star of My Big Fat Fab Life on TLC, took to her Facebook page to write about an exchange she’d just had with a store clerk… “not smiling on command for a man who refused to sell me gum until I did.” In less than 24 hours it got 60,000 likes, “more likes than any status I’ve ever posted on the Internet,” she said in update. However, as Whitney added, “It also has gotten more backlash from my own fans, followers, acquaintances, and even a family member than I have ever experienced.”

Here’s what Whitney posted:

“I just got home after a long day. Thirty minutes ago, I stopped in a gas station for some Tylenol and gum. As soon as I walked in, the clerk said, “Hey sweetheart.” When I went to the counter to pay, he said, “You gotta give me a smile if you want this,” and hid my gum away in his hand. “No thanks,” I told him. “I’ll just have the gum.” He didn’t ring up my gum and instead grumbled under his breath and lectured me about having a bad attitude. Interactions like this are beyond frustrating and belittling. I was not rude to this man, and I do not owe him a smile or outward display of happiness — I was exhausted and had a headache, but that doesn’t even matter because I do not need to justify not smiling on demand for a stranger. Would he have held a male customer’s items hostage until he smiled for him? I’m willing to bet everything I own that the answer is no.”

Among the 11,000 comments Whitney’s post has received, to date, reactions have been across the board from supportive and critical to the downright nasty that social media seems to breed. “There are people who have accused me of being a shallow, vapid reality tv star, a diva, a liar, not a role model (anymore), and worse.” These are just a few of the “Top Comments” users posted to her page:



A contextual note, via a portion of Whitney’s reply to FB user Debbie Hollar, “He was a young guy, appeared to be younger than me. If I had to guess I’d say early twenties, but I don’t think that matters, which is why I saw no reason to include it.”





So what does Whitney make of everything – the good and the bad – that has come from her original post? She writes, “How women feel about being commanded to smile is somehow controversial and definitely important.”

She continues the conversation in this follow-up video (click image to play)…

If you want to know more about Whitney, visit nobodyshame.com and you can also follow her fan page: Whitney Way Thore: No Body Shame Campaign, her instagram: @WhitneyWayThore or her Twitter: @WhitneyWay. She also recommends people check out stoptellingwomentosmile.com for info on the art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a woman you should know that we had the honor of profiling back in March 2013.

  • Alisa Terry

    I was absolutely floored by how many WOMEN were the ones criticizing her for not just smiling. It’s a definite sign of how much we are trained in this society.

  • Pagan

    If I had a buck for every time some asshat has said this to me, I would be rich. You don’t owe anyone a smile and no one owes you one. You have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life. Rude, rude rude!

  • selkiem

    GOOD for you Whitney -when has ANYONE ever heard a clerk, bystander, whoever – say that to a GUY –

  • It’s rude to demand anyone tell you how to act. She wasn’t rude, she was just acting like a normal person. She’s right, the clerk could have smiled at her and said have a great day. Demanding she please him is bullying her.

  • K.V. Lady

    If you want me to smile, then smile at me. It works every time.