Woman perfectly calls out salesman trying to age-shame her

Apr 13, 2016 at 6:10 p.m. ET

Everyone's dealt with this — the pesky salesperson trying to move some beauty products who has a three-step strategy: 1) Lure women in with a compliment about their appearance. 2) Follow it up with a statement designed to play to our insecurity about how we look. 3) Make promises that, in exchange for your hard-earned money, he can make those insecurities go away.

That's just what happened to one Canadian woman, who goes by Annick Rbsn on Facebook, in an airport recently — and her response was perfect.

More: 16 women share body image issues they've always struggled with


Annick writes on Facebook that a man approached her in the airport — a place where any reasonable person would assume people are trying to go about their day in a hurry — to compliment her on her "natural looking" skin and ask her whether or not she was wearing makeup.

He then tries to guess her age — despite not being invited to do so — and attempts to flatter her by picking out a number 12 years younger, but Annick throws him for a loop with her response: "I look my age and that's OK actually," she says.

This is where the salesman tries to whittle away at her confidence. She recalls him trying to scare her into buying his face serums, promising her that her wrinkles will get much deeper as she ages.

But she's not having it. Annick asks: "What's wrong with a woman looking 40?" She then proceeds to list off all of the reasons she's happy to have her wrinkles and "bags" under her eyes: " I have a miracle baby at home and haven't slept in 2 years, so if I have bags I am grateful to have them, and my husband and I laugh a lot."

But the salesman just won't lay off, warning her that if she waits too long, she'll have to have surgery on her eyes if she doesn't buy his beauty products, demanding she shell out $199 for three different creams, while having the audacity to pretend he's giving her a deal because it's "cheaper than Botox."

Annick calls the pesky salesman out for acting as though age is something women should be ashamed of: "Old age is a privilege denied to many, and I don't appreciate you marketing youth, instead of your products, and denigrating aging women as a sales tactic."

More: How the media is promoting unhealthy body image expectations

I love Annick's response to this salesman because she perfectly sums up what I've often wish I'd said to those salespeople who attempt to leverage any appearance insecurity I might be feeling to get me to empty my wallet. These marketing tactics play into the fact that women actually spend a lot more money on personal care products than men, 13 percent more to be exact (according to a study on gender pricing in New York City).

And while Annick is definitely naturally beautiful, she smartly points out that this isn't just about pitting "natural" beauty trends against "fake" beauty trends — because the current natural beauty craze doesn't do women much good, either. We're still focusing on our appearances, only we're trying to pretend that looking good is effortless and easy — and that seems even more damaging to our self-esteem.

Since putting her post on Facebook, Annick was shocked to find it went viral: "It means that in 2016, refusing to accept self-loathing as a beauty standard is a radical concept." Sadly, she's right. In 2016 it's still hard not to listen to companies and people who try to instill body insecurity into us. It's hard not to buy that hair product you're stylist pushes on you when she tells you your hair will look dull and brittle otherwise, and it can be tough not to get pressured into buying expensive wrinkle creams making impossible claims when the salesperson is so persuasive. But let's take a page out of her book and focus on all the reasons we feel happy to look how we do.

So do I have puffy eyes today? Yes, because I was up late working and then had a glass of wine with a friend, and it was a wonderful evening.

More: How Younger is tackling ageism in the workplace