Dear Nordstrom – About Your “Skinny Sleep” Pillow

Dear Nordstrom,

 

I posted a picture of me at 18 on Facebook the other day. It was from a time in my life that I didn’t love how I looked, but the picture was kind of funny with my huge 80s hair so I thought it was worth posting for a few laughs.

 

But only one person(my husband, the person closest to me), asked me what was up with my puffy cheeks in that picture. He could see from the rest of my body in the picture that I wasn’t overweight – so why were my cheeks so puffy.

 

He pointed out exactly why I hate all pictures of me for a period of four years, and almost 30 years later I couldn’t just tell him why I had puffy cheeks. I think I brushed off his question with an explanation of ‘left over baby fat’ and growing out of them eventually.

 

But my puffy cheeks were a symptom of my bulimia. And my bulimia started after suffering from anorexia and starving myself for months. Once I started to finally eat again – I purged for years.

 

And while I consider myself ‘better’ in that I don’t starve myself or purge my food – I will never feel thin enough. Ever. I still worry about everything I put in my mouth, how my clothing fits, and will catch glimpses of myself in every mirror looking for faults.

*****

My 10 year old threw a fit last year when I made her wear snow pants to an outdoor event. It was well below zero and there was no way we were going out without being bundled up from head to toe. “But Mom, my friends will be there and my snow pants make my butt look big.”

 

Your butt look big, Eloise? For one, that is impossible..and for two, everyone will be wearing snow pants..and for three, trust me, no one looks at snow pant butts.

 

My daughter is five feet tall and is lucky to weigh 60 pounds soaking wet and barely registers as having a  BMI. She could wear 10 pairs of snow pants without the worry of her butt looking big. But that fact doesn’t really matter, does it.

 

She’s a healthy eater, gets plenty of exercise as a dancer, and even though she has a mother who will probably never be totally past her eating disorder(what addict is), we still never talk or show unhealthy habits around our kids, and live in a home with healthy food and people who exercise regularly. We don’t own a scale.

 

And she has the same body I had at 10 and 11 – tall, seemingly impossibly thin, and with legs that go on for miles. I’m not worried about her – she’s a healthy girl – but to hear her worry about looking fat….

 

I sank. My heart broke for her into a million tiny pieces.

 

And I want to do everything to make sure my three daughters daughters do not become one of the 10 million Americans with eating disorders. Of which, 20% of those suffering will die.

 

I see the stick thin models on the runway, the supermodels on the cover of magazines(many photoshopped), ads everywhere on how to have a flat stomach and the importance of a thigh gap, and a diet ad on TV during almost every show. Daily I feel like I’m trying to push away the negative media images and reinforcing to my daughters what is really important – health and the importance of loving themselves.

 

As I whisper to myself – don’t be like your mother, don’t be like your mother.

*****

At this point you must be wondering why I’m writing this very personal letter to you, Nordstrom. Well, it’s because I was shopping with my daughters at your store(one of my favorite places to shop) on Friday and this pillow prominently displayed in your store stopped me in my tracks.

nordstrom-skinny-sleep-pillow

Actually, it stopped my daughter in her tracks… “People can get skinny by sleeping, Mom? I had no idea.”

 

No hon, you can’t get skinny when you sleep. You have good sleep because it makes you healthy and strong. That pillow was meant to be kind of a joke I think – and a horrible one at that.

 

Oh Nordstrom – we have skinny drinks and skinny food and skinny pills and see skinny ads and read skinny articles…and now, now you have to make our daughters think that there’s skinny sleep? We’re embroidering skinny dreams on our pillows now just like the ones that we can’t etch out of our hearts?

 

Please don’t send a message like this. It’s not okay. It’s not message we need. It’s not a message that they need. And if my daughter is asking about this – how many other daughters are asking their mothers the same question?

 

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of American girls ages 9 and 10 report being or having been on a diet to lose weight.

 

Let’s do better by our daughters and our sons and start making strides on focusing on healthy messages and giving them more positive images of what a real woman or man looks like. And should look like. I know we have a long way to go and daily we are bombarded with negative influences..so some might say “What’s the big deal about a pillow with a cute little saying.” And I’m saying – taking a pillow off the shelves is one little step in the direction where millions of steps still need to be taken if we are ever going to stop this cycle.

 

Having an eating disorder is like being a drug addict, this illness is always near the surface just waiting for the right trigger…and while one can survive without drugs or alcohol, a person with an eating disorder is faced with their biggest fear – food – every single day. So whether you want to believe it or not – even seeing the words ‘skinny sleep’ on a pillow can trigger us into thinking something is really possible. Just like my daughter asked me such an innocent question about it on Friday in your store.

 

Don’t make her even have to ask those questions. Don’t make her think that skinny is ‘in’ or that skinny is even important.

 

Don’t be responsible for adding to this devastating epidemic.

 

Thank you for listening,

 

Tracy Morrison

Woman, Wife, Mom of Three, Eating Disorder Survivor

*****

Update Sunday Night 1/26 – I received the following DM on Twitter from Nordstrom…

“We’re so sorry we disappointed you. This is a sensitive subject and we take what you’re saying seriously. We totally see your point here and would never want what was suppose to be a play on a well-known saying as sending a different message. We appreciate you sharing your perspective with us. We’d like to share this feedback with our buyers and get back to you.”

 

I’m glad Nordstrom responded so quickly – and I actually tweeted them about this three days ago – but now it’s time for them to remove the pillow from their stores. And it’s honestly a pretty sad ‘play’ on a well-known saying – that truthfully I already don’t love.

About Tracy


My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, and fashion expert - and ruler of my own little universe(very small). Aren't we all. I would love for you to contact me at tracy@sellabitmum.com

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Comments

  1. Ann says

    Ugh. Triggers everywhere! And on top of your own struggle, you have the added responsibility of what you model for your girls. No, thank you Nordstroms, this isn’t helping.

    • Jess says

      I have tears stinging my eyes…I am recovering from an eating disorder, have a daughter who at 12 worries about being fat, and just talked a friend back into treatment for bulimia…an illness she’s had almost her entire life. No, this pillow is not a play on words. It is a sign of the sick way we Americans have been trained to think and see ourselves. And it has to stop!

      Thank you for helping to end this insanity.

      Jess B.

  2. says

    I see these things and I wonder, who actually buys that pillow? I mean, somebody has to be buying it, right? Once we see these things and the way that we, as women, as girls, are marketed to, it raises our awareness. It sounds like you made a teachable moment out of it, but it still sucks that it is a lesson that has to be taught.
    Shannon recently posted..White

    • says

      It completely sucks that a lesson has to be taught. I hope no one bought the pillow. The damn pillow. I feel silly talking about a pillow. xo

  3. says

    Tracy, I know we do not really know one another well, more like a few passes by one another at a conference, but thank you. So much more than my words could begin to say. Thank you for sharing, for speaking, and for posting and being so open. Thank you. My biggest fear is that my daughter experience anything like this and yet, it is out there everywhere. Thank you for doing your part. Hugs and love to you and yours. Ad may your daughter be like her mother in the ways that matter most. All the powerful and strong ones.
    Andrea recently posted..Make the night before: French Toast Casserole

  4. says

    That pillow makes me kind of angry.
    The “Skinny Is Best” idea makes me sick.
    Health is Best should be the message we all perpetuate. Always.
    I’m glad your girls have you, because who better to advocate for healthy beautiful? xo
    Alison recently posted..Reverse Bucket List

  5. says

    I pray that you will never have to relive those days with your perfectly beautiful daughters. You are a sensitive soul and have come a long way. I love you and I am so grateful you are with us everyday! Love Mom

  6. says

    Triggers like that suck. And the fear for our daughters is so real. I think about it all the time and I do my best, but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to help my girl form a healthy relationship with her body, because I don’t know how to have one with mine.
    angela recently posted..Pajama days

  7. Hotaru says

    Trust me, I completely get where y’all are coming from…but let’s be realistic…Nordstrom’s is an overpriced WOMEN’S department store that is definitely not geared towards 9 and 10 year olds. You can’t honestly expect to take children in there and only find child-friendly items there. I’m just being real.

    • says

      It has nothing to do with being child friendly – but yes, they have a huge children’s clothing department and kid’s shoe department there. They also carry men’s clothing.

  8. says

    Fantastic post. All those messages reach our kids. We fight back with positive words but it is a constant battle because the pervasiveness of body shaming we are conditioned to accept so much without even thinking, which is why those buyers missed it I suppose. I am thrilled they responded to you.
    K.M. O’Sullivan recently posted..Drag Racing to a Dystopian World

  9. george says

    Even worse then the skinny joke is that your young daughter got exposed to profanity and if she looked below she saw something that stood for a vain use of the Creator’s name. It seems more appropriate for Spencer’s instead of a family store.

  10. says

    I cried as I read this. I struggle so much with body image. My metabolism has been wrecked by having an ED for so long. I work out. I eat healthy, and it is always in the back of my mind…”You can just go throw up, you know.” It is a struggle. It is a struggle to work so hard and look at myself and pick myself apart. Today, I went for a fantastic pin up shoot and found myself mentally picking my photos apart tonight. Meanwhile, my daughter is looking over my shoulder telling me how beautiful her mommy is. I don’t want my daughter to have my hang ups. If she ends up with a body like mine, I want her to love it. I want her to own it, and I want that for myself too.
    lesa recently posted..Fun Indoor Places to play in and around Schuylkill County

  11. says

    I am tired of the old “skinny” message and I think about how I can help my sons to see past all the images and advertising tricks. It is about health – and healthy looks different on everyone.
    I am so glad that they responded to you – and I hope it serves as a reminder to them and other in the future that plays on words are still sending a message to us and to our children.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..Falling Off

  12. says

    I worry about what messages I send my girls. I try not to spout negativity about my body, even when they grab my post-2 C-sections belly flab and giggle (although Rachel tells me its’ beautiful).

    But what I worry about even more is when I catch myself looking at them, wondering if that round belly will flatten or if they will struggle like I did, even if only internally.
    Leigh Ann recently posted..finding a good after school routine

  13. says

    A month ago, my healthy, “normal”, 10 year old told me she thought she was fat. This kid has an 8-pack for abs b/c of her 20 hours a week of training as a gymnast and yet she told me she thought her stomach was fat and then I read about this Nordstrom bullshit and my head feels like it’s going to explode.

  14. Samantha Cude says

    Brilliant post and beautifully written.; I hope nordstrom do the right thing. As an overweight mother when my girls were small to now having lost 70 lbs over a long period of time I do worry about the message my girls have from my journey now they are mid to late teens. I keep reiterating about health and exercise more than diet but not sure how much of that is going in. My youngest was on the way to an eating disorder with secret binging but I think (we can never be 100% I don’t think) it has passed with an early discovery and counselling.

  15. says

    Great article, Tracy; very well written. I never suffered from an eating disorder, but the thought goes through my head every day about that possibility for each of my children – yes, even my son.

    I’m shocked that Nordstrom carries an item like this. I’m definitely not a prude, but seeing this “skinny rules” message plus “To hell with” on a bed pillow screams tacky times two to me. It reminds me of the baby onesies you see in Spencer’s with “Future MILF” emblazoned on the front.

    Do better, Nordstrom. Glad they got back to you!
    Andrea recently posted..Clean Sweep

  16. says

    Thank you. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for sharing yourself. And thank you for taking the time to let Nordstrom know that pillow is wrong. On so many levels!
    As a mom of 2 girls, I am constantly worried about the messages they will receive growing up…
    Carolyn Y recently posted..Korean Short Ribs

  17. says

    Yes to teaching our children that healthy is better than skinny. I have never been skinny, but I’m working on being more fit and healthy and I encourage my kids to be active and exercise. (my kids also say I’m not fat, but fluffy – and fluffy is nice :) )
    Also: how’s supposed to sleep on a tiny ass pillow like that???
    Kerstin @ Auer Life recently posted..My Secret SuperPowers

  18. says

    I am going to be honest and say that it would probably have mattered what day I was there, in the store what I would have thought about it. Like if it was just a regular day and I was browsing and saw it I would think “Oh, well, that’s kinda funny” and walk off. BUT. If had been the first day of my period or I was PMSing or extra hormonal for any reason I would have been like, “W.T.F?”

    I am not trying to discount your feelings at all, btw… I’m just saying it could have gotten over-looked and has been by many. But I am glad that YOU did not overlook it since this is SUCH an important message!!

    I did not suffer from bulimia but I did “quit eating” in junior high. I was tired of having fat thighs and “feeling” bigger than all the other girls. I lost weight all right. That’s what happens when you only eat one meal a day!

    Our girls get WAY too many of these messages and you’re right, those pillows need to be GONE. I say put ‘em into a huge pile and burn ‘em. And no, I’m not a pyro, I swear. ;)

    xoxo
    Elaine A. recently posted..Look For Less with Sears Style

    • says

      Oh hey pyro…. I agree – triggers are different for all of us and on different days. And millions of people are probably ‘meh, big deal about the pillow…get over yourself.’ – But to me it’s just one more thing to tell us that we need to focus on the skinny. xoxoxo

  19. Cheryl says

    You did good. Nordstrom’s reply was interesting. Now to see if anything happens. There is a reason I never talk about my weight in front of my kids. My daughter is very proud of her weight and every time she gains she’s excited because she equates it with growing bigger and stronger. Hoping to keep it that way as long as possible!

  20. says

    Thanks for writing this! Wonderful message. I’m a mother of a seven-year-old and we have to remind them that beauty is so much more than weight.

  21. says

    Most messages like that pillow never even registered with me until I had children. It’s everywhere and it’s something I don’t want them to see. or even think about. The statistics are scary. Thank you so much for calling out Nordstrom!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Elliptical Running

    • says

      And maybe it’s not a big deal to many people – just a funny saying. But where would anyone even put that pillow- and why? There are different triggers for everyone and I agree that maybe I’ve become more sensitive as a parent. Thank you, Angela for visiting and for your comment!

  22. says

    I don’t even know where to start. That’s a horrible message to send to anyone really. Who buys that stuff and proudly displays it in their home? I’m really tired of the skinny is best message too. I’m amazed and how early the girls start talking about dieting and “looking fat.” Even my son recently started making comments about his little brothers belly. We don’t talk or show unhealthy behaviors in our house either and it just surprised me. Thank you for writing this Tracy.

    • says

      Yes, I’m not sure where I would put this pillow so I could think about being skinny every day. Very strange. And we can model and voice healthy message 24/7 to our kids- but triggers are everywhere. Thank you, love. xo

  23. says

    Simply, Tracy, well-said.

    I absolutely cannot fathom you picturing yourself as “not skinny enough” (nevermind any of your girls thinking that they might have a big butt – that’s just plain ludicrous . . . I’m pretty certain that Eloise slip between the bars of most any jail & become some sort of super-villain, should she ever choose to stop being super-nice to everybody in her life). But I having the picture of yourself not match the mirror image.
    John (Daddy Runs a Lot) recently posted..Where I accept High Heels & Training Wheel’s Challenge

  24. Wendy says

    I am also very sensitive to the skinny message that society pushes upon women starting at such a young age. I don’t see merchandise geared towards men encouraging them to dream of skinny sleep. My daughter is naturally very thin and I shield her from talk of diets, working out, and unrealistic societal pictures. The day may come where she isn’t naturally skinny and I don’t want her to equate her self-worth with her size. In our house, we have fun and ride bikes, ski, and play but don’t stress calories. I am trying to instill in her confidence in who she is, not what size her jeans are.

    Thank you for calling out the company on their poor product purchase.

  25. Laurie says

    I had an experience at the beginning of 6th grade that has haunted me and has made my relationship with my body so much more difficult than it should have been. It was winter time, and we were all in our english/social studies block class. We must have been on some kind of break for a few minutes because we were all just standing around in groups talking. There was a very popular boy who was talking with some girls and a friend of mine was standing with her back to this other group. The boy took a ruler and held it up to her hips, across her lower back at the widest part of a woman’s hips and he laughed and whispered “what a fat ass”. I was mortified and from that moment on I have worried about my hips being too big. I was a size 4 and I was worried about having curvy hips. I have struggled with this my whole life. I know this does not rise to the level of an eating disorder, but I can’t even convey how critical I am of my weight, clothing size, and most importantly, whether some skirt, pants, or outfit makes my hips look too large.

    I remembered that event in full technicolor detail as I read your post. My guess is that your daughter has heard people talking about someone at school that they think her butt looks too large, so now she is worried about these people at school making comments about her butt. I too, join everyone who has commented about being tired of these messages. We should not be taught to hate our bodies. It is so frustrating.

    • says

      Oh Laurie – that makes my heart hurt that a boy did that. That people do that. And skinny should never be anything we strive for. Even if a silly pillow tells us to. Thank you for commenting today. xo

  26. G Liu says

    So glad you wrote Nordstrom and asked them to remove the pillow. Even bladder that they did. I love Nordstrom – they seriously are great at customer service.

    I had a thought when I read that you are afraid that your daughter will follow in your footsteps and develop an eating disorder. It makes sense. Often daughters follow in their mothers’ footsteps and sons follow in their fathers’ – purposefully or not. So I suggest, and I suggest this with a great deal of compassion for your fear, that you share with her your eating disorder so she understands where you are coming from when you guide her to be healthy and she might actually even give you mor credit as a result. It’s important not to be ashamed of who you were and are. You are a survivor! I’m actually surprised that we all know of your eating disorder yet your husband and your children do not. They may find out soon since your post has been shared with the world via Huffington Post.

    Sending you lots of love and positive energy.

  27. says

    Thank you Tracy from the bottom of my heart. For standing up for our girls and their right to be whatever shape and size they are and not feeling like they need to change themselves to be ‘better’ or ‘right’ or ‘good’. I was 100 pounds soaking wet in high school and never ate a thing. I didn’t know what I had was a disease. I didn’t know I could ask for help. I didn’t know there were other people like me. Silently suffering. I am thankful to have found a friend that figured out what was going on with me and helped me get better. And now I have two daughters, two gorgeous and perfectly unique daughters, that I have to worry about growing up in a world where no one is ever too skinny or too sexy. Irresponsible stores only add fuel to the fire (I’m looking at you Abercrombie). We need more people willing to stand up to all this perpetuation of skinny. Thankfully you are a brave mama warrior that can lead the charge.

    Sorry for the novel, your post just really touched me. .
    Alexia recently posted..Happy 4th Birthday Cedella

  28. Crystal says

    I have to say I understand your point and I commend you for taking action toward it. Though I can’t say I’ve ever been in your shoes I can say that I had a very close friend in high school who definitely had a disorder. Her mom said when she was little they would tell her she was big boned but not overweight. What they meant was she was going to be tall. Unfortunately that’s not how she took it. I watched her live on basically cheese and yogurt for years. She’s a very beautiful women and men think she’s highly attractive but come on look at the price she is paying to look that good. It’s truly very sad. And to think it all goes back to her home life as a child. Good for you for teaching your children right!!! I grew up in a very loving home and was constantly told by my mom how pretty I was and how smart I was. I think that had a great and positive influence on my self esteem.

  29. says

    The pillow, while tacky and problematic, isn’t what concerns me here. What’s concerning is that you’re unable to talk to your husband, the person closest to you in the world, about your eating disorder.

    You say you only display healthy habits in front of your daughter, but the thing is, what’s NOT being said is as important as what’s being said. Kids are perceptive, and do pick up on things. If you’re worried about her internalizing an unhealthy idea from a tacky pillow, what do you think she’s picking up from the fact that her mom hates the way she used to look, at a time when photographic evidence shows she was pretty skinny? (Not to mention lying to your husband because something is difficult to talk about isn’t a healthy habit.)

    If you want to protect your daughter, don’t obsess over “triggers.” You can’t protect her from all of them; she WILL be exposed to plenty of awful ideas about body image every time she watches TV, reads a magazine, or leaves the house. What you need to do is insulate her against these messages with truth and understanding. Talk to her about your eating disorder, and the negative effects it’s had on your life. Show her those puffy-cheek pictures and explain why you don’t like them. If she doesn’t understand why striving for unrealistic skinniness is a bad idea, you can tell her she’s beautiful as she is all day long, and she’s still going to decide she needs to diet to get rid of her imagined fat.
    Kellie Lynch recently posted..The Deck Saga

  30. says

    I realize she is a child and an athlete, but a 60 pound 5 ft tall girl is severely skinny if you calculate her bmi. Not that I put that much faith in the bmi, but I would be concerned. Plus she doesn’t want to wear snow pants because her “butt looks big?” :(

  31. Adrienne says

    Hmm… I guess this is all about perspective. I’ve seen that saying before– on a t – shirt at a tacky little shop in Myrtle Beach– and I thought it was hilarious. In fact, I remember pointing it out to the friends who were with me and all of us gettting a kick out of it. I’m a mildly overweight woman, who cares enough about my weight to stay regular at the gym, boot camp and Zumba, but not enough to give up cake and ice cream. :) I think the pillow was aimed at people like me, who won’t wring our hands over a few extra pounds, but wouldn’t scoff at waking up skinny. I never would have read that much into it or given it that much power. I imagine all the recent wine puns popping up on shirts and pillows like ” It’s time to wine down” may mean little to me or you, but may be a trigger for a recovering alcoholic. It is fascinating how your experiences shape the way you view the world. Best to you on your journey and to your daughter on hers!

  32. says

    This is a great post, and I definitely shared it. It’s amazing to me to know that the malls and department stores have the power to be a massive force is the change for what’s really beautiful, unique, and inspiring. Our girls are in the stores surfing around, just as we were when we were teens and tweens. They could have so many amazing products out there with flare and sass that send positive messages about self love, real beauty, and celebrating our individuality, and yet they still, after many decades, take the skinny and flawless path. It’s so infuriating. I commend you on not brushing this under the rug and speaking up about it.
    laura recently posted..No Soliciting!! Unless….

  33. says

    Ok – this is my first visit to your blog, and I was sent here by Andrea of Good Girl Gone Redneck… and I cannot imagine a better post as my first read on your blog. This is touching, honest, and as a the mom of two girls myself, so very relatable. It’s amazing. YOU are amazing. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel and struggle with. I have suffered from disordered eating for many years and I know that the road to recovery is a long one, and that so many things can be triggers, and that pillow REALLY pisses me off. Glad they got rid of it!!! Well done.
    Elisa recently posted..Pinspiration: an upcoming road trip to Trentino Alto-Adige, northern Italy

Trackbacks

  1. […] Dear Nordstrom – About Your Skinny Sleep Pillow From the hilarious to the absurd – this pillow that Tracy found at Nordstrom is ridiculous and Tracy’s response is brilliant. By the way, I’m so glad that Tracy is blogging every day this year because her posts so far this month have been amazing. I love reading all her words. […]

  2. […] I have a handful of friends that mesmerize me with their writing talents and  one of those friends is Tracy Morrison from Sellabit Mum. Tracy is a fellow Minnesota like me and we met years ago at a blogging conference. The once or twice a year I actually leave my little town to venture to blogging conferences in the Big City, I always look for Tracy’s smiling face. Long-story-short, she is a crafter of words, is funny as hell, but also writes good stuff. Deep, though invoking stuff. One of my favs was this one and most recently, this one. […]

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