Society

Woman Kisses Girlfriend In Uniqlo, Told To Leave

| by Sarah Zimmerman
UniqloUniqlo

A customer is accusing Uniqlo of homophobia after she was asked to leave the store for kissing her girlfriend in one of the changing rooms.

Amy Ashenden, 25, was browsing the Oxford Street store in London when her girlfriend decided to walk back to the fitting room to try on some new jeans, according to BuzzFeed News.

Ashenden followed her to the fitting area and called out to her girlfriend to open the changing room door to show her the new clothes. The two began talking clothes and other matters in full view of the sales assistant.

"She had seen I was in there and hadn't said anything, and she seemed to have no problem with me being there," she said. 

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After talking for a while, Ashenden leaned in to give her girlfriend a quick kiss. But, their public display of affection caught the eye of the sales assistant, who immediately walked over and asked them to leave.

"I gave her quick peck on the lips and literally just as I'd done that the shop assistant suddenly piped up, 'Oh you can't both be in there, no, no.'"

She told Ashenden that it was against "store policy" for two people to be in a changing room together. 

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"The way she suddenly piped up it was clear we needed to get out. Me and my girlfriend just looked at each other [as if to say], 'It's because I've just given you a kiss.'"

Ashenden didn't speak to the management, but later took to Twitter to air her grievances.

"Just got chucked out a changing room by a homophobic [Uniqlo] employee," she wrote. "These are the microaggressions queer people deal with daily."

Ashenden works as a video journalist at The Daily Mirror. In 2015, she produced a documentary "The Gay Word," in which she traveled to the South East of England to learn why the word "gay" is used as a negative word or insult, according to its Facebook page.

Uniqlo has often tried to present itself as an ally to the LGBTQ+ cause. Some stores have displayed the rainbow flag during Pride events and the chain's slogan, "made for all," is meant to showcase the brand's commitment to diversity, BuzzFeed reports.

"I'm not trying to take a massive stand against Uniqlo or even that individual employee, I'm talking about this openly because [this behavior is] such a commonplace thing that people don't realize exists," said Ashenden.  

"These kinds of microaggressions ... are the kinds of issues that are not addressed with big brands covering products in rainbows or throwing cash at hefty floats at heavily commercialized Pride events that queer protesters no longer have enough space or money to march at... Nothing will change unless we start talking about what goes on, and straight people start listening."

A Uniqlo spokesperson has responded to the incident, confirming that they have began an internal investigation into the employee's behavior. 

"Uniqlo has always been proud to be 'made for all,'" the spokesperson said. "We take allegations of discrimination very seriously and as such have launched an immediate investigation with the store team. We would welcome Ms Ashenden getting in touch with us so that we can help resolve this."

Sources: BuzzFeed News, The Gay Word/Facebook / Photo Credit: othree/Flickr,  Amy Ashenden/Twitter, Yukiko Matsuoka/Flickr

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