For many, the process of shopping for lingerie at New Market or Gawsia and having to interact with male shop attendants is something they'd like to avoid as much as possible. The whole situation can easily get really awkward for some.
There are many obvious reasons why this awkwardness may arise. First and foremost, the attitude of the attendants plays a huge role in the situation. In many stores, the male shopkeepers act out in a way and say certain things that aren't appropriate. Samira usually goes shopping with her mother when she needs new undergarments. On one occasion, when her mother wasn't with her, she had to face an extremely unpleasant situation. From the moment she stepped into the small shop, the men were giving her weird smiles, and then she also caught them staring at her chest and heard one of them making comments about her. Out of sheer embarrassment, she walked out of the store, hearing them laugh as she left. That incident left her scarred, and now she chooses to shop at stores with female shopkeepers. Samira's experience is just one of many thousands. Women have to face this time and time again whenever they walk into a lingerie store with male attendants.
Unfortunately, regardless of how modern we become, certain aspects about us will not change. Our conservative opinion regarding undergarments is one of them. And having men sell said undergarments is still quite unthinkable. Even in a completely normal situation, they might feel embarrassed and awkward. Looking through the available items gets very difficult when they are unable to move past their conservations. In cases like these, many male shopkeepers also intentionally make it harder for those women.
However, there are also many women who take it in a stride and remain unaffected by male attendants at these shops. The attitude of the customer in many cases determines the behaviour of the shop keeper; if you feel weird about shopping there from the get-go, chances are things are going to go south real fast. However, if you maintain an indifferent attitude towards the gender of the attendant, chances are your shopping experience will go without a hitch.
There are many women who have been shopping for lingerie from New Market since they were in their teens, and are less likely of being affected by it. Also, going with an older person, like their mothers or elder sisters, ensures that they do not face any unsavoury incident.
Another saving grace are the stores you frequent with known male shopkeepers, who, over the years, form a loyalty of sorts with the customer. These shopkeepers, in the fear of turning away regulars, would never create any kind of uncomfortable situations whatsoever.
Employing female attendants in such stores would be an easy solution to the whole problem. Stores like Lifestyle and Sweet Dreams already have female shop assistants, for which people find it easier to shop there. They are more comfortable in expressing what they like, and can figure out what would suit them best. However, there is a huge price differential in these stores, which might be out of budget for some.
If the price hike issue is negated, employing female attendants will not only make the situation more bearable, it will also eliminate the uncomfortable situation that arises when the male shopkeeper gives his input on what would fit and look good on the customer. Employing female attendants will also help the economy a tab bit more, in terms of modernisation.
But until that day arrives, women have to start becoming more comfortable in their skin. It is not possible to control the behaviour of others, but it is possible to control their own. If women are unfazed, or at least act as if they are, then there is a higher chance that they will not be bothered or have comments made about.
The moral of here is that women have to work or shop within a small window of opportunity when it comes to shopping for lingerie. Either they have to grow a thicker skin and face the unruly male shop attendants, or go a bit out of budget and feel comfortable shopping in a female-only environment. Choices are limited until a day comes when more women set up shops in New Market and the likes.