A New York woman says she was asked to leave a Golden Corral buffet restaurant two weeks ago because of how she was dressed. In a May 29 Facebook post, Sueretta Emke says she, her husband, their son, and some family friends visited the Erie, Pennsylvania restaurant to celebrate her son’s birthday. As she approached the buffet, the woman says a manager stopped her to tell her another table had complained she was dressed “too provocatively” and would have to change her clothes or leave. She says that she pushed back, asking if there was a dress code, but was told she’d have to leave.
The story has made headlines, and Emke told NBC News that she hopes her sharing her experience will help “even one person will change the way that they view and treat other people.” Today.com reports she did receive a refund for her meal, but her husband did not. A photo Emke posted of the outfit she was wearing that day shows her in denim shorts and a tank top.
“I really do believe something was said to me because I’m not thin so it’s not considered sexy,” she wrote in the caption. “What really sucks was that was a new shirt. I’ve never owned a crop top before and I was nervous at first about wearing it but my husband loved the way it looked on me and encouraged me to wear it since I liked it so much. I really felt cute in it and now I never wanna wear that shirt again even though it was the first time I ever wore it and I felt good about myself in it.”
Selective enforcement is why dress codes—explicit or otherwise—are problematic. As Emke asked, would a teenage girl wearing a similar outfit have been asked to leave? Or is the manager’s request, presumably based on another’s diner’s complaint, related to Emke’s age and weight? Several comments have made note of the Golden Corral’s location next to a waterpark, meaning families might be more likely to dine there in casual or even swimsuit-esque clothing.
To me, Emke is dressed like plenty of people walking around the beach, mall, or grocery store. If that’s offensive to you, buffet diner, good luck out in the real world. Let those among us who have not been inappropriate in a budget buffet restaurant cast the first stone.