A young mother claims she was body shamed while getting a Santa photo taken with her young daughter.
Brisbane mum Mini Westwood had been excited to take her daughter April, seven, to meet Santa and snap a commemorative picture but the day took a terrible turn right after the pair sat down.
“The photographer turned around and says quite loudly, “Mum, suck your gut in”, and just motioned for me to suck my gut in,” Ms Westwood told a Current Affair.
“I felt good at the beginning. I left feeling rubbish.”
Ms Westwood has battled with anorexia since she was a child and was thrown by the comments, freezing up in shock.
The Santa impersonator also recoiled in disgust and shot a look at the photographer.
“Santa looked at me and kind of looked back at the photographer and shook his head, like ‘you shouldn’t say that especially while their child is here’,” Ms Westwood said.
The young mum said her daughter was also upset by the comment – having been able to tell that it made her mother uncomfortable.
Ms Westwood had been wearing jeans and a crop top – an outfit her daughter had chosen.
April kept asking her mother what the phrase meant and eventually Googled it on her iPad.
“Mum, suck it in means that you’re fat,” April told her mother.
Ms Westwood exlained to her daughter that it is “something someone says to you when they’re not happy with themselves and they want to make you feel bad”.
She contacted the company responsible for the Santa photographs, Scene to Believe and reportedly received a grovelling apology.
Ms Westwood discovered that the company already partners with the Butterfly Foundation, a non-profit that – raises awareness of eating disorders.
She hopes by speaking out about the ordeal others will be more cautious with their words.
“Don’t do it again, do not make anybody ever feel the way you made me feel,” she said.
Scene To Believe said it was disappointed by the “unfortunate experience at one of our Santa sets”.
“Core to our values is bringing an inclusive, supportive and magical experience to all families that visit Santa during the festive season.
“Scene To Believe is a proud partner of the Butterfly Foundation, having seen the challenges and detrimental impacts that an eating disorder has on both a child and family.
“These types of partnerships enable us to raise awareness with the thousands of families that visit our Santa sets during the festive season.
“They also give us the tools to better educate and upskill our 2,000 strong seasonal workforces to learn strategies that enhance inclusion and communication when visiting Santa and create magical memories in a safe environment.”
NCA Newswire has reached out to Scene to Believe for additional comment.