I thought I'd give some advice on how to deal with it, and also speak about my most recent horror story.
I was eating at my favourite burger joint, and realised some children from the ages of 10-15 were watching me. I'm generally used to kids staring, and I usually just smile and wave to them. Upon looking up at them though, I realise something a bit different from the usual run-in with kids. A couple of them were holding up camera phones and taking photos of me (they were following me with their camera as I walked around). I get up from where I'm eating and after attempting to glance around their table to see if there was an adult (there wasn't, turns out she was sitting FAR away from her kids), I approach the one nearest to me, and I say very sweetly; "Hey, I don't mind you taking photos of me, and I'll gladly pose for a picture if you ask me. I just don't really enjoy this kind of sneaky behaviour. Do you want me to pose for you?" The kids started to play dumb and look around at each other like they were "confused." As I left them, I see an older woman (probably their guardian), come up to them and look like she was grilling them for questions. At this point I just really hope I didn't piss her off.
I sigh and leave to sit down and attempt to enjoy my food again. I start seeing flashing lights from the corner of my eye, and I glance up to see that now even a couple of the older kids (they were taller than me wtf) were now using their cell phone flashes and taking photos of me while "pretending" to talk. At this point I'm sick and tired--I've warned them (kindly as well), they didn't take my offer, and now they're just getting worse and ruining my dinner.
Immediately, I get up while hiding my face, and go to speak to the manager of the establishment (who was very kind and super professional). I explain the situation to her, that I tried to speak to the kids and ask them to stop, and they only continued, and it seems like the mother has knowledge that I confronted them. She basically told me "I'm not scared of moms," asked me to point out the woman to her so she could ask them to leave me alone. I honestly was a bit skeptical that she would handle it, so I actually waited for her to come around the counter and onto the restaurant floor and watched her until she went up to them and then left to take my seat. At this point the kids had moved to another table, so I thought the rest of the night would go without event.
The manager came out and told me she spoke to her and that if they continue bothering me, she will definitely ask them to leave because I have a right to not be harassed while I eat. I thank her profusely and return to my meal. After about 15 minutes, I see all the kids getting up and crowding around the door, like they're getting ready to leave. Just to make sure, I turned my back to them so I was facing one of my friends, and told her that if she spots them taking photos, let me know because I'll call the manager again.
I can see the flashes reflecting in her eyes. They were taking photos as they were leaving. They were DELIBERATELY trying to piss me off. I hear an older woman say, "Do you want to take photos with the purple-haired lady?" and I just hear a bunch of laughter and the sound of running. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see the guardian from before approaching my table. Honestly, at this point I'm expecting some kind of apology. She seems to be incredibly overwhelmed, she was there with maybe two other adults, and there were at least 10 kids, and all very young. So our conversation begins--
"I'm sorry about that--" Oh, okay, she's apologising, that's good-- "but--" Oh no she didn't just say that-- "You need to understand that they are only kids, and these things will happen." I'm gaping at this point, and attempt to speak up, but she talks over me. "I'm really happy you called the manager, she was very kind and handled things professionally instead of doing something else, but you need to understand that with the way you dress, [bolding for emphasis] you are asking for these things to happen." I'm basically seeing red at this point. "To the kids, you're like a celebrity to them, they want to take photos--" at this point I finally get a word in edgewise and say;
"I'm not a celebrity though. I'm a regular person trying to sit down and eat my dinner, and I approached your kids nicely and told them that they are welcome to ask me for a photo, but to stop with the sneaky behaviour." The whole time she keeps saying "I know, I know" attempting to get me to stop talking, and then she finally forces her way in here and says;
"But you shouldn't be expecting privacy, you look so cool to them!" (I don't dress for your kids, I don't care what they think about me.) "I mean, look at the magazines, the princess has photos of her with no bra on, like, this is normal and they're just kids!" (I have no clue what princess she is talking about, NOR DO I CARE.) "If you saw a fat woman walk into a restaurant wearing a bikini, what would you think?? 'Oh yeah, that lady is fat, what is wrong with her??'" At this point I am absolutely appalled. She thinks fat-shaming is okay, she thinks that bullying is okay, and that it is fine for her kids to essentially be making fun of someone who is different.
"Oh, I dress like this often, and I do get people taking photos without permission, but usually when I tell them to stop, they listen, and your kids need to respect personal preference, especially when confronted."
"But they're just kids." She would not let that go. On the other hand, instead of kids getting a free ride to do whatever they want, they should be on a tighter leash and be taught good manners as well as to not make fun of people. I really worry for how she is raising them. At this point she is getting exasperated that I'm standing my ground, and she quickly says, "okay bye." And leaves with her kids, who have been watching me from behind a wall and laughing the whole time.
I was extremely shaken up. I felt like she had basically denied me the right to be treated like a human being--and on top of that she was blaming the person who was wronged instead of taking it into her own hands to discipline her kids, or at least tell them to stop. And honestly it seemed like she encouraging them at certain points too!
Needless to say, I was shaking and left soon afterwards--I was incredibly vulnerable and emotionally drained. I personally called the manager after I got home and thanked her again for all her help, and told her that the lady had confronted me as she left and I didn't even finish my dinner after that, just left. She told me she was "ashamed for her" and can't believe that someone would do that. She also said I am welcome to come back and I can always expect this kind of treatment from the management, and she's thankful this hasn't changed my mind about the establishment as a whole.
Now, here are the legal standards for photography in the U.S., along with advice on how to deal with situations like these (since I have dealt with MANY).
- If you are facing harassment, confront them as even-tempered as possible. If they are younger, try to get down to their eye level to initiate rapport so they won't seem as intimidated.
- If that doesn't work, DO NOT BE AFRAID to get the person in charge. They more than likely want their customers to be comfortable, and they will thank you for quietly getting them rather than starting a fight in the middle of their establishment.
- Don't give anyone reason to believe that you were being rude and could have deserved that kind of treatment from your PERSONALITY. Of course if you were instigating them to be rude based on how they looked (which I apparently was *rolls eyes*), that isn't true whatsoever and you still have a right to fair treatment.
- Photography within a house where you expect a certain level of privacy is illegal. The line blurs in restaurants, where it is still private property, but is open to the public. Generally photography IS allowed without permission unless there are signs strictly saying otherwise.
- The only exception to this rule though is if the owner of the establishment or their representative (which does include managers), explicitly says that no photography is allowed. In my case, I did call the manager, who then told them to stop taking photos. They officially were breaking a law when they took the photos of me as they were leaving.
So, use the law to your favour, law is there to HELP people (although it is an imperfect system). If you are being harassed, treat it like a character test--stay even-tempered, be rational, do as much as you can within your power before you seek the authorities, and know that once that authority says photography is not allowed, you officially have a law in place. I personally feel like the U.S.' photography laws could be better, and unless you are a "public figure" photography without permission should not be allowed, but meh. Right now there is a way to make it work to protect yourself.
On a happier note, here are more photos of my outfit.
I was inspired by Psychic Pokémon trainers! It has always been my favourite Pokémon type next to Dragon, and I always loved the colour purple (which is their type colour). I incorporated a pair of eyeball bows like the psychic energy card from the trading card game and even went with purple hair since that seems to be a pattern with the trainers from the game.
Of course I had to wear my awesome Espeon necklace purchased from Weeabootique. It's my favourite Eeveelution as well as a psychic type, so it really tied the whole coordinate together.
My final inspiration was my adorable bff Rune, who wore her I ♥ Spank! shirt with black, which inspired me to use my I ♥ Spank! button with black as well!
Thanks for reading, I know this post was pretty friggen long. *A*
Edit: Let's not forget about that time I was called a weeaboo.