Ex-Prabal Gurung employee says he fat-shamed her during pregnancy

Designer Prabal Gurung's models clutched white roses in support of the #MeToo movement during NYFW — but a former employee says the so-called "feminist" designer fat-shamed her while she was pregnant and fired her weeks after she gave birth.

Melissa Teitel worked as Gurung's director of sales in 2014 and became pregnant with her first child just months after landing the gig, telling Vox the designer, who also serves as the chief executive of the company, repeatedly made derogatory comments about her weight gain and shamed her for bringing a large serving of trail-mix to share with fellow co-workers.

"You know that's not a single serving, right?" Teitel claims he said as she took a handful of the mix to eat.

She said she tried to explain he brought the snack for the office, but Gurung then laughed at her.

"He's doing this in front of everybody," Teitel told Vox. "I couldn't even get my words out."

Teitel said there was another incident where they met with investors from a venture capital firm, who later decided to pass on investing in Gurung's line for what he told her, was because they were unhappy with her appearance. She began jotting the comments down in an email to herself as she began understanding she was being treated unfairly.

"We know you're pregnant, but this look isn't really working for me," she recalls Gurung saying, gesturing at her pregnant body.

"No one wants my body back more than me," Teitel said she replied.

"I certainly hope so," he said.

Teitel had preeclampsia during her pregnancy, which can cause severe swelling. She recalled her feet and ankles being extremely swollen during her pregnancy, but Gurung refused to let her wear flat shoes, claiming a colleague wore heels throughout her pregnancy.

RELATED: Stars fight back

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Stars who fought back against body shaming
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Stars who fought back against body shaming

 Chrissy Metz

“This Is Us” star Chrissy Metz talked back to body shamers over a latex dress she wore to the MTV Movie & TV Awards in 2017.

"For the record, I wear what I want, when I want. News flash it's MY body. #thankstho," she tweeted.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Amy Schumer

The comedian hasn't been shy about her body, but last year she posted a swimsuit picture on Instagram in an effort to bait and then lambaste body shamers.

This came a month after Schumer called out Glamour magazine for featuring her in its “Chic at Any Size” special issue.

“Plus size is considered size 16 in America,” Schumer wrote on Instagram. “I go between a size 6 and an 8."

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Daisy Ridley

Last March, an Instagram user posted a photo of Ridley as Rey with a speech bubble that read “I can’t believe the unrealistic expectations I’m setting for young girls. Who cast me anyway? Don’t they know that real women have curves?”

Ridley responded to the troll with a screen grab of their original post and comment that said, “‘Real women’ are all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, all levels of brave, have families, don’t have families. I am a ‘real women’ like every other woman in this world.”

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Lady Gaga

Following Gaga’s Super Bowl LI halftime show this year, some internet trolls decided to mock her appearance and her “flabby belly."

She struck back at her body shamers with a message of personal acceptance.

“I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,” Gaga wrote on Instagram. “No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions. thank you so much everyone for supporting me. I love you guys. Xoxo, gaga.”

REUTERS/Robert Seale 

Vin Diesel

After photos surfaced of Vin Diesel with a “softer” physique than fans are used to, the actor said, “I do think it’s wrong to body shame. Trolls on the Internet — there are all kinds of atrocities they commit on the Internet.”

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Emma Thompson

In an interview on Swedish talk show “Skavlan,” Thompson spoke out against Hollywood for triggering anorexic behavior in actors. “The anorexia … there are so many kids, girls and boys now, and actresses who are very, very thin that are into their 30’s and simply don’t eat. They don’t eat,” she said.

She then said she defended one actress on set when she was told to lose weight.

“I said to them, ‘If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture, you are never to do that.'”

 REUTERS/Neil Hall

Demi Lovato

In an interview with Glamour last year, the singer said, "If somebody calls me fat, even in a vulnerable moment, I laugh to myself and think, I’m doing everything I can, so there’s nothing I can do about it.

"I don’t have a six-pack. Maybe I don’t even want a six-pack. It doesn’t sound very appealing."

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

J.K. Rowling

According to Allure, Rowling posted a photo of her standing alongside Serena Williams when someone commented that Williams was "built like a man." But being the legend that Rowling is, she posted a photo of Williams rocking a form-fitting red dress with the caption, "Yeah, my husband looks just like this in a dress. You're an idiot." 

REUTERS/Neil Hall

Emma Stone

While the actress was promoting "Spider-Man" she said that she had been profoundly affected by nasty comments made about her appearance online. 

"I firmly believe that nothing really affects you or can really bother you if you don't already feel that way about yourself. I've seen a lot of comments that say, 'Eat a sandwich' or 'She looks sick.' I've been looking at myself in the mirror being mean to myself. I'm not sick. I eat sandwiches," she says. "There is in no way is it my intention to be a bad example. That has been kind of bothering me lately. I've shamed myself for it. We shame each other online. We're always too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. They're just confirming this feeling I have about myself. I'm trying to figure my body out. It bothers me because I care so much about young girls. We're shaming each other and we're shaming ourselves, and it sucks."

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Kim Kardashian West

When people made fun of the weight she gained during her pregnancy, she fired back on Twitter.

"Anyone who has had a baby knows how hard it is to lose weight...your body totally changes! Making fun of me pregnant and making fun of me trying to lose weight now, shame on you. I'm not perfect but I will never conform to your skinny standards sorry!"

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Lauren Ash

A little over a year ago, the "Superstore" actress posted a post-workout selfie to put body shamers to rest.

"Just a friendly reminder that size 12 women workout," she wrote. "We're not disgusting and lazy just because we aren't a size 0. (And hey, if someone chooses to be lazy it's really also no one's else's business.) #effyourbeautystandards #bodypositivity #honormycurves #celebratemysize #daretowear"

 (Photo by Maarten de Boer/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)

Sasha Pieterse

When the "Pretty Little Liars" actress noticed some comments about her fluctuating body, she took to Instagram to write, "As a lot of you have noticed my body has gone through some changes, and I want to clear the air and give you an explanation. I have been facing a bad hormone imbalance that has thrown my body completely out of whack. I want to assure you that I'm healthy and getting everything back on track! A big thanks to all of you who have been in my corner! We live in such a judge mental society that puts every kind of flaw, including weight gain, in the same category. And for those of you who are struggling with any health problem, hormone imbalance, and weight gain of any sort I urge and encourage you to please deal with it in a healthy manor. YOU and YOUR health are what matters, not anyone else's opinions and assumptions of you. Getting healthy isn't just about working out and eating right (however extremely important) it's also about surrounding yourself with those who care about you and want to see you succeed and become the best you can be."

(Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)

Alyssa Milano

When Jay Mohr made fun of Alyssa Milano's body for her baby weight, Milano tweeted, "So sorry you felt the need to publicly fat-shame me. Be well and God Bless. Please send my love to your beautiful wife."

(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Jennifer Lawrence

In an 2014 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Lawrence recounted a moment she was told that she would be fired if she didn't lose weight.

"I know it'll never happen to me again. If anybody even tries to whisper the word 'diet,' I'm like, 'You can go f--- yourself.'"

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Sam Smith

In 2015, Howard Stern called Sam Smith a "fat ugly motherf----." Smith's response? "Can't believe what I've just read. Ignore."

 REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

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"Maybe dresses aren't the best option," she says he told her. "Nobody should see those legs."

"There was never a moment where I didn't feel like a target," Teitel told Vox.

While Teitel was home recovering from her C-section and becoming accustomed to breastfeeding her newborn baby girl, she said she was unexpectedly let go from the company.

A spokesperson for the company told Vox that she left "on her own volition." The company spokesperson added that it was "saddening to hear that a former member of our team had a negative experience while working at our brand."

Teitel gave birth to her daughter on Sept. 10, 2015 and was asked to come back to work on Oct. 26. Her maternity leave was paid for two weeks beginning when she was ordered to go on bed rest in mid-August. She asked to work part-time from home as she was still recovering from surgery and working with a lactation consultant to breast feed.

The company did not agree and insisted she come back full-time, Vox reported. Teitel claimed they told her she had effectively resigned, but in her eyes she was fired — and asked to repay the company for her clothing allowance and health insurance.

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) looks at a cape worn by recording artist Katy Perry (L) during a get-out-the-vote concert at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on November 5, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With three days to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Gurung's spokesperson also told Vox that Teitel's account "does not in any way reflect the spirit or culture of our work space."

The designer has been outspoken about fashion's responsibility to adapt to the ever-changing political environment, including using more diverse models and voicing support for movements like #MeToo and Time's Up.

Gurung has used plus-size models, models of color and transgender model Andreja Peji? often in his shows. He has also been candid about the challenges of growing up gay.

For the 2016 election, Gurung made a custom dress for Katy Perry in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton which read, "I'm with Madam President."

In 2017, he ended his own showing during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin wearing a T-shirt that read: "This is what a Feminist looks like."

RELATED: Prabal's Fall 2018 line

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Prabal Gurung Fall 2018
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Prabal Gurung Fall 2018
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Gigi Hadid walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Ashley Graham walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway wearing Prabal Gurung Fall 2018 at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Olivia Anakwe walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Bella Hadid walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: A model walks the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Prabal Gurung takes a bow on the runway for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on February 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
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That same year, he sent a model down the runway wearing a T-shirt, "The Future is Female" and his most recent show on Feb. 11 at NYFW ended with models, including superstars Bella and Gigi Hadid, holding white roses as was a symbol at this year's Grammy Awards to show support for Time's Up.

He told the New York Times that they symbolized the need to listen in the wake of countless accounts of harassment and assault.

"Especially as a man, my job is to listen," he said. "If any man or men are to learn anything from this, it is to really listen to women."

Teitel told Vox she has yet to search for a new job in fashion sales because of her terrible experience at Prabal Gurung. She was also left anxious about meeting former colleagues, because she was so concerned with what Gurung might have said about her to others.

"I'm so hurt and angry at the way they've treated me," she texted friends after her pregnancy.

"He made me hate my body so much," a third message obtained by Vox, which was sent to a friend after Gloria Steinem attended Gurung's show, reads. "A feminist doesn't do that to a pregnant woman."

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