SHOP WIN­DOW WHEEL­CHAIR WINS PRAISE

Western Daily Press - - Front Page - EMILY CHUDY AND EDD DRACOTT [email protected]­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

ABRIDAL bou­tique has been com­mended for dis­play­ing one of its wed­ding dresses on a man­nequin in a wheel­chair in its shop win­dow.

A photo of the dis­play at The White Col­lec­tion in Por­tishead, in North Som­er­set, went vi­ral on Twit­ter af­ter it was shared by dis­abled artist Beth Wil­son.

“The new wed­ding shop in town has a wheel­chair-us­ing man­nequin and it shouldn’t be ex­cit­ing but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen dis­abil­ity por­trayed in a shop win­dow,” Mrs Wil­son wrote on Twit­ter.

The 36-year-old has used a wheel- chair for the past five years, and said the dis­play made her feel rep­re­sented.

“So of­ten dis­abled peo­ple feel in­vis­i­ble be­cause we don’t see our­selves in the me­dia... es­pe­cially not mod­el­ling beau­ti­ful clothes,” Mrs Wil­son said.

“I don’t need a wed­ding dress but if I did, I’d def­i­nitely be far hap­pier about go­ing to a shop where I knew that I’d be ac­cepted, wheel­chair and all.”

Mrs Wil­son’s tweet was met with numer­ous pos­i­tive re­ac­tions, but Laura Allen, who owns the bridal shop with her sis­ter Sarah Parker, said they “didn’t think much about it” when they in­stalled the dis­play.

“It’s been great hav­ing such a pos­i­tive re­sponse, but in a way it’s quite sad peo­ple have done a dou­ble take, it shows how rare it is to see a wheel­chair in a shop win­dow,” said Mrs Allen.

“It would be nice one day for peo­ple to dou­ble take just be­cause they like the dress.”

The 29-year-old does not be­lieve they are the first to rep­re­sent dis­abil­ity in this way, but would like other shops to fol­low their ex­am­ple.

“It’s an in­dus­try that’s well known for not be­ing in­clu­sive, a lot of bridal shops you go past you see the stan­dard skinny man­nequin,” said Mrs Allen.

“But ev­ery­one gets mar­ried, it doesn’t mat­ter what you look like or how you are, your day is go­ing to be spe­cial. The man­nequin looks amaz­ing and the dress looks just as good as if they were stood up.”

The wheel­chair in the dis­play was given a dec­o­ra­tive gar­land, some­thing Mrs Wil­son also ap­pre­ci­ated.

“It’s great that they dec­o­rated the chair rather than hid­ing it away,” she said.

“Mo­bil­ity aids are of­ten por­trayed as neg­a­tive things that peo­ple want to hide when ac­tu­ally mo­bil­ity aids like wheel­chairs give us free­dom.”

Mrs Allen said brides are “of­ten ner­vous”, so all cus­tomers are given the whole bou­tique to them­selves for two hours, mean­ing they can bring their friends and fam­ily and not “feel like they’re get­ting in the way.”

Twit­ter users com­ment­ing on the photo of the dis­play praised the “in­clu­siv­ity” shown by the shop.

Ac­count @Vin­tageWPho­tos tweeted: “This is fab! If only more bridal shops showed this level of in­clu­siv­ity.”

An­other, @bosy­ber, wrote: “Have to say, that dress looks fab­u­lous with the chair, good to see them show­case how im­por­tant it is that they make sure dresses look great for ev­ery client.”

“The re­ac­tion on Twit­ter shows it means a lot to other peo­ple too,” said Mrs Wil­son. “I think most (dis­abled) peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity of­ten when they go out... The world isn’t de­signed for us.

“Twenty per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is dis­abled in some way, it’s about time we see that re­flected in me­dia, ad­ver­tis­ing, every­thing!”

A lot of bridal shops you go past you see the stan­dard skinny man­nequin

LAURA ALLEN

The White Col­lec­tion/PA

The White Col­lec­tion win­dow dis­play in North Som­er­set with aman­nequin in a wheel­chair

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