After coming across the windows of bridal shop The White Collection in Portishead, Bristol, wheelchair user Beth Wilson tweeted praise for its unusually inclusive display. “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,” she said. With nearly 8,000 shares and over 35,000 likes currently, many have been quick to praise the shop for its embracive attitude towards customers.
Since it went up, the tweet has had a chain of responses from others sharing their experience of trying to find a wedding dress to work with their chairs. “Have to say, when I got married it [finding a dress] was the most difficult and emotional element. So much pressure to be that bride. Bought @jimmychoo shoes to highlight wheelchair users love shoes too! Hopefully I looked OK!” said one user named @SarahBFraser who accompanied the tweet with a picture from her wedding day. Another user commented, “Just treating every woman as a normal excited bride is priceless!”, while @Sarah_Rose4 admitted, “As a recently engaged wheelchair user this brought tears to my eyes… I’ve put off looking at dresses because of the fear of it not working with my chair/it not being the whole ‘say yes to the dress’ experience. The inclusivity here is amazing, but also sad I’m so shocked by it.” It’s a sentiment shared by many, with several users pointing out that disabled shoppers are seldom represented or celebrated. “It should just be the norm, but it is exciting, especially as a wedding shop I feel, as I have never seen disability represented either in mainstream media or ‘high street’ shops in the wedding industry,” said @velvetvolcano, while @VintageWPhotos agreed: “This is fab! If only more bridal shops showed this level of inclusivity.”
And while some have criticised the use of greenery to decorate the wheels of the chair, arguing it is impractical and might get stuck in the spokes, others have been quick to defend the decision. “Window displays are never practical though, it’s the difference between the advertising and the catalogue. The fact that a chair is included, however impractically it is displayed, is the important thing,” said @jolich67. Wilson, who originally tweeted the picture agreed, telling Metro: “Mobility aids are also often portrayed as negative things that people want to hide when actual mobility aids like wheelchairs give us freedom. It’s great that they decorated the chair rather than try and hide it away.”
As for the shop owners, Laura Allen, who founded the shop with her sister, told Metro: “We didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, as the reason why we did it was to normalise a wheelchair using bride.” Let’s hope more shops fellow their example