One day a woman in the U.K. was shocked by the sight inside a bridal shop window, and it wasn’t only about the show-stopping gown. When artist Beth Wilson passed by The White Collection wedding dress shop in Portishead, North Somerset, she saw something she’s never seen before — a mannequin dressed in a wedding gown sitting in a wheelchair.
Wilson, who uses a wheelchair herself, shared a photo of the display on Twitter and it immediately went viral.
“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 wrote alongside a photo of the display, which featured an off-the-shoulder gown with sparkly pumps and greenery decorating the chair.
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. pic.twitter.com/N5sco2fLJf
Right away, the Tweet garnered a ton of reaction, with users posting the many ways they were touched by the sight and shared their own personal experiences of shopping for a wedding dress in a wheelchair.
“As a recently engaged wheelchair user this bought tears to my eyes,” wrote one commenter. “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.”
As a recently engaged wheelchair user this bought 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.
Another commented, “My best friend is in a wheelchair and just recently got engaged. This is so awesome and is a huge deal! I shared your tweet with her and it made her so happy to see it. She loves the vines on the chair. Thank you for sharing this.”
Other users shared photos of similar displays. One shared a photo of a suit shop featuring a male mannequin in a wheelchair. “Tokyo! Spotted this fall and I was so excited I texted my bf.”
The bridal shop responded to all the attention in a lengthy Instagram post, explaining that they had no idea their display would garner so much attention.
“It has been a very full on but incredible couple of days here at TWC ?? When setting up this window display, we didn’t even think to share on our social media pages or ‘put it out there’ but it seems to have done just that all by itself! We would like to thank everyone for your kind comments about our window- we have been surrounded by so much love and positivity, which is what this industry is all about, right?!💕”
They go on to explain that they hope this is just the first in a bigger movement of more inclusivity. “If this window has done anything, it’s shown us how much of an impact having a wheelchair user in the window has caused, and hopefully as time goes by, things like this will not cause so much of a big response, because there will be a lot more of it around. We didn’t think that our window would get this much attention, but what it really has done is it has opened up a (worldwide!) discussion about inclusivity in this industry, which can only be a good thing!! Thank you so much again for all of your support- Sarah, Laura and the team at TWC.”
In an interview with the UK-based Metro, Wilson also praised the shop for its creativity when it came to decorating the chair. “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.”
“So often disabled people feel invisible, because we don’t see ourselves in the media much and especially not modelling beautiful clothes,” she said. “The reaction on Twitter has shown that it means a lot to other people too; 20% of the population is disabled in some way, so it’s about time we see that reflected in media, advertising – everything!”
Looks like this is just the beginning to a more inclusive future.