LIFE

People Love This Bridal Shop For Including A Wheelchair-Using Mannequin In Its Window Display

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

A bridal shop in England has gone viral for its inclusive window display, which features a mannequin in a wheelchair.

Over a million Americans use wheelchairs and other assistive mobility devices. But despite that fact, it’s incredibly unusual to see a wheelchair user in a shop display. Instead, the mannequins in the window usually all look the exact same.

So when Twitter user Beth Wilson noticed that her local bridal shop featured a wheelchair-using mannequin in the window display, she was overjoyed.

“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,” Beth wrote.

The shop is the White Collection Bridal Boutique in Portishead, England. Owners Laura and Sarah say they didn’t think twice before putting up the wheelchair display. They simply thought, “Why not?”

But this simple gesture has meant the world to tons of people, including many wheelchair-using brides.

At most clothing stores, all of the mannequins on display look the same. They’re skinny, tall, and able-bodied. They come in two genders.

Bridal stores are no exception.

But one bridal store in Portishead, England, decided to do things a bit differently. The owners added a mannequin in a wheelchair to their shop’s window display.

Beth Wilson noticed the display in the shop window one day. Surprised, she snapped a photo and posted it to Twitter.

The response on Twitter was swift. Like Beth, people are beyond excited that a store has a wheelchair user in the window display for once!

Many wheelchair users replied to the tweet with photos of themselves at their own weddings.

Their touching photos show just how important it is for bridal shops to be inclusive and welcoming to every client.

Roughly 1.7 million Americans use a wheelchair for mobility. Obviously, many of those people are women who will get married and have a fancy wedding at some point in their lives. So why do we never see wheelchair users in bridal shop displays?

The White Collection Bridal Boutique is owned by sisters Laura and Sarah. The now-famous store location in Portishead has been open only since October 2018.

Laura told Today that she’s pleased with the positive reaction to the new shop display. She said:

“For this season we wanted to strip it right back and have a mannequin in each window. Our thoughts of having one of them in a wheelchair was ‘why not?’ And we didn’t really think too much about it.”

On Facebook, the sisters opened up more about the unexpected praise and attention.

“We never set out to get the reaction that we did and we are still a little in shock!” they wrote.

They continued:

“But we are proud; so proud that the reaction our window (in a small town in the South West!) has caused has gone to show that there are still a lot of people who don’t feel included or represented in the industry and if we have encouraged people to talk about this even just a little bit more then that makes us so happy.”

They also thanked Beth for sharing the photo on Twitter and drawing attention to the display. They wrote:

“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!”

As Beth and other users wrote, it shouldn’t be this exciting or unusual to see a wheelchair user in a window display.

Laura and Sarah hope that, over time, things like this become more and more common.

Sarah and Laura explained:

“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.”

In the meantime, people will just continue quietly shedding a tear over this small but incredibly meaningful gesture.