Many women, let alone wheelchair-using brides, find shopping for a wedding gown to be a daunting process.
So Beth Wilson, an artist from Portishead, North Somerset, UK, was ecstatic to see a bridal boutique showcasing one of its wedding gowns on a mannequin in a wheelchair.
Wilson, who uses a wheelchair, said she felt represented after witnessing The White Collection’s retail window display in January 2019. She realized the rest of the world needed to see this magnificent display of diversity, so she snapped a snapshot and sent it to Twitter, where it instantly went viral.
“The new wedding shop in town has a wheelchair-using mannequin,” she said in the caption. “It shouldn’t be thrilling, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen handicap portrayed in a shop window.”
When Wilson saw the show, she had been in a wheelchair for five years. Despite the fact that she didn’t require a wedding gown at the time, she realized that many women would be relieved to learn that there is a bridal boutique in the United Kingdom that can help them.
Laura Allen, who runs the shop with her sister Sarah Parker, said she was saddened by the fact that it was such a rare sight.
“It’s been wonderful getting such a good response,” she added, “but it’s a little sad that people have done a double take since it demonstrates how uncommon it is to see a wheelchair in a shop window.”
When they first put the display together, Allen said they “didn’t think much about it.”
She believes they were not the first bridal shop to portray disability in this way, but she hoped that other shops would follow suit, especially since the bridal business isn’t particularly diverse. Many bridal stores still use the standard slender mannequin.
“But everyone gets married,” she explained, “no matter what you look like or how you are, your day will be unique.”
Because they don’t see themselves in the media, disabled persons often “feel invisible,” according to Wilson.
“I don’t need a wedding dress,” she explained, “but if I did, I’d be far happier going to a shop where I knew I’d be accepted, wheelchair and all.”
Instead of covering the chair, the business owners adorned it with vines.
“Mobility aids are typically depicted as undesirable items that people wish to hide,” Wilson continued. “However, mobility aids like wheelchairs allow us freedom.”
Many people praised the display online, and The White Collection responded with a lengthy Instagram post.
“It’s been a very busy but amazing couple of days here at TWC. We didn’t think to publish this window display on our social media platforms or ‘put it out there’ when we set it up, but it appears to have done so on its own! We’d want to express our gratitude to everyone for their wonderful words regarding our window—we’ve been surrounded by so much love and positivity, which is what this profession is all about, right?!”
“If this window has taught us anything, it’s that having a wheelchair user in the window has a tremendous influence,” they continued. “Hopefully, as time goes on, things like this won’t have such a big impact since there will be a lot more of it around.”
“We didn’t expect our display to get so much notice, but it has really sparked a (global!) conversation about diversity in the business, which can only be a positive thing!! Sarah, Laura, and the TWC team, thank you very much for all of your help.”
Women in wheelchairs have started sharing their own wedding day images and experiences since Wilson tweeted the shot.
Other users uploaded photos of similar displays from around the world. A snapshot of a suit shop in Tokyo with a male mannequin seated in a wheelchair was once shared.
Thank you for making all types of brides feel comfortable at The White Collection!