Representation in the Bridal Shop Window | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Representation in the Bridal Shop Window

Life&Style's Alice Landray commends bridal shop 'The White Collection' for having a wheelchair user mannequin in the window, and argues that it is a step in the right direction for representation

A mannequin in a wheelchair. Equality. Representation. These shouldn’t be exciting or novel concepts. But unfortunately, even in 2019, they are. Therefore, any progress is worth celebrating and writing about.

This January, ‘The White Collection’ in Portishead has acknowledged the normality of disability by modelling one of their stunning garments on a mannequin in a wheelchair. The ivory, floor-length wedding dress has been paired with sparkling heels and a statement necklace. This recognizably traditional outfit style fits with societies expectations of what a bridal shopfront will look like, such that the wheelchair is not the focus of the display and is accepted as normal, just as an equal, fair society would have it.

The wheelchair is not the focus of the display and is accepted as normal, just as an equal, fair society would have it

Despite the relatively high prevalence of disabled individuals in society, wheelchair-users are rarely shown in media campaigns. The growing influence of social media and advertising on our perception of what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘beautiful’ has been recurrently associated with detrimental risks to individual people’s mental health. It is therefore important that minority groups are represented fairly, rather than feeling ‘invisible’ as one wheelchair-user, Mrs. Wilson, expressed in an interview with Sky News.

Public response to the shopfront has been positive. Although the surprised and impressed tweets further emphasise the previously-discussed issues with poor public representation of wheelchair-users and disabled people, the reception does imply reason to hope that similar models may be used more in the future.

Hopefully, this bridal shop front is just the start of a positive movement towards true equality and acceptance of disability in 2019
In a similar vein, one of the shop-owner’s, Laura Allen, spoke to Sky News: 'It would be nice one day for people to double-take just because they like the dress.' Hopefully, this bridal shop front is just the start of a positive movement towards true equality and acceptance of disability in 2019, just as wheelchair-users deserve.

As stated at the beginning of this article, this should not be exciting. This mannequin should not be novel. I should not be writing about it. But, I am, and it is good progress.



Published

7th March 2019 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

6th March 2019 at 12:20 pm



Share