Plus-size wedding dress mannequin 'fat-shamed on a daily basis'

  • Watch Ben McGrail's report

A woman from Minehead says she witnesses fat-shaming on a daily basis after putting a plus-sized mannequin in the window of her bridal shop.

Debbie Shelley says she searched for years to find her size 32 dummy and the jokes, heckling and jeering it regularly receives is upsetting both her staff and clients.

Debbie told ITV News the model, who she calls Fuschia, is a symbol of what her shop is all about - being inclusive for brides no matter what shape or size they are.

Debbie's mannequin, known as Fuschia, is a size 32 Credit: ITV News West Country

She said: "Our little family of mannequins started with a size 12, we got an 18, we got a 20 but then I was always looking for a mannequin that represented all of our brides - mainly the size 26s and above."

However, since Fuschia made her debut in the window, she has not had the reception Debbie expected.

"We were really proud to display Fuschia, we put her in lovely dresses," she said.

"Then as we were doing appointments we were listening to people talking outside and finding that they were laughing, jeering, pointing, making jokes and just saying really rude things to Fuschia.

"We would have brides in the shop that could hear this going on and it was really upsetting for me that people can mock people because of their size. Who are we to judge what’s going on in people’s lives, why they’re the size they are? It’s just not the ethos of our shop."

Debbie says she set up her business after struggling herself to find a dress she loved for her wedding.

Leanne Russell found her wedding dress at Debbie's shop Credit: Leanne Russell

One of the brides she has helped is Leanne Russell, who married her husband Adam in 2018.

She said: "The thought of me walking into a dress shop and someone mocking me, thinking ‘she’s not going to go in there and look pretty’ or ‘she’s not going to go and get her dream dress’ - I would be absolutely mortified and really, really sad to think that someone would think that.

"To see Fuschia, she looks beautiful in a fitted dress and a lot of people think that someone in a plus size can’t wear a fitted dress and I think Fuschia shows that you can and she looks beautiful."

It's hoped the sign erected in the bridal shop window will make hecklers think twice Credit: ITV News West Country

Debbie says she and her staff hear heckling every single day and have been forced to put up a sign in an attempt to make people think twice.

She said: "The message is are you laughing at Fuschia or, actually, are you making a joke about Fuschia which is cruel? We wanted to spread the love for Fuschia and not the cruelty or the fat-shaming."

While exciting, buying the dress can be one of the most worrying parts of wedding planning.

Despite the actions of some people, Debbie hopes Fuschia will give all women confidence on their big day.

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