The owner of a bridal store has taken to Instagram to slam those who have been "fat-shaming" one of their mannequins in their window, saying they are proud to cater for brides of all sizes.
Debbie Shelley, owner of Somerset Bridal, said she was "astounded" when people began pointing and shouting abuse at the size 32 mannequin.
"We can hear what they're saying as they walk past and some of it's very cruel and not nice at all," she told the BBC.
"We've had women with children laughing at the mannequin and coming up to the window and saying 'don't ever get that fat love, because no one's ever going to want to marry you are they?'", she said.
"That's been the most hurtful part for me."
She added that while it's easy to get smaller mannequins, it's harder to get something over size 20, which represents half of the store's clientele.
"It's my brides I feel for, they can hear it all going on outside. Try falling in love with your dream dress when there are hecklers outside being rude to Fuchsia."
In an effort to stop the hecklers, Debbie put a sign on the window next to the mannequin, who she's named Fuschia, that asked, "Are you laughing or are you fat-shaming?
"Fuschia has feelings and we think she's stunning! Please send her lots of love, not laughs!"
Debbie shared a photo of the mannequin on Instagram, writing, "We are super proud of Fuschia. We are proud providers of wedding gowns that suit every shape and size a woman can come in and no two women are the same size. Brides that are bigger can often be marginalised and not catered for.
"When I bought my own dress over five years ago I soon realised that buying a dress when you're bigger is near on impossible and the experience ended with buying a dress that I didn’t love and certainly didn’t fit properly. I’ve made it my life’s work to ensure no other bride lacks choice or support when buying their gown."
Debbie continued, "We have the gorgeous dresses we just did not have the mannequins and after years of searching during this last lockdown Fuchsia, the plus-sized mannequin arrived in the boutique and we LOVE her with all our hearts."
She added that she was very disappointed to see Fuschia being "fat-shamed during a time when society should know better".
"I’m really sad that people are being so unkind," she said. "Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I run an inclusive boutique. All women are welcome. The response to our mannequin is making my brides feel uneasy."
Speaking of her note in the window, Debbie said, "Hopefully, passers-by might read this and think better before being unkind in the future!"
Many women responded to the post saying they love Fuschia and shared their support for Debbie.
"If people can make hurtful comments to a MANNEQUIN I can only imagine how they treat their plus-size friends and family. We love you Fuschia," one user wrote.
"Being a plus-size person and soon to be plus-size bride, I dreaded coming to try on a dress as you may remember, part of my dread came from not seeing what a dress looked like on my shape body, I didn't know what would look good so a plus-size mannequin is brilliant, she's very pretty and looks good in everything," one customer wrote. "I can not wait to put on my beautiful dress in seven weeks and it's all thanks to you ladies putting me at ease."
"You do an amazing job and offer a much-needed service to brides, be proud," another user added.
"Fuchsia looks stunning, you are doing her justice by displaying her so proudly - the haters can jog on!" someone else wrote.
Debbie took to Instagram over the weekend to say the response to her post has been overwhelming and that people have been posing for photos with her and showing their support for Fuschia.
"If ever there was proof needed that there is more love for her than hate then the sheer volume of messages and emails we have received definitely shows us," Debbie said.
"Thank you to everyone for giving Fuchsia the thumbs up."
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