A bridal boutique owner has told she witnesses fat-shaming every day after displaying a size 32 mannequin in her shop window.
Fed-up Debbie Shelley says people regularly laugh, joke, jeer and make rude comments about the dummy, that she calls Fuchsia.
Debbie, 53, spent years looking for a large size dummy, and finally installed the mannequin in April in her shop Somerset Bridal in Minehead.
She says mums regularly walk up to the window with the kids and say ‘don’t you ever get that fat – no one will marry you’.
Debbie has even had to put up a sign asking people to show the mannequin some love not hate.
She said: “There’s quite a lot of mothers with children coming up to the window.
“They point at the mannequin and say ‘don’t you ever get that fat love, no one’s going to want to marry you when you’re that fat’.
“These are mothers saying it to their six, seven-year-old children.
“They’re trying to make their children thinking about how fat and thin they are – using the mannequin to say ‘you don’t want to look like that’.
“We were really proud to display Fuchsia – we put her in lovely dresses. Then as we were doing appointments we were listening to people talking outside.
“They were laughing, jeering, pointing, making jokes and just saying really rude things.
“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.
“But I think Fuchsia shows that you can and she looks beautiful.”
Debbie put up a sign in the shop window to get people to rethink their comments on fat-shaming.
The sign reads: “Are you laughing? Or are you fat-shaming?
“Fuchsia has feelings and we think she is stunning. Please send her lots of love and not laughs.”
Debbie said: “They’ll do the heckling from the pavement and then come up closer to have a look and see the sign and then they think ‘Oh my days, what have I just said’.
“It’s sort of not stopping them but it’s stopping people in their tracks after they’ve done it.
“One time we had a lady who was trying on the actual dress that’s been on the mannequin that day and she could hear somebody jeering at the mannequin from outside and she could hear it and she said ‘What did he just say’.
“We were like ‘ignore him ignore him, he’s just being stupid’ and we pushed it off.
“But she was obviously quite upset that the very dress she had tried on from the mannequin fitted her perfectly and so she knew she was that size.
“The message is are you laughing at Fuchsia or, actually, are you making a joke about Fuschia which is cruel?
“We wanted to spread the love for Fuchsia and not the cruelty or the fat-shaming.”
The mannequin, named Fuchsia for her flashy pink colour, has got her own window
The shop’s other three mannequins range from size ten, 16, and 20.
Debbie said: “It took me years to find a mannequin like her as size 20 was the biggest I could find.
“During lockdown another bridal shop knew I was looking for one because we were talking and she was like ‘shall I try making you one?’
“So she made me one just to have something to do.”
The remarks not only come from parents but also middle-aged men who have had quite a few drinks and get vulgar with their words.
Debbie said: “They shout some really leery things at the mannequin and we’ve had enough and if they think that it’s okay to talk to a mannequin like that who can’t respond back then what are they saying to their family about people of all sizes.
“The surprising ones are the old ladies that will stand there and go ‘oh my god, would you believe someone’s going to marry someone that fat?’ and you’re thinking ‘what planet are you on’?”