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A SHOP owner has been hit with a furious backlash after putting a plus-sized mannequin in a wedding dress in the window.
Stunned Debbie Shelley, 53, said members of the public regularly laugh, joke, jeer and make rude comments about the size 32 dummy.
Debbie put the mannequin in the window display of her shop Somerset Bridal in Minehead in April.
But now she has to listen to harsh comments being lobbed at the mannequin on a daily basis over its size.
Debbie said mums regularly walk up to the window with their kids and say "don't you ever get that fat – no one will marry you".
The shop owner said she installed the specially-made mannequin in the window following years of unsuccessful searches for a large size dummy.
But the mannequin – named Fuchsia for her flashy pink colour – has received a massive amount of hate since she was put up, Debbie said.
"There's quite a lot of mothers with children coming up to the window," Debbie said.
''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'."
Debbie said she was "really proud" to display the mannequin and dolled her up in "lovely dresses".
But she started hearing people outside the window making unkind remarks during appointments with her clients.
"They were laughing, jeering, pointing, making jokes and just saying really rude things," she said.
''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 Fuschia shows that you can and she looks beautiful."
Debbie has now put up a sign in the shop window to ask people to rethink their comments on fat-shaming.
'WE THINK SHE IS STUNNING'
The sign reads: "Are you laughing? Or are you fat-shaming?
''Fuschia 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."
Debbie said 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.
"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," she said.
"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?'"
The shop's three other mannequins range in size from ten, 16, and 20.
"It took me years to find a mannequin like her as size 20 was the biggest I could find," Debbie explained.
''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."
Debbie said she wants the "cruelty" to stop.
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."
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