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Meet Shannon, our first disabled model


Diversity campaign

The new window display is unveiled

Update: We announced a while back that the gorgeous Shannon would be featuring in a campaign for Principles by Ben de Lisi and you can see how it came about and watch some behind-the-scenes footage on Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked… with a difference.

This 3-part special of Gok’s popular TV show sees Gok meet three disabled women with zero body confidence. “Gok turns out every trick in his book, as well as learning a few new ones, to try to get these women to see just how gorgeous they are. ”

Our PR manager for womenswear and Head of Creative are featured on the show to launch the campaign which sees disability represented on the high street and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a positive step in the right direction.

Watch now on 4OD

The next show featuring Shannon is scheduled for 1 September and will show the unveiling of the campaign. Remember to tune in…

Following on from your fabulously positive comments about our size 16 mannequins, we’re proud to have become the first high street retailer to use disabled models in campaign photography.

After being approached by Nikki Fox and Natasha Wood, disability campaigners and presenters of How to Look Good Naked, with a Difference, Shannon Murray, who has been a wheelchair user since breaking her neck in her teens, will appear in photography in Debenhams store windows.

The gorgeous Shannon joins three other models, Kate Fullman, a size 16 model, Tess Montgomery, a petite 5”4 model and Tokumbo Daniel, a size 10 model, to appear in imagery for the Principles by Ben de Lisi range which starts at size 8 and goes up to size 20 with a petite range too.

This isn’t just a one-off either. We’re committed to using disabled models in other photography with a second photo shoot already organised. You’ll be able to see the images in Debenhams Glasgow, Guildford, Oxford Street and Nottingham branches and we hope to add more stores soon.

New models pose for cameras

Models, Shannon, Kate and Tess

What people are saying…

Shannon Murray, model: “I think this is a fabulous step forward by Debenhams and I’m proud to be part of such a big move towards positive representation of disability in high street fashion.”

Ben de Lisi, Principles by Ben de Lisi designer: “Every woman deserves to look good and feel special- which is why there are styles to suit, fit and flatter every body shape in the new Principles range. I think that Shannon looks amazing.”

Gok Wan, How to Look Good Naked, with a Difference presenter: “Debenhams is pushing the boundaries by producing the first ever disabled fashion campaign in conjunction with How To Look Good Naked and I hope that one day disabilities will be recognised by every chain in the high street.”

Nikki Fox, disability campaigner and presenter: “I am so happy and proud that Debenhams has used our disabled model for such a massive campaign. If seeing Shannon helps another disabled person, then we’ve done well.”

Michael Sharp, Debenhams’ Deputy Chief Executive: “We cater for women of all shapes and sizes, young and old, non-disabled and disabled so we wanted our windows to reflect this choice. When Nikki and Natasha approached us with the idea, we didn’t have to think twice. We only wished we had done it sooner”

As always, you can tell us what you think by leaving a comment below…

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  • Logesh

    Wow,Its amazing that representing disable models on High street fashion….. I’m really impressed on Deb’s step..

    All the best Deb’s

  • Corrine Shimmon

    As always though, the ‘large’ model is tall and the petite 5″4 model is thin. How does that help people like me who’re petite AND a size 16?

    Most of my friends are not much taller than me- some smaller, and barely any of them are a size 12 or less.

    Still not very representative!

  • yvonne parsons

    When are we going to see jeans from debenhams collection in a size 8 i used to buy them about 8 years ago
    please bring them back

  • Wheelie

    It’s great to see mainstream use of disabled models. I really hope Debenhams continue with this and other major retailers follow.

    But, it’s a shame that Shannon was described as being “confined to a wheelchair”. This is often seen as a rather negative term. Many disabled people (like me) prefer the term “wheelchair user” instead. It may seem picky, but it helps to show that wheelchair users use their chairs as tools to help them get around, in much the same way as people use cars.

  • http://blog.debenhams.com Jenny, editor

    Thanks for your comment ‘Wheelie’, you make a really good point and it’s something we’ll definitely keep in mind in future.

  • Louise

    Jenny, why not edit the page and remove the word confined now? Moving away from negative connotations is hugely important and your campaign casts a welcome spotlight on disability issues, which makes getting the lingo right very important indeed… now, not just in the future.

  • http://blog.debenhams.com Jenny, editor

    Consider it done :)

    Thanks for your valuable feedback.

  • Louise

    Brilliant. Good luck with the campaign :-)

  • Carys

    Well done to all involved. Shannon is stunning, as are all of the other models. As a young woman who uses a wheelchair it is great to see positive representations of wheelchair users. Thanks for updating the term to wheelchair user too. As Louise says, the language used contributes either to positive or negative views of disabled people.

    Good luck to Shannon on her modelling career!

  • http://facebook.com/deirdremcdonnell Deirdre mc Donnell

    Hi there,
    I am so happy you have decided to use a girl with a disability!! you have realized its 2010 and nobody is perfect!! I have scoliosis and would love to send you some pictures of myself if you were looking for more girls.Could i ask is there like an agency that the girls are with?
    Thanks so much !!
    Dee xxx

  • http://facebook.com/deirdremcdonnell Deirdre mc Donnell

    Oh forgot to say i am in Ireland!! i know Ireland are backwards at times hehe lets hope we are not with this campaigne we have lots of Debenhams !! :)

  • Liz

    I’m so pleased to see a model with disabilities promoting clothes for a high street store & glad to see a size 16 model as well. Lets hope this is the start of new view on differences.

  • vic

    this is amazing,they can also feel good about themselves

  • pierremehanna@hotmail.com

    shannon is a superstar. I have heard about her for sometime before this and am glad she has finally got decent break. I hope we hear about her a lot more now and she can become a household name as someone who has done a lot for people with disabilities.

  • jjholmes

    I love your edit on wheelchair beauties, being disabled myself, it was like watching pure gold, as this is an area that has always been nrglected.
    Tahnk you


  • http://blog.debenhams.com Jenny, editor

    Thanks everyone for your comments. It’s really important for us to take on board everyone’s feedback in campaigns like this and it helps us decide where to take things next.


    Fabulous idea!! As an occasional wheelchair user, I think we are overlooked. Well done to Debenhams for such an innovative step.

  • Simon Whitworth

    I buy a lot of my cloths etc from Debs and was served yesterday by 2 vary helpful assistants Jenni & Isla, in Banbury, they couldn’t have been more helpful and pleasant.
    i did not open an A/C as they asked me if i was interested as i would rather pay and be done, i don’t agree with offering a 10% discount for defferred credit, as it encourages people to spend money they havn’t got. A loyalty card would be so much better, and cut alot of the paper work out.
    Thanks Simon

  • Mark owen

    Personally I find all this a bit silly “confined to a wheelchair”. or “wheelchair user” what is the issue here? A lot of disabled people have hang-ups when it comes to these kinds of comments. 13 years iv been a permanent wheelchair user and I don’t mind what words people use.. Be confident in yourself and none of this should matter.

    It is nice to see Debenhams rolling in the right direction but why draw all the attention to the wheelchair? Why not draw the attention to the lady? The wheelchair should not be the main focus.

    Iv got to say though the photo shoot was terrible, Why not have people standing closer to the chair? rather than have the wheelchair stand out like a beacon. This isn’t the way you should be marketing. The photo of all the wheelchairs together is shocking! I believe marketing is very important and this kind of marketing makes me feel like i’m different, which is totally the wrong direction you should be taking.

    If you would like further help please feel free to contact me, I could be just what your looking for?

  • http://......................... Anita

    If your looking for female Disabled models in Ireland let me no… Thanks.

  • Clare Braddell

    Just heard excellent programme on Radio 4. Please have a look at our website… coolcrutches.com We are also in the business of making disabled people’s lives happier.

  • Sara

    I seen a poster of Shannon in Cardiff Debenhams a few weeks ago, and thought it was amazing, i had been watching ‘How to look good naked’ and thought that it would never happen, so i was really shocked to see Shannon’s poster hanging in the window, just want to say well done to all involved, and i hope that many high street retailers follow!

  • http://blog.debenhams.com Jenny, editor

    Thanks Sara, so glad you have seen the posters and are supporting us in this important campaign.

  • Dee

    I think it’s brilliant that Debenhams are doing this and has made me really respect them, but I don’t think it should just be women in wheelchairs. I use a chair and crutches. I am “apparently” not what a disabled person should look like (because able bodied ppl feel it’s ok to tell disabled ppl things like this?!)… when ppl ask me if I’ve done something to my leg (i.e. twisted it?) and I tell them I’m permanently disabled they are openly gobsmacked and say… “but you can’t be disabled, you are pretty!!/so slim!!/so stylish!!”… having only had to start using my crutches and chair permanently in the last yr (though I’ve had the problems 13 yrs) I am simply horrified at ppls ignorance about disabilities. I get ppl march up to me in disabled bays telling me I need a blue badge to park there (again judging me sat in my car that I mustn’t be disabled because of how I look/or that I’m too young!), then they look v.embarrassed when I get my blue badge out and have to hobble out of my car on crutches/or get in a w.chair. I actually have some cool crutches (there’s a post about them I just noticed) in black (because I actually don’t want to make a statement about the equipment I use, I want it to blend in, as I want the world to see ME) and they made me feel so much better as I feel more stylish. But I can’t believe the ignorance still out there. It does exist – and you only truly realise that if you are disabled. Please use a whole range of women in your campaigns… I know stylish men too who get the same comments as I do who are chair users… because ppl really can be cool/stylish/pretty/sexy and disabled lol!

  • Bryanna Saliba

    Hey It’s a fantastic idea for wannabe disabled models But put them in stylish modern and modest clothes to show an example to other disabled people it’s what’s inside that counts and you don’t have to be imodest to be a model.

  • Mobilityright

    Well done to Shannon.

  • Anniemc

    about time the high street treat us as equals they r losing out on sales and promoting indenpence of disabled people we still want to look attractive and feel wanted

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