Today I went to a lingerie store to purchase some bras. I found some beautiful sparkly bras that would look great on me! I found the right size and asked for the fitting room. I was shown to a small room where my wheelchair barely fit. The door wasn’t closing and I felt a bit let down because I really wanted to try on the bras. I called for the manager and asked her if there were any specialised fitting rooms for people on wheelchairs. She gave me an apologetic look and transferred me to a fitting room on the far end, away from the entry to the fitting rooms. She assured me that I could try on my bras and no one would be allowed in. But I was constantly fretting that someone would walk in and see me topless – thankfully no one did that day. This had happened to me a couple of times before. Scary.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Virali, there’s a fitting room in every clothing store. Why don’t you just try them on there and then buy the clothes?’ You know what, that’s a great idea! Except that my smaller than standard sized wheelchair doesn’t fit in most fitting rooms.
I also went into a clothing store from London and found some beautiful tops and dresses that I wanted to try on. The fitting room was incredibly tiny. I had to maneuver my wheelchair in such a way that I almost broke the mirror. I finally got the door shut, but it felt as if I was suffocating because the room was extremely congested and I didn’t have enough room to move around. The hooks where you can hang your clothes were so high up that I couldn’t reach. Ultimately, I had to put my clothes on the floor – including the clothes I wanted to try on. It was incredibly tedious to bend down time and again to try on clothing.
It’s just flabbergasting that these international stores forget their humans on wheelchairs. I know for a fact that in places like America, England and Australia, accessibility is one of the first things that’s taken into consideration. If a building does not have accessibility for those who are disabled, it will not be approved. Why don’t we have the same standards in India?
Shopping is supposed to be calming and fun, it doesn’t need to be this difficult! People on wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and/or walking sticks should be accounted for as well. We have every right to try on clothes in a fitting room with enough privacy. I think it’s high time that stores, malls, private buildings, salons, and every commercial, government, and private buildings started to provide accessibility to us. We don’t want to be treated differently in our own country.
Featured image credit: Jamie Lutz Carroll