A mayor who has a prosthetic leg has reacted to social media ‘abuse’ about her choice of footwear. She believes this could discourage disabled people from entering public life.
Stockport mayor Laura Booth – whose left leg was amputated below the knee as a child – said she was mocked on Facebook for wearing flat shoes to an event.
She said one comment read: “Look at the state of her.”
Ms Booth said her footwear did not diminish her ability to do her job.
The councillor, who also has chronic pain and back problems, wore pink leather lace-up shoes to a ceremony at a bakery in Reddish on 3 June.
She said she wanted to walk to the event and stand up, rather than use her wheelchair.
Ms Booth explained to the BBC: “People commented on the bakery’s photo; ‘A mayor in trainers, disapproving face’, ‘Look at the state of her’, ‘Get back to your caravan’. They make these judgements and can get really nasty.”
Ms Booth, who lost her leg after a car crash, said: “I am prone to falling, I have a different gait so I need shoes with support. There is a limited choice.”
She added: “It’s these attitudes that will put people off entering public life if they have a health condition or disability. Also, a woman should be able to wear whatever shoes she wants irrespective of disability or not.”
Following the abuse on social media, Laura tweeted:
“Sad to have received abuse because I am a Mayor in flat shoes that look similar to trainers rather than heels. As an amputee [I] am just pleased that though limited I do have some mobility. In all honesty, can’t believe my footwear diminishes my ability to carry out the role”.
She wanted to highlight the ‘hostile narrative’ that exists around disability and invited people to confront her in person.
“Bring it on. Come and say it to my face. My job is to show you disability is not inability. Sometimes you have to facilitate. In this event, it was flat, lace-up shoes, so I can stand up and talk to people. It is insulting and wrong that people think my shoes determine my ability”.
Other people on Twitter showed their support by telling the councillor to “wear what is comfortable” and “ignore” any abuse.
One commented: “Only a woman would have her shoes scrutinised.”
By Emma Purcell
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