I am a big fan of instagram and I follow a lot of so called ‘insta-mums’. These are mums who share their lives on instagram and show the reality of parenthood, some of them blog, others don’t. I love what they do to make things so real and I think it’s great that they can earn a living and provide for their families while they do so.
As they have so many followers, these ‘insta-mums’ are also considered to be influencers by big brands who send them gifts and invite them to product launches etc. in return for coverage on their blog or instagram photos, or a mention in their stories.
Today Marks & Spencers held a product launch for their autumn / winter 2018 collection and of course they invited many of these insta-mums, and no doubt lots of other influential people and journalists who will talk about their products. All the big brands do this, theres’s nothing new about this at all.
But, today my instagram newsfeed & stories feed has been taken over by their products and it has made me MAD. The image below are screen shots of Clemmie Telfords instagram stories:
At first glance you might think this is amazing, a really positive thing that M&S have a special needs range for disabled children who are wheelchair users and/or are tube fed. They are the only high street retailer to do so after all so they are filling a gap in the market, and that body warmer looks perfect for William.
But it’s not as simple as that and I have big issues with this.
Insta-mums like poor Clemmie (and Scummy Mummies and all the others I’ve seen today) are being blindsided, they think that this range means that M&S is inclusive and embracing diversity. That’s not true at all and I’ll explain why…
Firstly, if M&S are as inclusive or diverse as they’d have you believe, why am I only seeing this range being shared by instagram mums who don’t have disabled kids? Is it because M&S didn’t invite any mums with disabled kids that would actually use these products? Or is it because they refused to go?
And secondly, and maybe more importantly, if M&S are as inclusive and diverse as this range makes them look then why are they refusing to make adjustments that would mean the same families who would buy those clothes, could actually spend time in their stores and be able to use the same services non-disabled customers can?
If you don’t already know the history of Marks & Spencers refusal to make any adaptions to make their toilets more suitable to enable children and adults to be able to use them, I’ll do a quick recap…
– M&S have been asked by numerous people over approx 13 years, to adapt the facilities in some of their stores to include an adult sized changing table and a hoist.)
– I personally issued a formal complaint of discrimination under Equality Act 2010 and stated the adjustments my son required (bench & hoist) in my local store, which has 3 disabled toilets, a large baby changing room and a feeding/family room. They refused to make the adjustment.
– They claim that making the changes that would allow disabled children & adults to use their toilet facilities would be a health and safety risk to their staff and customers. And worst still, they claim it would put other customers at a disadvantage. You can read the M&S saga here & here
Believe it or not, I am a fan of Marks & Spencers products. I love their food and I really like their cafes. That’s why I want them to be inclusive and provide for my son.
But I find it so disgraceful that a huge brand like Marks & Spencers has no qualms about making profits from disabled families, while refusing to make their stores accessible for them. So no, I won’t be buying their adaptive range and I hope after reading this you won’t either.
Influencers promoting products that they personally cannot use, whether they are paid for it or not, should do their homework before praising the brand or products and putting their name to them. Because right now there are insta-mums and bloggers all over the internet giving M&S amazing publicity while hiding the truth of their discrimination.
Did you see M&S in the press recently because they had hired disabled child models? Think that’s diversity? Think again… kids just like the ones in those photos need changing places style toilets!
Until Marks & Spencers agree to provide for all the customers they are selling to, they can never be classed as inclusive or diverse.