Like many women, Laura Booth appreciates a comfy pair of shoes.
The Stockport, England, mayor, who has a prosthetic leg, even has a go-to pair of flat leather shoes she often wears to official events.
When she recently attended a celebration for a local bakery, Booth didn't think twice about wearing her flats, but the mayor soon faced a wave of criticism for her footwear choice.
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After a photo of Booth was posted to a local Facebook group called Stockport Memories, social media users left a series of harsh comments mocking the mayor's shoes.
"The comments said things such as 'A Mayor in trainers (think you might say sneakers in the USA) followed by a disapproving face emoji;' 'Look at the state of her;' 'Who the hell is she?'" Booth recounted to TODAY Style. "I was also told to get back to my caravan (I live in a house so can only assume this was meant to denigrate me in some way) and that I looked like a smashed crab."
Rather than succumb to online trolls, Booth used the opportunity to educate social media users instead.
"I explained that they are not trainers but flat leather shoes that I have to wear due to being an amputee. I explained that by wearing these shoes I could attend the event without needing to use my wheelchair," she said.
Booth, who lost her leg just below the knee when a truck ran her over at the age of 6, said heels simply aren't an option for her.
"I wore and will wear the shoes due to being an amputee, and also suffering with back problems and chronic pain. They offer me comfort and support and help me to walk. Due to the deterioration of my residual limb my mobility is diminishing and I cannot wear heels," Booth said.
When the mayor posted a picture of the "offensive" shoes to Twitter and explained her story, she received an outpouring of support. "Unbelievable that anyone would focus on your footwear! And hey, its the 21st century - women don't have to wear heals! Great to hear you have had loads of support - well deserved," one Twitter user wrote.
And many social media users shared photos of their own comfy footwear in solidarity.
Booth said her story highlights the need for increased dialogue around people with disabilities.
"I think we need more people in public life with the lived experience of disability to take this issue to a higher profile and change attitudes. I have already stated that I will use my year as mayor to champion disability awareness and disability inclusion. In fact, the two charities that I will be raising funds for are disability related, and one is an actual amputee charity," she said.
The mayor isn't planning on retiring her favorite flats anytime soon either, and is ready to defend herself against any naysayers.
"One of the deflection techniques used when you confront such a hostile narrative toward disability is that you can be told you are oversensitive because of your disability, or the patronizing nonsense that disabled people are inherently fragile. Well I am certainly not fragile and I will speak out and take on bullies, and aim to educate such ignorant bigots that disability is not inability," she said.