I love this!
As you all know now, I, myself was a child actress so I have never been opposed to the idea of children being used in tasteful advertising within reason and with balance. In fact, it was one of the experiences that was pivotal in my social development as I learned to interact with adults in the professional world. I learned how to properly groom myself and how to behave at the table, in a meeting, at an audition and how to walk and speak with poise.
But there is another reason why I love this and that is because the world needs more Down Syndrome. 50 years ago, or even 30 a child growing up with Down Syndrome might think that their “disease” was temporary and something that they would grow out of. After all, they never saw older people with Down Syndrome: they were not on TV, they were not in advertising campaigns or even on the streets- instead they were in institutions. But now, as the world begins to recognize the ability instead of the disability, we have role models like Lauren Potter off of Glee or Chris Burke or “Corky” from Life Goes On.
We have adults out there who are using their gifts and talents to inspire our children. Gail Williamson, mother of Blair Williamson, who has appeared on Nip and Tuck, ER and other television programs, commented at the 2011 Canadian Down Syndrome Conference that parents can now say, “okay, I have a child with Down Syndrome…so they’ll be like Lauren Potter?” And suddenly, it’s not so scary.
This is so important. Not only for parents but children themselves.
I want Ella to grow up knowing that she is beautiful but if the world tells her that a flat bridge, or shorter stature, or impaired speech, or Down Syndrome itself cannot be used to represent the beauty of society what message does that send? Her beauty has nothing to do with the fact that she has Down Syndrome but there are ignorant individuals out there who insist otherwise.
Imagine a world where individuals with Down Syndrome were the face of Step 2 Toys or Pampers? But why stop there? What about Gap, or H&M or Burberry? If individuals with Down Syndrome were viewed as beautiful, contributing members of society would we be so concerned about eliminating them by pre-screening in utero?
If you ask me, the world needs more Down Syndrome. Way to go Gemma and Taya!
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