A 10-month-old Miami girl Valentina Guerrero, with Down Syndrome, will be the face of a swimwear ad campaign for Spanish designer Dolores Cortes. She made her debut Friday at the Miami Swim Fashion Week where she was carried onto the stage.
According to the NY Daily News, Guerrero, in a pink floral swimsuit, will adorn the cover of the DC Kids Summer 2013 catalog.
AdWeek reports that models with Down Syndrome had lately been making inroads into advertising as part of ensemble casts in circulars and catalogs.
According to Jezebel, earlier this year, a 6-year-old boy Ryan Langston, from Garwood, New Jersey, with Down syndrome, featured in a Target ad. The decision was not considered risky because big-box stores emphasize their inclusiveness but when a high-end retailer or a prestigious designer makes a similar choice it represents a bold move in the fashion industry.
The Daily Mail reports Valentina is the first person with Down Syndrome to be the main model of a campaign for a prestigious fashion designer.
According to Cortes, in a statement about her decision to use Valentina, "People with Down syndrome are just as beautiful and deserve the same opportunities. I'm thrilled to have Valentina modeling for us."
DSAOM.org reports Guerrero was born in September and is the daughter of Cecilia Elizalde and Juan Fernando.
NY Daily News reports Elizalde set up a Twitter account for Valentina and says Cortes's decision to work with her daughter carries a "clear message." She said: "I am very happy that DC Kids USA chose Valentina as their main model because this carries a clear message of inclusion and starts changing the old perception of Down syndrome, thus generating a much needed transformation in society...As a mother, I am incredibly proud of what my daughter has achieved in less than a year of life."
According to DSAOM.org, Elizalde said: “I was excited mainly because the fact that they are placing Valentina on the catalogue sends a very clear message of inclusion; all children deserve the same opportunities, regardless of their physical, economic, social, racial or medical condition.”
Jezebel comments that the move is a "step towards helping normalize, not just Down syndrome, but any difference that might ordinarily cause a person to be unfairly marginalized."
According to AdWeek, Dolores Cortes Kids USA will donate 10 percent of the profits of this collection to the Down Syndrome Association of Miami.
Down Syndrome or Down's Syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, a British physician who was the first to describe the condition in 1866. The condition results when a child is born with a third copy of Chromosome 21. Children with Down syndrome have a characteristic facial appearance that caused the condition to be referred to as "Mongolism." But use of the term was stopped because of the inappropriate racial reference. People with Down Syndrome have significant intellectual disability, but with close monitoring and support many graduate from high school and secure jobs.
Around one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome.