Hear me out. I don't have anything against people with Down Syndrome. I don't have anything against people with any disability- in fact, I have 3 myself and founded my own doll company that focuses on disabled representation.
But there's something that's been ticking me off lately...
Stories like this one on People have been sweeping the Internet, and the fact that American Girl featured a model with Down Syndrome in their holiday catalog has been shared literally EVERYWHERE. People are treating this as 'a big deal' and saying it's inspirational and stuff...
But the thing is, this SHOULDN'T be a big deal.
People with Down Syndrome (or any disability, for that matter), can do anything they set their minds too, including being a model. Their disability is just a little blip in the big picture. For example, I don't see myself as 'a filmmaker with type 1 diabetes, autism and scoliosis'. I just see myself as a 'filmmaker'. It didn't matter that Maryellen had polio, Gabriela had a stutter or that Elliana had a limb difference. They all set out on their goals big and small and succeeded. It stinks that it's not normal to see models of all abilities, but it's not the best idea to just say "wow, she was a model even though she had Down Syndrome!" Because despite the fact that she does, she's just like every other girl in the catalog- posing cute with her doll. And that shouldn't be newsworthy. Imagine a headline saying "Company A Features African-American Model" or "X Corp Features Male Model". That wouldn't be news, since it's just little things that make us who we are. But since it's "American Girl Features Model With Down Syndrome", it's all of a sudden OK?
One in five Americans has a disability, and it's about time all of us had our accomplishments highlighted for just being cool, not because of our disabilities. This is exactly why I created Special Dolls and add awesome characters who happen to have disabilities to the movies I make- because when we're defined by our disabilities, it's not that great. But when we're seen as our own selves who's conditions are just a blip in the way to greatness, that's when I'll be able to truly say "it's a big deal".
P.S: American Girl could do so much more for disability representation. So by getting press for featuring a model with Down Syndrome, it's just encouraging AG to say 'we did enough! Our job here is done!' But in reality, they didn't do anything.