Jaymie Bianca is the Boston fellow for IGNITE, America’s largest and most diverse organization for young women’s political leadership.
Picture a Victoria’s Secret model. I can imagine the way that person looks in your mind. The brand perpetuated and made ubiquitous unattainable and unhealthy beauty standards for years. They were so out of touch with the average woman that the company declared bankruptcy and closed 300 stores in two years in recent years.
Now they’re back, and they’re all about diversity and inclusivity. The new chief executive, Martin Waters, has said that the brand wants to become the “world’s leading advocate for women.” Part of that work is introducing a new campaign featuring Sofía Jirau, a 24-year-old model from Puerto Rico who lives with Down syndrome.
Some might see the ad as a cynical ploy to override a bad reputation. And maybe it is. But it’s also a cause for celebration.
Representation for people with disabilities like Sofía matters. Sofía’s success encourages all of us to redefine what’s possible. A woman with Down syndrome can be a Victoria’s Secret model! If we can change the image that appears when we picture a Victoria’s Secret model, what else can we change about our biases?
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