Target has included a six year old boy with Down Syndrome, Ryan, in a recent ad, alongside "typical" children. Ryan captures the essence of WeHateNormal, because here on this blog, I like to stray away from what's "normal." I like to showcase the beauty in what's not considered normal, and Ryan is most certainly a beautiful child. I commend Target because they did not separate him from the other children, and if you weren't looking carefully at the ad, you wouldn't even know he has Down Syndrome. He's the adorable boy in the orange shirt.
I'm aware that Target is not exactly high-fashion, and that most of us are not interested in childrenswear, but there are two reasons why I had to showcase this:
1.) I believe that everyone is beautiful. I think that being different and confident is the highest form of beauty. My two favorite models, Andrej Pejic and Rick Genest, are not the archetypical models. Andrej Pejic is an androgynous male who models both menswear and womenswear. He is a highly effeminate male, which is something that is not typically considered beautiful. Rick Genest is covered in tattoos head to toe. He coined the nickname "Zombie Boy" because his tattoos make him look ghoulish and a bit freaky. Of course, this is not typically considered beautiful either. Despite how different they are from the typical model, both of them are very successful.
Oh... and I have to include this picture of myself and Rick Genest. I met him a few months ago at Nicola Formichetti's Pop-Up Store in Tribeca. It was enchanting to get to speak with him, as he is the poster boy for opposing normality, and a hero of mine.
2.) I love children, and I think they should all be told that they are beautiful and that their dreams are possible, no matter what. I've worked closely with two kids who have Down Syndrome, and they are just like all the other kids. They should never be seen as inferior. I believe that people are people, simple as that. We are all equal and nobody should ever be left out. If a kid with Down Syndrome wants to become a model, nobody should tell him he can't. Who knows, maybe little Ryan will follow in the footsteps of Andrej Pejic and Rick Genest.
Abnormality is beauty.