One of my biggest and most embarrassing fears when I got the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome was that I might not think my baby was cute. It seemed like a really stupid and superficial thing to worry about, especially in the face of the many other possible things that could go wrong, but regardless of how much I wanted to be bigger than that, it was a real fear of mine.
It helped to see other people's pictures of their babies and children with Trisomy 21, but the fear did not subside until Benny was born. It was a great relief that not only did we find our baby cute, but so did everybody else. As it turns out, babies with Down syndrome are still babies. Adorable, wonderful, extremely cute babies.
Recently a 2 year old girl with Down syndrome was featured in a Target ad and the ad went viral. It was that exciting to see a child with a disability featured in an advertisement.
Soon there was a call out to parents of children with Trisomy 21 to support a social media campaign for more companies to include children with disabilities in their ads.
I've decided to take part in this social media campaign because I realize now that the reason I was so afraid that my baby with Down syndrome wouldn't be cute was because I had grown up rarely seeing images of people with Down syndrome at all. This lack of inclusion contributes to ignorance and intolerance.
With his red hair and blue eyes my son is already a genetic anomaly, setting him apart from 99% of the general population. With his extra chromosome, he is even more rare. The exact number of people living with Down syndrome in the world is not known, but it is again less than 1% of the population.
Yet as rare as Down syndrome is, people with disabilities are the largest minority in the country, representing nearly 1 in 5 people. And the more visibility that people with disabilities have, the better the lives of all people with disabilities will be. And the better off the rest of us will be too.
In the four short months that Benny has been in our lives he has illuminated how much joy and love people with disabilities bring into your life. This isn't something normally associated with disabilities, and I think it's an important fact that needs to be brought to light.
Shortly before his heart surgery our friend, the wonderful photographer Joel Peterson, came and took pictures of Benny for us. These pictures really capture just how cute Benny is. The hard part now is deciding which picture to post on social media, and which company to target with my #IMREADY #15in2015 message.
I hope other families with children that have disabilities of all kinds will join us in spreading the message. To be a part of the campaign post a picture on social media. Use a caption like this:
“Hey #GapKids #IMREADY for change. We want YOU to include models with disabilities in 2015. We want YOU to be part of the #15in2015!” #Changingthefaceofbeauty #DSDN"
Here's to celebrating the new face of 2015, a diverse one!
Since becoming a mom to a little boy with Trisomy 21 I have written a lot about Down syndrome and disabilities. I am a storyteller, wife and mom to a teen and a toddler. Life is busy!