Ready your tissues, folks. Recently, a talent agency reportedly refused to submit an adorable toddler for a modeling gig, because he was born with Down syndrome. Now, the boy's mother is fighting back, and the internet is rallying behind the family. And just in case you had any doubt, yes, Asher, the toddler with Down syndrome rejected for a modeling gig, is the cutest kid ever.
According to CNN, Megan Nash, a Georgia mom, sent some photos of her 15-month-old son Asher to a local, unnamed talent agency on the lookout for kids to submit for an OshKosh B'Gosh commercial. A short while later, the agency told Nash thanks but no thanks — the company allegedly didn't want special needs kids. When Nash asked if the company had explicitly stated that in the casting criteria, the agency told her it hadn't, but they'd "just assumed." Determined to show the agency what they were missing, Nash took to Facebook, where she posted her story, along with the pictures she'd sent of her son, to a group called Changing The Face Of Beauty, which advocates for inclusivity in popular imagery like advertisements.
Soon enough, the members of the group caught on to how freaking cute Asher is and how unfairly the agency had treated him, and started sharing Nash's story widely, meaning that the toddler is now perhaps even more recognizable and inspirational than if he'd booked the commercial in the first place. (For their part, OshKosh B'Gosh has set up a meeting with Asher next week after hearing the story, proving the agency's assumption totally wrong.) It's not clear whether the unnamed talent agency has spoken out, given that Nash has not identified it thus far. (For its part, CNN claims it "was able to verify the interactions after seeing the email exchanges.")
Nash talked to CNN about her son and the importance of him being treated equally, saying,
It's important to feature people with special needs in advertisement for three reasons. The first reason is inclusion. People with disabilities want to be included amongst their peers in life in general and being seen in advertisement is a part of that. The second reason, which is very near and dear to my heart, is acceptance. Without truly accepting my son and others with special needs, there can be no inclusion for them in the future. And the last reason is respect. Using people with special needs shows the world that these people have value and worth just like any typical person does.
Asher's story even made it to Good Morning America, where his mother told the show that the whole family had noticed how much Asher loved to be in front of the camera every time they brought one out.
And Nash told The Huffington Post that she wants "people to realize that all children with Down syndrome and other disabilities are incredible human beings," not people who should be automatically excluded from the images that pervade our culture.
Asher's story is certainly going a long way towards raising awareness. Good luck to him in his meeting with OshKosh!