That’s because the charming youngster, who has Down’s Syndrome, is now set to become a model after a video of her singing in the car went viral. The modelling world lacks diversity generally but in kids’ clothing, representation is even more dire – so Francesca’s new career is welcome news to all. Proud mum Melissa, from Wath-upon-Dearne in South Yorkshire, is now celebrating her daughter being signed by a top modelling agency, intent on promoting diversity.
‘This isn’t about selling clothes, it’s about inclusion and showing children with Down’s Syndrome how amazing they are,’ she said. ‘For other kids too, it’s good to be exposed to diversity early. The more children see people that are different to them, the more they’ll grow up to be accepting adults. ‘At the moment, it seems only one specific, very prescribed version of beauty is celebrated by the modelling industry. But really, everyone is beautiful to someone.’
Melissa initially enlisted Francesca in a photo competition running on Facebook. Not expecting much of a response, she was staggered when Francesca’s picture polled 1,000 votes in just 24 hours, eventually winning the competition which resulted in a photo shoot. ‘She absolutely adored being the centre of attention, which got me thinking about modelling in general,’ said Melissa. Earlier this year, Francesca was officially signed to Zebedee Management, an agency dedicated to diversifying the modelling industry, after her mum heard about them through a support group.
Before they had Francesca, Melissa and husband Alan were offered routine antenatal screening for Down’s but refused the tests as they were sure the results wouldn’t make a difference. As soon as Francesca was born, Melissa says she knew she had Down’s as she had physical characteristics her other two children didn’t show. At first, the pair found it very difficult to deal with, Googling the condition and learning about it as much as they could. To explain it all to their other two kids, Melissa used a book that had been gifted to her by a couple from a Down’s Syndrome Facebook support group – who asked her to then pass it on to another set of parents, when the time was right. The story, called ‘We’ll Paint the Octopus Red’ captured everything the family wanted to explain, said Melissa. They’ll soon be passing it onto the next family who needs it.
READ MORE: metro.co.uk