Saturday, 03 June 2017 15:52

Model with Down’s Syndrome is challenging narrow definitions of beauty

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There’s an appalling lack of diversity when it comes to the industry’s choice of models. Not only are non-white women given the brush off when it comes to getting featured in magazines, but plus-size models and those with disabilities barely get a look-in, either.

Katie Meade, a Special Olympic athlete who made history last year when she became the first model with Down’s Syndrome to front a beauty campaign, is devoted to making sure everyone feels beautiful, Down’s Syndrome, as well as other disabilities, are largely absent from the beauty and fashion industries – and she’s determined to change that. Katie Meade wants to prove that ‘beauty belongs to everybody.’
Growing up in Des Miones, Iowa, Meade loved putting on different outfits and playing with lipstick, and had always dreamed of becoming a model. But it wasn’t something she believed would ever happen to her. As a child, Meade struggled with her health, undergoing two open heart surgeries. If that wasn’t enough, she also faced bullying at school. ‘Being born with Down Syndrome can cause many problems, both physical and mental,’ Meade told reporters when she was in the early stages of her athletic career at age 20.
‘Kids would make fun of me. I wasn’t always accepted by the “normal” kids and that hurt. ‘Most kids like myself don’t have the opportunity to be part of a school track or basketball team. We are labeled “that retarded kid.”’ Well, she showed them. She became an athlete in the Special Olympics, competing in several sports from basketball to gymnastics.
And In 2016, Meade landed a modelling contract with retro haircare range Beauty & Pin-ups. Needless to say, she looked incredible.
Now 33, Katie is passionate about encouraging other people – whether they have a disability or not – to consider themselves worthy of a place in the world of fashion and beauty.