Mom Sees No Kids With Disabilities Represented In Ads, Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands
It’s the end of summer, and time for kids to go back to school. All kids, including children with disabilities. Unfortunately, all those back to school ads featuring shiny, happy, pimple and attitude-free children rarely (if ever) include kids with disabilities. Why? Because kids with disabilities aren’t considered attractive. And because they remind us of a fact of life that many would rather forget. Photographer Jenni Driscoll, who is also the mother of a child with Down syndrome, is trying to change that.
Driscoll, in part through a movement she co-founded called Changing the Face of Beauty is trying to show advertisers that there is another group of kids out there who want to wear their clothes, and to show the public that all children need to be part of back-to-school advertising. “All kids of all abilities share the same excitement and anxiety about returning to school,” she says. “The imagery needed to reflect that.”
Recently, Driscoll put out an open call for disabled kids to appear in her photos. She then contacted clothing companies asking if they would consider having disabled children model their clothes. Many of those companies told her that they hadn’t even thought about this lack of representation in their ads. This is not a surprise – children with disabilities are often shoved to the side, into special ed classrooms and the corner of the playground. They are often either ignored completely in advertising or featured for a pat on the back for the advertiser; Hey check out this one disabled kid! Isn’t it tragic? Aren’t we open minded? Buy our jeans. But most often, disabled kids aren’t even used as tokens in ads; they just aren’t there. What a difference it would make to them if they could see themselves pictured as part of the group, as a natural and not tragic part of life, and as children excited to start a new school year just like everybody else.
Because guess what, bitches? Johnny in the wheelchair needs pants too. So does Claire, who has cerebral palsy. They want to feel like they belong in your store, and in your clothes, because you want them there. Not as an aside, and not as a favor, but because they’re kids. Now can you please show them where to find a tee-shirt that their mother will hate? They’ve still got notebooks to buy.