After Being Slammed Online for Outfit, Boy With Down Syndrome Wins Major Ad Campaign
Kat Abianac, one of our Mighty contributors, was hit with online criticism last year after posting a photo of her 3-year-old son Parker wearing a floral onesie from Australian brand, Bonds. Commenters in one Facebook group were quick to make harsh remarks about a boy wearing a “feminine” outfit, so much so that the page’s administrator had to ban people from the group.
This year Abianic, from Queensland, Australia, submitted a photo of Parker wearing the same onesie to the Bonds Baby Search 2016 — he beat out thousands of other kids to win the People’s Choice award for toddlers. Parker now has a 12-month modeling contract with the brand, the Courier Mail reported.
After the initial criticism, Abianac wrote a powerful response. In it, she said:
I know this may seem like I’m making a mountain from a molehill. But believe me, when I read comments criticizing a 2-year-old’s outfit, I felt the need to press the issue, while celebrating floral prints in all their glory.
My son has Down syndrome. I bet the comment writers didn’t notice that because his face was covered by a glorious lavender felt hat. He is going to grow up jumping hurdles of outdated stereotypes. This issue is a mere drop in the bucket of assumptions I already fight every day and try to raise awareness about. I truly don’t care if he grows up and decides he likes pink Ralph Lauren shirts, or pajamas in a startling shade of fuchsia. Or even those floral shirts all the husbands are wearing.
We’re all aware little boys were once traditionally dressed in red and pink, and girls in blue. Now, that switched around is the social “norm.” God forbid you break the rules. Gender stereotyping is real. It limits choices in the most superficial and ridiculous way. I don’t even know how to put it simpler: Dress your kid in whatever the hell you and they want to wear. And then go put them on Facebook.
“Down syndrome doesn’t mean he should not be included in the competition and it also shouldn’t be ignored,” she told the Brisbane Times, after Parker won the contest. “It is very much a victim culture. I have been told that if I put my son out there on the internet it is natural that he is going to get bullied and I don’t think that is appropriate in any way.”
Abianac said she hopes Bonds’ decision to include her son in their advertising campaign will help educate people. “I decided I would enter to show them,” she told the Courier Mail, of the shot taken by photographer Angelico Jarvis. “There is a lot of hate out there for children with Down syndrome, there’s always people out there who are willing to throw in their unwanted and unwarranted two cents worth.”
Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!