Toddler With Down Syndrome Wins Hearts After He's Turned Away at Casting Call

asher nashEvery baby is beautiful, but unfortunately, sometimes our society sends the opposite message. When Meagan Nash brought her 16-month-old son Asher to a casting call for OshKosh B'Gosh, she didn't know if he'd get picked for the campaign -- but she definitely didn't expect him to get turned away just because he has Down syndrome. Sadly, that's exactly what happened. 

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Nash was told that Asher (who happens to be ridiculously adorable, for the record) wouldn't be considered because the company "hadn't requested a special needs baby." 

And that makes sense why, exactly? Because special needs babies don't wear OshKosh B'Gosh?? Kids with disabilities are just kids, and the fact that a huge company would run its advertising campaign operating under any other assumption is deeply upsetting. 

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Thankfully, plenty of paying customers feel the same way. As in, thousands and thousands of paying customers. After Asher's story was shared on the Facebook page Kids With Down Syndrome, it received over 59,000 likes and 79,000 shares. This overwhelmingly positive response has given Nash hope that OshKosh B'Gosh might reconsider its feelings about casting special needs kids:

"I would love for OshKosh to meet my son and see what we see in him," Nash told The Mighty. "I don't want them to use him because of this fuss we are making on the Internet. I want them to use him because they value him and see how much he could contribute to their advertisement. Children with Down syndrome and other disabilities are incredible human beings, and we want OshKosh to want to help change the world's perception."

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Not only would it be good business (and a decent thing to do) for OshKosh to step up and give Asher a shot, but it would also be timely: Other major companies, like Target, Tommy Hilfiger, and Kmart have all run "inclusive advertising" campaigns. Of course, this is a trend that's way, way overdue. According to Kathryn Driscoll, founder of Changing the Face of Beauty, one in five families has a disabled person in their immediate family.

"That is 20 percent of the population brands like OshKosh are not communicating to," she told The Mighty.

And that's a lot of kids who don't get to see themselves represented in the world. Diversity in advertising is so important because, for better or worse, advertising is powerful, and it's everywhere. All children need to feel like they're an essential part of society. They need to look around and see faces like their own. They need to know they matter. Whether or not it fits into their business models, companies like OshKosh B'Gosh have a responsibility to help promote awareness and tolerance in the world. They have a responsibility to kids like Asher. 

As Nash put it, "Without truly accepting my son and others with special needs, there can be no inclusion for them in the future."

"It is time we realize they are not 'just a trend' that comes and goes in advertisement. They are here to stay!"

Here's hoping we see Asher's face on a billboard soon! (Or anywhere. We just love looking at that face.)

 

Image via Kids With Down Syndrome/Facebook

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