Most moms worry about the effect advertising has on their kids. But Katie Driscoll's chief worry wasn't that commercials were trying to convince her 4-year-old daughter to buy stuff she doesn't need. It's that Grace, who has Down syndrome, would never see people like her in advertising.
But thanks to Katie and her friend Steve English, the father of another child with a disability, that's changing. The two are the founders of Changing the Face of Beauty, a campaign to get more children with disabilities into advertising campaigns. By taking photos of kids with disabilities and sending them to companies, they are slowly but surely changing the face of advertising. The Stir spoke with Katie about her daughter, her beautiful photography, and of course how she is changing the face of beauty.
The Stir: Can you tell me what it was you were seeing in advertising ... or not seeing ... that really pushed you to join forces with Steve?
I wanted my daughter to feel valued in this world, and I feel that advertising was the missing component. We look to advertising to help us make decisions on personal choices. There were very few people represented in any type of advertising who happen to have a disability. I knew that in time my daughter would grow up and realize that the world she was living in was not noticing her or anyone like her. People who have disabilities make up the largest minority group and they have no voice in the media. That is a problem and I hope to be just one voice to encourage change. I want my daughter and all people living with a disability to be heard and seen.
Steve and I became friends shortly after my daughter was born. He has always been a supportive and inspirational person in our journey with Grace. He has raised an amazing son who also has a disability but is now capable of living a semi-independent life. He has great ideas and he always encourages me to think outside of the box. He encouraged me to take my photography to the next level and joined with me to form the campaign "Changing the Face of Beauty."
How do you actually get companies to pick up your images?
I find companies by searching and watching children's fashion. I reach out to them directly and encourage them to include children of all abilities. I offer my photography to show them what a picture looks like when all children are together interacting. The response has been hands down fantastic. They 110 percent believe in what I encourage them to do once I prove to them it is possible.
Who are the kids in most of the photos?
The kids are local children, friends, and my own children. I generally put out a casting call for people to be able to come to my studio in Palos Park, Illinois.
Does Grace have any idea how famous she's become?
Grace is 4 years old, and although she loves the camera, she has no idea what is going on with this passion that she helps me communicate. I hope someday she is as proud of our accomplishments as I am. I am pretty confident she will be.
Check out some of Katie's adorable models below!
Do you see kids "like" your own in advertising? What do you wish you saw more of?
Image via Katie Driscoll/Changing the Face of Beauty