The agent told Nash that photos of Asher weren’t submitted because Carter’s didn’t specify he wanted a child with special needs, Nash said.
“My first thought was, ‘Well, did they specify that they did do not do you want a child with special needs? ” she says.
Nash said the officer apologized, but it got her thinking about how society views people with special needs and what she could do to help change things.
Earlier this month, Nash posted her son’s photo on a Facebook page for Changing the Face of Beauty, a nonprofit that advocates for equal representation of people with disabilities in advertising. Among other things, she has tapped Carter’s subsidiary, OshKosh B’gosh, a brand she says her son wears most often.
Nash said that since the birth of her son, she has been concerned about not providing him with the opportunities that other children have, “so I’ve been trying to raise awareness about disability inclusion.” She said she wanted her son – and other people with disabilities – to appear more frequently in advertising “so that when someone sees my son’s picture, it doesn’t surprise them because he has the look different”.
When Nash, from Buford, Georgia, was 12 weeks pregnant with Asher, she and her husband, David, discovered their baby would be born with Down syndrome.
“We realized that this baby we were imagining was going to be a little bit different,” she said. “He’s a little different – but he’s the best kind of different you can be. He is incredible.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which children are born with an extra copy of a chromosome – chromosome 21 – that can cause mental and physical disabilities such as hearing, vision or heart problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder, with around 6,000 babies born with it each year, according to the CDC.
Nash said that despite his son’s disability, he has no limits – he can sit up on his own, crawl and is “so close to walking”. He doesn’t speak yet, but he uses sign language to communicate with his family, she said.
“Asher is an individual, like everyone else,” he says. “He may have Down syndrome, but he doesn’t have all the characteristics of Down syndrome. He has his own physical characteristics, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and traits that make him unique. Down syndrome is just part of who he is. We won’t write his future for him and neither will society. Yes, he may need a little more time and attention. to achieve his goals as he grows, but nothing will stop him!”
“I really want to change the perception of the world,” Nash told the Post.
She said that indeed society has become more tolerant, “but we still have a lot of work to do”.
Nash said she volunteers with the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta and the Down Syndrome Diagnostic Network to help support other families who have children with Down syndrome.
In July, Nash sent Asher’s photos to the modeling agency for Carter’s casting.
“Like all moms, I hope he will be chosen!” she wrote to the agent. “We tried so hard to bring him into the modeling industry. We want everyone to see babies and children, with or without disabilities, modeling and doing whatever they want.
When Nash did not receive a response, she said, she reached out again to make sure she had given the agency the information it needed and asked if the photos of her son had been submitted to Carter’s, which is based in Atlanta.
“No, that was not part of their criteria. . .” the agent wrote in a Facebook post.
“I’m confused,” Nash wrote. “You didn’t submit to them because they didn’t say they might have Down syndrome or did they specify not to submit children with special needs?”
The agent replied, “I just assumed that since they hadn’t specified the requirements, it wasn’t the right one to recruit him, but you’re right. . . I will submit. . . all they can say is not for this particular one, is it? »
After Asher’s story swept through social media, Nash said a marketing rep from OshKosh B’gosh contacted her to tell her about her son and set up a meeting.
“Since we became aware of Ms. Nash’s request, our team has reached out to her directly to better understand her perspective and provide additional information about our casting process,” OshKosh said in a statement. “We agree that there is an opportunity for greater representation of children with special needs in advertising.
“We look forward to meeting Asher and his family, as well as taking steps to improve the representation of diverse children in our marketing.”
Nash said she met with the children’s clothing company on Tuesday and it was “a positive experience,” but she didn’t elaborate on that.
“OshKosh B’gosh enjoyed spending time with Asher and his family today and hearing their perspective,” a spokesperson for OshKosh B’gosh said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We appreciate Ms. Nash’s passion for greater inclusion of children with special needs in advertising, and thank her for raising awareness on this issue. We are committed to evolving our process to ensure that in the future, children with special needs are better represented in our advertising campaigns.
“We have invited Asher to participate in a future photoshoot and look forward to getting to know him and his family better in the future.”