The fashion and modeling industries have been known to discriminate against bodies that do not fit into the perfect ideals of beauty. This was once thought of as an exclusive look at beauty, but it is now considered as an exclusion tactic. Although things seem to be changing in recent years and the modeling world has adopted an inclusive approach.
Even the world’s most notorious brands are starting to incorporate all kinds of people to represent them. For instance, Victoria’s Secret has revealed its latest trend-setting model who has down syndrome. She is the first model with the condition, and she is paving the way for a better world where anyone can model.
First model with down syndrome
24-year-old Sofia Jiaru is a Puerto Rico native who just so happens to have down syndrome. Growing up she had dreams of modeling, as well as being a businesswoman. In the past, people with down syndrome had not exactly been celebrated for their beauty. So people did not hold much hope that she would actualize her goals. “When I was little, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,'” said Sophia in an interview with People.
In 2020, Sophia landed her first modeling gig at New York Fashion Week where she walked down the runway for the designer Marisa Santiago. Since then her career as a model has became increasingly popular. In February earlier this year, she announced that she was signed on as Victoria’s Secret’s first down syndrome model. she posted about it on her Instagram page. “One day I dreamed of it, I worked for it and today it’s a dream come true. I can finally tell you my big secret,” Jirau wrote. “I am Victoria’s Secret’s first model with Down syndrome!”
Read: Man, 23, Becomes 1st person with Down syndrome to finish Ironman World Championship
Sophia is a determined young woman. Not only did she achieve her dream of becoming a model, but also opened her own business. She has a brand called Alavett, which sounds fancy, but it is the way Sophia wrote: “I love it”. There Sophia draws an income by selling branded phone covers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other nick-nack items.
“I felt like a shooting star“
Victoria’s Secret was releasing a new line of bras called the Love Cloud bra collection. Sophia, was over the moon hen she got the call to model for them. She had to fly to Los Angeles but that did not mean she didn’t get to make a grand entrance with a fancy car. NBC asked what she thought of the shoot. The model with down syndrome replied saying, “I felt like a shooting star”.
Raúl Martinez, Victoria’s Secret’s chief creative director, said “Love Cloud Collection is a major moment in the brand’s evolution. From the cast of incredible women that bring the collection to life, to the incredible inclusive spirit on set, this campaign is an important part of the new Victoria’s Secret standard we are creating.”
Sophia is determined to raise awareness about those with down syndrome. She wants people to understand people like her are not limited because of their condition. And that they can achieve the same things as every other person. “I want to tell the whole world that people with my condition, Down syndrome, inside and out, we have no limits,” said Sophia. “People who have Down syndrome like me are capable of getting a job, creating their own business, and working hard like me.”
- “Sofía Jirau, Victoria’s Secret’s First Model with Down Syndrome, ‘Felt Like a Shooting Star’ in Campaign.” People. Abigaile adams. February 18, 2022.
- “Sofía Jirau, 24, Becomes Victoria’s Secret’s First Model with Down Syndrome: ‘Dream Come True'” People. Vanessa Etienne. February 17, 2022.
- “Who Is Sofia Jirau? 5 Things to Know About Victoria’s Secret’s 1st Model With Down Syndrome. US Magazine. Samantha Holender. February 18, 2022.