We are back from NYC and stuck in a snow drift. Well not really, but it is super cold and there are drifts of white stuff everywhere. There were lots of oooo’s and ahhhh’s while we watched the snow fall last night and it felt good to know we are safe and sound, surrounded by good friends and lots of food….necessities right? As I replay the memories made over the past week. It’s all really really good.
We arrived in NYC to meet my Dad and head out to the hotel to meet the lady of the week! Yes, Ms Jamie Brewer and her Mom were staying in our hotel to make things easier to connect. We all had butterflies. Looking forward to spending time with a real celebrity. It was amazing to watch my son Liam ask her about the show she is an actress in American Horror Story as well as asking her about who she knew and what it was like to be a famous. Jamie’s personality is peppy and she is so gracious. She and her Mom made us all feel extremely comfortable and welcome.
Thursday we arrived early to the show and made sure we were settled before everyone hit the runway. What an experience to be there during fashion week. Chatting with photographers and press waiting in line to get into one of the hottest shows of the week. That moment when you walk in with 200 other people and see Carries logo at the start of the runway with huge video projection on the wall was mind blowing. It was all happening. We were really going to witness the first young women with Down syndrome on the runway and better yet we KNEW her. That moment is one I will never forget.
I looked down at Grace as she was jamming in her chair to the music being pumped through the room. She had no idea what this moment meant but I was taking mental notes so that I could explain it to her some day. I want her to know that moment and really feel it when she is older. I want her to know that in the moment a beautiful young women that happens to have Down syndrome walked the runway as an equal. She walked with other beautiful women who were equally as successful as her. This moment had nothing to do with Down syndrome and everything to do with “role model”. She is a “role model” to every young women, girl and baby in this world with one extra chromosome. They can all now aspire to be a runway model. They all know now that it is possible. Anything is possible and that feels really good.
Do I want my daughter to be a runway model? Not necessarily. I am not sure she would love the runway as much as Jamie did but she will know that she is represented. She will know that the fashion industry saw her and valued her in 2015 and hopefully beyond. It is important, that feeling of being seen and represented. As I explained every detail to my best friend, Michelle, I was reminded of how under represented the disability community really is. I mean we are talking the largest minority and yet so under represented that these events attract national media.
I met up with a wonderful friend on Wednesday evening. My friend Becky also has a disability. As we were talking about what this show might bring the next day I flat out asked her if she every felt the under represented in the media growing up. She told me thinking about it now she never even expected to see herself in advertising because she knew she was not going to be seen there. As I heard her say that it confirmed how important it is to change this. It is almost a feeling of not being worthy of being seen, a fear I have had for my daughter since the beginning. It is now not ok to continue to not represent everyone. Because of Carrie Hammer the decisions of inclusion will be easier.
It was pretty difficult to read through social media this week and not see articles about the history made at New York Fashion Week. That means advertising executives have been influenced. Company owners and marketing departments are reconsidering their role in this media inclusion and I am pretty confident you are going to be seeing a whole lot of change over the coming months and beyond. People are waking up to a new challenge to provide representation to all families, to all people. There is no one size fits all here. That is what makes our world unique.
I will be dwelling on the moment Jamie walked on to that runway for along time. The moment she threw her arms up and really owned the moment for herself and everyone else living with a disability. The moment was hers from the beginning. She was the one who was supposed to charm the crowd and the press. She is the future and I am so so proud to know that she will carry a little piece of Grace in her heart as she changes perceptions in everything she does. I talk about game changers all the time, she is a game changer and there is a new standard for people with Down syndrome because of her confidence and grace. She is a role model to not only my daughter but to me as well.
I have said it over and over the last couple of days but “Go Jamie Go”! Get out there and grab the opportunities presented to you and show them what is possible. As for Carrie Hammer I send so much gratitude to you and your team for providing a platform for change. For recognizing now only people living with disabilities but all women who walk with confidence and work hard to change the world every day.
I hope you take the time to let them know what this moment meant to you. You do not have to have a disability or even know someone with a disability to really appreciate what happened this past thursday. Change came for everyone and the standards of what is beautiful are now just a little more realistic. All because Carrie took that chance on “Role Models” and not “Runway Models”.