I call it exploitation but ……..
Katie Mead, from Des Moines, Iowa, last year became the first model with Down Syndrome to front a beauty brand and has seen her career go from strength to strength ever since.
The 33-year-old now combines her career in front of the camera with her work as an ambassador for people with learning disabilities, and wants to encourage others to follow her into the industry.
She said: ‘I haven’t seen anybody with Down Syndrome be a model and now it’s time to see more people with disabilities can have the chance to be beautiful and pretty.
‘People who have disabilities can have abilities and they are very capable of doing so much in life.’
She added: ‘I just want to open the door to show you can be a model whether you have a disability or not.’
Katie fell in love with fashion as a child when she would dress up and try on make-up with her sisters – but she never believed she could be a model.
She was bullied at school by cruel classmates who would ‘take books out of her bag’ and ‘put gum in her hair’.
Her father Tom said: ‘When she was younger the “r” word would come up, we learned to deal with it and tried to explain to Katie that everyone is different and not let that define who her.’
Katie said: ‘Having Down Syndrome, people can face challenges and I remember just looking past that and I overcame my obstacles.’
Katie’s mother Becky added: ‘All her life we have tried to feed her the same opportunities that we did the other girls.’
With the support of her family, Katie was able to follow her dreams and last year made history when she was named as the face of American beauty brand Beauty & Pinups ‘fearless’ hair mask range.
She said: ‘I was given the chance to shine and show that beauty belongs to everyone.’