Down syndrome baby spearheads swimwear ads

Down syndrome baby spearheads swimwear ads

She's 10 months old and has Down syndrome.

But that didn't stop Valentina Guerrero from becoming the face of Spanish swimwear designer Dolores Cortes' 2013 kids' collection.

Valentina is the first person with Down syndrome to be chosen as the main model of a prestigious fashion designer's campaign.

She appears on the cover of the brand's American catalogue, Ad Week reported.

The toddler from Miami, Florida, also made her runway debut at Miami Swim Fashion Week, where she was carried on stage at the end of the fashion show on July 20.

Ms Cortes said in a statement: "People with Down syndrome are just as beautiful and deserve the same opportunities. I'm thrilled to have Valentina modelling for us."

She also announced that she would donate 10 per cent of the profits from the new Kids USA collection to the Down Syndrome Association of Miami.

Valentina, who was born last September, is the daughter of Miami TV host Cecilia Elizalde and her partner Juan Fernando, reported the Daily Mail.

Elizalde said Valentina "teaches us much more than we will ever teach her".

"All children deserve the same opportunities, regardless of their physical, economic, social, racial or medical condition," she added.

Elizalde told the Down Syndrome Association of Miami that when Dolores Cortes USA contacted her family, she "was excited mainly because the fact that they are placing Valentina on a catalogue sends a very clear message of inclusion".

Valentina is seen modelling a colourful range of swimwear options for tiny tots in the catalogue.

She is pictured in swimming costumes that feature floral patterns as well as strings of pink and white bows.

Judging by her smile, Valentina enjoyed herself during the photo shoot.

The idea behind the campaign is to "highlight inner beauty, breaking traditional moulds dictated by fashion and celebrating differences that make each individual unique", according to the brand's website.

But some have taken issue with Ms Cortes' choice.

S.E. Smith wrote on US online lifestyle magazine xoJane: "While I firmly believe that things like this are important social steps...when you're singling them out for special attention, you're reminding everyone that they're different, instead of just working models like anyone else."

She added that while disabled models should be employed more often, there is no need to publicise their disabilities.

Valentina is not the first model born with Down syndrome who has been featured in a brand's ad campaign.

Ryan Langston, a six-year-old model from Garwood, New Jersey, appeared in Nordstrom and Target campaigns earlier this year.

The youngster was hailed an inspiration by parents of other children with the same condition, while both retailers were widely praised for not boasting of the casting.

His parents Amanda and Jim Langston told NBC Nightly News how Ryan has been capturing the hearts of casting directors since the age of three.

Said Mrs Langston: "Ryan loves doing it, and when I say this, I don't think people understand that he knows it's his thing!"

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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