Wanted: more real-life role models

Published 9:49 am Thursday, August 30, 2012

Let’s face it, each time you turn on the television or pick up a magazine the image that you see doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of the society you live in.

More than likely, the face staring back at you is one that looks nothing like you, their lifestyle and means are probably nowhere near yours and there’s an even greater chance that you probably don’t know anyone like them.

The world is filled with diverse people—different races, ethnic backgrounds, gender, religions, ages, shapes and sizes—all make up the 6.9 billion that live on earth.

The same can be said for the United States—everybody’s different—but some how and for some reason the images in the national media do not wholly reflect that.

I’ve never understood the aversion to include a broad spectrum of those that live in the general public, average everyday people; after all they are the consumers.

But somewhere along the way advertising agencies, editors and filmmakers presented this ideal image and made the general public believe this is what they want.

This is obviously a topic that can be debated around and around. However, that debate is perhaps for another column.

A few weeks ago, while browsing one of those national magazines (hey, I’m a reporter and I like a good story) I came upon, perhaps, the most unlikely model for a swimwear designer, Dolores Cortes.

Cortes chose 10-month-old Valentina Guerrero of Miami, Fla. to be “the face” of her 2013 DC Kids line/ad campaign.

What’s the only difference between Valentina and the typical baby you see in the catalogs? Valentina has Down Syndrome, a genetic condition where a person has one extra chromosome.

It should be noted Target and Nordstrom have also included children with Down Syndrome in their ads, but Valentina will be the first child with the condition to ever be the main model for a renown fashion designer.

Looking at the ads featuring Valentina, most would hardly notice the difference. Instead, what most will see is a happy, smiling baby who might look like your neighbor down the street, your friend’s son or even a relative.

For the most part the move to have Valentina be the lead model for the campaign has gain positive feedback. This I believe shows consumers’ want and need to see more real-life role models and people more like them.

In our society we’ve accepted diversity of all kinds as we should as an open and free society. I would hope Valentina’s ground breaking moment would serve as a lesson to those who run the hub of media that we need to have a more diverse cross section of our country better represented.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.