Katie Meade has made history by becoming the first model with Down’s Syndrome to front a beauty campaign.
The 33-year-old from Iowa is well aware that people with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities are not well represented in the fashion and beauty industries – and she’s determined to change that.
Alongside her modelling and day job, Katie is an ambassador for the charity Best Buddies. The organisation works with people with learning difficulties, helping them build friendships and find job.
It was through Katie’s work with Best Buddies that she was first approached by the brand Beauty & Pin-Ups, who asked her to promote their ‘Fearless’ range.
Katie’s mum Becky explains, ‘the opportunity came as a result of Best Buddies. Beauty & Pin-Ups is more of a family unit and they really took Katie in and right from the beginning it was evident that they had her best interests at heart.’
What makes Katie’s achievements all the more remarkable is not only did she undergo open-heart surgery as a baby – she also suffered at the hands of bullies.
Katie explains, ‘I remember when I was followed by a lot of kids back in school. They put gum in my hair, they put rocks down my shirt, took my books out of my bag and stomped on them.’
But, with the whole-hearted support of her loving family, Katie quickly learnt that she could turn her condition into something positive and really make a difference to the lives of others.
Katie says, ‘I just never thought I could be like a model.’
‘I haven’t seen anyone with Down’s Syndrome be models. Now is the time to see more people with disabilities to have the chance to be beautiful and pretty like I do.’
‘I was given the chance to shine. I want the world to see people with disabilities have abilities and beauty belongs to everyone.’
Mum Becky adds, ‘I think with the opportunity that Katie’s had I think it’s opening up the door for so many people with disabilities just to have different opportunities and experiences.’
And one thing is for sure – Katie’s parents Becky and Tom couldn’t be prouder of their model daughter.
Tom says, ‘what I love most about her is her attitude and her outlook because you can be down about things and when you talk to Katie about how her day went it’s always a good day. You can’t help but feel good about it.’
Becky adds, ‘Katie is extremely positive, probably the most positive person. Never down, just always brings sunshine to everyone she meets. I’m just proud to call her my daughter.’