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Images & Voices of Hope | December 2, 2020

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Changing the Face of Beauty campaign helps advertisers feature more children with disabilities

Changing the Face of Beauty campaign helps advertisers feature more children with disabilities

Photo courtesy of Katie Driscoll, who is pictured here with her 4-year-old daughter Grace.


Shortly after Katie Driscoll gave birth to her daughter Grace, who has Down Syndrome, she began taking pictures of her. As she photographed her own daughter — and later on, other children with disabilities — she began to think about how rare it is to see disabled children in advertisements. Hoping to change this reality, Driscoll reached out to businesses to see if they would use her photos in their advertisements.

Steve English, one of the business owners Driscoll contacted, happened to also have a child with disabilities. Inspired by her efforts, he helped Driscoll create Changing the Face of Beauty, an online gallery that advertisers can visit to find disabled children who are available to appear in ads.

Driscoll told The Today Show this week that Changing the Face of Beauty isn’t a modeling agency; rather, it’s a campaign to help the media and advertising worlds showcase more people with disabilities. By doing so, she believes they can help create a more accepting and tolerant society.

“[Disabled] people are part of our society and unfortunately, in the advertising and media world they’re kind of forgotten,” Driscoll told The Today Show. “We are influenced by imagery. The more people are exposed to individuals that might be deemed different, the more comfortable they will be and more opportunity will open up for all people living with a disability.”

Though Driscoll and English created Changing the Face of Beauty two years ago, it just recently began receiving widespread media attention. Several news organizations have written about it this week, and Driscoll says the response has been overwhelming. She’s been encouraged by advertisers who have contacted her to say they want to feature more people with disabilities in their ads.

Driscoll, who has six children altogether, told the Chicago Tribune:

“The thing I ask advertisers is: ‘Why not?’ It’s really not that hard. There’s nothing extra you have to do to include people with disabilities. You just have to give them a chance. … Advertising is such a vehicle for change. People make decisions based on what they see on TV and in the newspaper. The more the media embraces people with disabilities, the more people will realize that people with disabilities are capable.”

You can find out more about Driscoll’s work in this Chicago Tribune video: