One mom faced criticism last year when she dressed her 3-year-old son Parker in a floral onesie from Australian brand Bonds and posted the photo online, with comments saying the outfit was too “feminine.” The story doesn’t end there, however. There is now a happy ending, because her son just won a 12-month modeling contract.
Australian mom Kat Abianac entered her son Parker into the Bonds Baby Search 2016 using the photo of Parker in his floral onesie, and he ended up being chosen to win the People’s Choice award for toddlers. Now Parker has a 12-month modeling contract with the brand. This comes as an especially sweet victory, as the initial criticism she faced for her then 2-year-old’s outfit was so vicious that the page’s administrator had to ban people from the group.
At the time, Abianac wrote a powerful response on The Mighty:
I know this may seem like I’m making a mountain from a molehill. But believe me, when I read comments criticizing a 2-year-old’s outfit, I felt the need to press the issue, while celebrating floral prints in all their glory.
My son has Down syndrome. I bet the comment writers didn’t notice that because his face was covered by a glorious lavender felt hat. He is going to grow up jumping hurdles of outdated stereotypes. This issue is a mere drop in the bucket of assumptions I already fight every day and try to raise awareness about. I truly don’t care if he grows up and decides he likes pink Ralph Lauren shirts, or pajamas in a startling shade of fuchsia. Or even those floral shirts all the husbands are wearing.
We’re all aware little boys were once traditionally dressed in red and pink, and girls in blue. Now, that switched around is the social “norm.” God forbid you break the rules. Gender stereotyping is real. It limits choices in the most superficial and ridiculous way. I don’t even know how to put it simpler: Dress your kid in whatever the hell you and they want to wear. And then go put them on Facebook.
After Parker won the contest, she told the Brisbane Times that having Down syndrome shouldn’t mean her son should be excluded, stating:
“Down syndrome doesn’t mean he should not be included in the competition and it also shouldn’t be ignored. It is very much a victim culture. I have been told that if I put my son out there on the internet it is natural that he is going to get bullied and I don’t think that is appropriate in any way.
I decided I would enter to show them. There is a lot of hate out there for children with Down syndrome, there’s always people out there who are willing to throw in their unwanted and unwarranted two cents worth.”
We sincerely hope Parker’s photos raises awareness and allows adults and kids alike to become educated on what it means to live with a disability.