Chang­ing the Face of Beauty

AU­GUST / SEPTEM­BER 2017

Our Canada - - News -

Maria Jor­dan Mack­eigan of Ed­mon­ton takes us in­side a very spe­cial photo shoot aimed at en­cour­ag­ing ad­ver­tis­ers to show­case peo­ple of all abil­i­ties.

As I walk through a very well-known Cana­dian store with my pre­cious and unique lit­tle girl Jor­dan Grace, I can’t help but have sad­ness in my heart. All I see are the same types of mod­els show­ing what we all con­sume. Each pic­ture has “per­fect-look­ing” mod­els or what we as­sume to be per­fect.

About a year ago, I learned about Chang­ing the Face of Beauty, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that ap­proaches the ad­ver­tis­ing world with in­di­vid­u­als of all abil­i­ties (chang­ingth­e­face­of­beauty.org).

I wanted to bring this move­ment to Canada, be­cause as a mother of a pre­cious child liv­ing the beauty of Down syn­drome, I wanted her to see peo­ple not only who looked like her but also who rep­re­sented the mi­nor­ity of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

It was truly im­por­tant for me to help make a change, to open the eyes of Canada in the ad­ver­tis­ing world, and to show what beauty looks like through the face of a mom who is also a con­sumer.

I got to know a cou­ple of very tal­ented pho­tog­ra­phers through so­cial me­dia, Melissa Depape and Krista Ew­ert, and both un- der­stood my po­si­tion be­cause they also have chil­dren with Down syn­drome. I ap­proached them and asked them if they wanted to bring this move­ment to Canada with me. They were all for it, and so we be­gan the process of Chang­ing the Face of Beauty here in Ed­mon­ton with a head­shot clinic.

We had a very suc­cess­ful day, meet­ing beau­ti­ful hu­man be­ings filled with so much to of­fer this won­der­ful world we live in— model af­ter model, each bring­ing their own unique beauty, glow­ing with ex­cite­ment and en­thu­si­asm for the cam­era. We

were on an emo­tional high, and our hearts were com­pletely full at that mo­ment.

The lo­ca­tion was per­fect. Va­lerie Loseth was kind enough to lend us her space at The Wheel­bar­row Gardener in St. Al­bert, Alta.; SPUD sup­plied all the healthy snacks for the en­tire day; Master­mind Toys do­nated goodie bags; David­stea brought

Above left: Sa­man­tha Link poses for pho­tog­ra­pher Melissa Depape. Above right: Jor­dan Grace landed an ad cam­paign with DECCO Tod­dler Mon­i­tor as a re­sult of this head­shot clinic. enough tea for ev­ery­one to en­joy; and Stacy Jack­son—a rep­re­sen­tat ive from Peek­a­boo Beans—spent the day fit­ting all the mod­els with beau­ti­ful clothes from their spring se­lec­tion.

As a re­sult of the head­shot clinic, Jor­dan Grace was able to land a cam­paign with DECCO Tod­dler Mon­i­tor, and re­cently was part of a photo shoot for Jump 360 Ed­mon­ton.

Our com­mu­nity of mothers of chil­dren liv­ing with Down syn­drome is a strong, lov­ing and sup­port­ing one. We weep with those who’ve lost their pre­cious ones, we praise the lit­tle mile- stones, we laugh with the daily silli­ness and we love with all our hearts. Most of this com­mu­nity con­nects through so­cial me­dia, so a day like this when we get to hug for the first time— even though we’d known each other for years, months or days through In­sta­gram—is a day to cel­e­brate friend­ships and move­ments.

I ad­vo­cate each day not be­cause I want my daugh­ter to be a su­per­model but be­cause I want her to fol­low her dreams, what­ever they may be. I will be there to en­cour­age her, sup­port her and cheer her on. I truly be­lieve in my heart that she can do all

things. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t ded­i­cate most of my days to shar­ing with the world what is pos­si­ble in our chil­dren. All things are pos­si­ble if we be­lieve.

I ad­vo­cate be­cause of the fear I had in­side me when the doc­tor sug­gested I should ter­mi­nate my preg­nancy be­cause our lives were pretty much over, be­cause my child would end up in an in­sti­tu­tion, be­cause she would have noth­ing to pro­vide to so­ci­ety, be­cause she wouldn’t even be able to feed her­self. I want other moms to know that life with a loved one with Down syn­drome will be okay, that it’s not the end of the world, and that in fact it’s a new be­gin­ning of a jour­ney no one could ever imag­ine un­less you are liv­ing in this kind of beauty.

Our lives are full and happy. We laugh ev­ery sin­gle day, and not a day goes by that Jor­dan Grace doesn’t show us what liv­ing life to the fullest is like. She savours each mo­ment and she shows us true and pure joy. Her in­no­cence and love are con­ta­gious, and it makes us think this world would be a bet­ter place if we were all like lit­tle chil­dren within.

Keane Bilodeau’s unique per­son­al­ity shines through in these photos.

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