The agent told Nash that Asher’s pictures were not submitted because Carter’s had not specified that it wanted a child with special needs, Nash said.
“My first thought was, ‘Well, did they specify they did not want a child with special needs?” she said.
Nash said the agent apologized, but it got her thinking about how society sees people with special needs and what she could do to help make a change.
Earlier this month, Nash posted her son’s picture on a Facebook page for Changing the Face of Beauty, a nonprofit that advocates for equal representation of people with disabilities in advertising. She called on, among others, Carter’s subsidiary OshKosh B’gosh — a brand she said her son wears most often.
“This spunky little boy is ready to show the world what #changingthefaceofbeauty is!” she wrote. “We would love to model for OshKosh B’gosh Carter’s Babies”R”Us Let’s make a difference and join #50in2017!”
Then the group Kids with Down Syndrome shared Asher’s story on social media — and it went viral.
Nash said that since her son’s birth, she has worried that he wouldn’t be afforded the opportunities that other kids enjoy, “so I try to spread awareness about inclusion for people with disabilities.” She said she wants her son — and others with disabilities — to appear more frequently in advertising “so when someone sees my son’s picture, it doesn’t catch them off guard because he looks different.”
When Nash, from Buford, Ga., was 12 weeks pregnant with Asher, she and her husband, David, found out that their baby would be born with Down syndrome.
“We realized this baby we envisioned was going to be a little different,” she said. “He is a little different — but he is the best type of different you can be. He’s incredible.”
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which children are born with an extra copy of a chromosome — chromosome 21 — which can cause mental and physical disabilities such as hearing, vision or heart problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder, with about 6,000 babies born with it each year, according to the CDC.
Nash said that despite her son’s disability, he has no limitations — he can sit up on his own, crawl and is “so close to walking.” He doesn’t talk yet, but he uses sign language to communicate with his family, she said.
The Nashes created a Facebook page, Asher’s Down Right Perfect, to document the boy’s journey.
“Asher is an individual, just like everyone else,” it states. “He may have Down syndrome, but he doesn’t have every single characteristic of Down syndrome. He has his own physical features, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and traits that make him unique. Down syndrome is only a piece of who he is. We will not write his future for him and neither will society. Yes, he may need a little extra time and attention to hit his milestones as he grows, but nothing will stop him!”
“I really want to change the world’s perception,” Nash told The Post.
She said that indeed society has become more accepting, “but we still have so much work to do.”
Nash said she volunteers for the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta and the Down Syndrome Diagnostic Network to help support other families that have children with Down syndrome.
In July, Nash sent Asher’s photos to the modeling agency for the Carter’s casting call.
“As all moms do, I hope he is picked!” she wrote to the agent. “We have been trying so hard to get him into the modeling industry. We want everyone to see babies and kids with or without disabilities can model and do whatever they set their minds to.”
When Nash didn’t receive a response, she said, she reached out again to make sure that she had given the agency the information it needed and she asked whether her son’s photos had been submitted to Carter’s, which is based in Atlanta.
“No that was not part of their criteria . . .” the agent wrote in a Facebook message.
“I am confused,” Nash wrote. “You didn’t submit to them because they didn’t say they could have Down syndrome or did they specify to not submit children with special needs?”
The agent replied: “I just assumed since they didn’t specify needs that this wasn’t the right one to cast him in but you are right . . . I am going to submit . . . all they can say is not for this particular one, right?”
After Asher’s story swept social media, Nash said an OshKosh B’gosh marketing representative reached out to talk to her about her son and to arrange a meeting.
OshKosh told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it “appreciates the importance of representing the diversity of our customers in our advertising.”
“Since we became aware of Ms. Nash’s request, our team has reached out to her directly to better understand her perspective and provide additional information about our casting process,” OshKosh said in a statement. “We agree there is an opportunity for greater representation of children with special needs in advertising.
“We look forward to meeting with Asher and his family, as well as taking steps to enhance the representation of diverse children in our marketing.”
Nash said that she met Tuesday with the children’s clothing company and that it was “a positive experience,” but she did not give any further details about it.
“OshKosh B’gosh enjoyed spending time with Asher and his family today and hearing their perspective,” an OshKosh B’gosh spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We appreciate Ms. Nash’s passion for greater inclusiveness of children with special needs in advertising, and thank her for raising our awareness on this issue. We are committed to evolving our process to ensure that in the future children with special needs are better represented in our advertisement campaigns.
“We have extended an invitation to Asher to participate in a future photo shoot and look forward to getting to know him, and his family, better in the future.”