Kate Grant is an Irish model from up County Tyrone who has always dreamed of making it big in the fashion industry.
While most young girls who want to become supermodels are discouraged by their parents, Diedre Grant has every confidence that her 20-year old daughter will succeed.
And as the world of “beauty” opens up to more diverse faces and body types, Kate Grant’s drive and ambition have already led her to success.
Her latest triumph? A new contract with Benefit Cosmetics, where she’ll be the first model with Down Syndrome the company has ever used in a campaign.
The young woman has already modeled for the British department store Debenhams as well as made headlines all over the world when she won the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World pageant last year.
BBC One Northern Ireland also aired a documentary that followed the model and her mother around for six weeks as the young woman went to fashion castings. When True North: Role Model aired, it caught the attention of executives at Benefit who reached out to her.
Now, her first photos – decked out in the company’s eyeliner – are garnering a whole lot of positive feedback.
This photo appeared on the company’s Instagram page earlier this year with the caption:
“WING WOMAN WEDNESDAY 💖 Introducing our first #wingwomanwednesday the gorgeous @kategrantmodel 💖 Kate is using #rollerliner in black and it’s got us like 😍 #justwingit #benefit#beauty#eyeliner 📷 Image Description: a photo of model Kate Grant wearing new Roller Liner eyeliner”
A spokesperson for Benefit told the Daily Mail that hiring Grant was an easy choice:
“We fell instantly in love with her. Her amazing energy was so infectious and we were captivated by her incredible zest for life and determination. She embodied everything we stand for as a brand so we knew we had to find a way to work with her.”
Grant’s contract with Benefit is a major win for the disabled community – which, admittedly, includes a very wide range of people.
But in making someone with a visible disability so, well, visible, Benefit is showing us all that differences are what make us great.
Grant’s success is also helping other people with Down Syndrome see themselves as part of the beauty and fashion industry.
“She is paving the way for people coming behind her,” her mother told UK’s Metro. “Kate is aware of that and wants to spread awareness about inclusion for people with disabilities and that is what she has done from the very start. She is aware that she is able to do that in a way some of her friends cannot. She is using her voice for them.”
And while she is a model with Down Syndrome, she doesn’t let that define her. She’s trying to walk the line between being “just” a model and an ambassador for those with disabilities.
But one thing is clear – it’s her drive and ambition pushing her forward, not her identity as a “disabled model.”
Her mother continued:
“When you are young, you think the sky is the limit and with Kate she does not have the understanding that we have, that there are obstacles in the way. She does not allow obstacles to be in the way or her disability to stand in the way. She would say Down’s Syndrome does not define me — I am Kate.”
Grant continues to model in national fashion shows as well as participate in TV interviews where she encourages young women of all abilities to pursue their passions.
Fellow model Maddy Stuart, 21, (who also has Down Syndrome) is doing the same.
It appears the world of fashion and beauty – which has long been damaging to so many young people – is finally realizing that beauty comes in many forms.
And the more we support a variety of people in these roles, the easier it will be for all of us to embrace our own beauty and style.
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