When popular clothing label Osh Kosh B’Gosh put out an open casting call for for an upcoming campaign, US mum Meagan Richter Nash was excited to submit photos of her 15-month-old son Asher.
That excitement turned to disappointment as the agency handling the casting call responded to Meagan’s submission with a message saying Osh Kosh had not “requested a special needs baby”.
After hearing nothing back following her photo submission, Meagan had contacted the agency for an update. It was then that they admitted they’d had not even bothered to put Asher forward for the role because he has Down Syndrome and issued the insensitive response. Of course Meagan was aghast.
“He didn’t even get the chance to be rejected, and so I didn’t think it was right at all,” Meagan told Weekend Express HLN.
Outpouring of support
Meagan turned her disappointment into action, posting details of her experience on her Facebook profile to raise awareness of discriminatory attitudes and advocate for her little boy.
The story quickly gained momentum. Facebook users were enamoured with Asher’s cute photos and unhappy about the dismissive response Meagan had received.
They rallied, sharing Asher’s image and appealing to Osh Kosh to reconsider the adorable boy for their upcoming campaign and shift their attitudes, quick smart.
“Let’s make a difference-share so they see Asher! This handsome boy is ready to show the world what Changing the Face of Beauty is really about. When Asher’s mom submitted him to a casting call out- she was told the company hadn’t ‘requested a special needs baby’!! Let’s find out how he can model for OshKosh B’gosh and show the world what he’s made of!” The Kids with Down Syndrome page posted in one update Meagan shared.
Meagan was quick to point out that it was the agency charged with the campaign casting call who issued the rude stock response, not Osh Kosh themselves. She’s taking their response as her cue to facilitate change within this industry and encourage diversity when representing kids in the media.
“I just wanted to make sure everyone knew Oshkosh didn’t turn him down, a talent agency said they didn’t submit him because a specific brand didn’t say they needed a kid with special needs. We are working with changing the face of beauty organization and trying to get Oshkosh to use him in their advertisements,” she posted.
Meagan wants companies like OshKosh – and the businesses they work alongside – to see all children for the amazing little people that they are.
“I don’t want them to use him because of this fuss we are making on the internet. I want them to use him because they value him and see how much he could contribute to their advertisement. Children with Down syndrome and other disabilities are incredible human beings, and we want OshKosh to want to help change the world’s perception,” she told The Mighty.
The right kid for the job
It seems the calls for diversity did not fall on deaf ears. Meagan and Asher met with the CEO of Carter’s, Osh Kosh’s parent company, and not only were they welcomed with open arms, Asher was offered a role with the cute kids business.
“We have extended an invitation to Asher to participate in an upcoming photo shoot and are excited to include him in our advertising,” Osh Kosh reps said in a statement.
Of course his mum knew he was the little guy for the job all along because Asher’s Downright Perfect! Here’s hoping we see other companies approaching their advertising with a sharp eye on inclusiveness and diversity – and not just because of a viral public outcry, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Photo Source: Crystal Barbee