By Julia Ross and Catherine Simon
We are told that feeling left out is simply a part of growing up, something that every kid will go through during the uncomfortable stage of adolescence. But going shopping shouldn’t be where that feeling is most prevalent. Imagine flipping through catalogs and seeing no one who looks like you.
This is how children with disabilities feel every day. However, with the help of Target and other companies, children with disabilities are finding representation in the media.
In October, Target featured a girl with leg braces and crutches dressed up as Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen in a Halloween advertisement. While the ad may have sparked more conversation, Target has been featuring children with disabilities in their catalogs and advertisements for the past 25 years, according to huffingtonpost.com.
In light of the recent ad, Target has been praised on social media. Jen Spickenagel Kroll, the mother of a child with disabilities, wrote on Facebook: “My daughter (with arm crutches and prosthetic legs) is going to FLIP when she sees this! Including children with special needs into advertising makes them less of a spectacle to the general public when they venture out into the real world. Normalizing disabilities in children is PRICELESS.”
Target shows children with disabilities that instead of being ashamed of their differences, they should be proud of who they are. By making this a social norm, it becomes more inclusive and also takes away the stigma placed on disabilities by the general population.
While Target may be in the spotlight on this issue, other companies have started to use models with disabilities in their ads as well, among them Gap and Honey Maid. Gap recently featured a model in a wheelchair in a Facebook post about its new autumn collection. Honey Maid also released a commercial of an aunt in a wheelchair and her niece making apple cheddar melts.
Someday in the future, perhaps it will be more common to see a child with a disability in an ad. We are far from seeing this happen, but with a little progress made from every store, it can be achieved.