Despite the best efforts of social media activists, the beauty industry still tends to showcase the same kinds of models. Whether it's opting for white models over more diverse faces, or refusing to cast anything other than a flawless-skinned individual, there is still a need for brands to step it up. Thankfully, one beauty brand's new ambassador is encouraging inclusivity to the max. News that Benefit hired Kate Grant, a model with Down Syndrome, to represent its cosmetics line has just hit the internet and it's no surprise that everyone is fully behind the decision.
After an image of 20-year-old model Kate Grant wearing Benefit eyeliner received a whole lot of love on Instagram, the famed beauty brand decided to ask Kate to take on the ambassador role. Now, her mum Deidre has spoken out about the impact this has personally had on the model as well as the wider disability community.
"She is paving the way for people coming behind her," Deidre told 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."
Adding that Kate has "a great drive to be a supermodel," Deidre 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."
You may recognise Kate from a BBC One Northern Ireland documentary that aired last summer. The model and her mother allowed cameras to follow them for six weeks as Kate attempted to break the fashion industry. True North: Role Model appears to be how Benefit first noticed the 20-year-old.
"We discovered Kate by chance in the summer of 2018 when we saw a Facebook video about her journey to becoming a model," a representative for the brand told the Daily Mail. "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."
Benefit also told the paper that they are looking to work with the model in a future campaign. "We hope [Kate's] involvement goes some way to showing that beauty and makeup shots can absolutely feature people from all walks of life. The beauty industry is changing and we love that people like Kate are leading the way," the representative finished.
Kate has also been making waves in the fashion world. She has modelled at Belfast Fashion Week and appeared on This Morning in 2018 after being crowned the winner of the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World pageant. In her TV interview, she said that she hoped that she could encourage "the inclusion of young adults [and] young children with special needs."
Kate's achievements are fantastic, and her success hopefully brings closer a time when a using a model who doesn't fit the "typical" fashion or beauty industry mould will no longer be headline news in and of itself. This particular example proves just how often people with disabilities are left on the sidelines. It's something that individuals like Kate and fellow model, Madeline Stuart, are tirelessly trying to prevent.
The day where no one is shocked or surprised at a "non-traditional" model casting is the day we should all look forward to celebrating.