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Changing the Face of Beauty

A friend told me to watch this short Eunice Shriver documentary right after it aired during Special Olympics, and I finally got around to it today thanks to arriving in school car line 30 minutes early. I’d like to recommend this video for the following people:

1. People who ever dreamed of making a difference.
2. People who love someone with special needs.
3. People who need a kick in the pants to get something done.
4. People who need to be reminded how important it feels to belong.
5. People.

That’s all of you, so come on, click-click.


One of the great follow-up blessings to having a child with Down syndrome is meeting amazing people within this community. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to meet them at first. Nope, we’re good. We have all the friends we need, thank you. I don’t do clubs, move along.

But then I realized these people don’t do clubs either. I was the one who pigeon-holed them there. Their amazingness is not confined to the special needs community. No, they’re just world changers who happen to have a kid with special needs. What they want is the same thing I want–the same thing we all want, so let’s move this train together, shall we?

Friday, I told you about what Ruby’s Rainbow has been doing (did you see it?)–a mission that started with the idea that we could ask people for money to support a dream that was unheard of 20 years ago–people with Down syndrome, going to college. It happened, and it’s happening.

And then I spent the entire weekend with my friend Katie, a woman whose passion and drive is so palpable, it possesses its own magnetic field. We talked a lot this weekend about the future of our kids, about the world we want them to live in.

Katie started Changing the Face of Beauty shortly after her daughter Grace was born in efforts to encourage advertisers to include people with disabilities, one of the largest minority groups in the world yet underrepresented in the media. Here’s the deal. We know what beauty means, and we tell ourselves and our children that magazines and billboards and clothing advertisements should not be used as standards in measuring our worth. But it’s hard to convince a teenager of that. And in a media-saturated world, we need more imagery that shouts “We See You! You Belong!” to the 13% of school children who have a disability.

So you know what Katie does? She asks for what she wants. On phone calls, in e-mails, in tweets and texts. Daily reaching out to corporations, marketing firms, P.R. teams, brand reps, anyone who will listen. Include our kids. Represent them all. 

(Katie introducing the Changing the Face of Beauty mission at the Gap Kids Ed by Ellen launch on Lincoln Rd. in Miami) photo print 39_zpssqb0l9yc.jpg

And they’re listening!

I couldn’t help but think of Katie, watching the Eunice Shriver film, hearing that President Kennedy assigned an entire team to deal with Eunice’s big ideas. “When Eunice called, (President Kennedy) would say ‘Give her what she wants because otherwise, we’ll never hear the end of it.'”

I learned so much this weekend about asking for what you want, about launching ideas into the world, about fearlessly going after a dream. I’m so often far too afraid of the word “no.” I tell my kids no all the time, and they don’t seem to care. Time to take a lesson!

Loretta Claiborne said of Eunice: “Here’s this woman–anger and fire. But she was fearless.”

And all the people said…Amen.


A little more from the launch party for GapKids’ new line with Ellen, a collaboration event with Changing the Face of Beauty.

You should have seen these kids’ faces–all of them. So proud. One group, all the same. Someday, this will be no big deal. But to several moms there, this was so much more. A “We see you!” hug and a growing promise of a more inclusive tomorrow. After one little girl walked beside new friends, smiling and waving through the cheering crowd, I hugged her mom. Through tears, she whispered, “This was one of the best moments of my entire life.”

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We are thrilled with the initiative Gap took and the Lincold Rd. Gap Kids staff who sent an important message that was seen by so many families. It benefits everyone! We love Gap and are looking forward to their continued support in representing the many faces of beauty. (Pssst, Gap…big print ads, please! Storefront signs! Oh, how beautiful that would be!)

A short video of the event (check out Miss Kayla at the end who worked the crowd!):

We have big dreams for this one.

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The same dream for all of them…to contribute to this world in ways that make it better.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt.” ~Eunice Shriver

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Now if you forgot to watch that short film at the top, scroll back up. You’ll be glad you did.


Leave a Comment
  1. LOVE…going to support Gap right now!!! Everyone has something to contribute! Loooove this!!!!

  2. Katie trusz says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this Kelle. Thank you so much.

  3. I am so grateful for all of the warriors who have come before, those who have changed how the world sees people like my son… Eunice Kennedy Shriver most of all. Thank you so much for posting the link to that video… watched through happy tears tonight. So perfect to see this on the eve of Quinn’s first day as a fully included 4th grader!

  4. Stephanie says:

    The Eunice Shriver video was the story of a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing it–at 42 I am always looking for another hero and you introduced me to one today. What an amazing champion for all people. I will be sharing this with everyone I know.

  5. Thank you for sharing Eunice Shriver’s documentary. It even made me appreciate your efforts with changing the face of beauty a lot more. “We have come so far, but we still have a long way to go.” Thank you for doing your part. May the rest of us find a way to do ours.

  6. Don’t watch the Eunice Shriver video unless you’re ready to be in a puddle of tears.

  7. Waterworks for me within the first minute. I LOVE that woman. What tiny, little spitfire. Moxie, gumption, vision and love. What a badass. Gets the wheels turning…

  8. Thank you for sharing this. What a remarkable, inspiring story. I’ll be sharing this as well!

  9. I love this, all of it. This is how paradigms are changed and the world gets a new start.

    Your instragram pic yesterday with the five random things got me thinking about hair cuts and an experience I had recently. It’s up on my blog if you want to read it. No pressure though. :)


    • Left you a little comment. Thank you so much for sharing that here–it was so insightful! Makes me excited…chop chop!!! xo

  10. Kelle, have you heard of Rick Guidotti and his new documentary, “On Beauty?” He has been challenging traditional definitions of beauty for over 15 years now. I had the opportunity to meet him this summer when he photographed my son Ezra who has Noonan Syndrome. He is such an AMAZING person who has devoted his life to this very thing, changing the face of beauty. Oh man, if y’all joined forces, I just can’t even imagine the possibilities… http://www.cbsnews.com/…/photographer-rick-guidotti…/

  11. Amy Kosmalski says:

    I too feared being a part of this “club”…but I soon came to realize that this club is full of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I would have never met you or Katie or many incredible people without this club. Thank you for all that you do to spread our message. Acceptance and love…what more can a mom want? And…it’s happening….it is happening!!!!!!!!! <3

  12. Jackee Garcia says:

    My three year old granddaughter was born with spina bifida. We feel the exact same way about our special girl, our hero, our beauty. Thank you for posting!

  13. Wow! What an amazing woman was Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Thank you so much for directing me to the video.

  14. WOW, Kelle: Thanks for sharing the video and for all the inspiration you bring to parents of children with Down Syndrome around the world. This is our attempt to change the face of beauty and working to empower our youth:



  15. Marie-Christine says:

    Thank you so much for recommending this short film! It was incredible! I’m french canadian, so I don’t know as much as most americans about the Kennedys, and didn’t even know of Eunyce. But waw, what a lady! Today she would be president, and the best of them all! Thanks again!!!

  16. I love the photo of Lainey with the little girl! She looks so attentive and understanding, not to mention grown up!

  17. So fun to see the photos from this event… and looking forward to watching the video soon!

  18. liza chicon says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Priceless!

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