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Sofia Jirau Is the First Victoria's Secret Model With Down Syndrome

Sofia Jirau Is the First Victoria's Secret Model With Down Syndrome

Sofia Jirau is unlike any other model in the world. The young Puerto Rican is not just a pretty face. She is also a history maker. Sofia is the first model with Down syndrome in the history of Victoria’s Secret. The 24-year old appeared with 17 other women to promote the new all-day comfort Love Cloud connection. This marks a landmark for people with Down syndrome as Sofia breaks stereotypes.

A Model With Down Syndrome

Sofia did what any person would when presented with such big news. She posted it on Instagram. “One day I dreamt it, I worked at it, and today it’s a dream come true. I can finally share my big secret. I am the first model with Down Syndrome for Victoria’s Secret!” reads a translation of her post.

She has been modeling since 2019 and owns her own online store. It is called “Alavett,” a play on the words “I love it.” That just happens to be her favorite phrase and life motto.

Jirau became one of the few models with Down syndrome to walk at New York Fashion Week in February 2020. Her social media accounts emphasize her goal of encouraging others to pursue their dreams.

“Inside and outside, there are no limits,” Jirau says on her website. She has also modeled in San Juan Moda, Puerto Rico, among other runways.

Debunking Myths About Down Syndrome

There have been all kinds of myths and preconceptions associated with Down syndrome over the years. The genetic disorder occurs when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are small “packages” of genes in the body. They determine how the body forms and functions as it grows during pregnancy and after birth. Typically, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes. An individual with Down syndrome has an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21. A medical term for having an extra copy of a chromosome is “trisomy.” Down syndrome is also referred to as Trisomy 21. This extra copy changes how the body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges.

Down syndrome is the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children. It also causes other medical problems such as heart and gastrointestinal disorders.

The myths about the condition once caused many to shun people born with Down syndrome. Better understanding, better information dissemination, and better education about the condition have improved the quality of life of these individuals.

Both intellectual development and the motor development of children with Down syndrome used to be cast aside as byproducts of the condition. Problems such as these only made understanding the development of children with Down syndrome more difficult.

Jirau Means Victoria’s Secret Is Evolving

Sofia Jirau represents a chance to change these misconceptions. Her modeling in such a high-profile way sheds a new light on both Down syndrome and the world’s beliefs about it. The Love Cloud collection features women described by Victoria’s Secret as from “a myriad of backgrounds.”

A wildland firefighter for the Nez Perce Tribe in Celilo Miles joins Jirau. Also included are fitness trainer Jailyn Matthews, Taylor Hill, Adut Akech, and Hailey Bieber. Featuring a model with Down syndrome is historical.

Love Cloud is a response to the retirement of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. They were once the most anticipated part of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Its once narrow image of sexy caused criticism for the lingerie brand. Creative director Raúl Martinez said in a statement that the campaign is “a major moment in the brand’s evolution.”

Key Takeaways

Sofia Jirau made history by becoming the first model with Down syndrome to appear in a campaign for Victoria’s Secret. The 24-year-old Puerto Rican started modeling in 2019. She runs her own online store called “Alavett.” Jirau represents a change in the way many perceive people with Down syndrome. The way they are educated and learn motor skills used to be simply neglected. Victoria’s Secret launched the Love Cloud collection using women from many backgrounds, shapes, and sizes. Jirau is now focused on conquering the runways of Europe and breaking more barriers on the way.

For more on Behavioral and Developmental Disorders, click here.

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Sources

Victoria’s Secret features its first model with Down syndrome,  https://www.npr.org/2022/02/17/1081444040/victoria-secret-down-syndrome-model, Accessed February 18, 2022

Victoria’s Secret campaign features first model with Down syndrome, https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/victorias-secret-sofia-jirau-love-cloud-campaign/index.html,  Accessed February 18, 2022

Sofia Jirau.com, https://www.sofiajirau.com/en, Accessed February 18, 2022

Debunking myths: Reading development in children with Down syndrome, https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/INFORMIT.705808134895223, Accessed February 18, 2022

Down syndrome: Symptoms and causes, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/down-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355977,  Accessed February 18, 2022

Facts About Down Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/downsyndrome.html, Accessed July 20, 2022

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Written by Jason Inocencio Updated 3 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD