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Sofía Jirau Is A 22-Year-Old Latina Model With Down Syndrome Who’s Changing The Industry

littlethings.com logo littlethings.com 2/20/2020 Karen Belz
a group of people posing for the camera: down-sydrome © sofiajirau/Instagram down-sydrome

Back in the early days of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks was pretty strict about who could, and who couldn’t make it on the runway. Typical contestants were tall, thin, and willing to fall in front of a panel of judges based on ridiculous fashion choices. But, it was what it was. Plenty of viewers at home knew that if they applied, they’d never make it on due to the uncompromising qualifications. At the very least, it was fun to watch.

These days, the modeling world has become more open. That’s because beautiful and encouraging women come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And, some may have disabilities.

Sofía Jirau was born with Down Syndrome. But at the age of 5, she had the goals to become both a model and a businesswoman. Now that she’s 22, she’s already done both, which is really cool.

On February 10th, Sofía managed to complete a lifelong dream by taking on one of the runways at New York Fashion Week. As you know, it’s one of the biggest fashion events in the United States. Suffice to say, she did a wonderful job. The fact that such an accomplishment was made at the start of her career makes it obvious that she’s going places. But even more importantly, she’s proving that anyone can model with Down Syndrome. And achieve anything they put their mind to.

 

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Apr 18, 2019 at 4:59pm PDT

Sofía lives in Puerto Rico. When People reached out to her to talk about her incredible achievements, she made it clear that she’s hoping to do more modeling in Europe, as well. But as for New York Fashion Week, that alone was a dream come true. Especially because her family flew out to support her and see her on the runway.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Feb 9, 2020 at 6:33am PST

That happened to be one of the first times that the young model practiced her craft in front of loved ones. “I felt really good the first time,” she said. “Everyone clapped for me.” As they should. Aside from being a featured model, this was also something that Sofía has been working towards since she was a child. They literally watched her dream come true.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Mar 12, 2019 at 1:11pm PDT

Aside from family members, she’s also working with a great team. Armando Lorenzo, who’s volunteered to work with her, said that Europe was possible if it’s something she really wanted. “We’re trying to connect her with designers over there. If that’s her goal, it’s our challenge,” he said. “We’re working hard to take her there if that’s what she wants.”

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Mar 8, 2019 at 8:10am PST

Sofía doesn’t just like to model clothes. She’s also interested in creating them. One of her projects is called Alavett, and it’s a clothing line that’s meant to sound like the phrase “I love it.” At least it’s very easy to remember. She refers to it as being her personal “shout of joy” and already has merchandise available.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Jun 7, 2019 at 2:12pm PDT

Curious about who her inspiration is? When you learn, you shouldn’t be too surprised since it’s another powerhouse of a woman — Jennifer Lopez. “I want to meet Jennifer Lopez,” Sofía mentioned to People. “I like how she dresses and how she is. I love all of her clothes. I love her songs, her CDs, her photos. Everything.”

As far as icons go, Jennifer is a great one to have. She started out as a background dancer but managed to prove to the world that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Any young woman who looks up to her likely also wants to make a name for themselves and prove their worth. Who knows? Maybe Sofía will also perform at the Halftime Show someday.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Aug 9, 2019 at 3:40pm PDT

In an interview with Remezcla, the model made it obvious that the sky’s the limit. Even though she checked a huge item off of her must-do list, there were still a lot of things on there that she wanted to do.  “I’m going all over the world,” she said. “There is no fear. In and out, there are no limits. I’m not scared of anything, eso se va pa’ la calle.”

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Aug 17, 2019 at 1:03pm PDT

She already has 61.4k followers on Instagram, and that number continues to grow. It’s likely because she believes in herself and has inspiration in herself. In fact, she’s one of the most uplifting people around. As she told the website, she can gain additional strength just by looking in a mirror. It’s something that each and every one of us should try and do someday.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Sep 19, 2019 at 3:22pm PDT

Armando seems to be one of her strongest cheerleaders. One of the reasons why he’s quick to look up European destinations is because he really believes in her talent. “She sees everything as an opportunity to show she has [what it takes],” he said. “She understands she’s able to achieve everything she sets her mind to… as she has up until now.”

A post shared by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on Feb 6, 2020 at 7:26am PST

There aren’t too many professional models with Down Syndrome. But, Sofía isn’t the first. That recognition goes to Madeline Stuart, who managed to gain a ton of promotions and sponsorships after showing the world what she was capable of. Madeline started gaining press back in 2015, when she was just 18 years old.

A post shared by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on Jan 9, 2020 at 4:48pm PST

Madeline was actually the very first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week, setting a precedent for others who have it. The Australian teen also had a lot of support, with her mom, Rosanne, being one of her biggest cheerleaders. Speaking to Buzzfeed about her daughter’s career, Rosanne was quick to state that the industry is finally open for change.

A post shared by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on Sep 13, 2019 at 6:07pm PDT

“I think it is time people realized that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated,” Rosanne said. She also mentioned how far people have come, overall, to accept those with Down Syndrome. “Things were a lot different 18 years ago,” she said. “I remember having her in a [stroller] when she was a baby and small-minded people telling me she should not be out in public.”

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Jan 23, 2020 at 3:25pm PST

In case you’re unfamiliar with Down Syndrome, it’s a genetic disorder that has no cure. As the cells divide once a baby is forming in the womb, an error occurs that causes a duplicate copy of chromosome 21. About one in every 700 babies is born with Down Syndrome. But thanks to powerful women like Sofía and Madeline, those affected will know that their disorder shouldn’t stop them from living their best life.

A post shared by Sofía Jirau • (@sofiajirau) on Feb 8, 2020 at 1:03pm PST

If you want to follow Sofía’s career, check out her Instagram account. There, she posts new photos and keeps fans updates about upcoming events. She’s a role model for everyone. When you have a dream as big as hers, and the support of loved ones, anything is possible with a little bit of hard work.

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