This 11-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome just scored his first modelling gig with River Island
Ask around, and you'll find that the modelling world can be next to impossible to break into. With so much pressure and competition, only the best of the best get to showcase the latest fashions, and help to define what it means to be beautiful in our wonderful modern world.
In recent years, we've seen diversity come more into play in what used to be a very exclusive fashion world. While the days of the size-zero, five-foot-11 blonde bombshell are pretty far from being numbered, we're seeing people of all shapes, sizes, colours and appearances get the chance they thoroughly deserve, and River Island have unveiled just one of the new generation of models with 11-year-old Joseph Hale.
Joseph hails from Grimsby and he has Down's Syndrome, but he's making history by starring alongside other children of varied abilities in the new RI Kids Squad campaign, which models clothes for youngsters growing up, thanks to the specialised drama group Zebedee Management.
Joseph's new threads got their first outing when the fashion line debuted earlier this week, and he's pretty delighted with the whole thing.
"It was nice to show the video to friends at school. People can take selfies with me now. I was trying to get everyone to dance to the music. It is good to be able to champion disabilities. It would be great to do a shoot with Jaffa Cakes or Batman or with Smyths Toys."
Andrew and Karen, Joseph's parents, say that the youngster has dyspraxia as well as global development delay alongside his Down's Syndrome, but hope that his star turn for River Island will help others to realise that people with special needs are way more than just their disabilities, and that advertising should have a more "positive" approach to inclusion.
"It is imperative that advertising uses a positive approach towards inclusion, it can be used in so many ways to pave the way for more acceptance for anyone with a special need and/or a disability in the wider world. It would help remove the negative preconceived ideas that unfortunately the majority of people still have.
He is a unique individual with unconditional love and acceptance of everything and everyone around him, along with that gorgeous smile that lights up the darkest room."
After auditioning for Britain's Got Talent with the rest of the Zebedee Performing Arts Group earlier this year, this is the second shot that Joseph has taken at stardom, and I for one am delighted he's managed to break through. Hopefully, this is a start of a long and successful modelling career for this ambitious and talented young boy.
The River Island Kids + Mini collection is now available for children aged between three and 11, so if you've got young ones who need some new clothes, then why not head down and have a look at the catalogue? You might just see the manifestation of a young boy who's just achieved something massive for mixed ability children.