Wet Seal Model Down Syndrome

Karrie Brown at her photoshoot in L.A.

A lot of teenage girls want to be models, and 17-year-old Karrie Brown was no exception. But the star of an upcoming Wet Seal campaign isn’t the standard six-foot adolescent we’ve come to expect from teen models, she has Down Syndrome.

Karrie describes her style as “biker chick” and says Wet Seal is her favorite clothing brand. She wanted to be a model, so her mother took a picture of her in some of her favorite clothes and made her a Facebook Fan Page – Karrie Brown- Modeling the Future.

“The next day, people started texting and tweeting at Wet Seal, and leaving voicemails for them that they should check out Karrie, that she wants to be a model,” Karrie’s mom, Sue Brown, told Today. “On their website, they say they believe in diversity and inclusion, and it was just a perfect fit.”

Wet Seal noticed the flurry of attention, and the fact that Karrie had more than 10,000 Facebook “likes” by that Friday, so they decided to have Karrie model their women’s line.

Karrie and her mom were flown out to California for a photo shoot, put up in a hotel, and given a trip to Disneyland and a Wet Seal shopping spree while they were there. Karrie said she loved the photo shoot and would like to do it again.

“She was hilarious. They had her in the first outfit and she’s standing there with the white screen behind her and everybody’s looking at her, and I thought she was going to get upset because she didn’t know what to do, she’d never had a professional photo shoot before,” Karrie’s mom said. “All she said was, ‘Can I have some Justin Bieber music, please?’ So they played some Justin Bieber and she just took off.”

It’s good to see a big, mainstream mall brand for teenagers actually walk the walk when it comes to their talk about diversity.

“There are a lot of companies that talk about it and say they feel this way but when it gets right down to the wire they don’t really practice what they preach,” Brown said. “Wet Seal has been phenomenal. There was no hesitation for Karrie to come out there.”

Karrie’s mom is working on a nonprofit foundation, Karried Away, which aims to help young people with disabilities find meaningful employment.

“I just want people to understand my daughter is very capable of doing other things,” she said, citing the fact that many people with Down Syndrome have difficulty finding work outside the service industry. “I’ve always encouraged both my kids to follow what it is they want to do. And if they need help, if they can’t succeed, then I try to see what I can do to help.”

Karrie says she plans on going to college after high school and wants to study history. Some days she says she wants to keep modeling, but other times she wants to be a librarian.

Via Today/Image: Facebook/Karrie Brown Model