It was only two years ago that Grace Strobel decided she wanted to be a model.
As Strobel and her parents told Today, it all started with a few photos on Facebook. The family had recently learned about Ellie Goldstein, a teenage British model who, like Strobel, also had Down syndrome.
“I saw an article about Ellie, and I asked my mom if I could be a model,” Strobel told Forbes earlier this year. “And she said, ‘I don’t see why not! Let’s do this.'”
The Facebook photos quickly went viral and led to magazine appearances and a spot at Atlantic City Fashion Week. Next thing she knew, Strobel was meeting some of her fashion icons, like Priyanka Chopra.
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🌹🌹🌹 With Obagi Ambassador @priyankachopra – incredibly honored to be a part of #skinclusion and what Obagi truly stands for. Diversity Inclusion Beauty Respect ~ These are not just words, they are what this company is about. They are leaders in building bridges to be inclusive, to stand up for others and be fearless. I am honored to help stand for good.🌟 Thank you Obagi for all that you are and for including me in this conversation. 👩🦳👩🏿🦰👱🏾♀️👩🏻🦱🧒🏾 . #obagimedical #obagiskincare #obagiforlife #inclusionanddiversity @obagiclinical @obagimedical #standoutforgood
Throughout it all, Strobel has maintained a clear perspective on her success. She wants to set an example for others.
As she’s pointed out in interviews and on her TikTok page, the more visible models with Down syndrome there are now, the more there’ll be in the future.
“I think people with disabilities sometimes feel invisible,” Strobel says in one of her TikToks. “We want to be seen, heard and valued.”
That visibility reached a new level for Strobel earlier this fall, when she became the first model with Down syndrome to represent a major skincare brand in the U.S.
When she announced her collaboration with the brand Obagi Clinical, the 24-year-old said it marked one of the “most exciting” days of her life.
“This is a huge step forward for full diversity and inclusion for people with disabilities. THANK YOU Obagi for your unwavering commitment,” the model wrote on Instagram.
Modeling gives Strobel a great sense of joy, and it’s something she plans to focus on for the foreseeable future. Given all the success she’s had, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to slow down.
Check out In The Know’s interview with Twitch star Sweet Anita, who uses her platform to raise awareness for young people suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.
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