A Little Boy Plays With Barbies In This Beautiful Target Campaign, But That's Not The Reason It's Going Viral

"When you're looking at diversity, you can't overlook disability."

Target Australia's latest ad campaign features Julius Panetta playing with Barbie dolls with his mom, Catia Malaquias. However, the photos aren't going viral because the 7-year-old is playing with dolls. 

Instead, they are going viral because they promoting an important message about inclusivity:  Julius has Down syndrome, and to be featured in a campaign for a large brand such as Target, is a giant step toward more representation for those in the disabled community. 


Julius's mom told Daily Mail Australia how meaningful it is to see her son in Target Australia's new "Get Ready For the Holidays" catalogue.

"Having both of us in the ad was so nice. When Julius was born, I didn't see any other families like ours being represented," Malaquias said, "One in five Aussies have a disability. While commercial advertising is taking great pains to show different body types, they're not incorporating people with disabilities as often as we might hope.

She added, "When you're looking at diversity, you can't overlook disability."

 And while representation is very important to Julius's mother, she also says she sees no use in labeling her son, or people like him, as "inspirational." "When we're trying to talk about inclusion, being labelled inspirational isn't helpful. People with disabilities are just living their life like everybody else,' Malaquias told Daily Mail Australia.

Malaquias shared her thoughts on the Starting with Julius website, a not-for-profit project that strives for inclusive advertising in Australia. She wrote in a blog post, "We would like to say a big thank you to the Target Australia team for making us feel so welcome and helping us to share our ad-inclusive vision: "For a world in which no one is excluded and everyone belongs!' "

While the Target Australia catalog images are going viral around the globe, this isn't Julius's first modeling gig. Shortly after Starting with Julius launched in 2013, the boy appeared in the eeni meeni miini moh advertising campaign. He has gone on to appear in multiple campaigns for the brand before starring in the latest photos for Target. 

Besides Julius Target ad, there have been other campaigns from around the world promoting an inclusive message by featuring models of all abilities. The UK brand Matalan, for example, recently made headlines for featuring Lily Beddall, a 2-year-old with Down syndrome, in its latest ad campaign after she won the brand's model search. Four-year-old Cora Slocum was featured in Livie & Luca back-to-school ads, while 2-year-old Connie-Rose Seabourne has secured different modeling contracts.

The more representation, the better! 

(H/T: Allure)


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.