The mother of an adorable toddler who has Down’s syndrome has revealed how her daughter has become the face of a children’s fashion campaign after her photo was spotted on the family’s Instagram page.
Eleanor Manton, two, is seen posing up a storm in the latest seasonal campaign for upmarket childrenswear brand JoJo Maman Bébé – after the chain’s talent scouts spotted Eleanor’s modelling potential online.
Proud mum Helen Manton, 36, from Leamington Spa, said she ‘jumped for joy’ when she received the email asking if Eleanor would like to be involved in the company’s latest photoshoot and she immediately agreed.
However, the fashion shoot had to take place in a home setting due to the covid pandemic, with Eleanor photographed in her grandparents’ back garden while Helen captured the snaps on her iPhone 11 Pro.
Dad Craig Manton, 40, also got in on the act as ‘chief smile co-ordinator’ by performing silly dances in the background to help keep the cheeky grins coming.
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Two-year-old Eleanor Manton pictured posing in her grandparents’ garden for children’s brand JoJo Maman Bébé – she was spotted by the company’s talent scouts on her family Instagram page
‘Bursting with pride’ Mum Helen, from Leamington Spa, said she couldn’t believe her daughter had been asked to front the brand’s campaign
Eleanor posing up a storm during the shoot: Mum Helen said it was ‘unbelievably important’ for people with Down’s syndrome to be seen in the mainstream media
Helen and Eleanor with Eleanor’s dad Craig; Helen was tasked with photographing her daughter on her iPhone due to the covid pandemic
Full-time mum Helen said it was ‘unbelievably important’ for people with Down’s syndrome to be seen in the mainstream media and raise awareness.
Helen, from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said: ‘When I saw those campaign images I don’t think the phrase ‘bursting with pride’ cuts it.
‘Just seeing her little beaming face, she’s just a ray of light, was incredible, it makes me really, really proud.
‘She’s always been a natural when having photos taken, but ever since she started walking it’s become a bit more difficult because she just wants to run off.
‘It’s unbelievably important for people with Down’s Syndrome to be seen in the mainstream media.
‘I think it would help people who get that shock diagnosis and also help us.
‘When we walk to the park we might not get the odd looks anymore, hopefully one day we won’t get the stares.’
Mum-of-one Helen said she got the modelling email out of the blue in June after store scouts spotted the family’s Instagram account.
Pride: After Eleanor was born Helen posted a birth announcement saying: “here’s my baby, I’m super proud and yes she has Down’s syndrome”
The family share their lives on social media, saying their account is a ‘feel-good positivity page just to show the reality and how amazing the reality is’
Eleanor is seen wearing autumn/winter garments in the seasonal campaign for the upmarket retailer
Hey flower! The family say they’re delighted that they have the catalogue documenting their daughter’s modelling work – and will show her in 20 years’ time
The page, which started life as Helen’s personal account, is a feel-good positivity account showing the family’s Down’s syndrome journey.
Helen said: ‘We share regular, everyday stuff, it’s mainly a feel-good positivity page just to show the reality and how amazing the reality is.
‘The Down’s syndrome community is a really tight-knit one, you get messages at the beginning saying ‘welcome to the family’ and you definitely have that family feeling.
‘After Eleanor was born I posted a birth announcement saying ‘here’s my baby, I’m super proud and yes she has Down’s syndrome’.
‘Every single comment I got on that post was a positive one, even mummy blogger Giovanna Fletcher liked the post, and then I started sharing regular baby pictures and it started to take off so I ran with it.
‘Early in lockdown I was posting normal every-day stuff from her then one night I looked at my emails and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
‘I had an email from JoJo asking if she’d be in the autumn/winter 2020 campaign. I was ecstatic, I was literally jumping for joy, it was amazing.
‘A couple of days later lots of lovely clothes arrived and we started taking pictures.
‘Eleanor’s taken part in a couple of social media collaborations but not done any actual modelling before. It was quite nerve wracking because I wanted to get it right for them.
WHAT IS DOWN’S SYNDROME?
Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that typically causes some degree of learning disability and certain physical characteristics.
- Floppiness at birth
- Eyes that slant down and out
- A small mouth
- A flat back of head
Screening tests can uncover Down’s syndrome during pregnancy but are not completely accurate.
It is caused by an extra chromosome in a baby’s cell due to a genetic change in the sperm or egg.
The chance of this increases according to the age of the mother.
A 20-year-old woman has around a one in 1,500 chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.
Women in their 40s have a one in 100 chance.
There is no evidence women can reduce their chances of having a child with Down’s syndrome.
Down’s syndrome does not have a cure.
Treatment focuses on supporting the patient’s development.
People with Down’s syndrome have more chance of health complications such as heart disorders, hearing problems, thyroid issues and recurrent infections.
Source: NHS Choices
‘I probably stressed my husband out a little bit with trying to get it right, he was ‘chief smile co-ordinator’ and was in the background doing silly dances.
‘Eleanor received some leggings, the cardigan, a top and some beautiful little Chelsea boots, which I want in an adult size. My favourite item was the fox cardigan, because it suits her colouring so well, but a very close second would be the boots.
‘This is the first time she’s in a catalogue, which is amazing.’
Eleanor, who loves playing hide and seek and watching Mr Tumble, posed for the autumnal shoot mid-June.
Eleanor received leggings, a fox cardigan, a top and some little Chelsea boots ahead of the shoot
Dad Craig was on hand during the shoot as ‘chief smile co-ordinator’ to make sure Eleanor’s grins kept coming
The fashion brand said they had spotted Eleanor after Helen had tagged it in some photos on her Instagram
Thrilled Helen and property operations manager Craig finally got their hands on copies of the catalogue last week.
Helen said: ‘It was a complete surprise finding out the catalogue was out. My friend works in a JoJo store and she sent me a picture of Eleanor in the catalogue.
‘ I couldn’t believe it was there in front of me, it’s amazing. Craig was very proud his silly dancing had paid off.
‘Since the catalogue came out, they’ve also shared her picture on the main Instagram page, which was incredible.
‘We’ve got five catalogues at the moment to distribute to friends and family but hopefully we’ll be able to get a few more.
‘Eleanor loves it, she was looking at herself in the catalogue and saying ‘that’s me’ in Makaton, I just love the fact that she’s old enough to recognise herself.
‘We’ll always have that catalogue and can show it to her in 20 years’ time.’
Helen said she believes it’s important that mainstream fashion is inclusive – and welcomes the industry’s inclusion of models with Down’s syndrome.
Helen said: ‘The more people like Eleanor are out there in mainstream inclusive fashion then the better it will be.
The family say they welcome the industry’s inclusion of models with Down’s syndrome
Helen and Craig say their daughter has ‘absolutely transformed our lives for the better’
‘Just a few weeks ago a young girl with Down’s syndrome fronted the recent Gucci campaign, which is great.
‘I would absolutely love if Eleanor carried on modelling in future, to have a career like that would be amazing.
‘I just want to build awareness so that when people have that diagnosis it’s not a shock, it’s something they’ve seen on Instagram as a positive thing.
‘Eleanor’s a fun-loving little girl, she’s just a joy from the moment she wakes up to the second she goes to bed. She’s absolutely transformed our lives for the better.’
A JoJo Maman Bébé spokesman said: ‘We saw Helen, Eleanor’s mum, had tagged us in some photos on her Instagram.
‘Helen takes great pictures and Eleanor is beautiful so we got in touch to see if they would like to take part in the campaign.
‘Their photos are amazing, just what we were looking for, it looks like they had a lot of fun.’