Impact Style’s Joanna Grimwood has been delving into the lives of the individuals who have made large strides within the fashion industry, despite facing adversity. This is their story – one by one. In focus this week is actress and model Jamie Brewer.
Keen viewers of the anthology series American Horror Story will recognize Jamie Brewer from three of the five series that have been released to date. Although it is predominantly within television that Brewer is acclaimed, she recently ventured into the fashion industry by appearing in a runway show for Carrie Hammer. What makes Jamie Brewer such an influential person is that she has achieved all the aforementioned successes whilst living with the genetic disorder, Down’s syndrome.
In American Horror Story: Murder House, the 30-year old charmed audiences with her portrayal of Addie, a woman who aspires to be “pretty” by her mother’s and society’s standards whilst in hiding from the world. The actress later returned for two more series of the show; she appeared as Nan in AHS: Coven and as Marjorie in AHS: Freak Show. Brewer’s superior acting abilities have altered people’s perception of the debilitating nature of her disorder.
Despite her earlier achievements in acting, it was namely Brewer’s appearance at New York Fashion Week that attracted the most attention of people around the globe. Brewer was the very first model with downs syndrome to walk the runway at the bi-annual event; the reason behind the media storm that ensued. She appeared in the ‘Role Models Not Runway Models’ show held by designer – Carrie Hammer – alongside career women and fellow activists.
Brewer confidently strolled down the catwalk in Hammer’s bespoke black collared dress; the design of which was inspired by the characters she played in AHS. The mid-length dress was accessorized with a black belt, which cinched in the waist, and a pair of grey wide-strapped heels. Her hair was neatly styled in a side-bun and her lips were painted red – she looked beautiful.
After appearing in Hammer’s show, Brewer spoke of her experience at the highly coveted event. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight she stated: “It’s amazing that the fashion industry are including individuals with disabilities”. She continued: “It’s an amazing opportunity for women, women that are disabled.”
“It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are”
Hair Time Now by @NYIBeauty @carriehammer #RoleModelsNotRunwayModels #NYFashionWeek pic.twitter.com/cvigZMG97S
— Jamie Brewer (@MsJamieBrewer) February 12, 2015
How infectious is the smile of @MsJamieBrewer?! Loved watching the @AHSFX actress today! #RoleModelsNotRunwayModels pic.twitter.com/AJZjUDahz7
— CARRIE HAMMER (@carriehammer) February 12, 2015
In further interactions with the media, Brewer elaborated on what it is like to be a role model for so many people who face adversity: “Young girls and even young women [see me] and say ‘hey, if she can do it so can I’. It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are and showing who they are”.
“Brewer’s victories have been the result of hard graft and the facing of many fears”
Brewer is not only recognized for her work as an actress and a model; she has spent years as an activist fighting to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Serving on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for the State of Texas, Brewer persuaded state senators to replace the word “retarded” with “intellectual developmental disability” in state legislation. In addition to this, she raised recognition of the needs of people with disabilities amongst the most powerful people in the US.
Brewer’s victories have been the result of hard graft and the facing of many fears. As a result of her hard work, people within protected groups are gaining recognition. She has caused progression in the fashion industry, as well as society, leading towards acceptance and moving away from discrimination.
Head to Brewer’s Instagram and Twitter to find out more about the actress, model and activist.
Image Credit: Carrie Hammer via Twitter, Jamie Brewer via Twitter, ahsfx via Instagram, American Horror Story: Coven
While I applaud your highlighting the accomplishments of individuals with Trisomy 21, I find that the use of disease gives a false impression. While it is being used correctly, the connotation implies something vastly different that what you are trying to express.
(Yes, it can be a large hurdle, but as a mother of a child with DS, I find it to be a more positive experience than what our history condemns. )
In our minds, disease conjures images of illness: of pestilence, pandemic, and pox. It is a detrimental term that evokes feelings of quarantine and ostracized people. It also gives the impression that it can be caught and spread.
Perhaps in future articles, you could opt for words with less severe connotation in the mind of your readers: disorder is a popular one among the community. Ore even a word that is reflected in its common same. Syndrome.
Again, I love how you are bringing to light the accomplishments of young people that would otherwise have been pushed to the side. I love Jamie. She is such a wonderful actress.
Hello R. Taylor,
Thank you for commenting; we always love to hear your thoughts and opinions. I began this series to highlight the previous ignorance of our society, which is now beginning to be demolished by inspirational people, such as Jamie. However, in some situations it is still prevalent. I am not immune from this naivete, as I am still unclear on the preferred terminology, but I am delighted to have the opportunity to change this. Therefore, I would like to send my appreciation for highlighting the use of the word. I am always eager to learn more on the subjects that people avoid talking about, which I don’t believe is the right way to approach these topics. I did not mean to use the word in the sense of a negative affliction but more as a statement of fact; however, I can now see why it could be construed in this way. I will now be able to use the appropriate terminology in the future; we have since changed the word disease to disorder. Thank you again for your comments and I hope that you enjoyed reading the article, and series, despite this. Please let me know if you have any more queries.