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This powerful photo featuring a toddler's reaction to a Target ad shows why representation matters

Target has been one of the big names at the forefront of the positive shift embracing representation and inclusivity.

This powerful photo featuring a toddler's reaction to a Target ad shows why representation matters
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Ollie's World

Over the past few years, we've witnessed a slow but definite shift in society's views towards representation. Whereas once the topic was thoughtlessly brushed aside by those who've never known what it's like to be a minority, today we see big corporations and brands embracing the call for inclusiveness in their marketing campaigns. Target, for example, has been one of the big names at the forefront of this positive shift, having taken many steps to make all its customers feel welcome and seen. Recently, the company saw it's efforts pay off when a mom took to Facebook to share a photo of her 2-year-old son mesmerized by an ad he saw at a Target store in Arizona.


What was supposed to be a routine trip to the store for young Oliver Garza-Pena last week, turned into a powerful reminder for all on why representation matters when the toddler saw someone like him in between an apparel aisle. Oliver, who turns two next month, has caudal regression syndrome which impairs the development of the lower half of the body. The little one, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was awestruck when he came across an advertisement featuring a boy—just like him—was seated in a wheelchair.


Speaking to Good Morning America, Oliver's mother, Demi Garza Pena, revealed that she "could not break" her son's gaze from the advertisement in the boy's clothing section. "I could see the look on his face, he knew that boy was like him," she said. The ad that stopped Oliver in his tracks, featured 10-year-old Colton Robinson of West Springfield, Massachusetts. Garza Pena captured a photo of her son staring at Colton's image in awe and shared it on Facebook, thanking Target for giving Oliver the opportunity to see himself represented.


Thank you Target! Today Oliver stopped me dead in his tracks and turned back around to see this picture that he spotted! He just stared at it in awe! He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target. Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him. This was amazing! I am so happy that other kids that pass through here with their parents, will see this! There is a lot of focus on representing diversity, but representing people with disabilities is just as important, she wrote.


The post quickly went viral on social media and soon reached Colton's mom, Ashley Robinson. "I was overcome by emotion and started crying. The expression on Oliver’s face looking up to Colton was extremely touching," Robinson revealed. Since posting on February 5, the Facebook post has garnered over 44k likes and Garza Pena hopes the incident will help more brands realize why representation is so important. "When I posted the photo I knew it was heartwarming and had a huge message to us in a very personal way but we didn't realize the world felt the same way," she said.


"It brings us faith to see the backing we got this from. We hope to educate the world on inclusion and representation because every child needs a role model. We want companies to jump on board for more inclusive advertising. These photos need to be everywhere all the time. People with disabilities need more representation in the community," she added. Robinson shared similar sentiments, saying, "Children of all abilities and sizes need to be represented. I mean, who doesn’t want to look at an ad and see someone that you have something in common with? It’s important for everyone to feel included. It’s just a beautiful thing."


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