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Sofía Jirau becomes first Victoria's Secret model with Down Syndrome: 'I dreamed of it'

Jirau was part of a new campaign to launch the brand's 'Love Cloud Collection,' a line of underwear.

Sofía Jirau becomes first Victoria's Secret model with Down Syndrome: 'I dreamed of it'
Image source: Instagram/sofiajirau | Victoria's secret

Sofía Jirau has made history after becoming the first model for Victoria's Secret with Down Syndrome. She was part of a new campaign involving 17 models. Jirau, 24, hails from Puerto Rica and was overjoyed after making the announcement on Valentine's day. "One day I dreamed of it, I worked on it and today it is a dream come true. I can finally tell you my big secret," Jirau wrote on Instagram. "I am the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome!" She was part of a new campaign to launch the brand's 'Love Cloud Collection,' a line of underwear.

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Jirau launched her modeling career in 2019 in Puerto Rico before making her New York Fashion Week debut on February 10, 2020. She is one of the few models with Down syndrome to participate in New York Fashion Week. She is also the second Puerto Rican model to feature in a Victoria's Secret campaign, after supermodel Joan Smalls. She also has her own online store named 'Alavett,' which is based on a bilingual play on words of her favorite phrase “I love it."

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"Thank you Victoria's Secret for seeing me as a model who has #NoLimits and making me part of the inclusive Love Cloud Collection campaign," Jirau wrote on Instagram. "Inside and out, there are no limits, Alavett!" In the campaign, she can be seen sporting a pink bra, which she describes as her "favorite color." In Spanish, she says, "I love it, I love it. Victoria's Secret, I love it!"

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"Modeling in the United States was the beginning of conquering the dream I have had since an early age: to model on the most important runways in the world. After beginning my dream in New York, I am currently focused on conquering the runways in Europe in 2022," she writes on her personal website. Jirau is aware of the importance of her journey and the doors it could open for others. "For me, the most important thing about fulfilling my dreams is to show people around the world that there are no limits and to inspire them to pursue their own dreams. This is why I always say 'Inside and out there are no limits' to motivate people to break through their self-imposed limitations," she said.
 

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“Love Cloud Collection is a major moment in the brand’s evolution," said Raúl Martinez, who became the brand's new head creative director in January. "From the cast of incredible women that bring the collection to life, to the incredible inclusive spirit on set, this campaign is an important part of the new Victoria’s Secret standard we are creating," said Martinez in a statement.

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The new campaign comes a year after Victoria's Secret canceled its annual fashion show event over accusations of sexualizing women's bodies and pushing impossible beauty standards on young women. The brand made a conscious decision to move away from its image that catered to men. The shift started after the company canceled its Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2019 following backlash that it didn't include models of all sizes and backgrounds. “When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” said Martin Waters, the chief executive of the brand, reported The New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.” 

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The brand signed on Megan Rapinoe, star soccer player last year as it pivoted away from its old image. Rapinoe called out the brand's past, describing it as "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired," reported BBC News. Rapinoe said she was happy to see the change in the brand's direction and to be part of the new collective. "I am humbled to join this group of incredible women to drive change within the Victoria’s Secret brand and beyond," said Rapinoe in a statement. "So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I'm thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women." 

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