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Target Redefines Beauty for Kids with Special Needs

Jamie Sumner
Special needs mom, author and blogger
05/15/18  3:08 PM PST

Target doesn’t need to do much wooing to get customers through the door. Starbucks plus the dollar display plus the fact that you can clothing shop and grocery shop and unnecessarily shop is appeal enough. But the recent advertising campaign of the Cat & Jack clothing line featuring kids with disabilities has won me over for life.

It was a rainy afternoon in April when I half-walked, half-ran into the store with my six-year-old son, Charlie, on my hip. Charlie has cerebral palsy and Target is one of the few places he can still fit in the top of the shopping cart–a marvel almost impossible to appreciate unless you’ve tried to steer both a wheelchair and a cart simultaneously.

We hadn’t even made it to the toy section (necessary bribery when the trip doesn’t include ice cream or outdoors) when he laughed and cupped his hands together to sign “more.”

This is how it often is with us—something will tickle his fancy and then it is my job to guess what. I followed his line of sight up to the advertisement of the boy in the camo pants and the ball cap who also happened to be standing with a walker. Charlie laughed again. And I looked from him to the ad to him again and started crying in the middle of the aisle. This is also how it is with us—me in tears over the smallest of miracles. But this was a miracle—it was our “normal” smack in the middle of the world’s normal and that never happens. And so I took a picture of the ad and I posted it on Instagram and time ticked on and we strolled past it a few more times and then I went home to a phone filled with messages of people clapping with Charlie and crying with me and rooting for other kids with other disabilities to share this moment too.


The clothing line by Cat & Jack not only features kids with disabilities, but it is also adapted to meet their extra needs. It eliminates seams and tags for children with sensory issues. It includes hidden leg openings so my son’s leg braces fit in his pants, which sounds like a small thing until you are knee-deep in the impossibility of skinny jeans. In essence, this line of clothing has already thought about the things that I contend with every day and offers me a little help. That’s all we want, as parents, a little help to help our own kids find their way.

This ad, these clothes, this idea that people come in all shapes and colors and sizes and abilities is how we continue to change the face of beauty.

It is a privilege to walk into a store and assume you will find your size, or jeans that fit your hips, or makeup that matches your skin tone. To stretch this idea out to children and adults who simply want to find clothes that help them feel comfortable being themselves, well, that is the magic of it. That’s what made my son clap and me cry. The world is finally beginning to think of him and not only that, to let his beauty become a part of the paradigm. It began for us at Target, but I hope it spreads until it’s one more example of how advertising is beginning to reflect the lovely differences we see in the real world every day.


special needs parents

Jamie Sumner is a special needs mom, author and blogger.

Discover her new book, Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood.

Read her blog, The Mom Gene.

Follow her on Facebook.


More Articles Related to Kids with Special Needs:

How Parenting a Child with Special Needs Makes You a Lifelong Learner

Caregiving as a Parent of Special Needs Children

Preparing My Son with Special Needs to Be His Own Advocate