Kidswear brand JoJo Maman Bébé, “is the UK’s favorite boutique mother & baby brand,” according to their website, who spotted a sweet little two-year-old Eleanor Manton on her family’s Instagram page and couldn’t resist requesting the toddler to model for their brand. According to the Daily Mail, mom Helen Manton, 36, from Leamington Spa, said her daughter “jumped for joy” when she received the email from the company, and she immediately agreed to pose for their campaign. Due to the pandemic, the shoot had to take place at home. Mom Helen used her phone to take adorable pictures of Eleanor in her grandparents’ back garden.
While mom was behind the camera, Eleanor in front of it, dad played the part of “chief smile co-ordinator.” Craig Manton, 40, would break into a goofy dance in the background to keep Eleanor smiling and grinning away. The mother-of-one, Helen shared, “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 syndrome to be seen in the mainstream media. I think it would help people who get that shocking 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.”
The family’s Instagram page, the_mantons, started off as a feel-good account showing the family’s Down 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 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.” She continued, “After Eleanor was born I posted a birth announcement saying ‘here’s my baby, I’m super proud and yes she has Down 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.” Speaking of the moment when JoJo reached out to her, she noted, “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 modeling before. It was quite nerve-wracking
because I wanted to get it right for them.”
According to BBC, Manton said Eleanor recognizes herself in the photos and says “that’s me.” “Hopefully more companies are going to be more inclusive. If children like Eleanor are seen in the fashion industry, it’s going to keep raising awareness… and when people see children like Eleanor it’s not a shock to them,” she said. “I just want to raise awareness, that she is just like any other little girl and that having a child with Down syndrome is a positive thing, not a negative,” she added. The family has been supporting initiatives that help draw a positive light to families that have members with Down syndrome. Last year the family took part in a video to highlight the positives of being a parent to a child with Down syndrome.
According to the Leamington Courier, the couple supported the ‘Wouldn’t Change a Thing’ campaign which was popularised by the viral video 50 Mums | 50 Kids | 1 Extra Chromosome, and garnered attention from people around the globe. Craig along with other dads appeared in the video ‘Dads Don’t Count Chromosomes’ to let the world know that they love and accept their children with Down syndrome as much as mums do.
Project leader Jamie McCallum said, “We knew we’d never be able to match the mums’ ability to tug on the heartstrings of the world so we went for some good-humored competition instead. Dads who have children with additional needs are extremely under-represented and under-supported and play a huge part in advocating for our children.
We wanted to take the opportunity to shout from the rooftops how, just like the mums, we wouldn’t change a thing.”