Model Sofía Jirau just made history as lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret continues its ongoing initiative to be more inclusive.
The 24-year-old Puerto Rican model celebrated her milestone on Instagram, writing in Spanish, per NBC News, “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. I am the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome!”
However, some concerns about Jirau’s casting were raised on social media as well. On a NBC News Instagram post with the news, one user wrote, “This honestly seems like more of an exploitation to advertise a brand through a guise of inclusivity rather than something truly genuine and positively motivated.” Another added, “People with Downs have been taken advantage of in the past, sexually. People have been sent to jail for it. Posing in lingerie is meant to arouse the prospective buyer. So it FEELS weird… I don’t know this girl. I don’t know her capacity. So I’ll make a personal decision to avoid these ads, and I’ll pray that she’s well and happy.” But in the same comments section, others pointed out that Jirau is an adult and that having Down Syndrome does not exclude a person from being a sexual being. “Showing concern for someone you don’t know, equating their abilities to your anecdotal experiences with [people with Down Syndrome] is a disingenuous concern,” wrote one commenter.
Per Sofía Jirau’s website, she started modeling in 2019 when she was 23. Since, she’s modeled at New York Fashion Week and San Juan Moda in Puerto Rico, among others. Jirau herself says she has dreamed of being a model her whole life. “When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” she told People during an interview at New York Fashion Week in 2020. She also told the outlet that Jennifer Lopez is her fashion icon. “I want to meet Jennifer Lopez. I like how she dresses and how she is. I love all of her clothes,” she said. “I love her songs, her CDs, her photos. Everything.”
Jirau is one of eighteen women who modeled for Victoria’s Secret’s Love Cloud collection, a new range of bra and panties made for all-day comfort. Per a statement from Victoria’s Secret, “The collection is modeled by eighteen dynamic women, reinforcing Victoria’s Secret’s commitment to welcoming and celebrating all women.” The diverse roster of models includes a set medic and pilates professional, a pregnant woman, and Jirau.