When Kate Grant was born, doctors told her parents that their daughter would have a “bleak future.” But after winning the Teen Ultimate Beauty of the World pageant, it’s fair to say the 19-year-old proved them wrong.
Representing Northern Ireland, Kate is the first person in the world with Downs Syndrome to take the crown. She beat out candidates from 40 countries taking part at this year’s competition in Portadown, Northern Ireland,
The contest has three categories – children, teenagers, and over-20s – and as the pageant celebrates diversity, all body types and abilities are free to enter.
Kate has dreamed of being model since she was 13-years-old, and has previously walked the runway at Belfast Fashion Week. However, when her mom Deirdre first started sending shots of her daughter to modelling agencies she found it difficult to get work, which her mother believes is due to her condition.
But last year that all changed. Disheartened by the rejection letters, Deirdre uploaded a photo of Kate in her prom dress to Facebook, asking if it was unrealistic for her daughter to consider a career in modelling. The post went viral and was shared over 25,000 times, and caught the eye of pageant director Taylor-Rae Hamilton, who invited Kate to take part in 2018’s show.
Kate was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome shortly after her birth, and her parents were told she’d never read or write, and would have limited speech.
Speaking to Sunday People, Deirdre said: “I thought of him [the doctor] as she made her acceptance speech up on the stage at the pageant, describing her hopes for an inclusive society, one where people like her are treated as equals.”
As the winner, Kate will attend photoshoots throughout 2018, as well as help to judge next year’s competition. She said: “I want the next generation who have any special needs to know the true meaning of beauty is who you are, not what you look like.
“Kindness, compassion, and inner sparkle, that’s the ultimate beauty.”