Analysis & Comment

Mom shares heartwarming photo of daughter in awe of model in wheelchair

Carolyn Kovacs Anderson’s daughter was awestruck when she saw an Ulta Beauty advertisement featuring a woman in a wheelchair — just like her.

Maren Anderson, 4, stopped to admire model Steph Aiello while she and her mom were passing by the popular retail store on Aug. 14.

Carolyn snapped a heartwarming photo of the young girl from behind as she looked up at the poster.

The Virginia mom shared the special moment to her Facebook page.

“Well Ulta, you absolutely stopped my girl in her tracks this evening,” reads the post, which has garnered nearly 80,000 shares. “It was mesmerizing to watch her stop, turn and gaze at this poster. So thank you.”

Maren has a rare disease caused by a genetic mutation and only recently started using her wheelchair, another post on Anderson’s Facebook explains.

“This evening in particular, she was showing a lot of confidence, which is not typical of her,” she told Today. “And so we were just so excited and letting her go and cruise and drive her wheelchair, and then all of a sudden she stopped.”

“You could just tell that she identified with it from the get-go,” she continued. “And for her, a four-year-old child … to sit there in awe at this photo for close to a minute was pretty profound.”

Representation is important to Carolyn, who said it was sad that Maren doesn’t get to see herself in marketing more often.

“Our hearts sort of sank because it’s such a wonderful feeling to see her do that,” she said. “But then it also is somewhat saddening that this is so profound for her to see in public because of the lack of representation for the disability community, particularly for children.”

“She got to see herself in this picture, and that planted a seed for her to see that there is a place for kids like her in this world,” Anderson told Good Morning America. “She was included.”

The significance of this moment wasn’t lost on anyone.

One person simply commented: “Representation matters,” while another wrote: “This is the most freaking beautiful thing ever!”

“Wow, so wonderful someone in beauty finally realizes all girls are beautiful,” another Facebook user wrote.

According to CBS News, Ulta Beauty is working on arranging a meetup with Maren and Aiello, the model in the photograph.

Aiello has shared her own story on Instagram and YouTube, explaining that she was involved in a car accident that left her quadriplegic.

Now, she is a makeup artist with more than 20,000 YouTube subscribers, a model and founder of the fashion blog U Walk, I Glide.

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