Grace Strobel‘s advice for everyone is simple: “Be confident. Believe in yourself. Work hard, and don’t give up. Just go on.” However, society-at-large has historically made people like her feel like they can’t do any of those things. As the first model with Down syndrome to be the face of an American skin-care brand, the 24-year-old is ready and willing to prove doubters wrong and celebrate herself and others with disabilities.
Growing up, Strobel was bullied at school and vowed to not let her struggles defeat her. About two years ago, she started speaking at schools with a presentation she put together with her mom, Linda, called #TheGraceEffect “to help people not feel afraid of somebody with a disability,” Linda tells Allure. “If we don’t step up and do something, this will always keep happening, so we wanted to share Grace’s story.”
While doing research for #TheGraceEffect, Strobel happened upon a model with Down syndrome, Madeline Stuart, and was inspired to pursue modeling too. “When I look through a magazine, I don’t see people like myself,” she says. “I think people with disabilities sometimes feel invisible. They should feel seen, heard, and valued. Modeling makes me feel like I belong.” Later on during our interview, Strobel mentions she feels most confident when she is on set for a photo shoot.
In October 2020, Strobel was able to further help others believe in themselves when she was named Obagi’s Skinclusion Ambassador (a title previously held by Priyanka Chopra Jonas) – a fitting role for someone who thoroughly enjoys skin care. “Skin [care] makes me feel good about myself,” Strobel shares. “I love doing [my routine] every night because it makes my skin so soft and it looks glowy. It looks like who I am.” After I tell her just how radiant she is, she confidently remarks, “Uh-huh, I know.”