A jewelry designer’s TikTok has gone viral for chronicling the relationship between her sister and the latter’s boyfriend, both of whom have Down syndrome.
Together, Tiffany McDowell and Mallory Snellen, who has Down syndrome, run Mallory Paige Designs, a small jewelry shop in Trinity, N.C. For the past year, McDowell has been documenting their sisterly relationship on the social media platform.
“As a business owner, I started our account simply because I viewed all social media as free advertising, but I had no idea how to even work it,” she explained to In The Know. “My then-12 year old had to teach me how it worked!”
McDowell, who shares a close relationship with the soon-to-be 31-year-old Snellen, said she wanted to document what she thought was “perfectly ordinary life.”
“Mal and I have always been very close,” McDowell said. “Neither of us could recall a time where we’ve had a single argument. She’s perfect — so there’s never been anything to disagree with! Our favorite thing to do is listen to Lauren Daigle, drink coffee, and cook breakfast on Saturday mornings before anyone else in our family is up.”
One of the things that McDowell has shared more and more of is Snellen’s relationship with Stephen, who also has Down syndrome. The two met on a speed date at A Special Blend Coffee Shop in Greensboro, where Stephen works, McDowell said.
“Stephen is very outgoing,” McDowell said. “He’s also very chivalrous and kind and takes a lot of pride in treating Mallory very well.”
Nowhere is that more apparent than in a TikTok McDowell shared on Sept. 12. In it, Snellen walks towards the door as McDowell asks who might be waiting outside for her. As Snellen opens the door, a beaming Stephen enthusiastically greets her.
“Oh boy, you guys are so cute,” McDowell says, as Stephen lovingly kisses his girlfriend.
Mallory then takes Stephen’s arm before the two leave for his place, where the two eventually have lunch and watch TV together.
The clip has since gone viral, receiving over 2.2 million likes and more than 22,500 comments.
“That sounds like the perfect date!” one person wrote.
“This is my favorite video on the app,” another added.
McDowell, who has shared similar clips of Snellen and Stephen interacting, said that, by doing so, she aims to normalize conversations about people with Down syndrome.
“We hope to change the stigma that is unfairly placed on people with Down syndrome before they’re even born, many of [whom] we will never meet because so many people choose not to carry through with a pregnancy because of a DS diagnosis,” she said. “Our message is that their life is worth living — and it will include all the ‘typical’ things (good and bad) that one would expect: joy, pain, excitement, fear, happiness, loss, fulfillment, disappointment, but, most of all, love!”
If you enjoyed this story, you might want to read about Ellie Goldstein, a model with Down syndrome and the new face of Gucci Beauty.
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