No one is breaking barriers in the modeling industry like Madeline Stuart, the first supermodel with Down syndrome. The 21-year-old Australian beauty has walked the runway for New York, Paris, and London Fashion Week, and has also been featured in top fashion magazines, such as, Elle, Vogue, and Marie Claire.
Her transition into the modeling industry was no easy task, and it all started with a social media picture of herself that went viral. Madeline struggled with her weight throughout the years, and in 2015 she decided to make a lifestyle change for herself due to health reasons.
"Almost three years in the making. I feel amazing, my heart is the healthiest it has ever been and at my last check up my doctor said it had not enlarged as it is no longer working so hard to maintain the three holes and leaky Mitro valve," she recently captioned a before-and-after photo. "Looks like I may never have to go through open heart surgery again if I maintain my health. For those who think it is a lot of money, well how much is my health worth. I am pretty happy with the results."
In the end, she shed 50 pounds, and her weight loss journey was shared with the world via Instagram. With her unrelenting work ethic, she has showed the world that your disabilities should not be a deterrent of your dreams.
After walking more than 60 runways since she started her career three years ago, this top model is not ready to slow down. "I feel so blessed and fortunate that I have been given this opportunity," she said in an interview with Iconic.
"I also feel so proud that people have accepted me and supported me so I could achieve such a wonderful career," she added. "My followers on social media really have made my life amazing, without their support and without them sharing my story so it went viral so many times I don’t think I would have achieved all the amazing things I have done."
Though her dreams have come true, she still faces criticism, especially in the cyber world that initially made her famous. "Of course there’s bullying on the Internet,” her mother Rosanne revealed to WWD. "That has happened a lot, but we don’t take notice of that. That is a reflection of the person who is doing the bullying, it’s not a reflection of what we’re doing."
She continued: "Some people can be unkind without even realizing it. They say things that they don’t realize are offensive. It’s just a matter of educating people. But I have never had anyone come and be rude to us because Madeline has had so much support in this industry."
Not only has Madeline had support within the industry, she has also had support online as well. Check out some of the social media chatter surrounding this young (role) model:
This tweeter expressed his admiration for Madeline, and encouraged her to keep breaking stereotypes and boundaries within the fashion industry.
Madeline walked five runway shows for New York Fashion Week — making her the first model with Down syndrome to ever walk in a NYFW show. You go girl!
This tweeter is saying what we're all thinking. It's such a breathe of fresh air to see the fashion industry be more accepting and inclusive in 2018.
Madeline presents a change in the industry, not only just in her body type, but also in living with a disability. Hopefully, her presence will make a drastic change in an industry that is know to just judge on outward appearance, and typical model looks and proportions.
And Madeline is already opening doors for others with disabilities. Mikayla Holmgren, 22, just became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss USA pageant and Tracy Sharp became a flight attendant earlier this year and earned her Southwest wings — despite having Down syndrome as well.
"I want others to believe in themselves," Mikayla said following the beauty competition. "It is making a difference in the world."
Madeline's ability to tackle an industry that is typically very excluding makes us all want to grow up and be just like her.