Madeline Stuart, Inspirational Teen Model With Down Syndrome, Lands First Big Modelling Gig [Gallery]

Joanna Jaguar

Madeline Stuart is an 18-year-old model from Brisbane, Australia. Madeline Stuart also has Down Syndrome, but that’s not what defines her. What defines Madeline is her drive, perseverance, and her desire to challenge the stigma that surrounds disability, and change the way the world sees beauty.

The internet first heard the name Madeline Stuart mere months ago, when she shared her inspirational story about losing 44 pounds, in order to become healthier, and achieve her dream of becoming a model. Having struggled with weight her whole life, due to Down Syndrome, as well as a heart condition, Madeline fought hard to attain her weight loss goal and began a vigorous workout regiment that included swimming five times a week, cheerleading, hip-hop dancing, weekly gym classes, and training with the Special Olympics cricket team.

Now that Madeline has taken the internet by storm — her Instagram account boats 39,000 followers, while her Facebook is currently topping 385,000 — she’s more than ready to do the same to the modelling world, and diversity-positive U.S. based activewear clothing brand Manifesta wants to do it with her, the company says on their website.

“If you’re like us, you’ve heard the name Madeline Stuart quite a bit over the past few months. And if you’re like us, you’re incredibly excited about how she’s changing the face of modeling. For years Madeline has fought against the struggles, both internal and external, that go along with Down syndrome. Through dance, swimming, and cheerleading she has worked to strengthen her heart and body, and through her modeling career, she has forced many to reconsider the conventional standards of beauty.”

Unlike many activewear brands, Manifesta promotes diversity and body-positivity. The company uses flowers instead of sizes on their clothing. Their clothing line is inclusive, they say, and they don’t believe in segregation. They refuse to charge more for larger sizes, and make all styles available in all sizes, “Everything we offer is available in all sizes, and if it won’t work for one size, we won’t make it for any,’ says Rachel Blumenfeld, CEO of Manifesta.

“With all that Madeline is doing, we’re so excited to have her represent Manifesta,” the company website says, “Just as Madeline is committed to expanding people’s ideas of what a model can be, Manifesta is determined to show that the clothing and fashion industry doesn’t have to be exclusionary, that one brand can work for women of various sizes.”

Aside from modelling, Madeline Stuart is also an avid dancer, and in between modelling shoots, Madeline will be travelling to Los Angeles to perform at the World Games with her dance troupe Bust A Move — a dance group for teens and young adults living with disabilities.

Madeline Stuart is an inspiration, and through her strength, bravery, and positive attitude, she will no doubt change the world.

[Image Credits: Madeline Stuart/Facebook, Manifesta/Facebook]