In a sign of the growing and long-awaited acceptance of modelling agencies of people with different abilities and conditions, an 18-year-old Australian woman with Down syndrome has been awarded an exclusive modelling contract.
Madeline Stuart has an ambition to change people’s understanding around her condition, and her ambition has taken a huge leap forward after securing a lucrative contract and her first advertisement campaign with Manifesta, a company that makes fitness clothes for women of all sizes. She celebrated her monumental achievement and victory for differently-abled people by sharing part of her photo-shoot on her Instagram account madelinesmodelling_ , Canadian newspaper The Toronto Star reported on their website.
“My modelling gig with Manifesta. Love this brand,” the Australian teen commented alongside a photo of her in a sky blue exercise tank top and floral leggings.
Madeline has over a year’s experience in modelling, including various fashion shoots and art photos. She started her journey into modelling after carrying out an intense workout programme which saw her drop 40 pounds (18.1 kilograms). It was only after losing the weight that modelling opportunities began coming her way.
“I am now a successful model,” the teen wrote on her Facebook page. “Modelling is changing (society’s) view of people with Down syndrome, exposure is creating acceptance in life and inclusion.”
For its part, Manifesta said it was “incredibly excited” by how Stuart is “changing the face of modelling.”
“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 modelling career, she has forced many to reconsider the conventional standards of beauty,” Manifesta wrote in a release.
Stuart’s ambition and desire to break into the tough world of modelling has been lauded all over the world. Her success was covered by several media outlets and her social media following has exploded. She now has over 39,000 followers on Instagram and her Facebook page counts over 386,000 likes.
Her fans have been incredibly supportive. “So beautiful, and such an inspiration!” one commented on an Instagram photo from her Manifesta campaign. “A smile to die for! And those leggings are adorable!” another said.
One of her biggest supporters has been her proud mother, Roseanne. Her mother told Australia’s ABC broadcasting network in May this year that she hoped that her daughter can show “that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated.”
“She is not insecure in the least bit,” Roseanne said, “but I have made a point of never letting anyone be critical of her and telling her every day how amazing, funny, smart, beautiful, wonderful she is.”
Madeline Stuart’s success follows that of trailblazer Shannon Murray in the United Kingdom, who became the first wheelchair using model to be booked for an ad campaign back in 2010, when she posed for a photo-shoot for the high street fashion store Debenhams.