Casiah Cagan | Life

Madeline Stuart, a 21-year-old model from Australia, is challenging the barriers of the modelling and fashion industries and inspiring others to let nothing hold them back from doing what they love.

It can be difficult to stay true to oneself and not pretend to be someone else in an industry as demanding as the world of fashion. But despite the obstacles and difficulties she has encountered, Madeline has managed to do just that.

She first rose to fame back in 2015 after losing 50 pounds due to medical reasons. Following a post to her Facebook page which contained before and after photos of her healthy-living journey, Madeline found herself going viral overnight. She not only gained attention from people who were inspired by her journey, but also began receiving invitations to model in runway shows.

Madeline first appeared on the runway at the age of 18 and has walked in over 60 fashion shows since then, travelling around the globe to places like China, Russia, London, and Dubai for bookings.

“She doesn’t need to prepare,” Rosanne Stuart, Madeline’s mother, told WWD. “She is just ready. It’s her whole thing. She just loves the catwalk. She is just in the zone at all times…gets in there, gets into hair and makeup and is excited.”

Madeline is the first ever model with Down syndrome to participate in New York Fashion Week, with her latest run being her sixth season in NYFW.

“I won’t let her walk unless she gets treated like every other model out there,” Rosanne said. “It’s not creating diversity and helping to change the world if we don’t do it like everybody else does.”

After the excitement of New York Fashion Week, Madeline traveled to London Fashion Week, which began on Sept. 14. She will also be walking in both Paris and Istanbul Fashion Weeks, and in Istanbul, Madeline will be modelling for a designer who created a line of clothing inspired by her.

While many designers are embracing Madeline, there are others who aren’t yet sure about including Madeline in their shows, but Rosanne says she is not too worried about it. “All of a sudden, they have to wrap their brains around something different,” she explained. “We have people in wheelchairs. Five, 10 years ago, you didn’t see a lot of African-American models on the catwalk. Now you see them everywhere…There are so many things that our world is slowly warming to.”

The model has also launched her own fashion line called 21 Reasons Why by Madeline Stuart. The name comes from two different things: the first being that Madeline turned 21 years old when the line launched; the second, a person is identified as having Down syndrome with the extra chromosome 21.

Madeline has limited speech ability and often has trouble articulating words, however she is able to fully understand and react to what others say.

Overall, Madeline’s mother emphasizes that her job is to ensure that her daughter is treated fairly. “I’m just here to make sure that she doesn’t get taken advantage of and that her message to the world is told in the correct way.”

Featured image of Madeline Stuart from JB Photography

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