Inspiration

The Incredible Story of a Model With Down Syndrome Who Walked at New York Fashion Week

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You may have heard the name Madeline Stuart — the model with Down syndrome is currently taking the fashion world by storm. For Madeline, 22, and her mom Roseanne Stuart, the road to the catwalk has been nothing short of incredible. In fact, even at birth, Roseanne knew her daughter would grow up to do wonderful things.

“When she was born, the doctors and nurses came to me and they gave me all of this literature, which wasn’t positive,” Roseanne told Now to Love in an exclusive interview. “But for me, there was no option.”

Roseanne has always had one goal in mind for her daughter, and that was to give her all the opportunities that life could offer, and now she wants others to do the same. “I wanted others to see how amazing people with Down syndrome are,” she said. “And now, we’re putting it out there so that people can see that there’s hope, and just because you have a disability, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.”

In 2014, Madeline and Roseanne went on a family trip to the Ekka in Queensland. At the time, Madeline had never seen a fashion show before. When they walked through the door, Roseanne realized “she had made a very big mistake, because Madeline is the sort of person who wants to do everything,” and she knew that modeling would be no exception.

“As soon as she saw the models, she said, ‘Mom, me model,'” Roseanne recalled. “And I believe just because you have a child with a disability, it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve things.” So Roseanne got Madeline a personal trainer, and the then 19-year-old Madeline became fit and strong. She was eventually ready to try modeling.

“We did a photoshoot, because I thought that’s what modeling would be for her, and she kicked me out of the room,” Roseanne said. “A month later, I looked at the photos and I was absolutely flabbergasted! I’m a realist and my daughter was always beautiful to me, but models are 5’9″ and 5’10”, and they walked the catwalk,” she said. Roseanne wasn’t sure this would be possible for her daughter — until the photos were seen by the entire world, that is.

“We shared the photos online and said, ‘Love yourself’ and ‘Stay fit, it will give you a long life,'” as we wanted to encourage people to stay healthy.” And that’s exactly what they did. The photo went viral. It was seen by more than 7 million people in just one week and it was published in over 150 countries around the world.

Within a month, Madeline had three different fashion houses asking for her to do New York Fashion Week. “The first ever catwalk she did was in New York,” Roseanne said. And now, Madeline does 18 shows per season.

Since then, Madeline has gone viral six times. She’s done the last six seasons of New York Fashion Week, and she’s also modeled in London, Dubai, and Australia. Last February, she was named the No. 1 Fashion Game Changer in Forbes magazine.

Just recently, the gorgeous Madeline was on board the P&O Melbourne Cup cruise, which set sail during the racing festival. The campaign saw Madeline launch a first-of-its-kind fashion campaign that promoted diversity and inclusion both on and off the fashion circuit. During this time, she rubbed shoulders with the best of the Australian fashion business. Wow — we can only imagine what Madeline’s future will bring!

This article was originally written by Anita Lyons. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.

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