Stuart, an 18-year-old Australian who loves hip-hop dancing, hanging with friends and her boyfriend, and performing in front of the camera, aspires to be a model. The camera-loving teen has already amassed fans from all over the world, racking up thousands of followers on Twitter, tens of thousands on Instagram and hundreds of thousands more on Facebook.
Madeline also has Down syndrome.
But that didn’t stop her from making a major lifestyle change late last year to get in shape—dropping about 50 pounds through a healthy diet and exercise—and it won’t stop her now that she’s on her way to a modeling career.
Rosanne Stuart, Madeline’s mother, says her daughter dropped the weight in order to perform her best in sports and keep up with her friends.
“She is not insecure in the least bit,” Rosanne says. “She will win millions of hearts if she gets the chance, and she will teach people what is really important.” Madeline added modeling to her accomplished resumé (full of everything from swimming and cricket to basketball and a drama troupe!) in order to take control of how she’s presented in the world.
Madeline hopes her journey to becoming a model will change society’s view of people with Down syndrome, creating more acceptance in life. “She can spread her love through image, as it is a very powerful tool,” Rosanne says. “A picture says a thousand words.”
What are Madeline’s pictures saying, exactly? Her definition of beauty revolves around encouraging others to love, to be kind and to accept others, her mother says. “She does not see flaws and would never think someone was overweight—the word overweight would not enter her head,” Rosanne says. “Beauty is based on people’s actions and beliefs.”
Posting photos of her progress online as well as impressive before and after shots, the aspiring model began to notice her social media presence growing earlier this year. She reportedly had offers from up to seven fashion brands this summer, but Manifesta seemed the natural fit.
“I am now a successful model … changing society’s view of people with Down syndrome,” Stuart, who frequently posts inspiring messages and photos, wrote on her Facebook page. “Exposure is creating acceptance in life and inclusion.”
“[To reach your goals], be strong and don’t give up,” Stuart said in an interview with The Daily Signal.
According to her recently-launched website, where she plans to showcase her growing modeling portfolio, she wants to “change the way people discriminate against disability through gaining attention through social media.” She believes Down syndrome is a “blessing” and “something to be celebrated.”
The new Manifesta advertising campaign features photos of Maddy, as she is known, posing in vibrant leggings and tops, along with a big smile.
“People with Down syndrome can do anything, they just do it at their own pace,” Maddy’s mother Rosanne told the Daily Mail Australia. “Give them a chance and you will be rewarded beyond your greatest expectations.”
To support Madeline in her efforts to spread her message of loving and accepting everyone, please check out her Facebook page. (And don’t forget to give it a ‘like,’ too!)
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