Madeline Stuart’s dream to change society’s perception of people with Down syndrome has taken a huge leap forward, as the 18-year-old budding model recently landed her first ad campaign.
Stuart, who has Down syndrome herself, shared photos online from a shoot for Manifesta, a company that makes fitness clothes for women of all sizes.
“My modelling gig with Manifesta. Love this brand,” the Australian teen posted on Instagram alongside a photo of her in a sky blue workout tank top and flowered leggings.
Stuart’s journey into modelling began last year, when she started an intense workout program. She lost 40 pounds and modelling opportunities sprang up.
“I am now a successful model,” the teen writes 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 has received an outpouring of support on social media; she has over 39,000 followers on Instagram and her Facebook page counts over 386,000 likes.
“So beautiful, and such an inspiration!” one supporter commented on an Instagram photo from her Manifesta campaign. “A smile to die for! And those leggings are adorable!” another said.
Her mother, Roseanne, told ABC in May that she hoped 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.”