Last month, Madeline Stuart walked the runway as only the second model with Down Syndrome to ever be featured at New York Fashion Week. The Australian model brought the crowd to their feet.
To see the fashion industry leading the way towards a broader definition of beauty is like a breath of fresh air in, what has historically been, a stagnant pool of the same type of women over and over: thin, tall, unattainable.
People like Madeline and her mother, Rosanne, and organizations like Changing the Face of Beauty, are breathing life into movements for diversity and inclusion and are calling for a change in what we see on runways and in magazines and ads of all kinds.
We had the chance to sit down with Rosanne Stuart, who watched her daughter strut pure joy down the catwalk.
How old was Madeline when she first expressed an interest in modeling?
She was 17, it was last August.
What was your reaction when she first told you that this was something she wanted to do?
I was ok with her decision, it did not surprise me as we were at a fashion show and all the people on the catwalk were getting a lot of attention so I knew she would love it.
How did you guys make it happen?
I took Maddy in to do a professional modelling shoot in April to see if she enjoyed the experience, she loved it so I posted the photos online and they went viral.
Have there been any hardships along the way?
The only difficulty has been trying to find a manager but we overcame that by me managing Madeline.
What was it like watching your daughter walk the runway at New York Fashion Week?
It was so beautiful, I was so proud of her and so glad other people could see her how I see her.
What have you seen change in your daughter since all of this has happened?
Madeline has matured a lot since she started modelling and completely fallen in love with it, she is so happy when she is in front of the camera or on the catwalk.
Just days after New York Fashion Week ended, Jamie Brewer, the first ever model with Down Syndrome to walk its runways, was at the Emmys celebrating her work in American Horror Story. “Once you realize your fears,” she said in an interview on the red carpet, “embrace them, don’t run away from them. Really go for it, no matter what it is.”
Jamie got the chance to live out her dreams thanks to Changing the Face of Beauty. “The second I met Jamie Brewer I knew she was a game changer,” Katie Driscoll, the company’s founder and president says. “As a mother with my own daughter with Down syndrome Jamie immediately reminded me what was possible and why what we are doing with Changing the Face of Beauty is so important. There are people in every community that were born to represent those communities, walk runways and star in shows. Jamie is one of those people and I knew right then that she was going to pave a new path for young women with disabilities.”