Teen model with Down syndrome will walk in New York Fashion Week

Down syndrome hasn’t stopped Madeline Stuart from becoming a model and now her hard work has paid off in a big way: She’s walking in New York Fashion Week.

The 18-year-old Australian made a splash earlier this year when her modeling photos on Facebook went viral. Now she’s living the dream of every model by walking down the runway during one of the biggest events on the fashion industry’s calendar this September. 

Stuart’s mother Rosanne shared her daughter’s exciting news with Cosmopolitan. “When we were asked to do New York Fashion Week, it didn’t surprise me,” she said. “I don’t think anything really surprises me anymore. She’s been asked to do a lot of stuff and I was hoping to she’d get asked to do NYFW but I assumed it would happen. I hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious.” The teen will participate thanks to a group called MODA in association with the Christopher Reeve Foundation

Stuart is an active social media user who posts on Instagram, is active on Twitter, and inspired her own hashtags like “Madeline #HairGoals,” “Madeline #RelationshipGoals,” “Madeline #FigureGoals,” according to her mother.

Another fantastic photo by the amazing Erica and her team which are all tagged. These guys are brilliant

A photo posted by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on

It’s undeniable how many people Stuart has reached via the Internet, and her mother finds her success encouraging in regard to the state of attitudes toward people with disabilities. “This is the next generation!” Her mother said said. “These are young girls who are never going to grow up being discriminatory! When Maddy was born, I can remember walking around the street with people abusing me saying she should be in an institution, and that was 18 years ago!”

Actress Jamie Brewer blazed the trail for Stuart, hitting the catwalk this past February. She got widespread attention for her appearance on American Horror Story, and people called her an inspiration (if perhaps not always for the right reasons.)

But perhaps what is most inspirational about Stuart is her attitude. “You know why Maddy is so loved? Because she loves herself,” her mother said. “Maddie truly loves herself. She’ll tell you she’s gorgeous. She’ll tell you she’s wonderful. I mean, I tell her every day how great she is, but she truly believes it.”

It’s a hard life, with all this pampering #bts

A photo posted by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on

The teenager has already accomplished so much, as compared to anyone her age. She’s slated to be the face of a line of handbags named after her for brand EverMaya

What the hell were you doing at 18?

H/T Cosmopolitan | Photo via madelinesmodelling/Instagram

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.