Meet Madeline Stuart, The First Mainstream Catwalk Model With Down Syndrome

A 22-year-old with Down Syndrome is taking the professional modeling world by its horns. The young redhead has already catwalked in more than 100 shows and has being placed in Diesel ads.

She has walked for a total of 18 designers for New York and London Fashion Weeks. The experience has not changed her one bit for she handed out high-fives for her admirers sitting at the front row in one of the shows, according to The Daily Mail

Madeline Stuart has 307 thousand followers on Instagram where her posts show her glamorous lifestyle and her strict work out regimes.

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“When Madeline was born there were no positive images in the media of women with Down’s syndrome,’ said her mother Rosanne, who is also Madeline’s manager, to the Daily Mail. ‘The only photos you ever saw were of overweight people with their tongue hanging out. That’s why I’ve always made sure Madeline looks her best. I wanted to show people with Down’s syndrome can be beautiful and successful.”

Madeline also suffers from a speech impediment and she only speaks using single words.

According to Rosanne, Madeline is a high-functioning, social person, but because she has poor muscle tone, she can’t enunciate words correctly.

But she hasn’t let her Down Syndrome and speech impediment get in the way of becoming the first mainstream professional model with Down syndrome. She has had already four years of Fashion Week shows under her belt.

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Her success has been met with skepticism. Many wonder if is really Madeline who has chosen to become a professional model or if is her mother pushing her to model, according to the Daily Mail. 

During her interview with the Daily Mail, Rosanne denied that she is the ultimate boss in the convo, instead saying that her daughter is the one that actually bosses her around.

“I am pushy to a certain extent,” said Rosanne. “For instance, if Madeline says she wants chips, I say, “Well, do you want chips or do you want to model?” and she’ll have a bowl of fruit instead. I’m not going to let her think, “OK, I’ve got a disability so I should get a free pass.” She needs to work hard for her success.”

Rosanne had Madeline when she was 25 years old in Australia. When she found out Madeline had Down Syndrome, Rosanne’s then fiance left them and never played a part on Madeline’s upbringing.

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Rosanne was bombarded by the doctor’s prognosis saying Madeline wouldn’t develop intellectually past the age of seven and will subsequently achieve nothing in life. She was even offered to give up Madeline for adoption.

“I was horrified. I didn’t consider it for a second,” Rosanne said. “Over the next few days, I repeated the same thing ten times to anyone who tried to convince me: “This is my baby. I’m keeping her and I’m going to love her.”

Motherhood was tough for Rosanne since Madeline needed to have open-heart surgery at two-months old and multiple doctor appointments in her first year, the Daily Mail reports.

In order to make ends meet, Rosanne started working part-time for the government and a year later founded her current surveying business.

Rosanne was stubborn towards doctors’ prognosis stating Madeline’s physical limitations and never believed them. When Madeline turned seven, then Rosanne realized the magnitude of Madeline’s physical limitations.

One day as she was driving to work, Rosanne realized that her daughter would never clearly speak with her, neither read or write. She took the day off because she started crying a lot.

With physical limitations and all, Madeline led a normal life when she was a kid. She attended a regular primary school and then switched to a secondary school for kids with disabilities, the Daily Mail reports.

When Madeline was 18, she was struggling with her dancing and sports hobbies because she was gaining weight due to her slow metabolism caused by Down Syndrome.

Since then Madeline has been restricted to a strict exercise regimen and diet which did help her shed 23kg. Her mother insists the diet and exercise regimens were mutually agreed upon.

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