Inspirational story

Prettiest Model, Madeline Stuart

Our story begins with the “love chromosome”, which is an extra chromosome with which people with Down syndrome are born. 23-year-old Madeline Stuart from Brisbane, Australia, has this chromosome.

But why do we call this extra chromosome causing Down syndrome the “love chromosome”? In short, Madeline’s story inspired this name. Both the model and her mother consider it to be something special and a strong reason to achieve the former’s dream of becoming a shining star in the biggest fashion shows. 

She invested her success in supporting charity organizations to offer help to anyone with the love chromosome.

Let’s now move to the first chapter of Madeline’s inspiring story.

The Beginning: Weight loss of 20 kilograms

In a cold day in late 2015, Madeline attended a fashion parade with her mother in their home city, Brisbane, in Australia. It was such an unforgettable day for her — a day that changed the course of her life. 

“I found everything to be charming: the designs and the models. I uttered three simple words to my mum: ‘Mum, me model!’,” Madeline shared with Tiny Hand.

“If you want to become one, I will fully support you!” the mother replied.

And this is what exactly happened. 

Madeline’s adventure started when she started to lose weight to be able to pursue her catwalk dream. She went on a healthy diet, worked out, and eventually lost 20 kilograms. 

Before losing her weight

Before losing her weight

The moment she posted her “before and after” photos online, her story went viral. It took only days for the photos to be viewed over 6.8 million times.

By posting these photos, both the mother and her daughter sought “to encourage other people with Down syndrome to lead a happy and healthy life,” the Australian model pointed out. 

Not much time passed until Madeline’s phone started to ring continuously to receive modeling offers from three fashion brands.

Few weeks later, she made a career leap after receiving another phone call in response to her photos which spread virally on social media. 

At this time, Madeline started to work without a break to become a brilliant star in the fashion constellation.

photo credit: Verity Vareé

photo credit: Verity Vareé

photo credit: Verity Vareé

photo credit: Verity Vareé

Q:  For Madeline and her family, what does it mean to become the first model with Down syndrome? 

A: It is such an amazing thing! But we don’t think about it in this way. Madeline has worked hard to make a good career for herself in fashion and to succeed in gaining a prestigious position like the one she attained today. She shows deep gratitude and happiness to become a source of inspiration for others to pursue their dreams. 

Photo credits: Erica Nichols

Photo credits: Erica Nichols

Madeline Starts to Walk on Runways

Photo credits: Erica Nichols

Photo credits: Erica Nichols

“I closed my eyes and took a deep breath while wearing a dress designed by South African designer Hendrik Vermeulen. Everything was extremely stunning just like the most talented and modest designer,” Madeline narrated.

She walked confidently along the catwalk to catch everyone’s eyes with both her beauty and confidence. 

For her first show, Stuart walked at New York Fashion Week. This was the starting point of her modeling journey. It was the first time in her life to feel that “she is under the spotlight and everyone appreciates her.”

After the New York show, she started to receive modelling offers to appear at fashion shows in France, Italy, United Kingdom, China, Dubai, and other places as well. Her photos appeared on the covers of the world’s most famous fashion magazines.

When asked about her experience in the fashion world which is rife with fame-caused problems, she told Tiny Hand that it is often thought that the people with Down syndrome are fragile; but in reality, they are strong and struggle hard to achieve their goals!” 

“We resolve any problem we face in the fashion world using the same technique: We show kindness when dealing with kind people and defend what is right,” the Australian model added.
[object Object]

Photo Credits: Alicia Fox

[object Object]

Photo Credits: Alicia Fox

[object Object]

Photo Credits: Alicia Fox

[object Object]

Photo Credits: Alicia Fox

The Most Important Chapter in Madeline’s Life: Philanthropy

Madeline continues to be one of the most successful examples in the fashion world. Although she does not describe herself as one, she has undoubtedly become a pioneer in the fashion industry. 

She is the first professional model with Down syndrome to become the face of a cosmetics company, the owner of a line of handbags called “The Madeline”, and the first disabled fashion model to walk along a big catwalk in Paris. 

All this phenomenal success brings faith and hope to the hearts of people who struggle to discover the reason why the seemingly-insurmountable obstacles hindering the achievement of their goals do exist. 

Having all this in her mind, Madeline shouldered the responsibility for helping others. 

To achieve this, she started to offer help to people with disabilities by establishing the InsideOutside Dance Ensemble. Speaking to Tiny Hand about the ensemble, Madeline said, “It gives people with different levels of disabilities chances to learn a variety of dance styles and offers them numerous performance opportunities.”

“The ensemble is not only an educational environment where I meet new friends; it also enhances people’s self-confidence, fitness, and social skills,” she added.

That is not all, however

Madeline tries to seize any opportunity to raise awareness about the people with Down syndrome. The international model visited Uganda and used fashion to spread awareness for children with disabilities. In some villages in Uganda, people kill children with disabilities simply because the latter are autistic or have Down syndrome. 

During her visit, Madeline appeared on local TV channels sharing her story with the public. She also took part in support groups in several schools. 

Her visit had a significant impact. Around 50 families having disabled children finally found enough courage to end a lockdown at home that has lasted through many years because they had been frightened that their children might be killed. 

Madeline’s inspiring story gave these families the support they need to stop hiding and lead a normal life leaving behind any fear that others might fail to recognize and appreciate the amazing spirits of their disabled children. 

Photo Credits: Must Be April

Photo Credits: Must Be April

Q: What was your intention behind supporting tens of nonprofit organizations and organizing fashion shows to make generous donations to the charity? 

A: We all deserve to feel loved and appreciated. All people have their own unique characteristics. No one should be ignored or excluded.

Unfortunately, many people with disabilities feel they don’t belong to any place. This is what I want to change so that everyone would gain appreciation. 

Time to End Stay-at-Home Status

Like millions of people around the world, Madeline has been voluntarily confining herself by staying at home after COVID-19 spread everywhere. She decided to gradually end her 3-month-long stay-at-home status to resume her daily routine while abiding by the social distancing rules, she noted. 

Maybe her daily routine would be slightly different than before the COVID-19 outbreak, but what is certain is that she will continue “to do a daily workout, go to the dance ensemble, and meet her friends.”

“I miss travel and busy workdays which have today been slackened by the coronavirus. I used to wake up early in the morning, do my hair and makeup, take photos, walk along the runway, participate in fashion shows, and have interviews,” she narrated. 

She eagerly waits for life to go back to normal so that she can resume her work, continue to change people’s view on the fashion world, and enhance diversity in this industry. She also wishes she will one day walk along the catwalk wearing the designs of the most renowned Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, or Versace.

That is not everything! She is also eager to become an iconic model just like Karlie Kloss. “For me, Kloss is a role model because she is beautiful inside and out and encourages people to believe in themselves. This is such a wonderful characteristic that wins admiration. She is also a successful fashion model who has inspired and supported her colleagues,” Madeline pointed out. 

Although the Australian modeling star still has a lot of dreams she strives to realize, each story shared and discussed will certainly be a source of inspiration and a lesson in the achievement of success.

"Indeed, the world would suffer a tremendous loss if it fails to fully appreciate the people with Down syndrome. These people laugh more cheerfully and heartily and love unconditionally. My advice is to appreciate and support them." Madeline