It's about time role models and supermodels became one and the same. Madeline Stuart, an 18-year-old Australian who loves hip-hop dancing, hanging with friends and her boyfriend, and performing in front of the camera, aspires to be a model. The camera-loving teen has already amassed fans from all over the world, racking up thousands of followers on Twitter, tens of thousands on Instagram and hundreds of thousands more on Facebook.
Madeline also has Down syndrome.
But that didn't stop her from making a major lifestyle change late last year to get in shape—dropping about 50 pounds through a healthy diet and exercise—and it won't stop her now that she's on her way to a modeling career.
Rosanne Stuart, Madeline's mother, says her daughter dropped the weight in order to perform her best in sports and keep up with her friends.
"She is not insecure in the least bit," Rosanne says. "She will win millions of hearts if she gets the chance, and she will teach people what is really important." Madeline added modeling to her accomplished resumé (full of everything from swimming and cricket to basketball and a drama troupe!) in order to take control of how she's presented in the world.
Madeline hopes her journey to becoming a model will change society's view of people with Down syndrome, creating more acceptance in life. "She can spread her love through image, as it is a very powerful tool," Rosanne says. "A picture says a thousand words."
What are Madeline's pictures saying, exactly? Her definition of beauty revolves around encouraging others to love, to be kind and to accept others, her mother says. "She does not see flaws and would never think someone was overweight—the word overweight would not enter her head," Rosanne says. "Beauty is based on people's actions and beliefs."
To support Madeline in her efforts to spread her message of loving and accepting everyone, please check out her Facebook page. (And don't forget to give it a 'like,' too!)