Interview of Madeline Stuart by Carly Findlay
This weekend, Madeline Stuart walked the runway at New York Fashion Week.
The media recently called her “the world’s most famous and only professional adult model with Down Syndrome.” Madeline has recently been the face of Glossgirl Cosmetics, named 2015 Model of the Year at the Melange fashion show in San Francisco, has appeared on dozens of TV shows worldwide, and is in demand from countless designers and fashion shows.
Her career as a model began in 2014 after she attended a fashion show with her Mum, Rosanne. Madeline enjoyed the show so much she told her Mum she too wanted to be a model. Rosanne wanted to encourage her daughter with this new career. Madeline had some professional photos taken and Rosanne created a public Facebook page for her, posting the photos. Her photos soon went viral, catching the attention of major brands and publications. She has gained a huge social media following – proving a real role model for young women.
Ramona Magazine interviewed Madeline ahead of her third appearance at New York Fashion Week. Her answers have been provided with the help of her mother.
Did you always want to be a supermodel?
No, I went to a show in August 2014 and fell in love with it.
How does dressing up make you feel?
I think everybody loves dressing up and feeling special.
Who is your favourite designer?
(Madeline is modelling Speechless Vulgarity’s clothes at New York Fashion Week. Speechless Vulgarity’s motto is “be dope, be love, be you” – and encourages its wearers not to be afraid to be who they are. Very fitting.)
How are you treated by other supermodels? Are you one of the gang?
I have only met a couple but they all seemed lovely.
Do you feel pressure to maintain a certain look, to slim down, enhance your face, or is it important to you that you remain authentic?
I never do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable and I love who I am so I just remain true to myself.
(Madeline’s biography states “As with many people with Down syndrome, Madeline struggled with her weight for a long time. At that point she had already decided to get healthy and chase after her dreams.”)
What does walking the runway at NYFW mean to you?
I love it, it is my favourite activity, to be there with all the excitement is nothing short of amazing.
What does walking the runway at NYFW and the other fashion shows mean for all people with disability?
I think it is important that everyone is represented in the public eye so when I walk I hope I am showing the world we are all equal. I am so happy to be walking at NYFW for the 3rd event in a row. I feel that I am now a regular and have made a great change in our industry.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I live for the here and now and to be happy with life as I live it. So I don’t focus too much on what will be happening in a year let alone 10 years from now.
What advice would you give other people with disabilities who would like to get into the modelling industry?
If you want to be in the modelling industry you need to be really fit as it is very hard work and very long days. Plus you need to have really good self-esteem as it can be very critical.
Last year I wrote about how people were saying you shouldn’t be posing in a bikini. How does it feel when people tell you that you shouldn’t express your sexuality because of your disability?
I didn’t pose in a bikini to represent my sexuality as a bikini is for the beach not the bedroom. I wore my bikini as I love it and I feel happy at the beach. If a person thinks a bikini is a reflection of sexuality then that is something they need to deal with.
What’s been the best thing about being a supermodel?
Meeting fantastic people and getting to travel the world.
What’s the hardest thing about being a supermodel?
Very long hours and being on the road all the time.