Breaking Boundaries is a new fashion series that will introduce readers to contemporary fashion revolutionaries. In the first edition, Kathrina Ashley presents Madeline Stuart, the nineteen year old Australian who is using her disability to take over the modelling industry.

The notoriously exclusive world of modelling and fashion shows is being taken by storm by one nineteen year old girl.

Madeline 2

Madeline Stuart is a professional model. In 2015, she landed contracts with the athletic-wear label Manifesta, the cosmetics brand GlossiGirl, and the accessories designer EverMaya. She has walked in New York Fashion week for FTL Moda, donning pieces by designers Josefa de Silva and Lulu te Gigi. Most recently, she is being featured in bridal wear designer Sarah Houston’s latest ad campaign. For many models, these are mundane accomplishments; but Madeline boasts the unique tribute of being the world’s first (and only) professional model with Down Syndrome, and this makes her accomplishments pioneering.

The daring young Australian clearly does not allow societal pressures surrounding her disability to hinder her. Instead, she uses her passion to challenge the widespread perceptions of the lives of disabled people. Her official website states that ‘she wants people to know that Down Syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated.’

Madeline 3

In an interview with blogger Mahalia of Love ‘Em, Madeline voiced of her chosen career path, ‘[Modelling is] a way to express myself when words don’t always come easy. Plus, I get to embrace society and hopefully make people feel more comfortable around people with disabilities.’

Her ultimate goal of encouraging business professionals to employ disabled people does not end with fashion. Madeline also uses her love for dancing to promote her message of positivity and inclusivity. She is the ambassador for and a founding member of the Inside Outside Dance Ensemble based in Brisbane, Australia. Founded in 2015, the studio offers classes in a variety of genres ranging from traditional styles such as contemporary to experimental dance. Its aim is to provide young people with disability a supportive platform to learn, create, explore and develop performance skills and to create pieces that can be toured regionally, and eventually, internationally.

Madeline 1

Madeline’s determination is being given the attention it deserves. To date, she has almost 725,000 followers between Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Last year, she was nominated for the Pride of Australia and young Australian of the Year Awards. She also received the Model of the Year Award from fashion entertainment company, Mélange Productions.

Amongst increasing societal appeals for diversity, opportunity and originality, Madeline’s voice is a particularly loud (and much needed) one. She is undoubtedly already making her mark on the professional world, nationally and internationally, and is quickly assuming her position as one of the frontrunners of the burgeoning change spreading throughout the world of fashion. Madeline is a sharp reminder of the importance of believing in yourself and pursuing your goals in spite of the obstacles.

To keep up with Madeline, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.



Kathrina Ashley

Images provided courtesy of Madeline Stuart’s official Facebook page.