Madeline Stuart's story is enough to inspire anybody. The 18-year-old from Brisbane, Australia has Down syndrome but hasn't let that stop her from working toward her dream of becoming a model.
According to Maddy's Facebook page, she decided to become an on-camera personality after deciding to change her unhealthy lifestyle to focus on physical health and fitness. With the help of her mother Rosanne, Maddy lost 44 pounds by eating balanced meals and participating in activities like swimming, dancing, cricket, gymnastics, cheerleading and basketball. And as if working out every day wasn't enough, she also actively participates in the Special Olympics.
Now, over a year later, she's reached a healthy weight range and is ready to show the world what beauty looks like on the inside and out.
"She does not care how she looks," Maddy's mother told The Daily Mail. "But she DOES care that she can run around all the time now feeling great. If the average person could only see the beauty Maddy has inside, how loving and caring she is! If that is what people measured beauty on, then most of the models in the world would have Down syndrome. It truly is a beautiful thing."
Maddy hopes her modeling career will help change the way we view people with Down syndrome.
Maddy also explains "exposure will help to create acceptance in life."
And it's no wonder the teen is seeking to change our perception of beauty and raise awareness about people with Down syndrome; Even though there are over 400,000 people with this genetic condition in the United States alone, many still hold preconceived notions of what people with Down syndrome can and can't do.
Initially, even Maddy's doctors said she'd "never achieve anything," and Rosanne told The Daily Mail that strangers would stop her "on the street to tell her that her daughter should not be out in public."
But Maddy's perseverance proved them all wrong, and now she's showing the world that she is capable of doing anything she puts her mind to, one photograph at a time.
"Only when she gets lots of attention through social media will the modelling world look at her, this is unfortunate but true and she really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability," says Rosanne.
Check out more of Maddy's beautiful photographs below:
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