Just like every girl, I have dreams. For me, I discovered my dream when I saw a fashion parade with my mum in Brisbane Australia in August 2014. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a model, and that I wanted to change society’s perception of the word “beauty”.
What makes my dream so different is that I was born with Down Syndrome. And in an industry where you would first think people would say ‘no you can’t’ due to what the word model used to mean, I said ‘yes I can’ and didn’t let being different stop me. I instead let it fuel me to make a difference in the fashion industry, and for all girls across the world who have a dream but are afraid to go for it out of fear of being different.
Turning my dream into a reality wasn’t easy though, and it came with a lot of hard work and determination where I had to go through an intense workout regime to get in shape and embrace a healthy lifestyle, something I had already commenced in March that year after I was struggling to keep up with my fellow dance class. I then had photographs taken and posted them on social media where they went viral, and soon after caught the attention of the fashion industry.
I am proud to say that today I am making strides toward achieving my dream, in that I am now an internationally recognized fashion model who has not only walked the runway in New York Fashion Week twice with FTL MODA, but has been named Model of the Year by Mélange, been the face of GlossiGirl Cosmetics and released a handbag called the Madeline through EverMaya with 5% of the sales going to the Down Syndrome Society.
I am proud to say that I am the first professional model with Down Syndrome who defied all societal odds of what “beauty” used to mean, and have made progress to re-shape what the definition of that word really is in the modern world.
I want my story to be one that shows girls across the world, no matter where they are from, what they look like, or what cards they have been dealt in life, that they can overcome obstacles to fulfill their dreams too. If someone tells you no, make the choice to keep going, and you will find a yes elsewhere.
Overall, in my life and modeling career I’ve learned that being different and unique is actually a gift, and it’s important to remember that everyone is equal, that everyone should be treated with love and respect, and that every single person is entitled to pursue their dreams. Whether they have disabilities, are bullied, feel isolated, or suffer from mental illness, at the end of the day we all want to feel loved, supported and encouraged.
It is through our own naivety that we discriminate, and it feels uncomfortable so we stand back in our comfort zone. Stop this, put another human being first and step outside that comfort zone; try stepping into their shoes for a second, reach out, show love, be inclusive -- it will only be hard the first time.
Without stepping outside our comfort zone, we do not grow; and without growth, our world is not evolving or seeing what truly is important -- love, inclusion, happiness, equality. These qualities are what define us, and this is what will give us self-worth and a better future.
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