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Teen with Down Syndrome Follows Her Dream to Become a Model

The Short of It

Australian Maddy Stuart, an 18-year-old teen with Down syndrome, is on a mission to change the way people see beauty and fulfill her dream of becoming a model.

The Lowdown

Although Maddy has struggled with her weight and a heart condition as results of her Down syndrome, she has always been an active girl, dancing and swimming. After becoming frustrated that she couldn't perform cartwheels and handstands like her friends, Maddy and her mom, Rosanne, decided to improve her eating habits and increase her exercise routine to help her get healthier.

With support from her mom, Maddy broke her cycle of overeating and began swimming five times a week, doing cricket training with the Special Olympics, cheerleading and hip-hop dancing. As a result, she lost more than 40 pounds, prompting her to tell her mom she wanted to become a model and show that beauty comes in all packages.

Rosanne supports Maddy in her dream because she wants the world to know that having Down syndrome is a blessing, not a disadvantage.

"A lot of people look at me and feel sorry for me because they see Maddy and think it is such a big job, which it can be, but I walk up the street and I actually feel sad for people who will never experience the unconditional love of someone like Maddy," Rosanne told The Daily Mail. "I think it is time people realized that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated."

The Upshot

With the help of her mom, her best friend and her boyfriend, Maddy is now looking for an agent to help her with her modeling career. So far, she has been photographed for the clothing label Living Dead.

Maddy also is using her Facebook page to share her story and gain support, writing that "modelling will help change societies view of people with Down Syndrome (sic)" and "exposure will help to create acceptance."

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