After beginning her professional modeling career last year, Madeline Stuart has jetted across the globe for photo shoots and runway shows. A hectic schedule comes with the modeling territory. But Stuart has something else to prove to the world.
She was born with Down syndrome and is working hard to change society's perceptions of modeling. According to Stuart, she is the only professional model with the genetic disorder. But her condition has not slowed down her career. The teenager is walking in the FTL Moda show during New York Fashion Week -- her second time modeling at the fashion event.
"I hope through modelling I can change societies view of people with Disabilities," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Exposure is creating awareness, acceptance and inclusion."
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that develops when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome often have a lower IQ and slower speech. The genetic condition can also affect a person in physical ways, including smaller hands and feet, almond-shaped eyes and small ears.
Rosanne Stuart, Madeline's mother and manager, told ABC News that Madeline has become more outgoing and communicative as a result of her time in front of the camera.
"We always get fantastic feedback from makeup artists, photographers and product companies. She is not pretentious and very focused and down to earth, which I think is amazing as before this she could not get any type of work," Stuart wrote in an email. "She has also developed a very outgoing personality and communicates a lot more."
She said that she and her daughter have received a lot of support and encouragement.
"I think the most exciting thing is all the thousands of people that have reached out in appreciation of what she is doing and what our beliefs are on changing the world's perspective on disability," Stuart said. "It has been really touching and has made us want to keep going and to keep trying to help people."
Stuart added that Madeline was especially happy about returning to New York Fashion Week.
"We are so grateful for all the support [Madeline] gets as it not only makes her a very happy young woman but it gives us faith in humanity," Stuart said.