TEEN

Aspiring Teen Model Challenges Society's Stereotypes Of Down Syndrome: 'Exposure Will Create Acceptance'

05/19/2015 05:32 am ET | Updated May 19, 2015

Madeline Stuart is an 18-year-old aspiring model, and she’s here to challenge society’s rigid definition of what “beautiful” is.

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Madeline, who lives in Brisbane, Australia, has Down syndrome. She writes on her Facebook page that she believes “modeling will help change [society’s] view of people with Down syndrome.”

“Exposure will help to create acceptance,” she says.

According to WPVI-TV, Madeline struggled with her weight as a youngster. Thanks to healthy eating and exercise, the teen lost 45 pounds. Madeline now dances, swims and does gymnastics and cheerleading.

Madeline’s mom, Rosanne Stuart, said she hopes her daughter will inspire other individuals with Down syndrome to make similarly positive lifestyle choices. Studies have suggested that children with Down syndrome are more prone to be overweight.

“People with Down syndrome can do anything,” Stuart told Buzzfeed. “They just do it at their own pace. Give them a chance and you will be rewarded beyond your greatest expectations.”

"I think it is time people realized that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated," she added.

Earlier this year, actress Jamie Brewer became the first person with Down syndrome to ever walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

According to Buzzfeed, Madeline -- who is already landing modeling gigs -- is currently looking for an agent.

In the meantime, the teen is winning the Interwebs. She has more than 150,000 Facebook fans so far.

“I am so happy and blessed,” Madeline wrote on Facebook Monday as her story went viral. “So happy that everyone is sharing the love,” she said in a later post.

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