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Teen with Down Syndrome and Bionic Model Take New York Fashion Week Runway

Madeline Stuart, an Australian teen, took the runway for the FTL Moda New York Fashion Week show on Sunday. For the teen with Down syndrome, it had always been a dream to be a model and walk the runway. While she isn’t the first model with Down syndrome to walk the Fashion Week runway, her inclusion in the massive event marks an evolving understanding of the significance of diversity in all respects.

Stuart’s mother, Rosanne Stuart, says, “I think it’s amazing that she’s been given this opportunity. It’s a fantastic platform for us to get our beliefs across on inclusion and disability.”

Rebekah Marine, a 28 year old car saleswoman from New Jersey, was also featured in the show. She was born without a right arm, so she uses a cutting edge prosthesis in its stead. Her arm has earned her the nickname of “the bionic model,” a title she’s incredibly proud of. “It gives what I’m doing more of an edge, so I think it’s pretty cool. A lot of kids think I’m like a superhero now,” she said.

The inclusion of these two women signifies a growing change in the fashion industry in respect to diversity. Beauty exists on more than just one level, and every woman deserves to feel beautiful if they wish. While the majority of agencies are packed with conventionally attractive models, and with nothing against them at all, it is with no small hope that people like Stuart and Marine can help shift the definition of beauty to one that is more diverse and inclusionary.

Check out the full story over at Yahoo! News for more photos.

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.