Madeline Stuart, the world's first professional model with Down's Syndrome, recently participated in a beautiful bridal shoot with photographer Sarah Houston that has warmed hearts around the world.
The 19-year-old Australian native, who recently graced the runway at New York Fashion Week for a second time this year, appears in a number of photos taken at Rixey Manor in Virginia. In the photoshoot, Madeline wears three different wedding dress designs and wears her hair pulled back into an elegant bun. She is shown dancing and holding hands with her groom, as if swept up the magic of her special day.
Minutes after Madeline shared several of the stunning shots on social media, her Instagram was flooded with thousands of likes, comments and shares, with many praising the young model for working to challenge society's perceptions of people living with a disability.
"What a beautiful young lady. #downsyndrome rocks," wrote Veronica Boatner. "I have a 6 1/2 yr old daughter who's down syndrome. I have to say: They're the biggest heart filled people in this world Madeline, I wish you nothing but the best in your future..."
"You are an inspiration for all girls in the world. Congratulations for being so amazing and wonderful!" added another fan.
"I truly hope you know just how beautiful you are. Best wishes for a beautiful life. You are a role model!" wrote another.
According to Refinery29, the idea for the shoot came from Isadora Martin-Dye, the owner of Rixey Manor,. She had been thinking about doing a promotional shoot for the B & B, as it is a popular wedding destination, but wanted it to be different from the typical shoot.
"People think about their wedding their whole lives. When you actually get engaged, all you see are pictures of these perfect serene, skinny, women. And while it helps build a brand, it also just builds that wedding myth," she told Refinery29 in an email.
On her personal website, Madeline's mission is described in this way: "Maddy really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability through gaining attention through social media. She wants people to know that Down Syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated. She loves the camera! People need to see how she shines, how her personality just bursts out."
Meg O'Connell, president of Global Disability Inclusion, an organization set up to help companies and brands realize the competitive advantages of disability inclusion, told The Telegraph that she's excited models with disabilities are being embraced by the fashion industry.
"People want to see people like themselves in fashion and advertising and marketing campaigns," she said. "People with disabilities buy clothes and cars and houses. They want to be represented, like everyone else; disability has been the forgotten diversity segment."