Although we were educated in the spirit that everyone is beautiful in his own way, in reality we have all become victims of the modern model of perfect beauty. We are bombarded every day with photos of how to look like a model, and it seems there is no room for a good-looking person. But Chelsea Werner, a gymnast from Danville, California, has shown the world that you can be perfect in your own way.
She had Down syndrome, a common chromosomal defect that causes a person’s intellectual and physiological development to be delayed. She could not walk until she was two years old and had low muscle tone, but she persevered and reached a physical peak that exceeded the wildest expectations of many experts. She became a master gymnast because gymnastics taught her new skills and filled her with confidence. She has earned her name as a gymnast, and gymnastics came to her life when she was four, as a way of strengthening her muscles.
Werner participated in the Special Olympics and the National Championships of the USA, winning the latter four times and also winning a World Championship. But when she tried to follow her dream into the fashion industry, she was rejected. But with the support of her family, she persevered, and her patience paid off. “I was at the top of the gymnastics world for many years and I enjoyed it, but I got great modelling opportunities when I was still in gymnastics, and then I discovered I loved it.” claim Chelsea.
She wanted to change the modelling world and the under-representation of people with Down syndrome. From the moment she did her first photo shoot, she became a global sensation and parents of Down Syndrome children saw a glimmer of hope in her. Through social media, she discovered the companies we spoke to – agencies that work to promote body positivity and inclusion in the modelling industry and strive to make positive changes in fashion and advertising by working with women with positive prospects, healthy lifestyles and unique traits. The founders we spoke to, Briauna and Mariah, had seen their bright, upbeat energy in viral videos.
“I’m a positive person and I don’t see things as limitations. I’m stubborn and I work hard to get to where I am. The way my parents brought me up makes me feel good about myself.”
In 2016, she was on the cover of Teen Vogue, walked at New York Fashion Week and traveled for campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands. Mariah explained that she learns quickly and accepts feedback without being narrow-minded – two traits that are important in the modelling world. They built their portfolio of brands and tested them on camera with two other models with Down syndrome, Maran Avila and Madeline Stuart, who recently launched their own clothing line called 21 Reasons. She showed the world that people with Down syndrome are able to do anything they want to do.
Chelsea claims people should give up their misconceptions about their disabilities and be fearless enough to realize their dreams. We forget to set the standards of beauty and focus on the unique beauty that is hidden within each of us. Everyone is challenged in their lives, and it is the way in which they deal with these challenges that makes the difference. Chelsea hopes her story helps others to know that anything is possible.