On Friday, the internet learned that model and diversity advocate Mama Cax died.
Posted to her Instagram account, which currently has over 184,000 followers, was a note that said Cax had "spent the past week in the hospital" before her death on Monday.
The announcement continued, “To say Cax was a fighter would be an understatement. As a cancer survivor, she had grown accustomed to taking on life’s several challenges head on and successfully. It is with that same grit (fervor) that she fought her last days on earth.”
Even in the few years that she modeled, Mama Cax, born Cacsmy Brutus, left an undeniable impact on the fashion and beauty industry. Sporting her signature prosthetic leg down the runway, Cax opened up many discussions around ableism in the fashion industry, while proving that passion and skill will always triumph.
Cax was first diagnosed with bone and lung cancer at age 14. Following treatment, she was required to get hip replacement surgery but immediately realized a few weeks later that her body was rejecting it. It led to a hemipelvectomy amputation on her right leg, which ultimately resulted in her needing a prosthetic leg and crutches.
After years of battling with self-esteem and self-image, Cax turned to modeling. “Here I was at 16 years old, covered in scars and missing a limb. I did not feel pretty," she told HuffPost back in 2015. "In the last couple of years, I’ve been able to step away from my judgmental self and observe how my loved ones see me. For them, my scars represented the battles I won and my prosthetic has made me this super cool cyborg chick."
As a model, she was able to be extremely vocal in what diversity and inclusivity really should look and feel like, whether it was walking the runway or speaking to media. "Disability crosses so many identities, and oftentimes those aren't represented," she told Glamour.
Since news of her death, the fashion and beauty industry is remembering Cax and her impact:
She proved that anyone could make their dreams come true:
Her impact knew no bounds:
The industry will truly miss this beautiful light:
We thank you, Mama Cax, for helping so many of us see ourselves as beautiful in the world by fearlessly living in your truth and challenging others to do the same. We will truly miss you. <3