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This Incredible Bridal Shoot Is Changing Perceptions Of People With Down Syndrome

With her newest photo shoot, Madeline Stuart challenges assumptions about love.

1. Madeline Stuart is an 18-year-old model from Brisbane, Australia, who has worked with brands like Manifesta and everMaya, as well as walking the runway at New York Fashion Week. She also happens to have Down syndrome.

madelinesmodelling_ / Via instagram.com

2. And now, with her new bridal shoot, Stuart is helping to break more unspoken rules of the modeling industry.

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

3. In a series of photos shot at Rixey Manor in Virginia, Stuart shows the reality of marriage: It’s not reserved exclusively for people who look like models in bridal magazines.

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

4. “A lot of women can’t see themselves as brides since magazines only use tall, thin models,” Isadora Martin-Dye, who owns the manor and hired Stuart for the shoot, told BuzzFeed.

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

“I wanted to find someone who would inspire other brides, [and Madeline was perfect because she] always comes across as so warm and full of joy.”

5. “Working with Madeline was pretty surreal,” photographer Sarah Houston told BuzzFeed of the shoot. “You see this person on social media and the news… but Madeline and Rosanne [Madeline’s mother] were so easy to work with, I was blown away.”

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

6. But not all aspects of the shoot were so easy — Madeline’s mom initially had reservations because she didn’t want the project to be misconstrued.

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

7. Rosanne Stuart explained to Mic that she was worried “people would pretend Maddy was getting married in real life to sell papers,” but soon realized the shoot could be a vehicle for change in the public’s perception of people with Down syndrome.

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

8. “How is it someone with a disability can love their parents or siblings so intensely just like everyone else,” Stuart asked the publication, “but for some reason [other people assume they] can’t also have feelings for a boyfriend or husband?”

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

9. In a Facebook post, Martin-Dye discussed her awe at Madeline’s talents, and addressed critics of the shoot. “[Madeline obviously] LOVES to model,” she wrote. “In front of a camera is her happy place.”

Sarah Houston / Via shoustonphotography.com

“It was a really special moment for everyone when Madeline put on the ruffle dress; she had one of those ‘bride’ moments.”

10. You go, Maddy!

11. BuzzFeed has reached out to the Stuart family for comment.

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