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This Model With Down Syndrome Is Changing The Way We Define Beauty

Emily McWilliams 15 Feb 2019

The body positivity movement of the last few years has made some dramatic changes to the beauty and fashion industries.

Chelsea Werner is just one of those models who is changing the way we define beauty.

Even though she has Down syndrome, that isn't stopping her from landing some huge campaigns while promoting inclusivity in the industry.

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Down syndrome is a condition where an extra copy of the 21st chromosome is created.

It isn't an illness, but like any genetic condition, it can result in a higher risk of other health problems.

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Down syndrome can also affect physical growth and appearance, and result in some developmental difficulties.

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The effects vary quite a bit and while children with Down syndrome may reach mental and physical milestones a little slower, most are more than capable of living active, full lives.

Yet, they are often still discriminated against by people who think they're dumb and because of how they look.

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Before she became a model, Chelsea got her start as a champion gymnast.

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Chelsea has been training in gymnastics since she was a little girl. With the help of her coach and through working with USA Gymnastics, Chelsea became a national champion.

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She's the four-time winner of the Special Olympics National Gymnastics Championships.

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Chelsea primarily focuses on her floor routine, but also competes in events like the uneven bars. Her gymnastics career has taken her to competitions around the world.

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It's the gymnastics that Chelsea credits for her confidence.

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"I think gymnastics has trained me to be disciplined and to work hard," she told A Plus, "In gymnastics, each new skill takes a very long time — sometimes years! I think that it has given me confidence."

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But when she decided that she wanted to become a model, Chelsea was met with skepticism.

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"We contacted all sorts of agencies in San Francisco and L.A.," her mom, Lisa, told Teen Vogue, "and every one of them told us that there's no market for a model with a disability.”

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Recently, Chelsea signed with WeSpeak, a modelling agency that represents diverse models.

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Since signing with WeSpeak, Chelsea has had the opportunity to appear in some huge campaigns.

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One of those campaigns was for Aerie.

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Aerie is one of the most body-positive brands out there today.

The company stopped photoshopping their models years ago, and besides Chelsea, they've also cast models with mobility impairments, prosthetic limbs, and models with chronic illnesses.

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She also appeared in this ad for Petite Ave.

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Petite Ave. is an online store that specializes in clothes for petite women. Chelsea looks absolutely radiant in this photo!

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Chelsea even landed a cover of Teen Vogue.

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Chelsea was named one of the new faces of fashion by the magazine. I think it's safe to say that it won't be long before she's dominating runways all over the world.

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With her incredible success, Chelsea hopes that she can bring more diversity to the fashion industry.

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"I don't think people with Down syndrome are represented enough," she said in an interview with A Plus, "The more we are represented, the more people will see how capable we are."

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"I don't think these industries know how much the public loves to see our accomplishments."

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Aerie's profits have grown 38% in the time since they began their more inclusive and realistic ad practices.

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It looks like her career will be on fire for the foreseeable future.

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Recently, Chelsea announced that she would be working with Tommy Hilfiger and their new adaptive clothing line for people with disabilities. How cool is that?

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She's conquered sports and fashion, so there's no stopping Chelsea now.

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I can't wait to see what the future has in store for her! Thank you for sharing your incredible story and for being an inspiration, Chelsea!

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