A Champion Gymnast With Down Syndrome Becomes A Model And Breaks Stereotypes

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Each one of us comes to this world with a good reason, and while we are all different, we are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Chelsea Werner from Danville, California, was born with Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal defect that delays physiological and intellectual development.

She was introduced to gymnastics when she was 4, as a way to strengthen the muscles. Yet, she actually showed impressive gymnastic talent, which helped her win four Olympic championships in gymnastics later in life.

WeSpeak, an international fashion agency whose aim is to encourage people to accept themselves and love their bodies, recruited her as a model now. Chelsea believes that people with Down syndrome are under-represented in various areas, including the world of fashion. She sent an email to Aplus.com, stating:

“I don’t think people with Down syndrome are represented enough. The more we are represented, the more people will see how capable we are.”

The accomplishments of individuals with Down syndrome should inspire the fashion world, according to her. Chelsea won the Special Olympics US championships in gymnastics four times, and scooped up the title of Defending World Champion twice.

She says:

“I’ve been doing gymnastics for as long as I can remember. I feel like it’s always been a part of my life, I think gymnastics has trained me to be disciplined and to work hard. In gymnastics, each new skill takes a very long time – sometimes years! I think it has given me confidence.”

Yet, whenever she applied to a fashion agency, she was rejected, as the modeling world did not accept people with Down syndrome. Yet, she and her parents never gave up, and these initial rejections did not deter them.

She remembers:

“I went to some modeling agencies that said there is no market for models with Down syndrome. My parents and I don’t give up. There is a market and I’m showing them!”

In 2017, she was discovered on social media by the We Speak model scouts, and ever since, her popularity in the industry has been growing.

CEO and founder of We Speak, Briauna Mariah, explains that she was immediately riveted by Chelsea and never suspected her future success in the fashion world:

“I saw Chelsea’s potential to thrive in this industry and immediately reached out. It’s important that women feel represented in the industry.”

People quickly fell in love with Chelsea, and she received global recognition and admiration from all her social media platforms. She hopes that her modeling career will inspire other people to accept who they are and work hard to get the opportunity to reach their dreams.

Mariah admitted that working with Chelsea was “absolutely wonderful”. She said:

“Chelsea takes feedback really well and is a quick learner. Right now we’re building her experience in front of the camera, building her portfolio and brand. Soon I believe the industry will be just as captivated by Chelsea’s beauty as I am. I see her going far.”

The story of Chelsea stimulates other people to follow her footsteps and try harder in order to do more and make their dreams come true.

Werner explains that modeling is a way to “show the world that we are all beautiful in our own way.” She maintains that her photos convey that “all people have dreams and everyone needs to be given the opportunities to reach them!”

She adds:

“I hope that people see that I am not afraid to reach for my dreams even in the face of diversity. My mission is hopefully to inspire others to be fearless and also to change some of the outdated misconceptions that exist when it comes to people with disabilities.”

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