Two beautiful young girls – one in France and the other from Australia – are showing the world a new face of Down Syndrome.
Mélanie had a dream; she wanted to present the weather report on television. So last month, 21-year-old Mélanie Ségard posted a message on FaceBook: “If I get 100,000 likes, I can be the weather girl.”
Within 10 days Mélanie had 200,000 likes, and several television channels contacted her. The choice was made to accept the spot offered by France 2 on its main evening news programme.
Mélanie spent four days at the TV channel’s studios in Paris, under the tuition of former weather girl Catherine Laborde. She had to learn her text by heart because she can not read or write. The current weather girl Anaïs Baydemir took her under her wing and they worked as a team.
On March 14 the final preparations were made with Melanie choosing her clothes and make-up. Finally, at 8.35 pm, she was on screen, wearing a little black skirt, pretty pink top, chic earrings and a confident smile. Mélanie was telling the whole of France that Spring weather was arriving: “ Thursday, cloudy in the north, sunny near Marseille…. ”
And to finish, “Happy feastday tomorrow to all the Louises.” Anaïs and Mélanie hugged each other, a big happy smile on both faces.
This project was initiated to mark Down Syndrome Day, March 21. (The 21st of the third month represents the extra chromosome at the 21st pair that causes trisomy 21.) An association of families with DS children was looking for a way to overcome the “ invisibility ”of their children, especially on television. And they were very proud of Mélanie’s exploits.
“ Mélanie was natural and spontaneous. Her presentation was happy and confident. Mélanie gave the message that if society helps these young people, they can achieve many things, ” said the president of the association, Luc Gateau. “ We hope that schools will become more inclusive of children with handicaps, and the next generation will be more familiar with different handicaps and able to interact more easily. ”
Mélanie’s weather report gave France 2 a record audience of over 5 million and it was also watched more than 3 million times on internet. On Twitter, 12,000 people sent Melanie a message of congratulations.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles…
Madeline Stuart, Facebook
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Madeline Stuart was launching her own fashion label – in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, no less ! Since 2015 Madeline has made a special place for herself in the fashion world, modelling in New York, Birmingham, Dubai, Paris, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and China.
“ Exuberance ” is the word for this 20-year-old Australian who watched a fashion parade one day in her home town of Brisbane, and said to her mother, “ Mum, me, model.” Her mother Rosanne took up the challenge, first helping her daughter to lose 20 kilos, by dancing and going to the gym. Maddie’s new silhouette inspired people around the world.
Then in September 2015 Madeline was on the catwalk for the first time, during the New York Fashion Week. You can see the video of her first parade, in a stunning black dress, on her website. Colours and zazzy patterns are the trademark of Madeline’s casual but chic ready-to-wear collection. Her label: “ 21 Reasons Why ”.
Madeline and her team assume with pride all her 21 chromosomes, and showcase a young woman who takes life full on, with her arms open wide, a toss of her long shiny hair, and a smile to reach your heart. In 2016 Madeline was nominated for the Pride of Australia and Young Australian of the Year.
In 2015 a United States group called Changing the Face of Beauty set out to find 15 retailers to commit to using models with disabilities in their advertisements – and wound up getting commitments from more than 100 companies. With television and fashion weeks coming to the party, the face of beauty is certainly changing.
Mary O’Neill Le Remeur writes from Angers in France.
Slider image: via La Croix