Conforming to or confounding the beauty myth: femininity, diversity and chromosomal disorders

Feasey, R (2022) 'Conforming to or confounding the beauty myth: femininity, diversity and chromosomal disorders.' Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 16 (4). ISSN 1757-6458 (Forthcoming)

Abstract

Despite being the largest marginalised identity group in the world, disabled people are routinely overlooked or ignored in the world of fashion, beauty and advertising. With this in mind, this article will examine the ways in which a model born with Down syndrome can be seen to reassert both the fragility and fixity of the female beauty myth, opening up broader debates about diversity and inclusivity in fashion and beauty advertising. This article will consider the representation and popular reception of Madeline Stuart, who is a model with Down syndrome, with specific reference to her 2015 appearance during New York Fashion Week. Stuart is an important case study here because she is routinely penned as the world's first professional model with Down syndrome, and her travel down the catwalk in question, which at the time of writing, has been viewed 161,000 times on YouTube, appears front and centre of her official website. I look to examine the ways in which Stuart's career, carefully constructed and circulated by her manager mother in lieu of an agent, both confirms and seeks to challenge existing stereotypes as they relate to femininity, disability, fashion, beauty and body confidence, before concluding that although Stuart can be read as a game-changer in the fashion and beauty industry, the rigid ableist beauty myth still holds sway.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: disability, Down syndrome, fashion, beauty, advertising, Madeline Stuart
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Media Research
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2022 12:12
Last Modified: 16 May 2022 13:44
URI / Page ID: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14653
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