There was a lot of talk about one young model in particular at this year’s Fashion Art Toronto event. Monika Myers was the first person with Down syndrome to walk the runway.
“I like doing this because I know I can do it,” Myers explained.
“I also don’t get nervous.”
Myers is only 14 years old, but she already sees herself as a role model who inspires others to pursue their dreams.
Myers’ dream is to be a model.
She is aware that there aren’t many people like her in the fashion industry, though this is changing. In a first for the brand, Victoria’s Secret featured a model with Down syndrome earlier this year. Gucci has followed suit.
Myers claims she has enjoyed dressing up since she was a child. She decided to try modelling after being inspired by the adults who were paving the way.
Stephanie, her mother, was also involved in the decision.
“She’s always telling everyone how beautiful they are, and I just turned to her and said, ‘You, too, are beautiful.'”
In June, Myers became the first teen with Down syndrome to walk the runway at Toronto Kids Fashion Week, wearing a blue gown and a tiara. She is also thought to be the first Canadian model with Down syndrome to walk the New York Fashion Week runway.
At this year’s Fashion Art Toronto event there was a lot of buzz about one young model in particular. Monika Myers became the first with Down syndrome to rock the runway.
“I like to do this because I know I can do it,” said Myers.
“And I don’t get nervous.”
Myers is just 14 years old but she already sees herself as a role model inspiring others to live their dream.
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For Myers, that dream is modelling.
She knows there aren’t many like her in the fashion industry, though that is changing. Earlier this year, Victoria’s Secret featured a model with Down syndrome in a first for the brand. Gucci has done the same.
Myers says she has loved to dress up ever since she was a little kid. She decided to give modelling a go after being inspired by the adults paving the way.
Her mother, Stephanie, also played a role in that decision.
“She’s always so busy telling everyone how beautiful they are, and I just turned to her and said, ‘You are beautiful, too.’”
In June, Myers became the first teen with Down syndrome to model during Toronto Kids Fashion Week, taking the stage in a blue dress and a tiara. She’s also thought to be the first Canadian model with Down syndrome to walk a runway during New York Fashion Week.
Monika Myers at New York Fashion Week (Source: Wanda Beauchamp Couture)
“I wore a beautiful dress. Oh my God it was so beautiful,” said Myers, who made her first trip to New York in October.
“It was orange. My makeup was beautiful. My hair was beautiful. It was amazing.”
“She’s been told she’s very gifted and has a gift to share with the population,” Myers’ mother says.
Myers wore an outfit by Indigenous designer Lesley Hampton to an event in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood on Thursday night.
“I think it’s incredible to bring diversity to the runway, including a beauty like Monika,” Hampton says.
“Imagine a society in which we all feel accepted and included in beautiful forms of artwork such as fashion.”
Myers would like to see more people with Down syndrome model, so she launched the “Brave and Beautiful” campaign to promote inclusivity, confidence, and self-esteem. It has struck a chord with her fans.
“I think they like her story because she’s honest and real, and she represents a minority that people often don’t think can do things,” Myers’ mother says.
“It drives home the importance of being strong and pursuing things that we don’t feel strong enough to do.”
Myers wants to walk the runways in Paris after walking them in Toronto and New York.
“Don’t be afraid to model,” Myers advises.