One in every 700 babies is born with Down Syndrome, which makes it the most common chromosomal defect. Chelsea Werner, now 25-years-old, from Danville, California, was one of those babies.
When she was four years old, Chelsea started doing gymnastics in order to help her strengthen her muscles, as a lot of people with Down Syndrome have less muscle strength. Besides strengthening her muscles, it turned out that Chelsea had a real talent for gymnastics and she even won four Olympic championships later on.
We Speak, an international fashion agency, recruited Chelsea and she became a model. The agency’s goal is to encourage people to love their own bodies and to not feel ashamed for their looks.
Chelsea wishes to be a voice for other people born with Down Syndrome
In Chelsea’s opinion, people with Down Syndrome are being marginalized in many different ways, one being the fashion industry. She said: “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.”
According to Chelsea, the fashion industry has to understand that people with Down Syndrome can accomplish many things and they can inspire the world. Herself being the perfect example. She won the Special Olympics US championship in gymnastics four times and received the title of Defending World Champion twice. What she’s learned from her career in gymnastics are confidence and resilience.
“I’ve been doing gymnastics for as long as I can remember,” she said. “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.”
We Speak discovery
Chelsea applied to several different fashion agencies but she was always rejected because there was simply no room for people with Down Syndrome in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, Chelsea and her parents (Lisa en Ray Werner) didn’t give up. Her parents believed that Chelsea had something special to offer and they were right.
Late 2017, Chelsea was recruited by We Speak via social media. She has been flourishing in the fashion industry ever since. Briauna Mariah, CEO and founder of We Speak, said in an interview that she was very impressed by Chelsea’s incredible condition. She immediately thought Chelsea was going to do great in the fashion industry. “I saw Chelsea’s potential to thrive in this industry and immediately reached out. It’s important that women feel represented in the industry.”
Chelsea has lots of fans all over the world and receives incredible support on her social media platforms. She hopes to be a role model for other people and a source of inspiration because she thinks that “everyone is beautiful in their own way”. She strongly believes that everyone deserves a chance to make their dreams come true, no matter in what condition they were born.
Briauna Mariah said the following about working with Chelsea: “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.”
Chelsea also hopes to inspire parents to push their children to aim high, as she has always aimed high in modeling as well as gymnastics. If people only tried to overcome their own limits, they will find out how strong they really are.
Chelsea is living proof that people with Down Syndrome are more than capable of doing anything they set their minds to. They can amount to the same things or more as people who weren’t born with the syndrome. Keep up the inspiring work, Chelsea!