Finland’s Down’s model Maija makes strides on catwalk
Our society certainly does not treat people with Down’s syndrome the same as 50 years ago. They enter universities, work normally, become athletes, even models.
The fashion industry reads the need for people with motor or mental problems to be represented in the catwalks or advertisements and opens up the modelling doors more and more often to people who do not meet the classic criteria.
This of course does not mean that we have not yet a long way to go before people with disabilities feel equal members of our society.
But stories like Maija Mattila, the Finnish-Nigerian woman with Down syndrome certainly make us more optimistic.
Today, Maija is a model of the international fashion agency WeSpeak, which encourages people to love themselves and their bodies.
She has catwalked into New York Fashion Week, starred in H & M campaign and became a cover for Teen Vogue.
She has more than 150,000 followers at Instagram and she hopes her modelling career will inspire other people to feel good about themselves and chase their dreams.
Maija believes people with Down syndrome are not adequately represented in many areas, and fashion is one of them. She explains that the achievements of people with Down syndrome should inspire the fashion world.
She says: “I do the gymnastics as long as I remember myself. I feel like it has always been a part of my life, I think gymnastics taught me to be disciplined and to work hard.
In the gymnastics, every new skill takes time – sometimes years! I think it gave me confidence.”
However, every time she applied to a modelling agency, the answer was always negative because fashion does not accept people with Down syndrome.
Yet she and her parents did not give up… and eventually, Finland’s Down’s model Maija makes strides on catwalk!