Becca Rose
October 05, 2015 6:55 am

School can be tough for anybody, but the truth is, it’s a lot harder when you’ve got bullies after you. Gigi Cunningham is a beautiful, bright 17-year-old who was bullied by her peers because she has Down syndrome. She suffered through teasing and taunts, but always kept her goals in her sights. What were her goals, you ask? Entering the entertainment world. Well, Gigi is now achieving those goals through modeling. And what’s even better, she’s using her new modeling work to help put an end to bullying.

Cunningham spoke with The Mighty about her journey, her hopes, and her words of advice. “Many doors will close and many will open. Always approach your obstacle with a[n] ‘I can’ attitude and with a smile on your face because you are worth it.”

It seems Gigig’s motto is working, because she has has already booked some major gigs. This October alone has a full slate of entertainment and modeling appearances in store for her. She’ll be at the Buddy Walk in Illinois, repping for the inclusion and awareness of Down syndrome. Later in the month, the biggest fundraising event for Down syndrome, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself fashion show will take place, and guess who will be strutting it on the runway? That’s right, Gigi will.

Gigi’s mom, Erica Butler, says that her daughter still faces discrimination and cruelty in pursuit of a modeling career. “Gigi has been turned away from many opportunities because she has Down syndrome. She has been told. . . that people like that should stay at home, or she is not beautiful.” It’s heartbreaking to think of this gorgeous girl having to hear someone tell her she isn’t beautiful, but Gigi has the maturity and wisdom of someone far beyond her years. “When people read my story I want them to know that I can do anything, [and] with social media the world will see my true potential and beauty,” she told The Mighty.  

The coolest thing about Gigi’s story is her relentless positivity, and desire to bring about a real change in the world around her. “I want the world to really change how they perceive people with disabilities and continue to embrace their beauty. People with Down syndrome are beautiful, smart, creative, loving, confident and it should be displayed.”

With her activism work and the strides she’s making as a model, Gigi is already changing hearts and minds. Her favorite part about it all? “I love that I can inspire others to make a change and love the skin they are in.”

We think she’s just awesome.

[h/t The Mighty; Images via Twitter]

Related reading: 

The first model with Down syndrome at NYFW absolutely ruled the catwalk

This high school cheerleader has Down syndrome, and she’s inspiring everyone with her killer dance moves

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