Photography & styling by Jena Cumbo. Hair and make up by Adriana Andaluz. Star romper by Faithful; blue star earring by Yesterday’s News.
Four-time winner of Special Olympics National Championship, twice World Championship. Chelsea Werner is using her social media to try and make the fashion industry more inclusive.
By Lily Golightly
Hi! I’m Chelsea!
What do you do?
I’m a World Champion gymnast and model who happens to have Down syndrome.
What is a regular training day like for you?
I’m still competing in gymnastics. I train three days a week, four hours at a time, year-round. I also take dance classes on the days I don’t do gymnastics.
How would you describe your personal style?
Casual and relaxed.
How is modeling like gymnastics? How are the two different?
I do like to be in front of a camera, and I love performing. I would say in that way they are similar. Gymnastics is very physical and precise. Modeling is much more relaxed, with natural movements.
Current project you’re working on:
I just finished a modeling job in Los Angeles and just finished my competitive season for USA Gymnastics as well. It’s been a very busy few months! I’m planning on starting some new dance classes. I have also just been asked to walk at Oakland, CA, Fashion Week. I love the runway and love that this show showcases new and emerging designers.
Gold jacket by Jolt; pink print t-shirt by H&M Coachella Collection; earrings models own.
Star romper by Faithful; blue star earring by Yesterday’s News.
Which of your achievements are you are most proud of? What’s the biggest hurdle you have overcome?
My biggest achievement was winning my second World Champion in Italy. It was very competitive with over 30 countries represented. The biggest challenge has been finding a coach that believed I could be a great gymnast.
What issue is most important to you right now?
I feel that people with disabilities are underestimated. They are not given the opportunities to achieve their full potential.
Currently watching/reading/listening to (can be TV, film, novel, podcast, album, etc.)?
I’m obsessed with the movie The Greatest Showman.
What do you think makes a person beautiful?
Confidence and a great smile.
How do you become confident?
I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always had a lot of confidence. Probably because my parents raised me that way. I would tell people to be fearless in life. Don’t worry what others are doing or saying. You have nothing to lose by trying new things and a lot to gain.
Do you have any icons you admire?
I love Gigi Hadid’s style. I love Ashley Graham, and that she’s paving the way for more diversity in the fashion industry.
When you’re not working, we can find you…
My favorite thing to do is hang out with my friends. We love to go out to lunch and see a movie. We also love to shop.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always do your best! If you tried your hardest, you can be proud of yourself!
How is your work making a difference?
My gymnastics and my modeling are showing people with disabilities, coaches, parents, and teachers that everyone deserves a chance to reach for their dreams.
Who is a Woman of Empowerment in your life, a woman who inspires you and you look up to?
I love Simone Biles. She has had to overcome a lot to become an Olympic champion.
How are you a Woman of Empowerment?
I hope that people see that I am not afraid to reach for my dreams even in the face of diversity.
My mission is…hopefully to inspire others to be fearless and also to change some of the outdated misconceptions that exist when it comes to people with disabilities.