Mama Cax, born Cacsmy Brutus, has died today at the age of 30. The Haitian-American model and activist, who was noted both for her runway presence and her advocacy for people with disabilities working in the fashion industry, saw her breakout moment in Chromat’s spring 2019 show, walking with an embellished prosthetic leg. “I was doing an event the other day with a lot of girls with limb differences and in wheelchairs,” Cax told Vogue at the time. “They never see someone who looks like them on the cover of a magazine or on a runway, so for them, it means quite a lot.”
In the years following, Cax established herself as a fashion force, modeling for Tommy Hilfiger, ASOS, and Olay, and starring on a Teen Vogue cover in 2018 with fellow activists Jillian Mercado and Chelsea Werner. A particular highlight was her appearance at Rihanna’s spectacular Savage x Fenty show in New York this past September. Earlier today, the singer herself paid tribute to Cax on Instagram, describing her as “a queen, a force, a powerhouse…inspiring so many across the globe.”
Cax had always been candid about her ongoing health struggles. Her right leg was amputated at the age of 15 after developing a rare form of bone cancer that metastasized to her lungs, and as recently as her trip to London this week, where she passed away, she openly shared her discovery of a series of blood clots. But while her modeling career was something she described as an act of self-love, her outspoken embrace of body positivity—charted across both her personal blog and her Instagram account—continually inspired hundreds of thousands of followers, who have been sharing their emotional messages of remembrance for Cax online.
The words of her family, who uploaded a moving Instagram post to confirm Cax’s death earlier today, put it best: “To say that Cax was a fighter would be an understatement. As a cancer survivor, she had grown accustomed to taking on life’s several challenges head-on and successfully. It is with the same grit (fervor) that she fought her last days on earth.”