The Haitian-American model, Mama Cax whose full name was Cacsmy Brutus, died on Monday after falling ill on a trip to London, her family wrote in an Instagram post.
Cax had lost her leg to lung and bone cancer as a teenager and was a powerful advocate for women of color and disabled women in fashion.
“To say that Cax was a fighter would be an understatement,” her family’s statement said. “As a cancer survivor, she had grown accustomed to taking on life’s several challenges head-on and successfully. It is with that same grit… that she fought her last days on earth.”
Cax first found fame through her blog, in which she wrote frankly and honestly about disability – alongside posts about fashion, travel, and general lifestyle. She later became known for her distinctive street style, and for decorating her prosthetic leg in bold ways.
The famous model told Dazed and Confused magazine earlier this year, was her way of learning to “look at it as a piece of art as opposed to something that I had to be ashamed of.” Over the last few years, Cax hit several major fashion milestones. She modeled for big-name brands including Sephora, Asos, and Tommy Hilfiger, and last year she was on the cover of the September issue of Teen Vogue.
This year, she walked in both New York Fashion Weeks – in February, she modeled for Chromat, while in October, she walked for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty label. Paying tribute on social media, Rihanna posted a photo of Cax walking in her catwalk show and called her a “powerhouse beauty” – before adding, “rest in power.
Mama Cax Modelling Rise To The Top
In 2017, Cax signed with the modeling agency JAG Models in New York. She debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2018, parading in a swimsuit designed by Becca McCharen, who sought to change the “standards of beauty”. That year, she made the cover of Teen Vogue with Jillian Mercado and Chelsea Werner.
In 2019, Cax became the face of the Olay brand for its sunscreen marketing campaign. She was also present at the show for the brand Fenty Beauty, launched by Rihanna. In October 2019, Cax announced she would be participating in the New York Marathon in a wheelchair.
Cax was admitted to hospital in London in December 2019, suffering from severe abdominal pains and blood clots in the lung; however, she never recovered and died in the hospital on December 16, 2019
The ferocity with which Cax advocated for self-care, self-love, and self-confidence through creative pursuits made her an undeniable force that helped trigger a new, more empowered phase within the fashion industry.
Despite the fashion industry’s notorious reluctance to embrace different kinds of bodies, her career was as dazzling as the rhinestones that frequently appeared on her prosthetic leg. She was the face of Refinery29’s Take Back The Beach editorial in 2016.
She landed her first campaign for Wet n Wild in 2017 and went on to model for major brands like Tommy Hilfiger and ASOS, and in 2018, she landed a Teen Vogue cover. She made her runway debut at Chromat’s always-inclusive show, appearing on the catwalk in crutches and swimwear in September 2018.
She was also a much-followed street style star during New York Fashion Week. Mama Cax electric outfits were fearless, expressive, and experimental, gleefully combining dozens of references, colors, shapes, and designers as if she couldn’t get enough of the beautiful, lovely things in life.
Refinery29.com wrote that Mama Cax brought a unique perspective to body positivity that challenged the way the mainstream has perceived the movement. After speaking at a recent panel for Oprah Magazine, she posted on her Instagram, “Body positivity [is] not only [about] embracing yourself and your body’s journey. She wrote but learning that if your embracement of bodies does not include ALL BODIES, it is not body positive. […] I always remind my audience that their bodies allowed them to get to work and at the end of the day it will take them home to their loved ones. […] If you’re not ready to love your body for how it looks, admire it for how far it’s gotten you.”