Mama Cax: Who was the model and disability rights activist honoured in today’s Google Doodle?

The Haitian-American beauty was hailed for her work in advocating for inclusive fashion

Kate Ng
Wednesday 08 February 2023 09:38 GMT
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Benefit: Mama Cax for boss brows

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Haitian-American model Mama Cax.

The colourful Doodle, which can be seen on Google’s homepage on Wednesday (8 February), marks the day Mama Cax made her debut on a runway at New York Fashion Week in 2019.

Mama Cax, whose birth name was Cacsmy Brutus, was best known for being championing disabled rights and modelling with her prosthetic right leg.

In December 2019, she died after being admitted to hospital with severe abdominal pains and blood clots in the lung.

Google says it is celebrating Mama Cax’s contributions to inclusive fashion and today’s Doodle artwork is “a reflection of her bright life”.

“The artwork highlights the many facets of her identity including her Haitian heritage, her NYC hometown, and her fashion career with her prosthetic incorporated into the look,” the search giant said.

Here’s everything you need to know about Mama Cax:

Where was Mama Cax born?

Mama Cax was born in Brooklyn, New York City, on 20 November 1989.

She spent most of her childhood in Haiti. When she was 14 years old, Mama Cax was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, as well as lung cancer as the osteosarcoma had metastasized to her lungs.

Her right leg was amputated the following year after an unsuccessful hip replacement and she received her prosthetic leg.

Mama Cax attends the Chromat Spring/Summer 2020 front row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 07, 2019

How did Mama Cax learn to live with her prosthetic leg?

In the early years of living with a prosthetic leg, Mama Cax said she used to hide it from the world.

Following the amputation surgery, the model told MSNBCthat she “literally just broke down” and suffered from depression.

“I think at that point I refused to look at my body for a good couple of weeks,” she said. She would cover her amputated leg and prosthetic leg in long trousers or dresses for years.

“I was ashamed of how I looked,” she explained. “I didn’t want anyone to know I had a prosthetic leg because eventually the question of, ‘What happened?’ would come out. Imagine if every encounter would be recounting my story, every single day, multiple times a day.”

It was only when Mama Cax started going to college that she found the confidence to wear short dresses and show off her prosthetic leg in a way that “reflects my personality”.

When did Mama Cax start modelling?

Mama Cax began her modelling career in 2017, when she was cast in a commercial campaign for makeup brand Wet ‘n Wild.

She was later signed by JAG Models, but she opened up about being rejected by several modelling agencies who told her she “did not look like the average model”.

Mama Cax walks in Olay's "Face Anything" New York Fashion Week Make-Up Free Runway Show on September 13, 2018

Speaking to HERE Magazine, Mama Cax said: “There were definitely places that told me they weren’t interested, or there was no answer, or that I would not be easy to cast for a job, or that I did not look like the average model.

“Not just in body type but also in size. It was not easy, but at the same time, this was not my ultimate goal. I just thought, ‘OK, let me try that. If it doesn’t work, I have plan B, C, D…”

However, she went on to become a force in fashion and modelled for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, ASOS, Olay, and Savage x Fenty.

Mama Cax in Tory Sport walks the runway during Teen Vogue's Body Party Presented By Snapchat on September 11, 2018

Mama Cax was also featured on the cover of Teen Vogue in 2018 alongside fellow disability rights campaigners and models Jillian Mercado and Chelsea Werner.

Her biggest moment in fashion was when she stepped out on the runway with an embellished prosthetic leg in Chromat’s spring 2019 fashion show.

Mama Cax, also known as Cacsmy Brutus, walks the runway for Chromat during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 7, 2018

She told US Vogue at the time: “I was doing an event the other day with a lot of girls with limb differences and in wheelchairs. 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.”

How did Mama Cax die?

Mama Cax died at the age of 30 after doctors discovered blood clots in her lungs. She spent a week in hospital before her death on Monday 16 December.

Her family said in a statement at the time: “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.

Mama Cax and Jameela Jamil attend the YSL Beauty LIBRE Launch on September 09, 2019

“It is with that same grit (fervor) that she fought her last days on earth.”

Following her passing, Rihanna paid tribute to Mama Cax and tweeted: “A queen. A force. A powerhouse beauty that brought her strength to the @savagexfenty stage this year inspiring so many across the globe. Rest in Power sis.”

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