In honor of Black History Month, today's Doodle celebrates Haitian American model and disability rights advocate Mama Cax. Illustrated by Brooklyn-based guest artist Lyne Lucien, Mama Cax is best known for shattering expectations around beauty. The model and advocate proudly strutted down catwalks on her prosthetic leg, often designed with colors and patterns. On this day in 2019, Mama Cax made her debut on a runway at New York Fashion Week.
Mama Cax was born Cacsmy Brutus on November 20, 1989, in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At age 14, she was diagnosed with bone and lung cancer. As a result of her cancer, she underwent an unsuccessful hip replacement surgery at age 16 which led to the amputation of her right leg. At first, Mama Cax was depressed and struggled to accept herself with a prosthetic leg, as she wanted it to look realistic and match her skin tone.
As time passed, Mama Cax began accepting and loving her new body. She started wearing stylish prosthetic covers with pride incorporating it as part of her personal style. She also began expressing her love for fashion and style with colorful outfits, hair dyes, and bold makeup. During this time of embracing her disability, Cax also leaned into her athleticism and learned to handcycle — she went on to complete the New York City Marathon!
As the body positivity movement grew, Mama Cax noticed that Black women and women with disabilities were underrepresented in social media. She began posting regularly and advocating for inclusivity in fashion and using social media to discuss her body insecurities. She officially broke into the fashion industry as a model in an advertising campaign in 2017 and was signed by Jag Models shortly after. In 2018, she landed a Teen Vogue cover, and the following year, Mama Cax walked in both the February and October New York Fashion Weeks.
Mama Cax’s life was tragically cut short by medical complications in 2019. The model and activist is remembered for expanding the image of what people with disabilities should be or look like. Today’s vibrant 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.
Thank you for being a positive role model and advocating for inclusion in the fashion and beauty world, Mama Cax.
Pictured: Mama Cax
Courtesy of The Cax Family
Guest Artist Q&A with Lyne Lucien
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Brooklyn-based guest artist Lyne Lucien. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Special thanks to Mama Cax’s estate, for their collaboration on this project. Below the Brutus & Vilus families share their thoughts on today’s Doodle and Mama Cax's legacy.
We are honored that Google is celebrating Mama Cax (née Cacsmy Brutus). Today, people are reflecting on Mama Cax as a daughter, sister, friend, model, and disability rights activist, ruminating on the imprint she undoubtedly left on their lives.
Following her many early life challenges, Mama Cax developed a renewed sense of self, created a much-needed lane in the world for amputees, and rose to fame, all on her own terms.
Mama Cax carved a path for herself in the fashion industry and social media sphere. In the face of doubt and uncertainty (both external and internal), she managed to successfully combine her love for fashion and disability rights activism into a career that saw her share her experience and wisdom at the Obama Administration’s White House and The Women Leaders Global Forum in Iceland. Mama Cax’s used her life experiences to empower and revitalize others, from her Instagram posts and interaction to her meet and greets with her followers.
Mama Cax’s passing was devastating for all of us. Beyond her resilience, triumph over cancer, and her impressive career, Mama Cax was our sister. As the eldest, she guided us in her own way through life and its many challenges. All of us came into the world with a built-in best friend and role model because of her. She is the reason we call our mom, “Manmi” and pillows, “zoye” — any slight inflection or mispronunciation on her part is taken as law by the rest of us. Mama Cax used her creative genius to gift us moments of escapism through sister story times — whether it was during bouts of political unrest while living in Haiti or when lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
While her time with us on earth was far too short, all those who had the privilege of meeting her instantly valued her great company, her unparalleled wisdom, her crazy sense of humor, and her commitment to making this world a better place. Her legacy can never (and will never) be forgotten. She is sorely missed.
Love you forever, Mama Cax.
The Brutus & Vilus Family
Pictured: The Cax Family from left to right: Cassline R. Brutus (sister), Mama Cax/Cacsmy Brutus, Marie R. Vilus (mother), Lei S. Brutus (sister), Sabienne Brutus (sister), and at the forefront of the picture is Ashely R. Brutus (sister)