One of fashion’s most outspoken activists has passed, but her legacy will continue to live on and inspire for years to come. Cacsmy Brutus, known in the industry as Mama Cax, passed away at age 30 on Monday, December 16 after a stint in the hospital. Cax was revered for her work as a model and a disabled rights activist through her unconventional work on the runway.
Her family shared the tragic news on Cax’s Instagram account, writing, “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,” the statement continued. “It is with that same grit (fervor) that she fought her last days on earth. We are aware that this loss will be felt globally and will not be easy for anyone. We ask that you please respect Cax’s privacy in this difficult time.”
When Cax was 14-years-old, she received her bone and lung cancer diagnosis. After her treatment, as told to Glamour, Cax received a hip replacement when the cancer affected the bone and required for some of it to be removed. Just a few short weeks later, her body began to reject the hip replacement, leaving Cax to another surgery where a hemipelvectomy amputation was performed, requiring a prosthetic leg and crutches after the procedure was complete.
Though it took Cax time to come into her own and find her own version of femininity to combat the societal standards growing up–curves, light skin, long hair–she found her way and used it as a marker for her own personal standard of beauty. Cax became a blogger, using her own platform to showcase herself in her own light, traveling globally while she built her own self-confidence to speak candidly about her disability and spread awareness around the subject.
She began modeling in 2017, working on a campaign for Wet ‘n Wild in 2017 before signing with Jag Models. Shortly thereafter, she worked with beauty giants, Becca Cosmetics and Olay for two other campaigns. Beyond her modeling work within the beauty industry, she’s also walked in Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show, at New York Fashion Week in the Chromat Spring 2019 show, as well as on The White House’s Design for all Showcase in 2016. You can also see the late Cax in ads for Tommy Hilfiger and ASOS.
Cax received an outpouring of support and condolences on social media after the announcement of her untimely death, including notes of love from fellow models Iskra Lawrence, Tess Holliday, Jillian Mercado, and Aaron Philip that touched on her impact on both their lives and society as a whole.
Rihanna wrote a note of remembrance for the model and activist on Twitter, sharing, “A queen. A force. A powerhouse beauty that brought her strength to the @savagexfentystage this year inspiring so many across the globe. Rest In Power sis.”
Jameela Jamil shared her own note for her friend, writing, “My beautiful friend was the most extraordinary role model.”
“Mama Cax was a cancer survivor, model, amputee, and activist,” she continued. “She was sent home TWICE prematurely by our underfunded NHS and died in her hotel room. This happens so often now in the UK, especially to young black women. ”