A 'Mads' talent
Mads Rafferty is just your average 17-year-old, well kind of, in the sense she likes nothing more than hanging out with friends or lounging on the couch in her trackies watching Pretty Little Liars. But she also has over 58,000+ followers on Instagram (at the time of going to press), her own website, Youtube channel and has modelled at Fashfest.
The teenage social media starlet exploded on the scene last year, and the reason? "I just started to take a lot more pride and care in my photos," Mads smiles.
Her ultimate dream is to one day follow in the footsteps of Miranda Kerr and become a Victoria's Secret angel, in fact, Mads recalls wanting to be a model from the age of six.
"Since I was little I have always just wanted to do modelling, and there's actually a photo of me in a one-piece by the pool, I was only six and I had my hands on my hips posing," she laughs.
"I remember Mum saying 'If you want to be on the catwalk, you have to walk, and I was strutting around the pool pretending I was on the runway."
With her stardom progressively on the rise, Mads was invited to model at Fashfest in Canberra in May, has collaborated with internationally-renowned artist Charles Billich, and has travelled to so many countries she's lost track. The most recent was a trip to the US, where she modelled in Los Angeles for industry-leading photographers Glenn Nutley and David Hickey.
Asked whether she gets nervous before fashion shows and photo shoots, Mads was quick to shake her head.
"No, I don't really get nervous at all," she answers. Her mother Shelly Rafferty then jumps in – “I can honestly say she was more nervous before this interview than she was fat Fashfest]...it's weird,” Shelly laughs.
But it is this comfort in her own skin that has people of all ages and backgrounds idolising the peninsula pin-up.
“It still shocks me, I think one of the biggest realisations of how big it was, was when I started getting the bus to school and I got off and there were people saying 'Oh my God, you're Mads Rafferty, the instagram chick,” she grins.
Although clearly chuffed with her ever-increasing fan-base, she shows maturity beyond her years, as she talks about the responsibility she has inherited.
"The people who inspire me, as cliche as it sounds, are my sisters. I have two younger sisters who are six and eight, a massive age gap, and I want to be a role model for them," she reveals.
"There is so much social media and peer pressure...I've been bullied in the past and I don't want my sisters to have to go through that."
Recently she even accepted a role to become an ambassador for the Bully Zero Foundation.
"I just want to get the word out there that you have to accept and love yourself to be genuinely happy."
Shelly knows all too well how sincere her daughter's sentiments are.
"I'm incredibly proud of her because she spends so much time trying to help others. She's been that way since she was little and now through social media, she is just doing that on a larger scale," she says.
"She gets most excited when someone sends her an email, or messages her, saying 'You've got no idea how much you've changed the way I look at things, you've helped me so much'."