When you think of a model that promotes diversity, someone like Ashley Graham may come to mind.
The likes of 28-year-old Melanie Gaydos probably wouldn’t even enter your head. But she should.
The American model suffers from a rare genetic condition – ectodermal dysplasia – that prevents her teeth, nails, cartilage and bones from developing. She also suffers from alopecia and is partially blind.
Melanie entered the fashion industry four years ago after living a life of people being scared of her appearance. Moving to New York from Connecticut to study art, she fell into modelling after a photographer asked her to pose for him.
After starring in several photoshoots and appearing on numerous catwalks, Melanie sent off her portfolio to several big names in the fashion industry.
However, she was told that her distinct appearance made her too much of a risk. “If you’re afraid of taking risks, why are you in fashion?” the model told The Daily Beast.
Melanie has had her fair share of hard knocks after being called “ugly” by hundreds of people on social media.
“It’s not anything I haven’t heard before,” she said. “But I never thought of myself as ugly and I still don’t.”
Although she is still regularly booking modelling jobs, Melanie believes that the fashion industry’s progress with diversity is still moving too slow.
“There are simply not enough ‘different’ people fighting to be in whatever spot or position,” she told The Independent.
But she won’t let anyone bring her down, adding: “I have definitely become more confident with who I am and myself. I stopped wearing wigs and started modelling. In a way, I was forcing myself to learn more about who I was and to become more comfortable with who I am at my core and natural state of being.”
“This whole process has helped me become more confident, stronger and happier in my existence.”
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