Meet Melanie Gaydos, a Model With Rare Genetic Conditions Who Broke All Fashion Stereotypes
Once upon a time, models were skinny, tall, mostly fair-skinned, with curly or straight hair. But Melanie Gaydos is one of the uniquely brave individuals who had the guts to defy social standards. The 32-year-old model is not only challenging the fashion industry, but she also highlights the importance of diversity in the beauty world. And as she does just that, Gaydos shared her story, which we believe is worth hearing.
She was born with a rare genetic condition.
Melanie Gaydos, 32, was born on the east coast but currently lives in Seattle. She was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a collective term for several extremely rare genetic conditions affecting skin, hair, and nail growth. She was severely criticized for her appearance when she was younger, but it didn’t stop her from becoming a well-known model and getting a lot of different jobs.
“I really don’t like being told I can’t do something.”
Gaydos began modeling while attending the Pratt Institute in New York City. She received even more attention after appearing in a Rammstein music video, and offers continued to pour in after that. Her distinctive features are ideal for high fashion and more avant-garde styles. She has, however, rejected being boxed in as an alternative model and has participated in numerous New York Fashion Week runway events.
Her fame didn’t come easy.
The woman we see now wasn’t always made to feel that way growing up. She admits that in elementary school, she didn’t have any friends. People saw her as strange, frightening, and inhuman. She underwent around 30 surgeries as a child, which meant she missed a lot of school due to frequent hospitalization. She is partly blind today due to her eyelashes curling inward and hurting her corneas.
She loves and accepts herself the way she is.
Due to the little bones in her ears, she has hearing problems. She has no teeth or hair. She used to wear wigs, but she stopped wearing them in 2015, and she also stopped using dentures. Instead, she has decided to accept who she is. “This is the way I was born, and when you are born a certain way, you survive,” she explains.
“I was never, ever bothered by the way that I look.”
She remembers her early years, “I didn’t understand why people treated me differently. It’s literally just a disorder of my DNA. It’s just the way my body is born. It hasn’t affected the way I think or anything like that.” But Gaydos believes that things are improving. The definition of beauty in the fashion business and the general public both go beyond “the tall, perfect goddess” image.
She encourages other women to embrace their beauty.
Gaydos must think it’s absurd that other women worry about things like their thigh gaps, their hair curls, or the fatty rolls around their bellies. “Everybody has their own insecurities... It’s really limiting, depressing, to worry about what other people look like and what other people think of us,” she says. “I don’t see why people can’t just be happy with themselves and be happy for other people.”
What do you think of beauty standards? What would you change in the fashion world?