This is Melanie Gaydos, a 27-year-old model who suffers from a group of syndromes collectively called ectodermal dysplasia. Despite her condition,Gaydos has set the fashion world on fire and inspired folks with her embrace of her differences.
Ectodermal dysplasia is a genetic disorder that affects the dermal layer of skin. Gaydos told Barcroft TV, "My pores are very small. I have very little body hair. I do grow a little bit of hair on top of my head. I only have 3 baby teeth at the moment. I grew baby teeth, but because of just how ectodermal dysplasia affects my bones and my body's development, my baby teeth grew in and then they promptly started decaying."
Gaydos went through tribulations related to her condition as an adolescent. "Growing up, I really didn't have a lot of friends. As a child, I faced a lot of bullying and a lot of people stared at me. When I was about 15, I was depressed and suicidal. I just didn't think that I would be alive past, like, the age of 18."
4. Tooth Truth
Now, Gaydos feels more comfortable than ever in her own skin. According to Yahoo Style, she tried out a set of dental implants to make her mouth look more orthodox, but gave up on them eight months afterward. "People are more comfortable when I have teeth in my mouth. But I'm not."
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5. Larger Than Life
Since she was a child, Gaydos dreamed of something more. "I always had this fascination of being larger than life. I wanted to be on a billboard or on a big movie screen."
At first, Gaydos gravitated towards studying fine art, and created lots of self-portraits. "I took a lot of self-portraits because, when you're a student and you're on a tight schedule, it's a really easy, fast thing to do." Eventually this desire to portray herself manifested in her modeling career.
Gaydos is active in her creative input into her shoots and career; she goes after what she wants. According to Yahoo Style, she sent out a letter to world-renowned photographer Eugenio Recuenco exclaiming her admiration. Recuenco's response? Casting her in a Rammstein music video (NSFW) she still considers a career highlight.
Despite the sometimes surreal imagery Gaydos is asked to embody, she maintains control over her career trajectory. "I am very mindful of where my place is in the modeling world. I'm always very careful of becoming a gimmick. I really have to enjoy the photographer's work and understand that they wouldn't portray me in a negative light."
Gaydos told Paper magazine that she wants to extend her boundaries even further: "I really want to do a swimsuit shoot, because it's something nobody thinks I could do. Visually, I'm like the opposite of someone like Gigi Hadid or Taylor Swift, but I'd like to kind of play with my own self-identification and morphing. Because I can be a chameleon and shift into whatever."
Gaydos feels no shame or remorse in being born with her condition. "It doesn't bother me, and it never did," she told Yahoo Style. "Or if it did, it's because it was something people were telling me I should be upset about. It's like, people used to ask me: how do you eat without teeth? Well, people with no legs run marathons. It's all a matter of perception."
Gaydos believes her modeling career has directly affected folks' perceptions of her in a positive way. "I think it helps other people to see me in a different way rather than if they met me on the street, and what their preconceived notions might be."
14. To Belong in the World
Gaydos' mission as an artist involves instilling hope in those who may feel hopeless: "I hope to inspire other people that may feel out of place, that may feel differently than other people. Especially people who don't feel like they might belong in the world."
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15. Defying the Odds
For more information on Gaydos, watch this profile of her on Barcroft TV.