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Melanie Gaydos: The Model with Ectodermal Dysplasia Redefining Beauty Standards

For decades if not centuries, the modelling world catered to a specific kind of beauty. In recent years, however, 28-year-old model Melanie Gaydos is one of a growing number of alternative models collectively challenging the status quo and definition of beauty standards.

How Melanie Gaydos Is Transforming the Fashion Industry

It was not always photographers and runways for the young model. When she was born, her family learned that she had a condition known as ectodermal dysplasia. It’s a rare genetic disorder that has kept her sweat glands, teeth, nails, cartilage, and bones from properly developing.[1] She also has alopecia, a hair-loss condition, and is partially blind because the growth of her eyelashes scratched her eyes.[2]

melanie gaydos, ectodermal dysplasia

Because of her conditions, growing up was not the most pleasant experience. In a 2015 interview with The Independent, Melanie Gaydos shared that “she has been treated as if she was ill or contagious, with many people feeling intimidated by her appearance.”[3]

However, that never stopped Melanie. In fact, she went on to become an art graduate who is currently based in New York City. Although she hated having her photograph taken, a boyfriend had encouraged her to try out modelling. So, still a student, she began.

It wasn’t until she responded to some fashion photographers’ Craigslist ad looking for “unique people.” People’s responses to her photos were a mixed bag.

“It was in both positive and negative ways. Mostly people were speechless.”

But, it was a step that launched her into a life-changing career that has skyrocketed Melanie’s confidence and opened her eyes to the impact she can have on both the fashion industry and world at large. Thanks to taking that risk, Melanie has been able to travel the world and work with world-renowned photographers such as the legendary Eugenio Recuenco.[4]

“I have definitely become more confident with who I am and myself. I stopped wearing wigs and started modeling. 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.”

melanie gaydos, ectodermal dysplasia

However, of the fashion industry, Melanie still believes it has a long way to go before it truly becomes diverse.

“There are simply not enough ‘different’ people fighting to be in whatever spot or position.”

Melanie Gaydos Beyond Modelling

melanie gaydos, ectodermal dysplasia

When Melanie was 26-years-old, she appeared on The Doctors where she would eventually receive three dental implants along with a set of dentures. But, it didn’t take long before she stopped using them altogether – eight months.

“It was a long, complicated process to begin with both with medical [and] physical reasons, as well as psychologically,” she told The Independent. “The main reasons are that, at my age, I feel more comfortable eating the way I already do (and I eat quite a lot!) and the dentures were seriously more of a hindrance to me.”

melanie gaydos, ectodermal dysplasia

“I also found I was more comfortable with myself how I am, without any enhancements. Maybe other people think I am incomplete, but that is only because they have teeth or know what that is like and cannot understand or picture what it’s like without any. I don’t miss having teeth because I never really had them to begin with.”

Melanie Gaydos: An Inspiration

Despite being stigmatized all her life because of her appearance, Melanie did not let her health conditions limit her – look at what she has done and continues to do! We could all take some notes from individuals like Melanie Gaydos.

melanie gaydos, ectodermal dysplasia

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