Melanie Gaydos was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic disorder that affects the formation of cartilage, nails, teeth, pores, and even small bones. As a result of her condition, she doesn’t have any adult teeth. She also suffers from alopecia, which prevents hair growth, and has a bilateral cleft palette.
Melanie’s physical appearance might make her an unlikely candidate for a career as a fashion model, but that hasn’t lessened her determination to break into the fashion industry.
The 28-year-old told Yahoo! Style that her first love was fine art and that led her to study art at the Pratt Institute in New York City. She became interested in self-portraiture and it was through the medium that she started to discover and embrace her unique beauty. She was eventually convinced to try modeling by a boyfriend.
She started her modeling career by responding to Craigslist ads looking for “unique people” to shoot, and that helped her build a portfolio. Her big break came when world-famous photographer Eugenio Recuenco cast her in a music video. Melanie had sent Recuenco a fan letter with some of her pictures, which the photographer loved, and he offered to fly her out to Berlin to appear in a music video for the German heavy metal band Rammstein.
Four years later, the young model is slowly building a name for herself. Despite all the complications her condition has caused, Melanie has learned to accept herself and everyone around her. Modeling actually helped her build up her self-esteem.
“I didn’t start modeling for other people as selfish as that sounds,” she told Yahoo! Style. “I was doing it for myself. But what I’ve come to realize is that, in doing it for myself, I’m helping other people become more comfortable with themselves.”
Follow Melanie on Instagram to see more of her work.