Melanie Gaydos was born with a rare genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia that prevents the body from fully developing in the womb. Because of this, Gaydos doesn't have hair, most of her teeth, nails, or any soft bone and tissue. But despite all that, and no matter how much people doubted her or singled her out because of her looks, she never stopped pursuing her dream of becoming a model. (Related: Unguarded and Unbothered Is Our Favorite New Instagram Movement.)
"Taken outside of any judgment based situation such as school or peer interaction activities, [my looks] never bothered me," she told People in a recent interview. "It took me a few years to understand why other people had treated me differently or reacted to me the way that they had, which was always out of curiosity, judgment or fear."
Gaydos says she had always enjoyed dancing and performing but decided to give modeling a go in 2011, even though she was told she'd never make it. "Modeling was kind of a taboo topic for me because even though I 'had the body' I did not have the face," she also told People. "[But] I knew that with my individual sense of self and artistic vision, I would be able to go far and be successful in my career." And she's doing exactly that.
Today, Gaydos has an impressive resume that includes starring in high-fashion campaigns and working alongside notable photographers. While these achievements are all incredible on their own, the model hopes her broken boundaries do something to change people's perspective on how beauty is defined. (Related: This Bride Embraced Her Alopecia on Her Wedding Day)
"I've had many people tell me I would never be able to do runway or commercial work and that I was forever niched into a certain category," she says. "[But] women can be anyone and anything they want regardless of the situation and that is the most beautiful possibility. All we have to do is try and just go for it."