These 6 models may be the last people you would expect to strut down the catwalk, but their unique beauty, coupled with an indomitable spirit and inexhaustible reserve of courage, has led these iconoclasts to international fame.
New York Native Shaun Ross is unique as the fashion industry’s first male, albino supermodel. Coming from African American descent, Ross was often bullied growing up, but undaunted, he pursued his love of dance, training tirelessly at the Alvin Ailey School for more than 5 years, until he was seen dancing on YouTube and was recruited as a model at the age of 16.
Besides an impressive pro modeling career which included photo shoots with Vogue and GQ, Ross has been featured in numerous music videos, such as Beyonce’s Party and Katy Perry’s E.T.
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When most models typically retire in their mid 30’s, this next model truly defies convention. A few years shy of 90, Daphne Selfe is the world’s oldest working supermodel. Ms. Selfe began her career six decades ago at the age of 21, and has been modeling ever since. During her successful career as a runway model Daphne has represented big brands such as Tata-Naka, Michiko Koshino, and Dolce & Gabbana.
Now 88 years old and a grandmother, Ms. Selfe shows no signs of slowing down. A champion of ageless beauty, Daphne embraces her long and beautiful, silvery-grey hair and the wrinkles around her prominent cheekbones. The secret to staying young, according to Daphne is “a positive mental attitude.”
Melanie Gaydos was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic condition affecting the growth of her nails, pores, teeth, cartilage, and small bones. Additionally, she is partially blind, has alopecia and a cleft palate. Ms. Gaydos recalls that throughout her childhood, people were taken back by her appearance, assuming she had mental deficits or thinking she had cancer or a contagious disease.
Ms. Gaydos found solace in fine art, studying photography in college. However, the budding photographer never wanted to be photographed by other people. “I used to hate having anyone take my picture,” she told Yahoo Style. you can imagine the courage it took for Ms. Gaydos to respond to a Craiglist’s ad posted by professional photographers looking for “unique people” to shoot. Ms. Gaydos always dreamed of being a movie star, so, with the encouragement of her boyfriend, she sent in her portraits, “just for the fun of it,” she explains. Her career “sort of snowballed from there,” says Gaydos.
Although Ms. Gaydos’ modeling pics have been received with mixed reviews and her instagram account is littered with negative comments, Gaydos says modeling has endowed her with a newly formed confidence. “I’ve taken a more active approach in really truly believing in myself and who I am as a person…Modeling really inspired all of that. In a strange way it helped confirm and validate my reasons for living.” And true to the nature of courage, her confidence and bravery has been contagious. Gaydos explains “I didn’t start modeling for other people as selfish as that sounds…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.”
Want another amazing example of an amazing individual who rose above physical challenges? Check out the amazing The Tenacity of Boy With Double Hand Transplant.
Alex Minsky, a former US marine, lost his leg, and nearly his life, while serving in Afghanistan, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Being an amputee, Mr. Minsky was used to being stared at. But now, the former war veteran is turning heads with his perfect abs and sculpted, tattooed body as a successful fashion model.
Mr. Minsky had no prior modeling experience, but was discovered by professional photographer, Tom Cullis, when Minsky was working out at his gym. After being photographed by Californian photographer Michael stokes, Minsky’s career took off.
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Jilian Mercado’s path to super stardom is almost a fairy tail. Mercado, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair bound worked as a fashion reporter. While working, she saw a casting call from Diesel Fashion house, for models that represented a variety of cultural background. In jest, Mercado applied. But Diesel didn’t see her application as a joke. Rather, they saw Mercado as the next face of their fashion line.
At the photo shoot Mercado didn’t hide her muscular dystrophy, but confidently posed in her wheelchair. Though she did admit to being nervous about how the public may respond to her photos. Everyone loved them! And Mercado has been a professional model ever since.
Liu Xianping is a 73 year grandfather from China. He became an internet sensation when photos of him playfully posing in outfits designed for teen girls were posted on Mr. Xinaping’s graddaughter’s website.
It turns out that Mr. Xianping’s slender frame and long, skinny legs provided a stunning body shape to model women’s clothes. So, even though the pictures were a joke, people loved them and they went viral. Mr. Xianping has been professionally modeling women’s clothing ever since.