Model With Rare Skin Condition Uses Social Media To Show Beauty Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

Any person that is using their voice or platform to dismantle narrow standards of beauty and push for greater inclusion is a hero to us. Meet Sara Geurts, a 26 year-old model based out of Minnesota who has been getting a lot of attention online for sharing her personal journey to embracing her unique beauty.

Sara was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) at the age of 1o. This is a connective tissue disorder which can affect bones, blood vessels, and skin. It also causes problems in the skin’s ability to naturally produce collagen, resulting in full-body wrinkles.

It took a while for Sara to embrace the skin she had, and opened up in a blog post for The Mighty about how it affected her relationships and self-confidence. She said she felt as if there wasn’t much room to discuss her skin growing up because it was considered an “invisible” illness, at least until she started noticing the very visible signs of it.

“My sagging skin was my biggest insecurity, amongst other side effects. I would later learn this was due to the rarity of my type. As I got older, my discrepancies started to show more and more…Upon serious self-evaluation, I realized my insecurities caused me to lack any confidence, which had an impact on all of my social and personal relationships. I observed that hating certain parts of myself and body triggered my unhealthy mindset,” she recalled.

It was discovering photography and art, as well as dealing with the fallout of past relationships, which enabled her to look at herself differently and make a decision that she was worthy of love.

“I informed my friends and family of my decision to raise awareness for EDS and start my journey modeling with my disorder in the fashion industry. I also decided to share this on personal social media accounts as well,” she said.

Her Instagram account, @sarageurts, has over 12,000 followers, who are regularly “liking” and commenting on her modeling images and inspirational posts. Because of the following she has built up, her story has been shared on major female-driven media platforms like Refinery29, Glamour, and Allure magazine.

This type of publicity she has been getting is worth taking note of, because the fashion industry, while certainly undergoing major change over the past few years, is still in dire need of more diversity in campaigns, on runways and brand imaging. The 2016 diversity report from The Fashion Spot showed that the Spring campaign season was still overwhelmingly dominated by white faces (78%).

When it came to looking at the breakdown of body sizes, ages and even the presence of transgender models, the numbers weren’t exactly groundbreaking, either. It’s clear the industry is a very slow machine to turn, which is why the voices of everyday advocates and activists like Sara are a powerful part of chipping away at these standards. Because it is not just age, size and race that need greater representation in fashion, it’s also differently-abled bodies and those who have different skin conditions.

Other notable names such as ‘America’s Next Top Model’ former contestant Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo, and breakout fashion star Shaun Ross who has albinism, have become well-known names for showing how beauty definitions are far too limited and don’t accurately represent the majority of the population. In her op-ed, Sara says expanding the definition of beauty is part of her mission.

“I aim to break society’s transparent barriers of perfection. Barriers that subliminally tell us all to be perfect in all aspects of life, work, social and personal interactions. ‘Be this skinny and you’ll be happy,’ ‘Buy this and you’ll be happy,’ ‘Look this way and you’ll be happy.’ Really? It is the imperfection that makes us perfect and is where true beauty lies,” she said.

Sara was featured as part of the viral ‘Love Your Lines’ campaign in September 2015 where she shared her personal story along with images of herself, and received numerous positive comments from readers. It was confronting to her to see such love from complete strangers, that it made her reassess her self-hatred from previous years.

“I couldn’t understand how I had hated myself, my body and my disorder for so long. With every opportunity I noticed my strength, growth and transformed perspective. Now, more than ever, I am confident with who I am and with my disorder. I have made it my mission to raise awareness for Ehlers through photography in hopes of making an impact. I am not ashamed, nor do I try to hide it anymore. I may have a disorder, and yes, my disorder is a part of me, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she writes.

Today she is encouraging others to take pride in who they are, right now, and know that they are here for a purpose as is she. Sara wants to become the first recognized models with Ehlers-Danlos, and give voice to all those in the world who also have the same.

“My mission is to show the world my own imperfections to aid others on the journey to self-love. Real beauty lies within ourselves…By reinforcing the mindset that our imperfections are real and beautiful, I hope to lessen the journey and struggle of others on the road to self-love. I hope to be an inspiration to others and open individuals’ eyes to the true beauty within themselves,” she said.

Be sure to follow Sara on Instagram, and here more about her amazing journey in the video below:

Leave a Reply