Woman with unusual skin disease becomes a model

We see them everywhere, idealized images of beauty on TV, in movies and in magazines. Being beautiful means having perfect skin, looking younger, being thin, and conforming to certain physical characteristics. If we followed this definition to the letter, most of the world's inhabitants would be considered imperfect or ugly. And the pressure of social expectations is even greater on those who have a visible disability or physical problem. Sarah Geurts from Golden Valley, Minnesota, has lived with this her entire life.

At the age of 10, Sarah was diagnosed with a rare condition that affected her skin. Her parents had noticed something strange was happening to her and this was confirmed after several examinations. Sarah had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is characterized by a lack of collagen in the skin. It makes the skin very fragile and soft and means the top and bottom layers of skin do not stick together.

It's a syndrome with no cure and her condition was only going to get worse over the years. As she grew up, Sarah's skin began to wrinkle more and more. She looked much older than she really was and during high school she was embarrassed to reveal her body. "In high school, I just tried to cover it up. I didn't want anyone to ask me questions about it. I didn't want to talk about it."  She avoided wearing clothes that left too much skin exposed.

However, at the age of 22, her perspective began to change. Sarah was tired of hiding and feeling ashamed of herself. That's how she discovered the unique beauty of her body – how the lines of her wrinkles formed almost artistic patterns. She says, "It makes me so sad that I just looked at it as this ugly thing at one point in time." Sarah posted photos of herself on Instagram as part of a campaign called "Love Your Lines" designed to empower women who feel embarrassed about having stretch marks, scars or other marks on their body.

"My imperfections make me, me. No one else wears the same stripes as I. Each mark tells a story and makes me who I am today. Shows the struggle I have been through and overcame. I will show them with pride and wear them with pride," she wrote on her Facebook page.

After seeing the number of positive comments and reactions she was getting, Sarah felt strong enough to start revealing her body and her unique nature. She found a way of learning to love herself through modeling. She wants to send a message that there is more than one way to be beautiful and to show that we should love ourselves as we are.

"My main aspirations for modeling would be to break society's standards and the mentality that they have for perfection… and to really show that it is your imperfections and your uniqueness that is the true beauty, and that’s what needs to be celebrated," the 26-year-old says.

 If you'd like to know more about Sarah's story, you can watch this video: 

It wasn't easy, but Sarah has managed to regain her self-esteem and is living a fulfilling life and can be valued for who she is. Someone's body should not be a source of shame. Everyone is born unique and that is what makes us interesting. We need more brave role models like Sarah!

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