According to Kant, the judgement of beauty is different from cognitive or moral judgement, because it is affected subjectively, in reference to the person making the judgement. Nowadays the canons of beauty are set by a minority mainly through fashion and advertising. Beauty is no more the perfection sought by Botticelli, but is rather linked with appearance and success in the Western psyche. Melanie Gaydos is one of the prominent models that is challenging these canons of fake perfection. Despite being born with a rare genetic condition called Ectodermal Dysplasia, at only 27 Melanie is making a difference in the fashion industry.
Hi Melanie, welcome to Visual Atelier 8. Please give us a brief introduction to yourself.
When did you decided to embrace modeling and to what extent does it changed your life?
I stared modeling four years ago after moving to NYC and wanting a change in my life. I lost myself during a brief period of time, and wanted to become more comfortable with who I was. Modeling has helped me become less introverted and more confident in who I am inside, existing in the outside world.
What are the most frustrating aspects of being in front of a camera and the most rewarded ones?
I suppose the most frustrating part is that you cannot control how other people may see you, and that is also the most rewarding. Media presence is something I would rather live without, but is something important for my job. With media presence and modeling in general I am able to share myself and my story with others on a global scale. It is the most rewarding to just exist and make a difference in the world while doing so.
Fashion industry can be cruel sometimes and its ideals of beauty are often very narrow. Do you think that fashion world starts to overcome the stereotypes or there is still a lot to work on?
The fashion world limits itself. There is still a lot to work on, but it starts with individual people living out loud and fearlessly doing what they want.
You have taken part in “The What’s Underneath Project” that asks people to take their clothes off to “honor how style is not the clothes you wear”. Tell us more about.
It was a very overwhelming and intense experience. I didn’t want to do the project for a few months, but one day I woke up and knew I had to confront my fears and make a change within myself. Similar as to how I started modeling, I knew it was something I needed to do. I felt a lot lighter and held less of a burden on my shoulders. It’s amazing to see so many people connect to me and my story just by watching the few minutes that was edited out of a long conversation.
For you, beauty was always more a feeling and a state of being. What was the last thing that touched you most and you considered it beautiful?
I think many things in life are beautiful and I see things everyday, whether it be a monarch butterfly flying around in the city of Brooklyn, or any kind of animal life, to a child recognising me on the street and waving hi, or even a stranger offering someone his seat. It’s the smallest and nicest things that in principle make a big difference in the world.
Nowadays our life is pretty influenced by social medias, people are following, watching and judging. Is your world consumed by digital content?
No, I like to use it as a medium, a way to document my life, but as to how many followers I have or people that like me I could not care any less.
You starred in Rammstein’s music video “Mein Herz Brennt”. How does this collaboration started? How was it working with the members of this band?
When I first started modeling, I emailed a few portfolio photos to photographers whose work I really enjoyed. Eugenio Recuenco was a life long inspiration for me and he surprisingly emailed me back and asked if I was available! It was my first time on a plane alone and out of the country. Very thankful for the opportunity, I learned early on what it means to work on a professional set, and I knew at that shoot that modeling was what I was meant to do.
In the video you embody Sandmann, who puts the children to sleep then waits to steal the tears from their nightmares. Did you find yourself identified with the character you played or it was just a mask?
I identify with any character I play, but for the most part it was just a mask. Anything is a part of ourselves if we can relate to it. On the shoot though I played a daughter of the headmaster as well who was something like a princess. I identified with her role a lot and enjoyed very much. The Sandman character is what developed when she was in a dark period in time.
Who are your muses?
My muses are the top models in high fashion editorials, I used to have specific ones, but now I am open to a complete image or photograph. My muse is really anyone who’s energy vibrates loudly and most pure. She is a woman that is strong and without conviction, I like people who can elevate myself and show me something I didn’t already know or see within myself. They’re positive figures for me, something I maybe never thought I could never be when I was younger.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on photoshoots and a few film projects in NYC and Paris.
Ask us a question..
Are you comfortable with yourself, why or why not?
All images, courtesy of Melanie Gaydos