Gimmick or Symbol of Progression?

Melanie Gaydos is a woman many would not expect to see in the modeling world. She does not exemplify “conventional” beauty as we have become accustomed to seeing in the media. I was intrigued by her story before even clicking play the first time I came across this video. We are so used to seeing the seemingly flawless on newsstands and billboards everywhere we go. Melanie is abnormal. She simply looks different than the majority of people who surround us on a daily basis. Presumably many are in disbelief when she tells people she is a model (one article I found is entitled “Most Weird Model You May Ever Seen“). She has the typical body type of a model, but not the typical face. She represents In the video she mentions other models thinking she is a used as a gimmick. Melanie dismisses this notion as if it was not even a possibility. I found this to be extremely interesting. She mentions how other industry models believe she is being exploited for her differences. Melanie looks at it her job as bringing together both her personality and look. Her response is that they need to get to know her.
Melanie is mainly used in editorial work. In Mears’ piece, she states, “Editorial bookers describe their ‘edgier’ models as ‘inspiring’ and even as potential game changers to definitions of ‘normal’ beauty” (133). I find this particular notion to be extremely fascinating. Further on Mears mentions that editorial bookers want the people who have weird personalities to match their different looks, they want “young men and women who the see as social underdogs” (135). Part of me is all for this notion of bringing forward the uncommon and unusual on a massive scale. It is, however, disappointing that these editorial models cannot break into the catalog world. The strikingly unusual are reserved for the people who buy obscure fashion magazines. It’s almost as if it’s a hunt to see who can find the most unique individual to produce great pictures.. The edgier, the weirder, the more unconventional, the more attention the brand gains. It’s all about making money.

Fortunately, Gaydos does not seemed bothered by the negative attention being in the public eye has brought her, at least not as much as it had in the beginning. She has come to enjoy her job. She used to only want to be photographed by people she felt “understood her” and now she is taking pictures with many different photographers. She has opened up and has become more comfortable in her skin.

“I love modeling; it’s a time for me to be completely open. It’s a therapeutic process for me… I’ve always thought of myself beyond all of the beauty standards. I never thought I was beautiful, but I also never thought I was ugly. For me, beauty was always more of a feeling and a state of being.”

Melanie’s story speaks to me and I’m sure it speaks to many others. She has found success in an industry in which many people think she does not belong in. I find her ideas about beauty wonderful. It’s a feeling. Everyone has such trouble pinning down what beauty looks like, what it means. I like the idea that it is more of a feeling, not some intangible look you are either born with or not.

Writer Jasmine Ferrell sums up her thoughts on Melanie Gaydos very well and the impact her presence can have on the modeling industry: “She represents the possibility of what could be in fashion and in everyday life. When a diverse society doesn’t just refer to race or body size, but extends even further. That kind of Utopia may seem incredibly distant, but every day it gets closer and she stands as proof” (Melanie Gaydos: The Maverick Model ).


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