No one is more beautiful and inspiring than model Melanie Gaydos.
In this interview -- part of a series called The What's Underneath Project, which asks people to take their clothes off to prove "style is not the clothes you wear" -- Gaydos speaks bravely and candidly about her journey through ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic disorder that affects the pores, hair, teeth and nails. The disease resulted in her undergoing 30-40 surgeries as a young woman, and on top of that, Gaydos struggled with an alcoholic family, abuse and suicidal thoughts.
"Growing up, I never thought I’d be alive past the age of 18," she says in the video. "I never thought I would kill myself; I just kind of thought that it would happen by accident. [But] as I got older, I did think I would kill myself."
But about three years ago, Gaydos found an outlet in modeling. Since then, she's starred in a music video for the band Rammstein, and has been working steadily, she told Daily Beast, hoping to break into high fashion.
"I’d rather experience life as it is right now," she says. "I love modeling; it’s a time for me to be completely open. It’s a therapeutic process for me."
Her views on beauty are even more inspiring: "For me, beauty is more a feeling and a state of being."
Watch the entire video above.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.