April 24, 2024

The first Ichthyosis model on shaking up our perception of beauty

I’ve only just embarked this incredible journey, but my agency and I see commercial and editorial clients in my near future. On my first trip to the city, we were focused on building my book and one of my shoots was published forVogue Italia.

I only ever noticed I was ‘different’ at school or in public. I’d get the looks and the derogatory comments which I’d later learn only stemmed from ignorance. Ichthyosis is something that is ever-changing. I could look at my photographs and see a different person in each picture. There is so much beauty in it. Then, there are times like summer or winter when the weather makes it a bit tricky to navigate. Be that as it may, I’m definitely a trooper.

Here at HQ, we stand by the motto ‘your beauty, your rules’ and are constantly finding inspiring people living and breathing it. The latest kickass woman seriously empowering us on social media is Jeyźa Kaelani Gary, from Fayetteville, NC, who is the first Ichthyosis model. According to the NHS, Ichthyosis is a condition that causes widespread and persistent thick, dry, skin. Here, Jeyźa shares her Ichthyosis experience with GLAMOUR and details how she’s hoping to change the age-old perceptions of beauty, one shoot at a time.

I was a senior in high school when I first realised I wanted to model. My uncle took me to a park in a prom gown and there I had my first professional photo shoot. I thought it was fun and, after encouragement from my peers, I finally decided to actively pursue modelling. I’ve since done photoshoots with friends locally in North Carolina. When I first began submitting to agencies, I was turned down. Then I found We Speak in New York, applied, and finally got signed with an agency that was perfect representation for me. On my first trip to the city, I got to meet with big casting agents and modelled a shoot that was published in Vogue Italia.

Posting quality content on Instagram has been essential to my career. There was a time where I’d post rather frequently but the content wasn’t my best. I now know that I have people who are waiting and willing to wait for quality content. I believe Instagram has played a major role in my budding career. In fact, I found the agency I am signed to by way of Instagram.

The saying “every rose has its thorns” comes to mind when I think about social media. It is a beautiful place and an essential tool for business, creatives, entrepreneurs and upcoming models. However, it is also a place that is dark and freighting. More often than not, social media tends to perpetuate the age old narrative that beauty has a certain size, shape or shade. This ancient fallacy’s time is quickly coming to an end. There is an increasing number of forums, blogs and social media pages embracing diversity and body positivity. We have a long way to go in changing the narrative around beauty, but there are so many people actively chipping away at the mistruths and rebuilding new perspectives. The opportunities I’m receiving, this article for example, is proof that standards are evolving in such a beautiful way. I am very hopeful for the state of social media and people’s perception.

When I started putting my photos on Instagram, I came to realise I subjected myself to trolls. At first, some things were hurtful. I only show love so it was hard to understand why there is so much hate out there. I’m learning I don’t need to respond to trolls. They are hurting in their life and I understand that. At first, I was overwhelmed. I had to take a moment to use my support network to realise I needed to ignore them. Most don’t know how to respond to what they’ve never seen. I believe in kindness but I also believe there is so much strength in silence too. Silence is just as much a response as anything else.

There has been so much love in response to my story, so thats what I focus on. I’ve come up with plans to stay in touch with my growing fan base without making myself go crazy responding to every single DM. I’m really learning the importance of having balance with social media.

I’d like to make social media a comfortable space to acknowledge the need for more inclusivity and self-love. I want to debunk the myth beauty comes in limited shapes and sizes. Most importantly, I want the platform I am walking into to be one full of boldness, confidence and inspiration. One that encourages others to be fearless and purse their interests until their interests pursue them. I believe I’ve found that niche in the industry with my new agency.

I look forward to paving the way in fashion for others with Icthyosis, as well as for other under-represented groups. I want to continue to show that it’s cool to be different.

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