People With Rare Traits That Make Them Stand Out In A CrowdBy Abigail T
Before we even begin to unpack the rest of this article, let’s all agree that the beauty standards everyone aspires to today are skewed, unrealistic, and practically visually manufactured. As you scroll through and read about some of these incredible people, they may not be what you are used to seeing when you look up the word “pretty” or when you pick up a magazine. But the magazines don’t get to define beauty. We define that for ourselves. Beauty goes beyond the surface and is manifest in strength. That being said, here are some of the most beautiful people who have taken their unique physical features and found strength in them, as well as serving as an inspiration for the rest of us.
At just 20 years old, fashion model Maeva Giani Marshall suffered a stroke, which left her paralyzed. In recovery, the medicine she took for her liver caused an allergic reaction. Her skin became incredibly sensitive to light, and the freckles you see on her face were once second-degree flash burns.
Today, Maeva flaunts the marks on her face. She has recovered from paralysis, moved to New York, and copped a contract with Heroes Models. Her skin condition is now her motivation to keep modeling, and her Instagram bio proudly boasts, “Our differences are what make us beautiful.” The strength she displays in embracing herself and her story is what makes her beautiful. Maeva continues to pose for magazines and walk runways, inspiring young girls all over the world.
Mikayla Holmgren is a history-making model and dancer. In 2017, she became the first contestant with Down Syndrome to compete in Miss USA, representing the state of Minnesota. She is also a Best Buddies Ambassador, helping raise funds for others with Down Syndrome.
Mikayla is also a representative for Miss Amazing. She advocates for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is a big believer that “Beauty is from the inside out.” Holmgren says she wants the world to know that “Down Syndrome doesn’t define me,” and it shouldn’t define anyone with the same condition either.
Model Ralph Souffrant got his start at age 13 while he was working out at a park. Who else was there to spot him other than photographer Aaron Taylor? The two began a friendship, which eventually led to Souffrant’s modeling debut for Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3.
Souffrant has shared that people would tease him for the freckles all over his body. Though he hated his skin condition as a child, he is grateful for them now. The modeling gigs he has booked because of it has enabled him to provide for his family and help them out of poverty. There is strength in embracing one’s differences, but even more in using it to help others in need.
There’s power in men also loving the things that make them different. The light shade under Shankar Jalota’s eye is not some kind of conceptual makeup for a shoot. It’s a skin condition called vitiligo. It’s naturally his, and it’s what sets him apart from other models.
Jalota hid behind makeup when he was first diagnosed with vitiligo, choosing to cover up instead of owning it. But one fateful night, when he was staying with his girlfriend and had forgotten to pack his makeup, the model learned that going natural wasn’t so bad. In fact, after seven years, he finally embraced his vitiligo, even making his Instagram handle @thevitiligoman.
Despite the fame of her close relatives, Devon Aoki has made a name for herself. She is an actress best known for her supporting roles in Sin City and 2 Fast 2 Furious. She is also a working model and fashion icon, discovered by none other than supermodel Kate Moss and she was seen walking the runways for high-end brands like Chanel.
For a model, Aoki is considered to be one of the shortest in the industry at 5ft 5, whereas the average is 5ft 9. Still, her success back in the day was undeniable. Now, Aoki lives a much quieter life away from the limelight, focusing more on raising her family.
Known to many as Slick Woods, Simone Thompson lived a tough life before English model Ash Stymest discovered her. She was a homeless teen in LA, entangled in drugs. Fast-forward to today. Thompson is one of the most iconic models in the industry, stunning in her unconventional beauty.
In an interview with Fashionista, Thompson revealed she liked “being the bad guy.” Even back in 2018, as her career kept skyrocketing, she said she stuck around in the industry to make room for little girls who actually wanted a chance at it. She continues to pave the way and leave her mark.
If Devon Aoki was one of the shortest models in the industry, then they’re clearly missing out on Dru Pesta. At 3ft 4, she is a model, designer, and advocate for little people like her, who were born with Achondroplasia. The style and confidence she exudes are enough to make anyone jealous. She’s truly someone who embraces herself for who she is.
Pesta now lives in Los Angeles. Her Instagram has amassed over 87,000 followers, and she continues to advocate for Achondroplasia or dwarfism. Pesta has also recently launched a clothing line called Short Favor, designed specifically for little people and those of average height.
Philadelphian model Devon Gallagher has broken barriers on many runways with other Runway of Dreams models. At just four years old, she had her right leg amputated due to a congenital bone disease. Now 26, Gallagher has traveled around Europe with her bionic leg.
Gallagher made news around the world as she traveled to various European cities. She marked her journey by writing down her location on her bionic leg and taking a photo of it, like this photo of her enjoying a Belgian waffle in Brussels. Beauty, as we can see with Gallagher, is not letting shortcomings hinder you from experiencing life.
Vogue dubbed this beauty the “French cool girl” for the many hats she wears. More than just her stunning looks, Coralie Jouhier is a model, foodie, and restaurant owner who most recently brought delicious Afro-vegan cuisine to the streets of Paris with her restaurant Jah Jah.
As a model, Jouhier uses her unruly red curls to her advantage, posing for commercial and editorial work with brands such as Benetton. Her restaurant career started out as Le Tricycle, a food cart on a bike that she ran with her boyfriend.
Here’s another definition of a cool girl. Arina Lubeteleva, a Ukrainian model, graduated from art school and then shifted to modeling despite having goals of designing couture dresses. The 22-year-old also dabbles in poetry and is a big fan of rap music.
Arina’s many interests make her valuable in the business. She is signed with Sharm Models Management in Ukraine. Despite only having modeled for a couple of years, her agencies are positive that she will progress to take the world by storm, attentive ears and all.
Model Sara Geurts proudly boasts of her Ehlers-Danos Syndrome on her Instagram bio, which reads, “The girl with wrinkles all over her.” Ehlers-Danos affects Sarah’s connective tissue, resulting in wrinkles. However, the 28-year-old rises above this with so much grace.
Sara is a working model and self-love activist. The way she flaunts her skin on her social media reminds everyone that beauty is more than just skin-deep. Having the courage to accept and love oneself as they are is the real definition of beauty.
The Ivanishvili Brothers
These two sons of Georgian politician Bidzina Ivanishvili have chosen to make a name for themselves and not follow in their father’s footsteps. Bera, the better known of the two, is a renowned rapper, singer/songwriter, and music producer in Georgia.
In addition to the other hats he wears, Bera is also a model whose albinism makes him stand out from other models. But he isn’t the only Ivanishvili to grace screens. Together with his younger brother, their fair skin and light hair have given them their own unique charm.
This Brazilian woman is a history maker, holding the Guinness World Record for having the most number of piercings. Elaine has accumulated piercings over the last two decades and now has a total of over 11,000 piercings on her body.
Besides getting piercings on herself, Elaine has spent years doing body piercings and tattoos on others. Additionally, she also has a shop in Edinburg, Scotland, where she sells jewelry, aromatherapy, and specialized clothing.
Another model that defies conventional beauty standards is Caitin Stickels. She was born with a rare defect called cat eye syndrome, which affects 1 in 150,000 people. The most common characteristic of the syndrome is “split” pupils. Caitlin continues to exude beauty through advocating for inclusivity in her industry.
Stickels was discovered by photographer Nick Night, and in 2017 the duo partnered for a gorgeous editorial for V Magazine. Stickels explains that she channels her inner life outwards when she is in front of the camera, enabling her to create stunning photos and showing us that beauty exudes from the inside out.
Many people gripe and moan about how much work their eyebrows require, while Sem Kobelyan’s brows are exquisitely, uncommonly lush. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you pay for; some people are gifted with natural beauty.
His vitiligo only accentuates those brows, as well as his jawline and cheekbones, while the contrast between the black and white on his brows are unbelievably easy on the eyes.
This Senegalese model and actress, who was once bullied at school for her dark skin, has embraced the Internet’s name for her–the Melanin Goddess. Twenty-three-year-old Khoudia Diop has come a long way from her hometown, where skin bleaching to obtain lighter skin was common practice.
As a young girl, Diop was pressured by her relatives to bleach her own skin, which was deemed a “problem” because of how dark it was. With incredible strength, she overcame the stereotypical beauty standards. She worked together with The Colored Girl Agency, launching a positive campaign which empowered young women of all sizes and color everywhere.
Imagine being at the bottom of America’s Next Top Model twice. Worse, imagine being told by some of the biggest names in fashion that you might not be a versatile enough model. Well, that didn’t stop Allison Harvard from continuing to shine.
The ANTM judges were convinced that Allison’s big doe eyes would set her back in the competition. They thought her best feature was actually not good enough for high-end fashion. They’re eating their words now because Allison has now appeared in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and ONE.
Let’s stop marking freckles as a flaw. It’s what makes every individual face unique, and there aren’t two people in the world who have the same freckle patterns. Model Hamad Jaman chooses to flaunt the spots on his face and make a living out of it.
Jaman is pretty low-key, and little is known about him. He is signed with Next Models and has been a part of several collaborations with brands that include Converse. Using what you were given to your advantage is definitely a strength and something we can learn from Jaman.
It’s a shame that people would see a beauty like Diandra Forrest and bully her. Forrest grew up with four other siblings, and only she and her younger brother had albinism. She told stories of how neighbors would ask if they were adopted and how it hurt her. But Forrest found the courage to rise above the hate.
Forrest is adamant that people with albinism should not be seen as a “freak show.” They are just as beautiful as those with “natural beauty.” In fact, albinism is beauty; it’s not some “extra-terrestrial beauty.” Diandra is the first albino female model to sign with a major agency. She continues to advocate and raise awareness for albinism.
You’ve probably come across Sarai Lewis and her dual-colored eyes on Instagram. She is a model and influencer who signed with 2M management and Wilhelmina Models. The most striking feature about her is actually due to a condition called heterochromia.
Heterochromia makes Sarai have two different colored eyes. Instead of letting this set her back, the model played to her strengths. Her green and brown eyes are what make her stunning, and she has modeled without having to wear contact lenses, showing off her gorgeous irises for the world.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of volume. This baby sure has a lot of it. She has gone viral a few times for her luscious, voluminous hair, and honestly, we are jealous. Baby Chanco has apparently had this hair since birth, which came as a shock to friends and family.
The standard of silky straight hair being the only beautiful thing is outdated. Baby Chanco can and should flaunt all of her voluminous glory for the world to see. She has achieved major success from her hair, even getting offers from Pantene to do a commercial.
Cara Delevingne has nothing on this bushy-browed beauty. Sophia Hadjipanteli is stepping in as the next Brow Queen. Sophia used to be bullied because of her eyebrows growing up, but like many on this list, she has risen above the hate and even made it to Vogue.
Sophia’s eyebrows are a statement to the world that she is “not really doing this to show people that they have to like my unibrow, I am more so doing it to show people that they can get on with their lives by having a preference.” She proves beauty doesn’t require changing a thing about oneself.
Jack Eyers proves that truly anyone can do anything. Though he had his leg amputated at 16, he worked hard to gain his momentum back. Now, on a bionic leg, he models travels, and professionally trains people, those able-bodied and less so.
Before his amputation, Eyers saw himself as restricted by his worsening condition. However, he rose again with such courage and has now become an inspiration to many. He proudly claims, “my loss of a limb doesn’t hold me back in any way,” and the way he is living his life is great proof of that.
Jamaican Canadian model Winnie Harlow is one of America’s Next Top Model‘s most popular and active alumni. Known for her vitiligo, Harlow uses her renown to become a public spokesperson, advocating for those who have the same condition.
As a young girl, Harlow was bullied for the way she looked. Being picked on for her differences stung, but her work now shows how she triumphed over that rough period in her life. Queen Bey herself even handpicked Harlow to star in her music video!
This Canadian dancer and actress spent a lot of her childhood begging to have the birthmark on her face removed. She faced constant bullying for the mark under her eye that takes up a sizeable part of her face. But the thing she once despised is now what sets her apart from the crowd.
Alongside her dancing, Cassandra’s birthmark is also what makes her stand out in dance competitions. She has also scored ensemble roles on Disney’s Descendants 2 and Descendants 3, as well as the new film A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish, proving that looks aren’t the only thing that matters.
Kids in Evita Delmundo’s circle relentlessly ridiculed her because she had moles all over her body. Inventive as kids are, they called Evita names like chocolate chip cookie, which is incredibly rude and hurtful. To get back at her bullies, she exacted the ultimate revenge.
She auditioned for Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 to challenge people’s limited and skewed perceptions of beauty. Now, Evita has learned not to heed the negativity. She promotes self-love and confidence on Instagram to her 101k followers.
People who have risen above being bullied deserve an award. As experienced by almost every person on this list, Shaun Ross was taunted for his albinism. The joke’s on those bullies because Ross is now taking the world by storm as he models, acts, and sings.
In 2013, Ross even found himself in Beyonce’s music video for Pretty Hurts, and in 2017 starred in Lana Del Rey’s short film Tropico. In addition to all these successes in the entertainment industry, Ross was also the face of Ford, under the slogan “Be Unique.” He continues to raise awareness for people with albinism through his work.
She’s a Tibetan model and a music artist who writes in her spare time. Tsunaina is giving us another look at what a beautiful girl can be–someone who enjoys and goes after their passions. Her career as a model began when she was scouted on the street.
Tsunaina’s facial features are what landed her a spot on the runway at London Fashion Week. Fashion photographers also love her for her clear skin with scattered beauty spots around her face. Tsunaina wishes for the industry to be more diverse and inclusive.
Former Olympic swimmer Casey Legler lived a dangerous and reckless life before switching gears and walking runways. Her entanglement with drugs and alcohol caused her to lose the Olympic finals for women’s 50m freestyle. But that didn’t stop her from living a better life.
Legler recovered, sobered up, and went on to become the first woman to be signed by a male modeling agency. Her maintenance of an androgynous appearance has allowed her to make waves in the fashion industry. Despite a huge setback, she came out strong and is now wearing multiple hats, including author and visual artist.
This gorgeous little girl faced hardships even as a child, with doctors telling her family that there is a possibility she could turn out blind. However, Ava proved a medical marvel, even continuing to read well above her kindergarten grade.
Aside from this, Ava is a child model. An African-American with albinism, she is valuable in the industry for her striking blue eyes and white afro. She has starred in the music video for Beyonce’s Lemonade and even walked the Red Carpet with the queen at the VMAs.
Molly Bair’s standout feature is her ears, which may be considered elvish by some out there. But there is power in knowing what you’re worth, and Bair knows exactly what that is, and that her ears are the stuff of high fashion.
Bair has landed on the covers of Vogue Me China and Heroine. She has also walked several high-end runways, featured in several editorials, and participated in a campaign for MAC Cosmetics. No matter what the haters say about her, they go in one ear and out the other, as they should.
Debbie van der Putten
At 19 years old, on vacation in France, Debbie van der Putten’s life changed forever. She lost her right arm, from her elbow up, in a bus accident. This took a negative toll on her self-esteem as she felt she was no longer beautiful. That is until she looked up “disability.”
Debbie saw that none of the definitions truly summed her up, and she decided to define herself in a different way. She began a career in modeling and is making waves all over the place. Debbie also runs a blog in which she shares her experiences as a disabled model.
When Vogue calls you one of their best discoveries, you know you’ve made it. Ellia Sophia is a fashion model whose doe eyes have landed her gigs with big names such as Gucci and W Magazine. She poses for ads and walks runways as well.
Ellia’s eyes may not be considered the standard beauty, but that doesn’t stop her from killing it as a top model. Instead, she uses her uniqueness to her advantage, and that’s where true strength comes from.
Aimee Lou Wood
You may recognize this star from the highly popular Netflix series Sex Education. Aimee Lou Wood plays Aimee Gibbs, whose character arc in season 2 includes a traumatizing sexual assault experience. But life wasn’t always so glamorous for the British actress.
Aimee’s overbite was the subject of ridicule when she was younger, and some even told her it was the sole reason why she wouldn’t be able to succeed as an actress. Defying all odds, Aimee is now a big-time star, with Sex Education in production for their third season.
Actress, athlete, and public speaker Aimme Mullins was born with a medical condition that required her to have both her legs amputated. This didn’t stop her but instead pushed her forward in competing in long jumps and sprinting.
Mullins encourages others by giving public talks. She has done several inspiring TED Talks, helping others redefine the word “disability.” Mullins pushes others to change their mindset about their shortcomings and see the opportunities that exist in adversity.
Harnaam Kaur shows us all how to rock Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It affects many women worldwide and can cause excessive hair growth all over the body, including facial hair. Instead of constantly shaving, Kaur wears her facial hair with pride.
Kaur began developing facial hair when she was 16. Now, it is her statement piece. She advocated for body positivity and turned it into a career, modeling for a variety of causes and becoming a motivational speaker and life coach.
This Dutch model first gained popularity from winning Face Of Limburg. She then began to appear at more fashion events and fairs, boasting her striking blue and brown eyes. Danielle is another model who chooses to use her heterochromia to her advantage.
Before pursuing modeling, Kroon earned herself a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine. However, she found modeling more fulfilling, so she has decided to focus on the impact she can make in the industry. Proving once again that stereotypical notions have no place in the world we live in.
This is how we see that beauty thrives on differences. Even albinism doesn’t look the same on everyone. Meet Nastya Zhidkova, a Ukrainian model. Her ghostly features earned her teases and taunts from her childhood friends, but look who’s laughing now.
The looks that people once ridiculed are now praised by many. She is a model signed to Face Model International and is slowly making her way to the top of the modeling world. Another reason why you shouldn’t heed haters.
At 5ft 10, Ia Ostergren is the ideal height for a fashion model, and she’s all legs. Her legs for days measure 3ft 4 inches, meaning they take up more than half of her body. Her long legs help her fiercely strut down the many runways she’s been on.
People are quick to find any flaw to criticize, and it shows in the way this beauty was bullied when she was younger. Many of her peers deemed her proportions “weird.” Clearly, that’s not what the fashion industry thinks.
No, those eyes aren’t Photoshopped, unlike what some hating Internet trolls claim. These are naturally the size of Maria Oz’s eyes. Her photography journey began in 2016, and soon she became known for well, you guessed it, her eyes.
Oz has over 133k followers on Instagram at the time of writing this piece. She is now a visual artist who posts a lot of her cool art on her profile, all of which showcase her modeling and showing off her rare and rather incredible features.
At just four years old, Mehlani Dickerson is the youngest person on this list. Her big beautiful eyes have garnered her great attention from the Internet as well as people on the street. But sadly, her eyes are a result of a rare genetic disorder called Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome.
The syndrome means that Mehlani’s irises are undeveloped, and her eyes are basically made up of all pupil. This makes her very sensitive to light. The little girl also has glaucoma, which can eventually cause blindness. Regardless of this, we have full faith that Mehlani will grow to be a strong young woman.
Standing tall at 6ft 8 inches, Erika Ervin, AKA Amazon Eve, is what some people may call a skyscraper. Height is not a disadvantage to Ervin, though. She is a fitness trainer, actress, and model, and she rocks all those different roles in her stride.
Unfortunately, typecasting is common in the industry. She kept getting offers to play monsters or aliens because of her height, so Ervin ditched film to earn herself a degree in law and exercise physiology. Beauty is realizing your many potentials.
Nicole Kelly does it all, and she does it all with one arm. After winning the Miss Iowa pageant in 2013, she became a public figure and went on to compete in Miss America the following year. She was one of the few contestants with a disability ever to do so.
Nicole actually shows us that she can do anything; anyone with two arms, can. She dives, dances, and even plays baseball. She uses her platform to raise awareness surrounding disabilities and encourages young people to work hard and be passionate.
This gorgeous model rose to fame because of her #EFFYOURBEAUTYSTANDARDS campaign, which she started on Instagram in 2015. Soon, women worldwide were joining in, posting photos of themselves, and using the same hashtag. The movement encouraged everyone everywhere to rethink their standards of beauty.
The Los Angeles-based model is signed with MiLK Modelling Agency. Holliday has shot campaigns with big brands such as Benefit Cosmetics and was even named one of the world’s top plus-size models by Vogue Italia. She continues to use her platform to inspire us all that beauty is what you define it to be.
Ketellen de Jesus
Brazilian Ketellen de Jesus made waves when she was just 11 years old by appearing on national television and telling her story. She was born with Waardenburg Syndrome, which is responsible for her piercing blue eyes, different from the rest of her family’s, among other things.
The syndrome has also made her deaf, but that isn’t stopping Kettelen. She was scouted in the city by a photographer and has now been in front of the camera countless times. She even has a photo book out, and many brands in the fashion and beauty industry have reached out to invest in her.
Ilka Brühl was born with a facial cleft and nasal passages that weren’t fully formed. She also lacked tear ducts in her right eye, which meant she was constantly tearing up. Even then, she exudes beauty through her modeling as well as inspiring others with her story.
Corrective surgery only resulted in complications. Ilka decided to embrace the way she looks, and she actively continues to empower others to believe in themselves. Ilka has also gotten into modeling and received positive feedback, which encouraged her to keep doing it.
Rebekah Marine’s blossoming modeling career is a slap in the faces of those casting directors who turned her away for her disability at age 13. Born without her right forearm, Rebekah always dreamed of modeling but was discouraged from it because of her “imperfection”.
Her life took a turn at 22 years old when she decided to get a bionic arm. It returned her confidence, and Rebekah caught the eyes of the brand FLT Moda. She was asked to walk in their show at New York Fashion Week, making her modeling dreams come true.
Lizzie Velasquez’s famous TED Talks have been played in countless homes over the last few years. She is a motivational speaker, author, and YouTuber who especially encourages those being bullied, although anyone who hears her cant help but be moved by her message.
Velasquez was born with a congenital disease called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, which is extremely rare. She was bullied as a child for the way this disease makes her look. However, instead of letting the haters get her down, she became motivated to encourage others to believe in themselves.