Model Sarah Geurts suffers from an extremely rare condition that makes her look decades older than she is.
The 26-year-old from Minnesota was diagnosed with genetic disorder Dermatosparaxis Ehlers-Dalos syndrome when she was just 10-years-old.
Ehlers-Danos syndrome affects just 1 in every 5,000 people worldwide, but only a dozen have been diagnosed with Sarah’s condition Dermatosparaxis Ehlers-Dalos.
As well as causing Sarah’s skin to become soft, fragile and saggy, the condition also means that her joints and muscles are extremely week and can cause her terrible pain.
She explains, ‘Ehlers-Dalos is a connective tissue disorder. It is a defect in our collagen make-up. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, it is in our skin, it causes it to stretch and come back to its individual form without any damage.’
Although she started to notice symptoms from the age of 7, it wasn’t until Sarah started high school that her condition became more apparent.
Terrified of being bullied, she went out of her way to keep her body covered.
She says, ‘in high school I always tried to cover it up. I didn’t want people to ask me questions about it, I didn’t want to talk about it.’
‘I’d say my biggest insecurity would have been my skin.’
Thankfully, in her early twenties, Sarah started to change the way in which she saw her body.
She explains, ‘as I got older it started to show more and more. I wasn’t living back then. I was basically living a lie because I wasn’t being truly who I was.’
‘It wasn’t about until the age of 22 or 23 that I started to look at myself and my body in a completely different way. Just the uniqueness and the rarity the lines form and patterns that form from what is there, it’s amazing.’
‘I‘m so sad that I looked at it as just this ugly thing at some point in time.’
Proud of her beautiful, sagging skin, in 2015 Sarah made the decision to submit a photo of herself to Love Your Lines, a tumblr page that encourages women to embrace their imperfections.
Sarah explains, ‘The Love Your Lines campaign was the first campaign that I had. It was a campaign that praises women’s imperfections from scars to stretch marks.’
‘They had published my story which has received over 25,000 likes and so that really right there was a pivotal moment for me because it clicked – I could do something with this.’
Now, having fully embraced her unique look, Sarah wants to help break down the traditional standards of beauty and help all women feel comfortable in their own skin.
She says, ‘my main aspirations for modelling would be to break society’s standards and the mentality they have for perfection. To really show that it is your imperfections and your uniqueness that is the true beauty – that’s what needs to be celebrated.’
‘Personally, I hope that by getting out there with modelling I am almost able to be the face of Ehlers-Danlos and raise awareness as it is one of the most undiagnosed disorders out there.’
‘I would say to anyone living with Ehlers-Danlos out there who was struggling that the support groups out there are amazing and you can always reach out to me no matter what.’
‘You are beautiful and you can achieve whatever you want and whatever your dream is no matter what.’
Keep up the amazing work!
Watch the video above to see Sarah in action on a photo shoot!