When five-year-old Sydney Caraher’s long, blonde hair started to fall out because of the condition alopecia, triggered by stress, she thought she was turning into a boy.
Heartbreakingly, the confused tot was devastated when she looked in the mirror and rapidly lost confidence.
But now the bubbly little girl, whose condition first began after a hospital visit to remove part of a pen which got stuck up her nose, has been crowned winner of a Model Tots competition, securing a contract with leading agency Frame, which also casts children in film and television roles.
Her mother Sarah Caraher, 29, from Upton, Merseyside, said: “We’re just so immensely proud of her and how she has coped with everything.
“Winning this competition is great as it goes against the stereotypes of what is seen as ‘normal’ and proves that you can still be pretty if you look a bit different.”
And thankfully, slowly but surely, it seems that’s a concept which is beginning to be embraced in the adult modelling world too.
When it comes to inspirational models who have faced their fair share of bullying taunts and jibes in the past, these fashion lovelies have proved true role models as well as models in the beauty world…
Born Chantelle Brown-Young, this Canadian model has revealed she was called a ‘cow’ throughout her childhood because of her vitiligo, a chronic skin disease where portions of the skin lose pigment.
But now she’s having the last laugh, as her striking skin marks her out as a unique model.
She came sixth in the 21st series of America’s Next Top Model and has modelled for Diesel among other brands.
He has walked for names like Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, and in 2013, he starred in Lana Del Rey’s Tropico as Adam to her Eve and then appeared in Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” video.
But model Shaun Ross doesn’t look like your stereotypical hunk. That’s because he is albino – but far from let his white skin and hair hold him back, he’s used it to forge a career and celebrates standing out from the crowd.
He admits: “When I was approached to do modeling, I never thought that I could have been a model because in my eyes, the way society painted it for me, is that I’m completely wrong, I’m not acceptable, and I’m not beautiful.” Not so now…
The plus-size model has broken down boundaries by signing with huge agency IMG Models, not in the plus-size category, but in the ‘regular’ category alongside the likes of Karlie Kloss and Gisele Bundchen.
The Nebraska-born model has even modelled lingerie for Vogue.
“I am a model, and I don’t need my job title to explain the dimensions of my body,” she said.
Transgender model Pejic is successful because of her adrogenous look.
The Australian has walked for both men’s runway shows for Thom Brown, Rick Owens and Jean Paul Gaultier as well as women’s shows for Jeremy Scott, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture and DKNY.
Talk about having the best from both worlds…
Minsky is a former Marine who lost his leg in an explosion while deployed in Afghanistan – but his amputation has helped him forge a modelling career.
The Californian has been featured in GQ and is also the brand ambassador for athletic brand LiveFit.
Mentally, he was so affected by his injuries he sunk into alcoholism and depression, but on recovery hit the gym and was discovered by a photographer there.
Mercado has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, but that has not proved a bar to the modelling world.
The New Yorker has modelled for Diesel and Nordstrom and says: “I know some people look at me and say “Oh wow, I can’t believe you’re doing this” and in my head I think, “Why don’t you believe me?” I went to college, I did what everyone else did to follow their dreams.”
Brewer became the first person with Down’s Syndrome to walk down a catwalk at New York Fashion week last year.
The 30-year-old American said: ‘Young girls and even young women… [see me] and say: “Hey, if she can do it so can I. It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are and showing who they are.”
But the model’s true love is acting, and Brewer is best known for playing Addie in American Horror Story: Murder House, Nan in American Horror Story: Coven and Marjorie in American Horror Story: Freak Show.