When we get to see diverse beauty portrayed in major media outlets, from different races to sizes to gender identities, it's a win for all of us. However, people who were born with visible disabilities, disorders, or syndromes still tend to be underrepresented. So it's incredibly heartening to see V Magazine's new shoot with stunning model Caitin Stickels, who was born with Schmid-Fraccaro, otherwise known as Cat Eye Syndrome.
Modeling some edgy spring fashion, the Seattle-based 29-year-old looked striking and confident in the images. And there was no effort to cover up the features resulting from her disorder. Among Cat Eye Syndrome's other symptoms and signs throughout the body, it can cause cleft lip and iris coloboma, which can give the eye a cat-like appearance, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. In the editorial, these were embraced as part of her uniqueness as a model, and portrayed in powerful and beautiful ways.
Spearheaded by photographer Nick Knight, he discovered Stickels on Instagram, of all places. While the industry has some mixed feelings about the rise of the "Instagirl," using the social media platform as a tool for discovery opens up the fashion world to portray exceptional beauty that strays from conventional standards. And in this shoot, we're treated to some pretty stunning results.
"I always admired brilliant artists with miraculously creative minds, especially in the fashion industry where being human isn't often expected to be accepted or displayed in an artistic way," Stickels wrote in an essay that goes along with the amazing images.
"I don't want to say that this was MY dream come true, because I think working with Nick Knight is anyone's dream that I never dared to actually have myself," she added.
Knight also chimed in on how gorgeous Stickels looks in the photos. "The absolutely stunning @caitinkitten from the story I am releasing tomorrow in @vmagazine and on @showstudio," he wrote on Instagram.
You can check out all of the photos from the groundbreaking shoot in V Magazine or on their website (along with Stickels' full article).