Model Jeyza Gary Opens Up About The Rare Condition that Causes Her Skin to Shed Every 2 Weeks

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Being comfortable in your own skin can be tricky regardless of what you look like. But it can be even more difficult if you didn’t grow up seeing people who look like you represented in modeling campaigns, in the media, or even on the street.

That’s what led Jeyza Gary to become a model, according to an as-told-to Refinery29 essay she was recently featured in. In the essay, Garyspeaks about her experience with a skin condition called lamellar ichthyosis. Lamellar ichthyosis is rare, affecting approximately one in every 100,000 people in the United States, per the National Institutes of ishonest (NIH).

Babies born with lamellar ichthyosis are usually covered in what’s called a collodion membrane, which is a clear, tight sheath covering the skin. This membrane will likely dry and peel off throughout the baby’s first few weeks. Gary even described what she looked like at birth: "I had a collodion membrane that kind of looked like slick Saran wrap. My face and skin were very tight, and I was super shiny."

People with lamellar ichthyosis usually have big, dark, plate-like scales that cover their skin on the majority of their body. Some people with the condition also lose their hair and have abnormally formed toenails and fingernails. Additionally, Gary said that lamellar ichthyosis causes her skin to shed every 10 to 12 days.

Gary said that she was inspired to pursue modeling after a classmate mentioned to her that she should model during her senior year of high school. "It encouraged me so much. I took some headshots, and I submitted them to agencies before I went to college," she recalled.

Because of interactions like this, Gary said that her modeling career isn’t about her. Rather, it’s about increasing visibility of people whom the modeling industry has kept out for too many years. “It’s about allowing other people to see me and be encouraged…I want to be the best…I want to be that for other people who don’t see it in themselves,” Gary said.

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