When she was just 10 years old, doctors told Sara Geurts that she had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a tissue disorder that slows down collagen production. Only about 1 in 5,000 people have EDS, and there is no cure.
Collagen is more than a trendy beauty buzzword; it's actually one of the most important proteins in your body . It helps skin stay firm and protects it from hyperextensibility — in other words, our skin sags without it. So when Guerts was 10 years old, her prognosis almost put an end to her dreams of becoming a model.
"[It] used to be my biggest insecurity," she admitted in a new video from British media company Barcroft TV. "In high school I tried to cover it up. I didn't want to talk about it . . . I was living a lie."
It wasn't until her early 20s that Geurts's body image completely changed for the better. The woman who once dreaded wearing tank tops started to notice the unique patterns that her body made, calling them "art." Now, her only regret is that she used to think of herself as an "ugly thing."
Today, Guerts is a model and face of the Love Your Lines campaign, which "praises women's imperfections." The idea was born out of a Tumblr story she wrote in 2015, which earned over 20,000 "likes."
Guerts spoke with POPSUGAR about the reactions. "[My story] wasn't only about me," she said. "[It] was about the millions of other individuals out there struggling with their own mindsets and body image."
Guerts, who counts Winnie Harlowe, Shaun D. Ross, and Melanie Gaydos as inspirations, suddenly became the face of the disorder she once tried so hard to hide.
Hiding isn't part of Guerts's MO anymore, but like most of us she still has to hide a few pimples every now and then. "I actually have very oily and acne-prone skin," she said. As a solution, Geurts tends to gravitate towards a full-coverage look.
Her beauty bag usually includes Tarte's Amazonian Clay (£35). "I absolutely love the way it sets," she gushed. To add more coverage, she reaches for Timeless Smoothing Primer (£26) and Shape-Tape Concealer (£28).
If she could go back in time and comfort her 10-year-old self, Geurts would tell her that "the vision of a lifetime is waiting for her, and to never ever doubt her dreams, no matter what life throws at her." And lately, life's been throwing Guerts a lot of good stuff: an upcoming cover of Volition Magazine, a press tour to London, a move to LA, and a supportive Instagram fan base that includes none other than Tyra Beauty (headed by Tyra Banks). The longtime America's Next Model fan is especially proud of that last part, noting, "I used to think about trying out!"