Sara Geurts on beauty, inspiration

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Sara Geurts on beauty, inspiration


Sara Geurts, a model who challenges attitudes about beauty, poses in sportswear. [SARA GEURTS]

One in 5,000 people are diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder that often leaves those diagnosed with joints and skin that can stretch more than normal.

The Korean-American model Sara Geurts is one of them.

The JoongAng Ilbo corresponded with Geurts via email to ask how the 26-year-old decided to take up modeling. The following is an excerpt of the interview.

Q. How did you feel when you first found out that you have EDS?

First, Ehlers-Danlos is not just a skin disorder, it is a multisystem disorder and affects all of our bodily symptoms. Being that the disorder is mainly a collagen deficiency, this affects the inner walls of our systems, organs and tissues, which in turn affects everything in our bodies.

Being diagnosed at such a young age [10], I really didn’t grasp the full reality of having a disorder. As I got older and my symptoms started to show more and more, I chose to just hide them away and cover them up. It was through my own research online and in books that I found out the rarity of my type specifically.

How did you decide to become a model?

My motivation came after the LoveYourLines campaign, which was the very first social media platform I had submitted my story to. My official story for the LoveYourLines campaign was released in September 2015, and that’s when my whole mindset changed and I decided to pursue modeling with my disorder. My parents were supportive, but also hesitant, as they knew it could really go either way. I just wanted to make them proud.

Do you have any difficulties working as a model?

I think understanding my body and its limits is key for me. Though modeling may not be the most strenuous work, it still pushes my body, skin and joints. By posing too long my joints may start to hurt and slip and wearing too tight clothing for long periods of time could cause my skin to tear. Modeling is not necessarily the easiest job for my body, but I love it, and again, knowing my limits is key.

I would tell anyone living with Ehlers-Danlos to follow your dreams, even when you do feel helpless. You are beautiful and you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Can you tell us a little about your and your family background?

I am actually only half Korean - my mom was adopted to the United States at a very young age and my father is white/European. I graduated from Armstrong High School in 2009 and only did a half a year of college at Minneapolis Community Technical College because I moved out at age 18. I have never attended a modeling school.

I have two younger half-sisters: one is 16 and will be a junior at Armstrong High School and my other sister is 20 and currently in the dental program at the University of Minnesota.

What does Korea mean to you?

I have never been to Korea, but I would love to go at some point, to educate myself and learn more about my roots. International travel is my favorite and Korea is definitely on the list. I hope to be doing more traveling and collaborations, so be on the lookout!

I don’t know that much about K-pop music but CL is the most amazing artist, I love her style and rhythm. I also am obsessed with K-pop skin care, and all of their products.

Who inspires you?

My inspirations for modeling currently would be Melanie Gaydos, Shaun D. Ross and Winnie Harlow. All of these individuals are visionaries, walking the line of individuality and owning the fashion world with their beautiful disorders.

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