Model Maya Spencer-Berkeley isn’t your quintessential cover girl. She has a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), which covers her body with painful sores. But that hasn’t stopped the London-based beauty from pursuing a career in fashion — even with the legions of industry folk who’ve tried to stand in her way.
In an emotionally charged piece for Bricks magazine, Spencer-Berkeley details her childhood growing up with the painful condition.
“Being able to play outside freely is something most children and parents take for granted, but I had to wear padding all over my arms and legs to be able to do the same ‘normal’ things as everyone else did,” she wrote.
As she grew older, her condition began to affect more than just her exterior.
“I was so ashamed of my skin during my teens I did everything in my power to hide it. I think the hardest thing for me was that no one understood or had any knowledge about my illness,” she said.
Despite dwindling self-confidence, Spencer-Berkeley blossomed into a stunning teen. She was scouted by a talent agency at just 14 years old, but the excitement that followed soon turned to disappointment.
“I was excited, but after speaking with one company who wanted me to model for them, I soon realized that my skin was going to be an issue. I came to believe that I would not be able to model,” she told Mr. Bravo UK.
“I think in the past, most agencies were reluctant to give opportunities to those of us who don’t fit into the typical model category. However, I think the industry is changing and people are coming to realize that the stereotypical model we see plastered on billboards and in magazines are not realistic standards for normal people.”
A move toward beauty diversity in the fashion industry is opening doors like never before. Today, Spencer-Berkeley has more than 14,000 followers on Instagram and has modeled for some of London’s most prestigious brands.
With newfound exposure, Spencer-Berkeley hopes to educate others about EB and normalize different skin types.
“It would be a dream come true to inspire even just one person to accept themselves,” she said. “The main reason I’m pursuing my modeling career at the moment is because I know when I was growing up if I’d seen someone doing what I’m trying to do now, It would have made me feel a lot less alone and it probably would have made me learn to accept myself a lot sooner.”
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