What Is Cat Eye Syndrome? Caitlin Stickels, Model With Rare Genetic Disorder, Stuns In Magazine Photoshoot

Models come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. V Magazine's latest photoshoot celebrates this diversity by showcasing an underrepresented group — those with disabilities or genetic disorders. In a stunning photoshoot, photographer Nick Knight captures the beauty of one model's facial disfigurements due to a rare genetic disorder. Caitlin Stickels, 29, a Seattle-based model, singer, and actress with Schmid–Fraccaro syndrome, more commonly known as "cat eye syndrome," has joined Knight to defy mainstream beauty while living out her dream.

“I never dreamed of being a model or being a part of the fashion industry. I always admired from afar and meanwhile tried to recreate my own expressions through fashion, photography, and art,” wrote Stickels, in a profile for V Magazine, after her first time modelling professionally.

 

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The model, who was born with the chromosomal disorder, exhibits a "cat-like" appearance in her eyes because there's a hole in the iris, or no pigment. Patients may have additional eye abnormalities, such as downwardly slanting eyelid folds (palpebral fissures); vertical skin folds that can cover the inner corners of the eyes (epicanthal folds); widely spaced eyes (ocular hypertelorism); crossing of the eyes (strabismus); and/or abnormal smallness of one of the eyes (unilateral microphthalmia), according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Cat eye syndrome can also affect other parts of the body, including the ears, heart, and kidneys.

Individuals are born with these body disfigurements because of an abnormality with their 22nd chromosome. Typically, people with a normal chromosomal make-up have two 22nd chromosomes, which possess a short arm, known as 22p, and a long arm, referred to as 22q. Individuals with cat eye syndrome have their short arm and a small region of the long arm of chromosome 22 present three or four times, rather than just twice. Doctors are not sure why it doesn't form correctly.

Stickels has raised awareness for the rare condition by writing about her experience openly and honestly for the magazine. The 29-year-old admits she never allowed herself to have the opportunity to do something this large-scale.

“I just never gave myself the chance. All the while, Nick Knight saw what I have been doing on my own accord and he gave me the chance that I never gave myself, as did V," Stickels wrote.

 

The model also acknowledged the magazine's dedication to exhibit the diversity that exists in the fashion industry, but can often go unseen.

“This is why I loved them both from the beginning when I was young and still do now — they opened eyes, they opened minds, and they gave this world a chance,” Stickels continued.

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The shoot features Stickels modelling looks from Prada, Dior, Coach, and other high-end brands. Her sophisticated poses highlight the beauty of her body disfigurements, and redefine the industry's conventional standards of what's beautiful. Stickels considers her collaboration with Knight and V Magazine as “the most beautiful whirlwind of my life.”

Stickels has shared some of her stunning photos from her shoot on her Instagram. See some of the most captivating images down below.

 

 

 

See Also:

Selena Gomez Reveals Rare Disease

Social Media Can Connect Those Suffering From Rare Genetic Disorders To Researchers Willing To Help

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