09/03/2014 12:48 EDT | Updated 09/03/2014 12:59 EDT

Model Melanie Gaydos Suffers From Ectodermal Dysplasia And Kicks Butt

Just because she suffers from a genetic disorder, doesn't mean that model Melanie Gaydos can't work it.

In a new interview that's part of a video series called "The What's Underneath Project," which asks subjects to take off their clothes to "honor how style is not the clothes you wear," Melanie gamely strips down to her underwear and talks candidly about what it's like to live with ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic disorder that affects the pores, hair, teeth and nails.

Even though she doesn't look like a typical model, Melanie doesn't let her disease stop her from pursuing her dream to be the next Kate Moss.

Speaking in her first ever video interview, Melanie reveals that she underwent 30-40 surgeries as a young woman and struggled with suicidal thoughts.

"Growing up, I never thought I’d be alive past the age of 18," she says in the video. "I never thought I would kill myself; I just kind of thought that it would happen by accident. [But] as I got older, I did think I would kill myself."

Three years ago, Gaydos started to dabble in the world of modeling and has since starred in a music video for Rammstein as well as other photo shoots and is hoping to make it in the high fashion world.

But finding work in modeling has had its challenges for the petite Connecticut-born model. “When I go on a photo shoot and there are other industry models there, they normally don’t know what to make of me,” she says in the video. “It’s difficult for me in the fashion world, because people think of me kind of as a gimmick.

"I’d rather experience life as it is right now," she says. "I love modeling; it’s a time for me to be completely open. It’s a therapeutic process for me."

Naturally, Melanie has a kick-butt attitude about beauty: "For me, beauty is more a feeling and a state of being."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Watch her entire interview in the video up top.