23-year-old Sarah McDaniel has a lot of things going for herâ€”sheâ€™s a model, actress, filmmaker, social media influencer and female entrepreneur. But sheâ€™s got one unique feature thatâ€™s always threatened to define her: her two-different-colored eyes. One is a warm, chocolate brown; and the other is a brilliant blue-green. And her gorgeous eyes definitely stand out.
We sat down with McDaniel to understand how this unique feature has affected her life and her careerâ€”and she had plenty to say.
StyleCaster: When did you first realize your eyes were different from everyone elseâ€™s?
Sarah McDaniel: Probably elementary school. People started asking me if they were contacts or if they were fakeâ€”and it didnâ€™t make me feel good at first. I felt like I had to explain myself a lot. I wanted to just be normal and not answer those kinds of questions every day.
Were you ever bullied because of your eyes?
I get asked this question a lot, and I think it was more so a lot of other things going on with my body. I was kind of overweight, my teeth were not so straight, and I was really, really socially awkwardâ€¦ Iâ€™d moved every year since I was 8. I didnâ€™t understand the whole social realm of things, so I kind of kept to myself. I also wore the same whale T-shirt every day that I thought was really cool, so people had their pick of things to make fun of me for.
When did you start to embrace your different-colored eyes?
Once I started to model, thatâ€™s when I realized it wasnâ€™t something I should hide. Though there were a lot of times [when I was told otherwise.] My agent [at the time] and different companies that I worked with sometimes said they wanted to put a contact in, so I had two of the same eyes because they thought the two different colors would take away from whatever their design was. I think social media was ultimately the thing that pushed me into embracing it. There are a lot of people on Instagram now embracing their different bodies. Itâ€™s really beautiful.
Did it ever bother you that they wanted to make your eyes look the same?
My agency decided I would be more widely accepted if I was â€śnormal,â€ť like everybody else. There actually was a point where I brought my dad to a meeting with me, just to stand up for me. When youâ€™re 16 and being told all these things about your body and how you should change it or make it better, you donâ€™t really know how to respond to it. You want to listen to these people because theyâ€™re trying to get you jobs, but when youâ€™re at that age and trying to do your best, you donâ€™t really know how to navigate all those criticisms.
Was there ever a time when you wouldâ€™ve traded your different-colored eyes for two of the same?
Absolutely. My mom has really beautiful green eyes, and Iâ€™ve always wanted green eyes. I think thatâ€™s the most rare, interesting color. Ever since I was around 17, I really wanted forest-green eyes.
Tell us a little bit about how you turned this into a platform for acceptance.
When I first started writing articles is really when it all came to light. I didnâ€™t realize that my articles were touching people on a more subconscious level. I think that all my struggles bleed into it. Now I get all kinds of DMs and messages where people say, â€śOh, you helped me through a really tough time,â€ť but I never set out to directly say, like, â€śHey, guys, weâ€™re gonna get through this!â€ť I think thatâ€™s actually cooler, translating this art into something like that.
Who or what do you rely on when youâ€™re feeling insecure?
Looks-wiseâ€¦ every time I would leave a shoot or do a project with a lot of other beautiful women, everyone was always comparing themselves on set. I would always leave with a pit in my stomach over these things that didnâ€™t matter. So cutting out things that I was doing that really had no meaning was a huge boost for my confidence.
Since she started focusing less on her modeling, McDaniel has been working on projects that she says are more â€śstimulatingâ€ť for her. Some of these projects include acting in films and developing a CBD-oil-infused skin-care line, which sheâ€™s really proud of. â€śI developed an acne cream back when my skin was really badâ€¦ nothing was really working to fix it. I was kind of losing hope, and it was affecting my modeling and acting,â€ť she says .â€ťI started learning about all the anti-inflammatory and antifungal benefits of cannabisâ€¦ I purchased some CBD full-spectrum, and suddenly, the acne that I couldnâ€™t get rid of for, like, five years, was completely gone in two weeks.â€ť Thatâ€™s what inspired her skin-care range, which focuses mainly on anti-acne and anti-aging products. Itâ€™s set to launch in October.