By Rebecca Cooley
A deaf and bald teenager has become a model despite being horrendously bullied.
Hannah Harpin, 18, from Mirfield, West Yorks, has a rare condition that affects only 30 people in the world.
She was born with Haywell Syndrome which affects the development of the skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes.
Hannah, who has now signed with a UK modelling agency, said “It means the world to me to start off on my modelling career, getting to connect with lots of people and help people who are just like me.”
Her condition, also known as ectodermal dysplasia, drew the attention of many cruel bullies throughout her whole life, especially at school.
Hannah, who is the only person in her family with the genetic condition, said: “I have been bullied most of my life, from being sworn at in the street to strangers assuming I have cancer due to my baldness.
“I’ve even been spat on by a boy and his friends filmed it.
“I have had really bad suicidal thoughts for years because of incidents like that.
“But I feel empowered now as I’m hoping to break down the stigma for disabled models.”
Despite the challenges she faces, Hannah has always dreamed of becoming a supermodel and breaking the stereotypes of the industry.
She said: “When I was young I wanted to be a model but people said I would never make it.
“I want to be a model so I can help the fight against ableism and other forms of discrimination because I believe that everybody should have equal rights and be on the same level.
“If we all teamed with each other I believe we could lower the rates of discrimination and my whole modelling career is going to be working towards this.”
Although she expects to be met with barriers Hannah hopes to travel the world as a model one day and walk in a Burberry fashion runway.
She said: “It would mean so much to me to achieve this and I’ve made a promise to myself that I will help people and make a legacy for myself.”
One thing that has boosted Hannah’s confidence in modelling and that she hopes to pursue in her career is wearing wigs, although she also embraces her naturally bald look.
She said: “I love my wigs, the long ones especially, and reviewing wigs for people with medical hair loss.
“I just wish that human hair wigs would cost less for people with medical hair loss.
“I remember crying because I didn’t have any hair as a child and I was jealous of other children but now I embrace the fact that I’m bald, it’s really empowering.”
Hannah has already helped other women with medical hair loss by donating wigs to people who can’t afford them and she plans to open her own charity to continue this in the future.
Hoping to inspire others to overcome hardship, Hannah said: “It’s okay to be who you are, hate makes the heart older and being kind makes the heart grow fonder.
“If you see any type of discrimination set that person aside and educate them instead of growing more hate.
“Spread love not hate and love yourself.”