By Sarah Francis
A teen bullied for a rare condition that left her hidden away has stepped into the spotlight by modelling with her prosthetic.
Zainab Mohammed, 17, was born with Proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) which meant her left foot is much smaller than her right and only comes up to her knee.
The student from London hid her condition with long outfits and it wasn’t until she took part in a self-love campaign that she finally showed off her prosthetic.
Zainab said: “I was scared I see the photos.
“Like fully frightened cause I’ve never really taken photos with my prosthetic leg showing in order not to get negative comments so that was new for me.
“I never thought I would be a model in a million years.
“For some reason I always thought I didn’t deserve such attention or greatness.
“It help me see how much people like me were hiding and it made me sad that if I didn’t say something or did something.
“I wouldn’t have ever known anyone else with pffd or anyone else facing a difficult time.”
Zainab was born with the condition and suffers from constant severe pain which she takes daily pain killers for.
She said: “PFFD affected me growing up in so many ways; I didn’t know what the disability was, I could finger point why I was so different.
“I got my first prosthetic when I was 10 months old.
“Some people treated me like I was worth nothing and others treated me like Gold.
“I got laughed at every single day because I used a prosthetic leg and also because I walked with a limp that looked quite abnormal.
“Those people made me hate myself, they made me not want to go to school.
“I made enemies in school before finding the good ones.
“I got discriminated, oh so many times, not even by people my age; people older aswell who were ignorant and failed to see that they should be setting an example to those who were my age.
“I’d find the longest outfit you can find in your wardrobe and cover up your mistake.
“That’s what everyday felt like. I felt like I needed to hide behind an able person, that I don’t deserve the light.”
However, when she was contacted by a Auroras Angels they hooked her up with a self-love campaign ‘nu-nude.’
She said: “Now PFFD only affects me in one way- which is the pain. The pain is horrible, I don’t think I have ever woken up pain free and If I have ever, I didn’t notice it.
“I’m so trapped in this pain that relief is so hard to feel. But I am trying and I will one day feel that relief and self love, I and every other person living with a disability deserves.
She said: “It was amazing to see other people have their insecurities laid out naked in just one building. That bravery every single one of those women laid out naked for everyone to see, inspired me to strip mine down as well and embrace and love it because I knew I was in a safe place. I have never felt so able before In my life until I came across all those powerful women.”
Although she has come far since those early days, Zainab admitted she was still learning to love her differences.
She added: “I still haven’t embraced my disability completely. Instead, I’m taking it day by day and learning to love my self every second because It can’t happen overnight and I can’t let fear win, or else my first enemies I made at school win.
“I am teaching myself to embrace, love and put myself first and my friends, family and love of my life are the ones guiding me everyday; especially my older sister, Mariam.”
Nu Nude Co-founder Vabyanti Endrojono, said: “The campaign is about loving yourself regardless of the societal standards that are imposed on individuals.
“The campaign is about celebrating beauty from a range of people, not one that is dictated by the media.
“We are in an age where body augmentation and surgery is the norm. We want people to feel confident in the skin they are in without having to change because society pressures them to.
“We chose Zainab because she was unique, and an atypical representation of what a model is ‘supposed’ to look like.
“The media’s portrayal of beauty is unrealistic and only represents a small part of the population.
“Zainab is the birth of a new paradigm of beauty that we are so desperately trying to push.
“Whilst beauty may seem superficial, it’s important for people to feel confident with their physical appearance; those that find themselves not fitting into societal standards usually suffer from depression and range of other mental health issues- this needs to change.”