By Mollie Mansfield
A mum-of-three whose hand was completely burned away in a horrific house fire has combatted her confidence issues – and is now working as a model.
Carla Nunes, 33, lost her left hand when she was just seven months old after a petrol lamp fell into her cot and set alight.
Growing up with her disability, Carla’s confidence plummeted after she was bullied at school for being different.
Carla, from East Dulwich, London, has spent her whole life dodging nasty looks and comments from strangers – and was even branded a ‘monster.’
However now Carla is finally leaving her insecurities behind and is showing off her disability in a range of photos and has signed a modelling contract with modelling firm Models of Diversity.
Carla, a full-time mum of three, said: “Growing up people would be scared of me because of my disability, they thought I was strange for not having a hand.
“Strangers would call me a monster and children crying with fear and laughing at me when I was younger.
“It regularly got me down because of the way I looked, but also it was the fact that I knew I couldn’t do as much as everyone else.
“Having always had my disability, I never even thought I could one day be a model so this really is a shock for me.
“Now I’ve learned to own my disability and I really feel as though I am invincible – even though I can’t change the bedsheets myself!”
Carla was just seven months old when a petrol lamp fell from the window sill into Carla’s cot and set her on fire.
As a result, Carla’s left hand and forearm were burned off, leaving her with a small stump below her elbow.
The fire was so horrific that she has been left with no photographs of how she looked when she still had both hands.
She said: “Luckily my dad ran into the house and managed to rescue me from my cot, or I might not be alive today.
“Alongside having no left hand, my face and small patches over my body are covered in scars from the burns too.
“Until I was old enough to go to school I always felt normal, because I was protected by my family and it was the only way they had ever known me.
“I still struggle with being completely independent because I am not able to get a prosthetic hand because my arm is too straight.
“So I can’t do things like hook up new curtains, change my bedsheets, hang out the washing and even just clean the dishes.”
Alongside having physical tasks that she could not complete due to her disability, Carla also struggled to feel as though she could reach her own goals due to it.
However after being scouted by Models of Diversity – who campaign for more diversity in every day models – to help in their campaigns, Carla has realised that she can do anything.
Carla said: “When I entered the real world and reached my teens I started having confidence issues – I didn’t have any hope in myself.
“I never thought that I would be able to have a choice in the men I dated and could never imagine having a family.
“And despite always thinking that I would like to be a model, I thought my disability would hold me back.
“Now, I have three children and I have been with my partner for years – modelling felt like the final tick on my list of things I thought I’d never do.
“Since becoming a model I have felt great, for the first time in years I’ve realised that I actually look good despite my disability!”