Offbeat

By Josh Saunders


A teacher is turning her amputated finger into comedic scenes to encourage others to embrace their differences.

Allison Bartle, from Maple Shade in New Jersey, USA, was one-year-old when her finger was sliced off in a cog of an exercise bike.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

Despite attempts to reattach the decapitated digit to her right hand, blood flow couldn’t be restored and it had to be amputated.

As a child Allison chose to embrace her difference by drawing smiley faces on the ‘stump.’

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

Last year, Allison started creating amusing scenes with her finger using costumes and props.

Her silly scenes include a rodeo, eating pizza, fishing and characters from TV shows.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

She hopes the shots will make people laugh and learn to embrace their differences rather than being ashamed of them.

Allison, 28, a teaching assistant, said: “I can’t grow a finger back so I’ve got to make do with what I have and dress it up in costumes.

“For me it’s a fun thing to do.

“I’ve decorated it since I was young, whenever I had fingerless gloves I would draw a face on it, because it looked like my finger was wearing a turtleneck top.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

“I’m not embarrassed by it. My accident happened as a baby, it was very visible but I never gave much thought to it.

“I have made scenes from a wedding, a rodeo, a trip to Greece, a baseball game and shooting a paintball gun in the woods.

“I’ve made a showgirl costume. I’ve decorated it for certain occasions and dependent on what’s inspiring me at the time.

“I don’t set out to say anything with the images, I just find them funny and cute, but if they can help other people that’s cool too.

“This could help someone who is familiar with that feeling of being different or having a difference that is really obvious, I hope this shows people to accept themselves.”

Allison lost part of her finger at 23-months-old when falling into the cog of an exercise bike that brother Andrew, now 30, was exercising on.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

The finger was put in a bag of ice but after it was reattached at hospital, it was amputated as blood flow never returned to the area.

Allison said: “I was a weird outspoken kid and was never embarrassed by it, when my brother told his friends he cut my finger off I would chase them around with it.

“I have never taken offence to it, some people say weird things like, ‘thankfully it’s not your wedding ring finger’ and want to touch it but apart from that it’s very normal.

“A few doctors suggested that I get a prosthetic fingertip for when I’m an adult in the workplace because they felt that a woman would never want to go out in public with a hand like mine.”

Despite being offered alternatives to make her hand look more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ she rejected them.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

Allison attributes the acceptance of her difference to her family who Allison says never treated her differently and encouraged her to embrace it.

She said: “A lot of my acceptance about my finger was down to the way I was raised.

“My mother Janice and grandmother are very, very strong people, and they never coddled me, or fussed over me, or asked if my finger was okay, never discussed how bad the accident was, never pointed it out – they treated me just like my brother.

“And although it’s only a small part of a finger and not a larger amputation that would impair my ability to function, I know that if they fussed over me, or babied me, or did things for me, that I would most definitely be a very different person.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

Allison started taking the pictures last year, after taking photos with her finger for a friend’s wedding.

Allison said:”My best friend married in September so I took a picture with my finger dressed as the bride and they really like it.

“One of the other bridesmaids, who has complex regional pain syndrome, meaning she has pain all over her body, thought it was inspirational and that it encouraged people to be comfortable in themselves.”

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

Allison who refers to her amputated finger as Stumpking started producing her series in September last year, since then people have got behind her creations and even send her suggestions.

Allison said: “Some people find it great and funny, I’ve noticed a few people who just think I’m super weird but I don’t care.

PICS BY ALLISON BARTLE / CATERS NEWS

“Most people are really into it, they give me ideas for pictures and send me pictures of props I can use saying ‘Stumpkin’ needs this.”

Allison who is a teaching assistant says that even her students are interested in her funny musings, since one of her friends (@FridayPizzaParty) created a colouring page based on her finger.

She said: “The kids at school think it’s awesome.

“It’s a good lesson to them, although I have part of one of my fingers amputated its cool, I accept and own it.”