A teenager whose right leg grew to twice the size of her left one has set out to inspire body confidence among people with disabilities by posing for a photo shoot in a bikini.
Isa-Bella Leclair, 19, was born with Parkes Weber Syndrome — a genetic condition which caused her right leg to swell to twice the normal size.
The college student’s right leg gradually grew to about 40 lbs, which is preventing her from playing most sports or wearing tight-fitting jeans. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Isa-Bella Leclair, 19, whose leg grew to twice its normal size is inspiring body confidence among people with disabilities by posing in a bikini (photo: John LeBlanc / Barcroft USA).
But Isa-Bella is now challenging traditional beauty standards and has recently won a title in a beauty pageant in her hometown of Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. She said:
My condition doesn’t define me and there’s no way I would let it stop me from wearing a cute swimsuit or a cute dress.
For me confidence is the most important part because when people see someone confident in their body — even with a disability — they don’t have pity but instead admiration.
2. Isa-Bella is undergoing lymph node massages and wears a compression bandage (pictured) in a bid to reduce the swelling in her leg (photo: John LeBlanc / Barcroft USA).
Though she is constantly stared at when her leg is on display, Isa-Bella insists that it is important to build confidence in yourself. She said:
I think it’s important for people who have health issues to not only work on getting healthy but to work on loving yourself and accepting who you are.
For me, beauty isn’t just on the outside. When I say someone is beautiful I see someone who makes you feel good when you’re around them.
Isa-Bella’s condition causes excess blood to accumulate due to a greater number of capillaries and arteries and causes her heart to work harder than an average person’s.
3. In the past three weeks, Isa-Bella has lost eight pounds in weight from her leg, a sure sign that her current method of treatment is working (photo: John LeBlanc / Barcroft USA).
Yet, the condition never stopped Isa-Bella from activities such as snowboarding and riding a bike. Her mother Joanne said:
As a mom, I would expect her to come back home from school crying because she couldn’t do something, but that day never came — not once.
Whatever she wanted to do she did it, whether it was riding a bike or snowboarding.
For now, Isa-Bella’s best hope is to manage the condition.
4. Physical therapist Manon Tardif helps Isa-Bella to apply bandages to her leg. She is also undergoing a three-week course of lymph draining massages (photo: John LeBlanc / Barcroft USA).
Three weeks of lymph draining massages with a physical therapist has yielded promising results. Isa-Bella said:
I have been wearing a compression bandage to push the lymph fluid back up into my body where the lymph nodes work normally.
The plan is to continue the compression garments to further reduce the swelling.
In the last three weeks I lost six centimeters from around my leg and eight pounds in weight, from around 146 lbs to 139 lbs.
And she has a word of advice for children with disabilities:
Seeing children with disabilities and seeing them living life, I said to myself, “why would I limit myself to not being as happy as them?”
I just stick to living life simply, and not overcomplicating things.
5. A body-positive teen with a rare condition challenges beauty standards.
Read more: Parkes Weber Syndrome in Children.