Lifestyle

Woman who can’t smile longed to be ‘normal’ but is now proud to ‘stand out’

A woman born with an extremely rare neurological condition that makes smiling impossible was bullied and isolated at school but is now inspiring others as a motivational speaker and Instagram star

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Woman born with a rare condition which means she cannot smile

A young woman born with a neurological condition in one in four million inspires others than Instagram Star and now considers her inability to smile a “blessing”.

Tayla Clement, 24, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was born with Moebius Syndrome and has throughout her life been unable to move her eyes from left to right or raise her eyebrows and upper lip.

Moebius syndrome is characterized by facial muscles that are used to control a person’s facial expressions and eye movements. weakened or even partially paralyzed. There is no cure, but the symptoms can be treated.

been bad bullied At school, Tayla used to crave a “normal smile,” but now she’s happy to be different and believes she was “born to stand out.”







Tayla was severely bullied as a schoolgirl
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Image:

Jam Press/@taylaclement)







Tayla turned to exercise as a means of coping
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Image:

Jam Press/@taylaclement)

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Tayla, who has 18,400 Instagram followers, said: “It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve spent many years hating my smile, wishing I had a ‘normal’ smile, wishing I just didn’t exist because that seemed easier than being alive, but miraculously I am I still here.

“I know now that I was born to stand out. I was born to make a difference in this world and I know it with all my heart. My syndrome and not being able to smile is the greatest gift that could have ever been given to me and has enabled me to help and inspire so many people.”

When she was 12, Tayla underwent facial resuscitation surgery in hopes of being able to move her face voluntarily again.

This corrective procedure — sometimes referred to as “smile surgery” — involved soft tissue grafting from Tayla’s thighs on either side of her face.

The intention was to allow Tayla to clench her mouth in a way that mimicked a smile. However, the eight-hour procedure proved unsuccessful, leaving bruises and swelling.







An operation attempting to give Tayla a “normal” smile was unsuccessful
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Image:

Jam Press/@taylaclement)

Unfortunately, Tayla’s condition led to her being bullied throughout her school days, with her classmates laughing at her, yelling in her face and even throwing sheep shit at her.

Tayla recalled, “Even the teachers treated me differently. I was the only person with a raised hand in class and the teacher just looked at me and then looked away and didn’t pick me to ask a question.

“The list goes on, but I’ve also had sheep shit thrown at me, been thrown down a hill, my bag emptied on the ground. I even remember coming to school on my 16th birthday so excited because people always brought balloons and cake and food for whoever’s birthday in the group was.

“I used to bring stuff for everyone else’s birthdays, so I was excited to be the center of attention, but by the time I got to school, no one made a fuss about me.

“I was given a half-eaten bar of chocolate. Everything that has happened has played a lot on my confidence and self-esteem.”

As a result, Tayla was given a serious clinical diagnosis at the age of 18 depression and fear with PTSD and dissociative attacks.







Tayla struggled with mental health issues as a teenager
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Image:

Jam Press/@taylaclement)

Six months after the failed surgery, Tayla began having suicidal thoughts and repeatedly ended up in the hospital throughout 2015 and 2016, making six suicide attempts before finding exercise as a coping mechanism.

Tayla, who also has a clubfoot due to her condition, gave up competitive swimming at 18 because of it mental health problems however, decided to re-enter the world of fitness after being contacted by Para-Athletics NZ.

She turned out to be a born athlete and shortly thereafter, in February 2018, was even asked to compete in Melbourne. It was here that Tayla threw a world No. 1 shot at the Victorian State Championships.

A year later, in March 2019, Tayla competed at the NZ Nationals and threw an incredible 8.28m, which broke the world record in the F43 classification.







Tayla now believes ‘not being able to smile is the greatest gift I could have ever been given’
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Image:

Jam Press/@taylaclement)

Now retired Athletics, The former Paralympic track and field athlete has made the switch to public speaking and shares her experience of face differences.

She is now very happy with her life and excited about the way things have turned out and inspiring thousands of people through her popular Instagram account.

Tayla said: “I stand firm in the fact that the unsuccessful surgery was 100% a blessing and I am so grateful that the surgery didn’t work because not being able to smile is the greatest gift I have ever had could be done!

“Yes, it has taken me below rock bottom, but it has given me the opportunity to be a face and a voice of hope and inspiration to others.

“It has given me a platform to share my story, to empower others, and ultimately given me a purpose for being on this earth. When I was going through my really high and really low points, I had no one to look up to.

“I had nowhere to go for inspiration or to listen to other people’s problems or to hear them talk so openly about what they had been through.

She continued, “To be a source of inspiration, empowerment and hope for others is so amazing. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, be it good, bad or in between. Being able to inspire and empower others really enlightens me beyond words.”

Do you have an inspiring story to tell? We pay for stories. Email us at julia.banim@reachplc.com

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