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Shannon's Story

I chose Shanny for the V.O.W Project after seeing a photo of her hands with the word beautiful written on them. At first I didn’t realise that she had a limb difference until I opened the photo, where I began to understand what her message was to others. Accepting yourself just how you are, and that European beauty standards are not what we should be judging ourself on. We are all beautiful in our own way.

My message from this story is in harmony with Shannys, a journey of self discovery and acceptance that we all go through. We should all try and learn to love ourselves in our own skin, which is so much easier said than done. Through the V.O.W project this is what I aim to do. To shine more light onto all the values that we should appreciate in our inner beings and not just our outer appearances. Which as women, there are so many stigmas and pressures around looking a certain way. Lets focus on what our body’s can do for us on a daily basis.

‘Pheonix - a symbol of rebirth and resurrection, emerging from the ashes despite all I've been through. I was born with a limb difference on both my hands and feet, one finger on each hand and two toes on each foot. I was doubted from the very start by health professions, and probably secretly by my own family. They feared that I would struggle in life, not be able to walk or live independently.
For me though, the struggles were not physical. I've always been determined to prove my independence. I was told by specialists that I would probably never be able to drive, swim, wear a ring, write or draw. I proved ALL those things wrong. Having a limb difference does not limit my capabilities. I never let anyone tell me that I couldn't do something - I was going to be the judge of that.
Instead, it was the mental struggle that came hand in hand with being "different" to everyone else that consumed me. As a child, I was so confident and never really saw my limb difference as a massive part of who I was. Starting secondary school however was when my difference became a real issue for me. Moving to a bigger school with more people, it was daunting. There was a pressure to be liked and a desire to be "popular" at that age. I was terrified that I would have no friends due to my physical difference, I was convinced that I would be judged based on my hands and feet and that nobody would want to associate with me. I made every effort to conceal my hands, I would cover them up by pulling my sleeves over them.
My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I was extremely self-conscious. I felt unattractive and my hands and feet were always at the forefront of my mind. I let the negative thoughts consume me and would often wish to be "normal". There was no representation of limb difference in the media, I had no role models with disabilities to look up to. I felt inferior to my friends because I had "less" than them.
It was never obvious to others though, my mental struggles. I was the funny confident one in my group, always making people laugh. Always having fun with friends. Just like I physically concealed my hands, I perfectly concealed my anxieties. I spent my whole teenage years feeling inferior and unworthy.
At the start of 2019 at 22 years old, I decided to start an Instagram page as a way to document my journey to self-love in a hope that it would encourage me to keep going. I knew that I needed to stop hating myself and the limb difference I was born with. This was no way to live, concealing my differences and being ashamed of myself. This is MY body and I deserve to love it.
My online diary was such a turning point for me. Through the magic of the internet, I connected with thousands of other people, just like me! Up until creating my blog, I felt so isolated and alone, like nobody truly understood how I felt. Instagram provided a community to me that I never knew existed.
Reading other people's stories and seeing photos of other people celebrating their differences really inspired me to do the same. I found the confidence to post photos showing my hands and feet (which I honestly believed would be impossible). Over the past year, my following has continued to increase and I am now a limb difference advocate, an ambassador for the charity I Am Possible Foundation, I spread awareness around being different and encourage self-love. I truly feel like I have risen from the ashes of my former self. I'm so grateful for the body I was graced with. I needed the journey to appreciate where I am now.
I will continue to raise awareness and try my best to encourage others to celebrate their difference through telling my story.
~ Shanny ~
~I am a Pheonix ~
More information can be found about Shanny’s charity at
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