Zara Hartshorn is only sixteen years old, but due to a rare genetic condition, her face has seems to have aged years beyond that. Zara suffers from lipodystrophy, which causes her skin to wrinkle prematurely. She inherited the genetic disorder from her mother, Tracey, who is also struggling to overcome the challenges brought by the disease.
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For a long time, Zara had struggled with her condition. There was a time when she was riding the bus and her child’s ticket was denied due to her appearance. She was later asked to step out. Zara is also often mistaken for being her 17-year-old sister Chloe’s mother.
On top of that, Zara was bullied by kids her age. They ridiculed her for her looks and began calling her names. It got worse every time that it started to affect her schooling.
“The bullying was worst between the ages of eight and ten. Kids used to call me monkey and granny, and I was even beaten up just because of how I looked. It got so bad I stopped going for a while.”
But even after stopping, her self-esteem never rose back.
The diagnosis was given when Zara was four, after the doctors discovered excess skin she was growing in her jawline. Her skin started to age rapidly after that. But if there was one person who understood her, it was her mother, Tracey. “Mum explained that I had an illness like she did, but that I was beautiful and shouldn’t pay any attention to what anyone said.”
Zara has lost her confidence because of her looks. But after hearing her story, a surgeon from the United States offered some help to the teenager and her mother.