LIFESTYLE

Teen With Swollen Leg Shows Exactly What A 'Bikini Body' Looks Like And Inspires Body Confidence In All Of Us

10/07/2015 13:39 BST | Updated 10/07/2015 13:59 BST

A teenager whose leg grew to twice its normal size is inspiring body positivity by posing in a bikini.

Isa-Bella Leclair, 19, was born with a genetic condition called Parkes Weber Syndrome, which caused her right leg to swell.

The college student's leg grew to around 40lbs - leaving her unable to play most sports or tight-fitting jeans.

However, the inspirational teen is now out to challenge modern beauty standards by showing her confidence in her body.

parkes weber syndrome

Last month she won a title in a beauty pageant in her hometown of Campbellton, New Brunswick, which she hopes will raise further awareness about her condition.

Isa-Bella 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."

Isa-Bella was born with the rare mutation of the RASA-1 gene causing the lymph nodes in her leg to malfunction.

She said: “The lymphatic fluid in my body goes into my leg and because the system doesn’t work properly it doesn’t go back, so it stays there and swells my leg.”

Despite receiving stares and attention when her leg is on display, Isa-Bella says it’s important be confident 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 mother, Joanne Leclair, 45, noticed a difference in her daughter’s appearance the moment she was born.

At birth Isa-Bella, a twin whose sister Danyka does not have the condition, was misdiagnosed with Clippel Trenaunay Syndrome, for which little information was available.

Joanne said: “I literally realised something was wrong with her body the moment she was born.

“In the coming days the doctor did research, because it was very rare, and he came back with a primary diagnosis which changed over time.

"One thing her doctors told us was that they didn’t know if she would walk normally or whether she would be affected by the condition.”

Despite the family’s concerns, Isa-Bella became well informed of her condition as a child and had no problem explaining it to curious people.

She said: “Growing up I felt different depending on the surroundings I was in.

“When I was in public at the mall or beach, people would stare at me.

“I had to grow up faster than other kids and had to realise what I had and that it was normal for people to be curious.

“I would explain to people my own age, saying just simply, 'I was born this way'.

“Children were just curious but once they knew I was okay they just played with me.

“Adults were different because even when my mom explained to them, they still looked concerned.”

Her condition also causes excess blood due to a greater number of capillaries and arteries - meaning Isa-Bella's heart works harder than an average person's.

But growing up it never stopped her from group activities such as baton twirling and snowboarding.

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.”

And for Isa-Bella, there is hope for the management of her condition.

A three-week course of lymph draining massages with physical therapist, Manon Tardif, 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 146lbs to 139lbs."

And her positive attitude keeps her looking towards the future where she hopes to inspire others with her confidence.

Isa-Bella said: “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."