A teenager who has been bullied for most of her life after being born without an anus or rectum delivered an incredible speech to her school saying she wants to be the "new normal".
Aiesha Ross, a 14-year-old from New Zealand, has struggled to live a "normal" life, having no control over her bowel and bladder - meaning she is forced to wear a colostomy bag and use a tube to empty her bladder.
"Teenagers need to feel normal," she told Wanganui Girls’ College. "What does normal mean? Who is normal? One thing I know is being normal is not the same as feeling normal."
The teenager, whose cloacal abnormalities are the result of a multitude of conditions, struggles to hold back her tears, as she explains her condition.
"I was born without an anus or a rectum. The nerves in the bottom of my spine are damaged, the ones that control my bowel and bladder. I only have one kidney and no inside vaginal organs. No cervix or uterus."
Ross has been bullied so badly she was forced to change schools, but has also experienced teasing from her siblings.
"Some of [the children at school] had found out and were teasing me about it and were basically treating me different and bullying me because I wasn't the same as them," she told Stuff.co.nz.
"That was what I got teased about, was that I wouldn't be able to have children and I wouldn't be able to find a husband, because [they thought] I'm disgusting."
Ross' class was tasked with writing a speech on what teenagers need, so, with the help of her mother, she highlighted the need for teenagers to feel normal.
After her mother posted a video of her speech on YouTube, Ross said: "I can just be myself, I don't have to hide anything... I feel more happy in general and more free."
Writing underneath the video, Ross' mother Louise Elliott said: "This a video of my courageous daughters speech that she performed at her school speech competition and won.
"She has struggled her whole life with bullies and not being 'normal' because of a medical condition that is invisible to most people (to anybody that doesnt know her you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her). This speech is about her life and the struggles she has had to fit in and feel 'normal'.
"She wants to be 'the new normal'. I hope this video helps inspire other people that are struggling to feel normal to be courageous and proud of who they are, and to join 'the new normal'."Suggest a correction