A woman who hid her “ugly” leg for 14 years after being mocked by bullies has hit back at her tormentors – by becoming a MODEL.
Berlange Presilus, 28, has a port wine stain and prominent varicose veins on her right leg due to rare vascular disorder Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome.
As a young girl she gazed at supermodels in fashion magazines and dreamed of being like them but feared she would never make it due to the malformed limb.
She was cruelly mocked by classmates who said it looked like her leg was DYING and covered up under long trousers and skirts for 14 YEARS in shame.
But brave Berlange battled through her insecurity and went on to prove the bullies wrong by modeling for brands including Toys R Us, Samsung, Mac and Johnnie Walker.
She has now made it her mission to promote diversity and bravely bared her pins in a series of striking unedited snaps in an effort to spread her message.
Berlange, who is originally from Haiti and lives in Toronto, Canada, said: “I used to wear long jeans all the time and long skirts, even in the summer.
“If I exposed my leg I would get laughed at or teased.
“They would say, ‘Look at her, it looks like her leg is about to fall off.’
“It made me feel bad and as if I didn’t belong. I just felt like, ‘Why me?’”
“I would see models in magazines with long hair and bright lipstick and I dreamed of being like them but then I would look at my leg and think, how could it ever happen?
“I thought my leg was ugly. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen.
“Even now when you look at the bigger picture, what is being showed on magazines and in TV, you rarely see anybody with flaws.
“The industry wants to make people believe that perfection exists and if you can’t look like that girl in the magazine then you are not beautiful.
“The truth is that we all have different bodies.
“I want people to hear my voice and see my story and realize that.”
KTS is a rare and painful congenital vascular disorder which affects the development of blood vessels, soft tissues and bones.
In Berlange’s case, it caused her to be born with a lump on her right leg, formed of a mass of intertwined superficial and healthy veins, which got bigger as she grew.
She also has a port wine stain on that limb.
As a child, the condition caused Berlange to crawl and walk with a left tilt and blood circulation issues made her toes curl and resulted in painful cramps.
She spent years battling the symptoms with no clue what was causing them until she was finally diagnosed with KTS aged 22.
Berlange did go on to launch a career in modeling but avoided any jobs that would require showing her “flawed” leg for fear of rejection.
Then in 2016 she was asked to go to Singapore, where she would take part in a swimwear shoot.
“I was going through the motions of wanting to speak out because I thought my voice might encourage somebody else,” she said.
“I told my agency about it but the room was pretty quiet. My agent said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us in the beginning?’
“The reason was that I wasn’t ready to be rejected.
“After that the casting calls started to slow down and it went from one a month to nothing.
“Eventually I asked if it was my condition and she said, ‘Unfortunately it is.’
“When I found out I wept and I was angry. I felt like it was unfair.
“It took me years but I started questioning things and asking myself, ‘Was I really born just to lie?’
“I decided enough was enough and that I had to stand up for myself.
“I decided to take part in this photoshoot and I have never looked back.
“I have stopped wearing long trousers and changed my whole wardrobe.
“It was like my whole life was changed.
“Now I feel great. I discovered that I had magic and now I’m unstoppable.”