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Teenager Bullied Over Her Hunchback Becomes A Catwalk Model

November 26, 2013 5 min read

A teenager who was bullied as a child after an agonizing spine condition left her with a hunchback and severe limp has landed a job as a catwalk model. Zoe Blenkinsop, 19, from North Shields, Tyne and Wear, has suffered with scoliosis since childhood and was bullied throughout school because she had a lump which protruded from her back where her spine curved. Zoe Blenkinsop, 19, suffered from scoliosis since childhood and was in so much pain she was unable to sit or stand up for long You would never guess by this picture that this girl's life used to be nothing but pain and torment. After her surgery, Zoe had to learn to walk and stand again. She says it was sometimes so painful it caused her to pass out but that she kept going as she wanted to fulfil her dream of becoming a model Zoe says her back was sometimes so painful it caused her to pass out and that she had to change for PE with her back to a wall so no one saw it. The curvature in her spine was so severe she had a hunchback and a limp, about which she was bullied The curvature in her spine was so severe she had a hunchback and a limp, about which she was bullied. Zoe (pictured before her surgery) said: 'I used to look at everyone else in school and think about when I would be normal like them' In July 2011 Zoe was finally able to go ahead with the procedure and was in surgery for seven hours while surgeons fitted metal rods to straighten her spine. She said: ‘I used to look at everyone else in school and think about when I would be normal like them. Zoe (pictured before her surgery) said: 'I was always so conscious about my back because there was such a huge lump sticking out from it' Zoe (pictured before her surgery) said: 'I was always so conscious about my back because there was such a huge lump sticking out from it' When she was diagnosed with the condition aged 11, doctors said they could perform an operation to correct the problem but she would have to wait until she had finished growing at 18 When she was diagnosed with the condition aged 11, doctors said they could perform an operation to correct the problem but she would have to wait until she had finished growing at 18 Zoe had a seven-hour operation during which surgeons inserted metal rods into her spine to straighten it Zoe had a seven-hour operation during which surgeons inserted metal rods into her spine to straighten it.
‘The pain would be horrible some days and I wasn’t able to sit or stand for a long time.
‘The only way to ease it was to lie down which was pretty embarrassing, I felt like an old lady. Recovering from the operation took a long time and it was really hard. I wasn’t allowed crutches as I had to be able to support myself, some days I would pass out with the pain but I kept going.’ Zoe says that since her surgery she no longer worries about what other people think of her Scoliosis causes the spine to curve and affects about four per cent of the population. If left untreated, it can lead to fatal heart and lung problems and considerably damage mobility. She said: ‘Modelling has always been a dream of mine but I never thought it was possible. Zoe had her first taste of modelling success when she stepped on to the catwalk for Newcastle Fashion Week Zoe had her first taste of modelling success when she stepped on to the catwalk for Newcastle Fashion Week
‘I knew that standing and posing for shoots would be impossible and I would have been far too scared to walk down the catwalk with my limp. I was in constant pain and couldn’t imagine having the lifestyle I have now.’
Zoe Blenkinsop
Zoe Blenkinsop The surgery has left Zoe with a scar down her back but has dramatically improved the shape of her spine The surgery has left Zoe with a scar down her back but has dramatically improved the shape of her spine

Signs of Scoliosis

> uneven shoulders > asymmetrical waist > tilted hips > uneven shoulder blades Although many people have not heard of the condition, it is surprisingly common, with three to four children per 1000 needing specialist supervision. I also suffer from moderate scoliosis and though my curvature is nowhere near as severe as Zoe's, it is tremendous to see someone overcome such an incredible difficulty. The signs above don't seem that gruelling, especially when compared to the unfortunate pictures of Zoe pre-op, but the smallest curve can affect your life greatly. Your balance is constantly off. Even on flat ground I sometimes feel like I'm falling - forget about when in heels. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can be unbelievably painful. Finding a proper sleeping becomes a chore. This story is particularly inspiring to me because my scoliosis is what started my own fitness journey. From a very young age my parents were determined to keep me from surgery and so I started working with a personal trainer at 12. The goal was never to be an abnormally fit kid, but to build enough abdominal muscle to keep my curve from maturing. What they don't mention above is the hypermobility that can come with this. I can dislocate my shoulders & hips on command. This sounds like a cool party trick and even has impressed a few males from time to time, but it also means I have limited strength in these joints. Having worked out since age 12, I can still barely do 10 pushups because my shoulders will collapse. The pictures below are me. Photo on 13-09-30 at 8.50 AM Photo on 13-09-30 at 8.47 AM

The second one is not meant to be crude in any way, just to show you what my back looks like. My spine does not stick out because of my weight, as even when I was at my heaviest (130lbs @ 5"2), it stuck out just the same. I've spoken with a few BodyRockers recently who face similar issues and I want to share mine with you so that you know you are not alone. We all face our challenges, some physical, some mental - but we can get past them. If this means you have to modify, then do so. For me, using traditional weights and cardio caused me so much pain that I just became discouraged - and is how I ended up putting on weight. I switched solely to Pilates & plyometrics and not only did I start to feel better, for the first time I started to enjoy exercising. Am I in the best shape possible? No. But I'm not in nearly as much pain. I am a full supporter and pusher of the BodyRock belief that fitness is a lifestyle, not a journey.

For me, I have found a solace in the BodyRock community. The motivation I see every day helps me to remember that I could be facing something so much harder. It is easy to get lost in your own problems and makes it difficult to realize they may not be that bad after all. Keep doing the same for each other. Keep the positivity going. I've read the Nutrition Guide, I've read the Fat Loss For Life Guide; they aren't gimmicks. If you're struggling, they will help. Particularly for me and my struggles, I took to the Fat Loss For Life Guide. It comes with a lot of emotional support and guidance on transforming ALL the aspects in your life - not just your workout regime. The dedication I've seen in the before and afters is astonishing - and I only wish I myself had that sort of internal drive. But until then, there's no shame in needing a helping hand. Click here for the Fat Loss For Life Guide Do you follow us on Instagram? [caption id="attachment_101129" align="alignnone" width="100"]snapchat code @BodyRockTV[/caption]

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