THE world can often be a cruel place for people like Deborah Dahl.
She was born with a rare disease and abandoned by her biological motherActivist had a tragic early life but refuses to let it hold her back.
In fact, the mother is eager to share her story with the world and raise awareness about phocomelia – a disease she has suffered from since childhood.
The disease causes arms and legs to not grow properly, often resulting in the limbs being underdeveloped – just like Deborah’s.
Instead of helping her daughter live a life without guns, Deborah’s mother refused to take her home from the hospital and ultimately abandoned her.
For theThe young girl remained in an orphanage for four and a half years until a family from the USA decided to adopt her and bring her to the USA.
This was when Deborah’s life truly began, as she got her first taste of independence – through the gentle encouragement of her new family.
Her adoptive mother began with simple tasks and encouraged her to use a hairbrush – a first for the then six-year-old.
Speaking to Truly decades later, Deborah recalled: “When I was about five or six years old, my mother told me to hold a paintbrush – probably with my hands.
However, as a young girl, she quickly realized that she could use her feet as hands, explaining, “I use my feet to open doors, to get a cup out of the cupboard, to straighten mine.”“.
Her new family also helped her when she had to undergo multiple surgeries to shave off the bones that were growing out of her skin.
Although she found ways to cope with her disability, it was more difficult to avoid cruel comments or stares from other children.
Dropping out of school didn’t help either, as the activist revealed that she still received rude comments in everyday life.
“It happens all the time – sometimes a kid is like, ‘Ew, what’s wrong with your arms?'” she confessed in the short documentary.
Despite this, Deborah later made the bold decision to start a TikTok channel – aptly titled ‘Deborah Look No Hands’.
With the support of her family, including husband Nathan and son Matthew, the disability influencer has gained a massive 427,000 followers just from documenting her life.
Proving she can’t hold anything back, the mother-of-one regularly shares her favorite recipes on her channel.
Although regular trollsOn her side, Deborah has learned to see the funny side.
After reading a particularly nasty comment comparing her to a T-Rex, she decided to respond with a hilarious video.
The TikToker, who wore T-Rex arms on her fingertips, mocked the incident and the video quickly went viral – a first for her.
Since then, Deborah has used her platform to raise awareness of her rare disease.
“People say what they want to say and it’s up to you how you want to react… I try to have a positive, fun attitude,” she explained.
She also hopes to represent people like herself with limb differences, saying, “Maybe one day a kid with limb differences will scroll on TikTok and say, ‘Oh, she looks like me!’ Now we have a platform where we can say: ‘We are here, we are taking up space!'”