Two women who are missing limbs have become best friends through their comparable hardship.
Jlissa Austin, 31, who was born without arms, knees and with only seven toes, met Chassidy Young, 32, who lives with Tetra-Amelia syndrome, after learning each other’s life story through a documentary.
Tetra-Amelia syndrome is a rare congenital disorder that has left Chassidy without hands and very short legs
They have since become best friends through their very rare similarities.
The pair decided to meet in person for and Chassidy travelled across Texas, in the US, from her home in Dallas, to Jlissa, who lives in Houston.
Chassidy said: “I saw Jlissa’s story and I got so emotional. I was like, I can’t be the only person on this whole earth missing arms. Where they at? And then Jlissa confirmed there’s actually somebody out there who shares the same experience as me. I was just like, I have to find her.
“When you don’t see people like you, it feels like you’re the only person in the world that’s like that. Everybody needs an identity. I’m so happy to have met Jlissa because I now have somebody to identify with.”
Some 30 years ago, doctors predicted Jlissa would never be able to lead a normal life and, to this day, she is still unsure of what caused her abnormalities.
But Jlissa has certainly proved her doubters wrong – learning to use her feet when conducting everyday tasks like brushing her teeth and texting on her phone.
She said: “Most of the questions I get are basically, ‘How do you eat?’, ‘how do you write?’, ‘who takes you to the restroom?’, ‘who puts your make-up on?’.
“My condition hasn’t affected anything in my life.
“There are so many people that aren’t able to be themselves because they are scared of the world.
“You need to be yourself and be thankful. That’s what me and Chassidy are doing now.”
They have been on the receiving end of lots of staring and pointing in public spaces, but they’ve quickly learnt to ignore their haters and stay positive with the people closest to them.
Chassidy said: “I prefer it for kids to come up and say to me, ‘Hey lady, what’s up, where your hands at, why are you so little is like me?’ And then we can have a conversation. I always try not to be offended.
“I don’t call it disability, because that makes it sound like something is restricting you from doing something else. It restricts you from getting from A to B.
“But I’ve made it. A, B, C, D. E, F, G – you name it.”
Jlissa and Chassidy have racked up thousands of followers on their social profiles.
Jlissa is currently planning her wedding with fiancé, Jonathan, a 5’6” able-bodied man, with a date set for next year.
Whilst Chassidy, along with Jlissa, is continuing to be an advocate for people with ‘disabilities’ and is helping others to learn to love their body no matter what.