How “The Girl Who Can’t Smile” Embraced Her Unique Look and Achieved Success as a Model
During her school years, Tayla Clement faced the harsh reality of being an outcast due to relentless bullying centered on her appearance. However, despite the numerous challenges she encountered during her teenage years, she has now secured a modeling contract with the Zebedee talent agency. Today, she serves as an inspiration to many, sharing her story with a global audience. We delve into the tale of this courageous individual from New Zealand and explore why she calls herself “The Girl Who Can’t Smile.”
Tayla was born with a rare neurological disorder known as Möbius syndrome, which results in facial paralysis, preventing her from moving her eyebrows, eyes, and upper lip, thus making her unable to smile. She optimistically quips, “I like to refer to it as free Botox.” Remarkably, her inability to smile doesn’t hinder her from enjoying life and finding happiness.
Nonetheless, Tayla’s journey to happiness wasn’t always straightforward. Her school years posed significant challenges due to her stark differences from her peers. She recalls, “Probably around the age of 5 or 6 when I started school and kids and teachers would treat me differently to all the other kids.” Her experiences made studying and social interactions unenjoyable, leading her to remark, “All throughout my schooling life I was bullied, I didn’t have a good time at school at all and for a while, it really hindered my ability to be social and leave the house.”
At 11, Tayla had surgery, but it was unsuccessful. For a long time, she was ashamed of herself. “Growing up as someone that was always ridiculed for the way I looked truly made me feel like I wasn’t welcome in society. It made me feel like just being Tayla wasn’t good enough, that I had to work 100 times harder than everyone else to fit in just because I couldn’t smile.”
By the age of 17, she started having seizures caused by severe traumatic stress. “I had such severe depression that doctors told me my mental health was so bad.”
However, the challenges Tayla faced did not shatter her spirit. She discovered the inner strength to believe in herself, sharing, “I’ve done a lot of inner work and now don’t have any issues with being social. I accepted myself fully only a few years ago, but I’ve been on the self-love, acceptance and discovery journey for around 4 years, so it’s just been growing and improving and getting better and better as time goes on.”
With this newfound self-acceptance, she boldly opened a public Instagram page. Tayla no longer avoids the camera; instead, she shares her photos and narrates her story online, all in an effort to raise awareness about the significance of embracing one’s uniqueness.
Tayla’s family has played a great role in her life. “My parents have been amazing, even when I was younger they never treated me any differently and I’m really thankful for that. They’ve always loved me for me and supported me in anything I wanted to do and I’m so lucky to have such an amazing support from them.”
Tayla has stopped being an outcast and has chosen the path of confidence. And she’s not afraid of making friends anymore. “I really love my alone time, I thrive when I can do things by myself, but at the same time, I don’t find it hard to be social or to meet new friends.” Working out at the gym and meditating have also helped her on her way to self-acceptance.
Tayla doesn’t harbor resentment towards those who bullied her in the past. She has a heartfelt message for those struggling to find acceptance: “To anyone who is being bullied right now, please know that it’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person hurting you... You don’t need to change to be accepted, you are worthy of acceptance no matter what.”
Tayla used to experience loneliness in the past, but since securing a modeling contract with the Zebedee Talent agency, she’s found happiness in the ability to inspire others. She reflects on her previous struggles, saying, “I had no one to see in movies or in the media or on the front of magazines, and so I felt really worthless and not accepted because I didn’t see myself anywhere. It makes me kind of emotional, but I’m just so glad that it was me that went through everything because I get to inspire people and help people — it just makes me so happy.”
Zebedee Talent is an agency that represents individuals with disabilities, visible differences, alternative appearances, and LGBTQIA talent.
Tayla, known as “The Girl Who Can’t Smile,” has not only accepted herself but has also ventured into the world of modeling, becoming a source of inspiration for many. She expresses her perspective, saying, “I choose to perceive my smile as mine, it’s what makes me, me and that’s really all there is to it.”
In our other article, we recounted the story of a baby born with a rare skin condition that left doctors perplexed two decades ago. Today, he not only feels but also looks remarkably great.