A British woman with dwarfism has overcome a lifetime of bullying to lead a burgeoning career as an Instagram model.
Fatima Timbo was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism caused by the body’s inability to convert cartilage to bone. At four-feet tall, Timbo has a regular-size torso, but short limbs, which are all markers of the genetic condition.
The 21-year-old was bullied intensely throughout high school, but says she has embraced her condition. She began modelling in 2017.
While Timbo is thriving with her new self confidence, navigating romance has been difficult. Earlier this year, Timbo appeared on the hit U.K. television series, “The Undateables,” a show that follows men and women with physical and mental challenges that often cause them to be unfairly dismissed as a potential partner.
Finding a partner can be a difficult task for anyone, however, Timbo admitted it can be especially hard for her to find someone who is interested in her as a person, and not fetishizing her dwarfism.
“I have to be wary of guys who just have a fetish for dwarfs because there are some guys that actually see me as something to tick off their bucket list. I would say it’s harder to find a genuine guy if you’re a little woman,” Timbo told the Daily Mail.
However, despite wanting meet a decent partner, Timbo admitted the title of the show was initially off-putting.
“One of the producers of the show found me via Instagram and thought I would be great for the show,” Timbo shares. “It came about when I declined at first because I didn’t get past the name of the show. A few months later I reconsidered because I thought of the bigger picture of how I could inspire people and most importantly find love.”
Timbo shared her experiences with not only bullies at school, but from online trolls who use their anonymity to make cruel and hurtful comments.
“The most popular comment I’ve had is ‘midget’, which I hate because it’s a derogatory term for dwarfs or little people,” she revealed. “The worst comment someone said about me was ‘if I was Fatima’s mom I would abort her because she’s a midget.’ When my friend told me, I couldn’t stop crying because of how hurt that comment made me feel.”
Unfortunately, in person, people can be just as mean.
“The toughest part is the constant staring of people when I go out. It’s almost like going out in a funny costume,” Timbo said. “People always react when they see me by laughing, pointing, or some people just give me a disgusted look sometimes.”
As the only member of her family with dwarfism, doctors told Timbo’s parents that she would either be born with dwarfism or Down syndrome. Growing up, she was frequently taken to doctors who instructed her parents to give her daily injections in her legs to help stimulate growth, which her parents did for five years.
“Most of my life I have been confident because I would always be the first to throw myself into things,” she explained. “For example, at parties I wouldn’t be scared at a young age to go to the middle of the dance floor and dance in front of a lot people.”
Although she said there have been hard times, it wasn’t until she began modelling that she really began to accept herself.
“I started getting involved in campaigns that embraced all types of people such as plus size people, people with skin conditions and really tall people,” Timbo said. “From then on, I would post pictures from my shoots on my Instagram profile. Once I did that I saw how many people I was inspiring by embracing my condition and not letting my insecurities get to me.”
The future looks bright for the model, who says she hopes to inspire others and change attitudes towards people who may appear different.
“I want people to stop judging a book by its cover and actually get to know the person with a visible difference first because you never know,” Timbo said. “They could be a great friend to you.”