Shannon Crossland, 24, has a rare condition known as ectrodactyly.
Shannon was born with just one finger on each hand and two toes on each foot. According to her, it was not until January she finally learnt to accept herself.
Shannon underwent many toe-to-foot transplant Surgery between age 2 and 4.
Doctors removed a toe from each foot, including all the blood vessels, bones, nerves and tendons, and attached them to each hand, to give her the ability to grip.
Shannon has passed through a lot because of this condition. To her, it wasn’t about her physical look alone.
She said: As a child, I would struggle with little things like my shoelaces, buttons and cutting things up with a knife and fork, but you just find your own way to do it,’
‘It was starting high school when my difference became a real issue for me — it was daunting. There was a pressure to be liked and a desire to be “popular”. I was terrified that I would have no friends due to my limb difference. I made every effort to conceal my hands, I would cover them up by pulling my sleeves over them.’
‘I would wear nothing that revealed my feet. I wanted as little attention drawn to me as possible to avoid the possibility of someone noticing my difference.’
‘My self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I was extremely self-conscious as a teenager. I felt unattractive and my hands and feet were always at the forefront of my mind.’
‘The turning point was in January 2019. I began to realise how short life was and it was no way to live, hating the way I was.’
‘I started my Instagram to connect with others with limb differences and create a positive space for me to go and see representation and inclusivity on my feed. Through seeing others, I felt confident and able to start posting photos of my own difference.’
Shannon, who is now the ambassador of “I Am Possible Foundation” reacting to Warner Bros’ adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” which depicted the witches’ hands with two long fingers and a thumb, expressed disappointed that something like that could happen in 2020.
‘I felt disappointed that something like this could happen in 2020. There is already a stigma attached to being different and having a disability. Often when disabilities are shown in the media, it is almost always in a negative way.’
‘They are either seen as a villain and given a disability to enhance their evil image, or they are seen as weak and vulnerable. Giving the witch this limb difference in order to make her appear more disgusting and scarier is so damaging to the disability community,’ ais Shannon.
Shannon is engaged to Alex Bennington, who she met in 2014.
Read what ectrodactyly is:
Ectrodactyly is a rare condition characterized by absence or webbing certain fingers and toes.