Nila Morton, 18 years old, had been called an “ugly freak” by others because of needing a wheelchair to go around. Her current state had been caused by a rare condition of muscular dystrophy in which her muscles deteriorate. Nila, who’s from Greenville South Carolina, still decided to join a beauty pageant despite her condition, the Daily Mail reports.
Nila had been told by her classmates in school that “no one would love her.” Despite this, she decided to not listen to their rude comments and worked on to pursue her dreams of becoming a beauty queen. She had already won two titles while competing against able-bodied contestants.
Nila was only ten years old when she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. She was born with dislocated hips. Her condition continued to get worse and her mobility continued to be minimalized. She went from leg braces to a walker and now, a wheelchair.
Nila had been named Miss Mauldin Teen USA and Miss Congeniality at Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2017.
Nila said, “I’m a girl who has been bullied for having a disability and being different. I'm embracing that I have a difference and want to show others that they don't need to change for society. I was told that I might as well give up on my goals because no one would pay attention to me because I am "disabled".
“They would say that I am a "freak", a "burden" and that "no-one would love me because of my disability". I was bullied really badly, but it helped me to find my self-worth, my confidence and taught me to love myself.
“I've always dreamed of becoming a model, I believe beauty comes in different shapes and sizes and know that my disability doesn't define me nor my beauty. I wrote into a pageant and told them that while I'm a girl with a disability and have to use a wheelchair, I should be on the same stage as girls considered 'normal'.
“Since then I've won several titles competing against able-bodied people, which I think is really important and I'm making an impact by inspiring others. Little girls who were watching the pageant said they wanted to be just like me when they grow-up, which I think is really great and reinforces why I'm doing this.
“It's important to show that people with disabilities can compete in pageants, I don't think there should be pageants solely for disabled people, because we are all human and have differences.”
Nila was diagnosed with Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy in 2009.
Nila said, “It started from me not being able to ride a tricycle, to then not walking up the stairs, then always getting tired. Braces were put on my legs to support them, but it didn't work and I had to use a walker, the year after that my body slowed down more and I needed a wheelchair.
“Now I use my walker to help me to keep my muscles active, I can travel short distances with it, but normally need to hold onto someone.”
Nila’s condition also made her breathing difficult and limited. She would need an oxygen tank and a breathing apparatus to prevent her from suffocating while asleep.
Nila said, “My mum never treated me like I had a disability, I never thought I had one in my eyes and was like any other normal kid. I know I can do anything I want to but that I just have to do it differently.”
Although models in magazines may not necessarily reflect her own body, Nila still wanted to become a model and perhaps open doors for women with similar condition.
Nila said, “I am representing young ladies who are overweight and picked on for that, for people with disabilities or differences, whether that's skin color, hair style or whatever. I believe my confidence is what has attracted people, I have the ability to be a voice for people with disabilities and with my spirit I'm showing the judges who I really am.”
Nila always kept in her mind that just being present and participating in something that she was passionate with, because she knows that people like her can still have the fervor to follow their dreams.