Rare Disease Makes 13-Year-Old Girl Look Like She’s 50
Lipodystrophy, a genetic disorder, has caused Zara Hartshorn to look decades older than she really is.
Zara Hartshorn of Rotherham, England often runs into trouble when riding the bus or going to the movies. No one believes she is only 13-years old, and always demands she pay an adult fare. But she really is only 13; she just looks like she’s 50.
Zara has lipodystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes fatty tissue underneath the skin to crumble, despite the fact that the skin is still growing. This results in an aged, wrinkly appearance. Only 2,000 people in the world suffer from this ailment, including Zara’s mother and her two siblings.
But Zara definitely got it the worst. She is teased and ridiculed at school, telling NBC News that her peers call her “Grandma.” It is a challenge to find the courage to go to school everyday, where she fears she will be bullied and beat up.
“I don’t think there’s any way to protect her,” Zara’s mother, Tracey, told NBC. “She’s always going to have somebody somewhere that will be willing to pick fun, ridicule her.”
Zara’s only stab at a normal life would include plastic surgery to fix some of the skin on her face, but it’s definitely out of price-range for her family living on public assistance. “I feel if I have my face done,” Zara says, “it will give me some more confidence.” (NBC News)