Bridey Heing
Updated Jul 11, 2015 @ 8:15 am

We’re halfway through the summer, and many of us are dusting off our bikinis, planning trips to the beach or pool because HELLO awesome weather. But for one girl, her decision to rock an awesome two-piece is an important message for the world, and has become a total inspiration. 19-year-old Isa-Bella Leclair, of New Brunswick, Canada, has a genetic condition that has caused her leg to swell to almost 40 pounds. In an interview with BarcroftTV, Leclair explains how she wants to raise more awareness of the condition, and that she’s not going to let it stop her from wearing a bikini or loving her body. Amazing.

Leclair is a lot like other 19-year-olds, aside from one thing. She has Parkes Weber Syndrome, a condition that causes lymphatic fluid to build up in her leg. It also impacts her heart, making it work harder than average due to the increased number of capillaries and arteries in her leg. As a result, she can’t participate in shorts or wear clothing that’s too tight. She’s currently in treatment to drain some of the fluid from her leg, which has already reduced the circumference of her leg by six centimeters.

But Isa-Bella has never let it slow her down. In fact, she’s a beauty pageant winner and is working to raise awareness about the condition.

“My condition doesn’t define me and there’s no way I would let it stop me from wearing a cute swimsuit or a cute dress,” she told The Telegraph. “For me confidence is the most important part because when people see someone confident in their body – even with a disability – they don’t have pity but instead admiration.

“I think it’s important for people who have health issues to not only work on getting healthy but to work on loving yourself and accepting who you are. For me, beauty isn’t just on the outside. When I say someone is beautiful I see someone who makes you feel good when you’re around them.”

Although she’s had Parkes Weber since birth — her mother first noticed something was wrong soon after she was born, and it took some time and research to figure out what was causing her leg to swell — Isa-Bella has never let her condition get in the way of her confidence. Although she’s been aware of people looking at her, she took the time to explain Parkes Weber, rather than shy away from the attention.

“Growing up I felt different depending on the surroundings I was in,” she said. “When I was in public at the mall or beach, people would stare at me. I had to grow up faster than other kids and had to realize what I had and that it was normal for people to be curious. I would explain to people my own age, saying just simply, ‘I was born this way’. Children were just curious but once they knew I was okay they just played with me.

“Seeing children with disabilities and seeing them living life, I said to myself, ‘why would I limit myself to not being as happy as them?’”

Isa-Bella’s mother noted that the teen has always handled the attention well: “As a mom, I would expect her to come back home from school crying because she couldn’t do something, but that day never came – not once.”

Isa-Bella is an amazing young woman, and proof that something that makes you different doesn’t have to be hidden. She’s bold, strong, and standing up for other men and women with Parkes Weber, showing the world that this rare condition doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the action! Way to go, Isa-Bella!

(Images via Twitter, Facebook)