When Isabella Lamanna was born, doctors warned her parents that she may never walk after she was diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism.
At 19, Lamanna stands at only 3 feet tall after being diagnosed with diastrophic dysplasia — a rare condition that is one of 400 types of dwarfism, affecting her cartilage and bone development — but can do anything she sets her mind to.
“When I was born, the doctors had realized my hips were dislocated and because of this I would butt-scoot around the house to get around,” the teen, from Ontario, Canada, told NeedToKnow.online.
“They broke the news to my parents that I would most likely not be able to walk,” she said. “Although I have proved them completely wrong – learning how to walk, run and jump with dislocated hips still to this day!”
Lamanna, a content creator who just completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, went viral on TikTok after she began sharing her experiences of living with dwarfism — including her struggles with everything from dating to cooking and everyday tasks.
Despite her many accomplishments, Lamanna admits she’s “faced people staring, pointing, laughing and even commenting” on her height throughout her life.
“My parents taught me from a young age to ignore it because they’re just not educated,” she explains of rude onlookers — though she understands the curiosity of children.
“When kids ask me questions, I am very open to answering them as they’re just curious and may not have seen a little person before,” she said.
The teen’s condition has delivered several setbacks after her scoliosis severely worsened in 2015, resulting in four surgeries to correct her spine and being in and out of the hospital for six months.
By the end of the procedure, doctors had to break her spine to remove a rib and a disk, as well as use bone from her calf to fuse her spine as straight as possible, which Lamanna said was “exhausting.”
Despite being independent, Lamanna faces not only physical and health challenges but admits everyday things like cooking, shopping, getting gas, doing her hair and dating can be difficult.
“People like young adults can be very immature and some may have their heart set on a girl of average height rather than a little person,” she said.
“There is also an issue with fetishes which is pretty awful; you just never know sometimes if they actually want to talk to you or if it’s just on their ‘list,’ unfortunately.
“It’s all good, though — when the right one comes, it’ll be great,” she said.
Lamanna launched her TikTok — where she has more than 888,000 followers and millions of likes on her clips — to educate people on what it’s like to live with dwarfism.
“I use TikTok and YouTube to answer questions as well as showcase my daily life to people,” she said. “With a little bit of adjustment and accommodations, I can do anything an average height person can!
“Ultimately, I want to help and inspire people of all heights and show other little people that they must embrace their differences and never give up, or say they can’t do something without trying,” Lamanna added.
Even with her flourishing social media career, Lamanna said she wants to pursue a career as a psychologist or psychiatrist and is hoping to attain a master’s degree as well as a Ph.D. in order to become a doctor.
“I feel that I’m very good at listening and giving people advice. I’m patient and very caring, which is a good fit for that career path,” she said.
The student is also an ambassador for SickKids, a Canadian research hospital where she shares her story.
“I have presented speeches about my story to countless audiences of many sizes — 800 being my largest crowd,” Lamanna said, adding that she has also done commercial videos and photo shoots for the organization.
The teenager said she loves helping and inspiring others like her.
“The message that I want to send to others, as well as other little people, is that you cannot change who you are, so you must embrace it,” she said.
“Everyone is unique in their own way, and you are perfect just the way you are!” she added. “One step at a time, people will be educated about dwarfism and everyone will feel that much more included in society.”