Girl Who Can’t Smile Books Modeling Deal to Inspire Us All to Be Miserable No Matter How Hot We Are

The modeling world is getting a lot more inclusive these days. Brands feature a wide variety of ethnicities, body types, gender identities, and abilities in their ad campaigns and runway shows. Now, the modeling world is becoming even more diverse with the addition of Tayla Clement, the 24-year-old from New Zealand who is known as “The Girl Who Can’t Smile.”

Clement has a rare condition call moebius disorder. It’s a congenital condition that affects 1 in 4 million people. Basically, it means that the facial nerves don’t develop fully. For Clement, that manifests as eyebrows that don’t move, eyes that don’t track from left to right, and an immobile upper lip – hence, she can’t smile.

The condition was devastating to her as a child. Clement was frequently bullied.

“People would bring plastic bags to school and tell me to put them over my head because I was so ugly they didn’t want to see me, and I didn’t deserve to be seen,” she said. “I think when you grow up being told that you’re ugly and you’re worthless you believe it because you don’t know anything else.”

At age 12, she had surgery to remedy the problem, but it failed. Then, the traumatic stress that resulted from the bullying started causing her to have seizures, too.

But now things are turning around because Clement has signed on as a model with international agency Zebedee Talent. (Take that, haters! Now they’ll have to see her face all over the place.)

But Clement isn’t putting herself out there to spite the bullies. Rather, she wants to inspire others.

“I love being able to help others and empower others,” she told ABC News. “It lights me up so much, and if I could smile it’s like the biggest smile on my face when I talk about it because it truly lights me up so much.”

Plenty of models have lit us up (among other things), so we’re sure Clement can, too. No smiles necessary.

Cover Photo: Instagram


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