By Rafaela Kuznec @RafaelaKuznec
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Videographer / director: Marcus Hessenberg
Producer: Rafaela Kuznec, Ruby Coote
Editor: Thom Johnson
Fatima Timbo, from Kent, UK, has the most common form of dwarfism, called achondroplasia that affects around 250,000 people worldwide .
The 22-year-old has a regular-size torso, but short limbs, a prominent forehead and a flattened bridge of the nose, as a result of her condition.
Fatima experienced intense bullying in high school but says that since starting modelling in 2017, her confidence has soared, and she has learned to finally accept her condition.
Fatima told Barcroft TV: “I first realised that I am different from everyone else when I was in primary school.
“I was so much smaller compared to everyone else - I probably looked like a two-year-old compared to all the five-year-olds.
“When I was around seven or eight that’s when it properly hit me that I am smaller than everyone else - while racing with people I would always be last because of my short legs.
“I found it difficult to do physical exercise or going up the stairs, it is quite difficult for me to properly lift my leg up because it takes a toll on my body and it’s quite straining sometimes.”
Fatima admitted that there are days when she doesn’t want to go outside because of the stares and comments she gets from some people.
However, she said: “I go anyway because I don’t want to let people’s opinions and reactions stop me from what I want to pursue in my life.”
Fatima added: “God gives you what you can handle.
“Whatever challenge, whatever obstacle comes in my way, I just try my best to overcome it.
“If someone is staring at me, laughing at me, I just put it in the back of my mind. I know I can deal with it. I know I can handle it. I have been through it before.’”
Fatima’s dad, Amadu Timbo, told Barcroft TV: “There are challenges that always are going to be there.
“For example whenever Fatima goes out people stare at her. Now she is very bold.
“She has struggled for a long time, that struggle was there for all of us.
“We tried to support her as much as possible.”
Fatima said that her family has been the biggest support to her throughout her life: “If I didn’t have an amazing family I don’t know where I would be today.
“They keep me going, they keep me strong and they show me that I can be loved.”
Fatima gained fame on Instagram after posting dance videos and modelling pictures in an attempt to promote body positivity for people with dwarfism.
Fatima said: “Once in a while, I like to showcase my dancing skills to my Instagram followers because they love to see me dancing.
“I’m showing that I’m being myself, I’m showing that it's ok to be yourself.”
Her posts have attracted an army of more than 38k followers.
Fatima, who is the final year of her finance studies, said: “I think there is nothing that can stop me from doing anything that I want to do.
“My confidence has flourished over these last few years.
“I feel like I was able to come out of my shell and discover who I am. I feel that I have a purpose in life.
“I am not here to just be laughed at, instead I am here to be an inspiration.”
After overcoming a lot of challenges and self-esteem issues, her modelling has helped Fatima to embrace her condition.
She said: “When I was younger, when I wasn’t confident, the comments from others used to affect me a lot but now I’ve built a thick skin not to let those comments affect me.
“You can’t change what people do or think, but you can always change yourself.”
Fatima added: “My main goal is to inspire people.
“It is okay to be different, but it’s hard to live with what people say to you because it sticks with you, so even smiling at someone with a physical condition would brighten their day.
“They are used to people laughing, staring and making comments about them.
“If you give them a positive comment or a smile it can brighten their day.”