Woman With Disfigurement That Stops Her From Smiling Becomes Catwalk Model

Posted by Sama in For The Win

Hannah Setzer has a facial disfigurement that prevents her from smiling and makes her day to day life activities very difficult. But it is her resilience and positive attitude that wants to prove to the world what 'disabled people can do' in life if given the opportunity and she sure is shining her way remarkably.


Hannah Setzer, 30, was left disfigured for life when she was born and had an operation to remove a large mass from her face. Unfortunately, the operator went wrong and it left important nerves in her face damaged. Now Hannah is rocking her facial disfigurement and is doing catwalk as a model. 


Dealing with the daily life activities that come with her disfigurement, Hannah always wanted to she’s always wanted to show the public what ‘people with disabilities can do’.

Hannah received a one-time golden opportunity of her life when in September fashion designer Emma Manis asked Hannah to represent her brand on the catwalk.


Only a few weeks later she walked the ramp confidently and became a diversity icon as she wore luxury clothes and strutted her stuff on the catwalk at a fashion show in Richmond, Virginia, as 100 audience members watched.

‘She said she saw me as a positive role model for other people with disabilities like mine.

‘It was a very easy decision for me. I said yes straight away because I never thought I’d ever get the opportunity to be a model because of how I look.

‘I am a confident person but I was still very surprised and shocked to be presented with an opportunity like this.

‘The fashion show was a really exciting day. I had my hair and makeup done and I got to wear some really nice clothes that Emma designed.

‘I wasn’t too nervous to be honest, everyone gave me a great reception when I went out on the catwalk which I was very thankful for.

‘I was definitely outside of my comfort zone but I feel very passionately about representation and I hope that if someone like me saw what I can do, they feel as if they can do it too.’


Hannah was born with a medical condition cystic hygroma, which left hundreds of cysts growing on her face and neck. 

But during an operation to remove the cysts shortly after her birth, Hannah claims surgeons were scooping handfuls of cysts out of her head when they accidentally removed facial nerves too.

Some of the cysts still remain and a cluster of them are blocking her airway and esophagus, meaning Hannah needs a breathing tube and a feeding tube to survive.

Doctors were left with fear and doubt that as an infant Hannah won't be able to survive. But with her resilience she proved everyone wrong. 


She blogs about her fitness journey under the name Feeding Tube Fitness and actively campaigns for disability rights campaigner to show others ‘It’s okay to be different’.

It was because of Hannah’s online advocacy and fitness blog that Virginia-based fashion designer, Emma Manis, got in touch with her to ask Hannah if she would represent her brand on the catwalk.

‘My whole attitude is about showing you can do whatever you want to do no matter what your circumstances are’, said Hannah, who is married to husband, Brandon.

‘It wasn’t necessarily my dream to become a model but it is someone else’s dream, so I felt like it was important to show that people with a disability can do.

‘I’ve never seen anyone like me on a runway so I hope to inspire other people to follow their dreams. I feel very proud to be given such an amazing opportunity.’


Hannah's appearance on the ramp came at an annual RVA Fashion Week event in Richmond, Virginia ar the end of October.

Impressed with her walk exuding confidence, Hannah has now been asked to catwalk future fashion events too and we wish her all the best of luck for her very bright future ahead!