A young woman with a prosthetic leg has spoken out about a date leaving her alone and lost in a park after getting ‘freaked out’ by her disability.
20-year-old Devon Taverner-Hailou from Epping, Essex, had spoken with the man on a dating app for more than a year, and had been looking forward to the date.
During the date, journalism and business student Devon felt everything was going well, but after a walk through a park – where they reportedly laughed and chatted – things took a nasty turn.
The man told Devon ‘You’re so beautiful, it’s such a shame’, before making an excuse to go to the toilet. He never returned, leaving her lost in the park and in tears.
According to the Mirror, Devon said:
He sent me a message saying ‘Your leg is too weird. It’s a turn off. Don’t contact me ever again’. I just started crying.
I asked if he could at least come back to help me find my way, but he said, ‘No, I don’t want anything to do with you.’ Then he blocked me. I was traumatised.
Devon has Proximal Focal Femoral Deficiency (PFFD), a rare condition where a person is born without a thigh bone, meaning she has to use a prosthetic leg. She is also deaf.
As horrifying as this experience must have been, this sadly isn’t the only incident to have knocked Devon’s confidence.
Another time, a date picked her up in his car, only to tell her to ‘get out’ after seeing the way she walked:
He knew about my prosthetic leg but when he saw the way I walked he told me to get out of the car.
Every time I dated it was always exactly the same story. In the end it got too much and I just refused to meet people.
After these bad experiences, Devon was put off the idea of dating altogether. However, appearing on the BBC mother daughter reality show 21 Again has boosted her confidence.
21 Again follows five mums as they try to pass as 21-year-olds in a bid to better understand their daughters. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, the series explores various aspects of life as a 21-year-old woman in 2019, including online dating, social media and body image.
Devon opened up while on 21 Again about feeling self-concious after instances of bullying and abuse, and bonded with the other daughters.
She also had the opportunity to meet make-up artist Yasmin Senior, who also has PFFD. This was the first time Devon had met somebody with the same condition as herself, and was a turning point for her.
Speaking about what she has learned while on the show, Devon said:
I feel like people with disabilities aren’t shown as being sexy or beautiful, which obviously they can be, so I want to make a magazine that’s focussed on people with disabilities, that’s stylish, trendy and provocative,
The biggest life lesson I have learned is to just embrace my disability and proudly show it off, saying ‘this is me’.
You can catch the conclusion of 21 Again on Wednesday 5 June, at 10.35pm, on BBC One.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.