Individuals are Shocked I am a Dancer Because I Was Born Without a Hand

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This video is part of Health’s #RealLifeStrong series, where we are celebrating women who represent strength, resilience, and grace.

When Sydney Mesher tells people she’s a dancer, they’re often surprised, she says.?The?20-year-old was born without a?left hand, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams within an industry noted for its rigid body standards:?”I get to be that person that sort of breaks that barrier, of this mindset.”

Mesher’s left arm ends at the base of her wrist?due to symbrachydactyly, a rare condition that triggers the underdevelopment of limbs within the womb. “Growing up, I dealt with a lot of bullying,” says the Portland, Ore., native. But she eventually recognized?that the?way people reacted to her was really all about them:?”What’s happening is someone’s acting from their own fear.”

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Mesher is currently studying dance at Pace University in Nyc. “With dance you are constantly growing. There’s no stopping point,” she says.?”There’s always a location to become better.” After college, she wishes to become a?Rockette?or a backup dancer for Lady Gaga.

“I’m very grateful that I’m at a time within this industry where we’re starting to accept different body types,” she says. “I know I am different. Especially being an artist, it’s so vital that you have those differences.”

Her individuality shines through her work: “This is part of who I am. It isn’t who I am, but it is a part of me. I wish to share who I am and just what I love, and celebrate that.” For more of Mesher’s story, check out the video above.?