Interview with model Hülya from Germany
As so many inspiring people, I came across Hülya on Instagram. Social Media used right can be a wonderful and inspiring place, one that shows how much beauty is to be found in diversity.
Hülya was born with a disability, her hands are disfigured, when she was 18 she had to undergo amputation and now lives a life without legs. Society often focuses on what is different in another person, what they are lacking, whereas society would look much different if the focus lay on what we have in common or what sets us apart in a positive, inspiring way. When you see Hülya´s photos you have to focus on her beautiful and honest smile, on the joyful sparkle in her eyes and her positive and warm character that is visible on her face.
Her story teaches us to embrace life, love life and dive right into it without mourning what we might not have and without allowing society to define us or our limits.
Lacuna: You and your husband have an Instagram account with very creative and beautiful pictures of you. How did you get the idea?
Hülya: It started out of fun. Photography is a hobby of my husband’s, and when he heard that I have been Miss Wheelchair Germany in 2004, which I did not tell him, he said that we could use his passion to create beautiful pictures of me — pictures that don´t focus on the handicap but also wouldn´t hide it, but we open about it. .
Lacuna: You are very confident in showing who you are including your weaknesses. Have you always been like this?
Hülya: Yes. Shortly after the amputation of my legs when I was 18, I changed to be this way. I never understood why one should be ashamed of it. I know that my handicap puts some people off, some find it disgusting to see someone like me at the beach or the pool, how I move on the ground or even when I am lying on a deck chair. I decided very quickly that I am already handicapped enough and that I won´t allow society to restrict me further.
Lacuna: Do you ever have moments when you don´t feel that confident?
Hülya: Of course, there are moments in which I am sad — when I can´t ignore the glances and comments that easily, but those were only ever short episodes. I enjoy life so much that I am willing to pay every price for it.
Lacuna: What is your best childhood memory?
Hülya: To be honest, my childhood wasn´t very nice. It was shaped by hospital stays until I was six, with more than 20 operations. My parents and my family had no idea how to deal with a handicapped child in a cultural environment that sees deformation as a disgrace.
Lacuna: How did the kids at school treat you?
Hülya: I was teased a lot because of my disfigured hands. I have also been a very quiet and shy child.
Lacuna: Your family moved from Turkey to Germany. How different would your life be if they would have stayed in Turkey?
Hülya: I am glad my family moved to Germany. As a handicapped woman, I have more opportunities. In Turkey, the society has changed, mostly in bigger cities, but the treatment with prosthetics and wheelchairs is not as good as here. It is also still very difficult for a disabled woman to find a partner.
Lacuna: Which life experiences shaped you the most?
Hülya: A lot of things. My time at the girls’ school in Ankara, the time at the boarding school in Germany, and of course losing both my legs, the death of my father, and my husband who showed me a new life and who is giving me so much strength.
Lacuna: Before meeting your husband, have you ever been afraid you might not find someone who loves you?
Hülya: Yes. At a very young age, sometimes at least. I heard from different sides that I most likely won´t marry. Often people could not imagine that a man could find a woman like me attractive, but I never shared these worries. I thought: Okay, now you have half a body, but this half looks pretty okay.
Photo with courtesy of: Hülya & Dennis