A model has told of her heartbreak at being showed up on the catwalk by a chronic condition – which makes her look nine months pregnant.
Stunning Kayla Vincent, 23, of Hiwasse, Arkansas, was devastated when she saw snaps from a recent runway show which show her bloated stomach protruding through her clothes.
The brunette beauty runs her own clothing boutique, often takes part in local brand campaigns and dreams of pursuing a professional modeling career.
Lady in red! Model Kayla Vincent suffers from a chronic condition which causes her stomach to swell and makes her look nine months pregnant
Endo belly: The 23-year-old has been diagnosed with endometriosis, an incurable disorder where tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside of it instead
But sudden, random flare-ups caused by agonizing endometriosis mean it’s impossible for her to predict when she will be nursing a swollen tummy.
The incurable disorder – which is a leading cause of infertility – is where tissue that normally grows inside the uterus instead grows outside of it.
Many women suffer bloating dubbed ‘endo belly’ as a result, which for Kayla can be triggered by anything from caffeine and carbs to water.
Kayla, who is usually a slim 123 lbs and is 5 ft 6 tall, is forced to wear maternity clothes or stretchy pants as a result.
She said: ‘I see photos of myself and I am horrified. I’m so self-conscious about it – I honestly look pregnant.
‘People have congratulated me on being pregnant before. I posted a photo on Facebook and this girl was like, “Congratulations!”
Pre-bloat: The Hiwasse, Arkansas model who is usually a slim 123 lbs and is 5 ft 6 tall endures random flare-ups which cause her stomach to bloat
Maternity pants: She is forced to wear maternity clothes or stretchy pants as a result of her painfully-protruding belly
Catwalk: Kayla, who is pictured on the catwalk, has been modeling since she was a teenager, and said that seeing the photos of her swollen stomach ‘was really embarrassing’
‘I said, “Congratulations for what?” and she said, “Expecting a baby.”
‘That was hard for me because she thought I looked pregnant, but also she was congratulating me on something I might never be able to do.’
She added: ‘I have done modelling since I was 15 or 16 and this makes it really hard because I never know how I’m going to be feeling or if I’ll be bloated.
‘I never know what clothes they will put me in.
‘When I saw the photos from the fashion show earlier this month I was like, “Oh my goodness.” I didn’t realize my stomach was so horrible. It was really embarrassing.
‘I try not to get upset by it but I just cringed.
‘I would love to continue modelling but I know in the back of my mind that I have this struggle with my body.
‘I feel like I’m constantly battling something that is battling me back.’
Kayla was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in August after suffering month-long periods and stomach pain over the course of 12 years.
Happier times: The model who usually maintains a slim figure (pictured) says, ‘I feel like I’m constantly battling something that is battling me back’
Giving up: Kayla, (pictured) said she visited different doctors and ‘they kept telling me nothing was wrong so I gave up’
Chronic illness: The Arkansas resident says she is in the process of getting to know her body and working out what she can and cannot eat to avoid the worst flare ups
At first Kayla – whose mom and grandma also had the disease – was told she had IBS or trapped gas and multiple medics dismissed her symptoms as psychological.
She said: ‘At one point my doctor looked straight at me and said, “It’s gas,” and I said, “That’s not what this is.” I just laughed.
‘They kept telling me nothing was wrong so I gave up. But then I decided to go to a new doctor and he said he saw signs of endometriosis.’
Kayla was put on hormones to regulate her long periods which worked but caused severe side effects like extreme bloating and anxiety.
Then this summer she had laparoscopic surgery which confirmed she had the disease and that it had spread to her bowels.
Surgeons removed as much of the diseased tissue as possible, but the cruel condition will continue to reoccur through her life so she will need surgery again.
Surgery: This summer 2017, Kayla had laparoscopic surgery which confirmed she had the disease and that it had spread to her bowels
Doing better: Surgeons removed as much of Kayla’s diseased tissue as possible but the cruel condition will continue to reoccur through her life
Post-surgery: The model’s belly was seriously swollen after surgery (left) but has since started to reduce in size (right)
Inspiration: Kayla said, ‘As each day goes by I get better and stronger’
In the meantime, Kayla says she is in the process of getting to know her body and working out what she can and cannot eat to avoid the worst flare ups.
Kayla also says she is terrified she will be rendered unable to realize her dream of having children of her own.
But she wanted to speak out to show other girls and women that they are not alone – and to encourage them to fight for a diagnosis.
Since posting photos of her swollen stomach on Facebook and sharing her experience she has been flooded with messages of support.
Kayla, who runs the Pink Peony Boutique and is also a photographer, said: ‘It has been extremely overwhelming. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with.
‘But there is a reason why I was diagnosed with this. As each day goes by I get better and stronger.
‘I want people to know that if they think there is something wrong with their body, then they should listen to it. Don’t ever give up.
‘I do my best to remain positive and look at it as a learning experience.’