AKRON, Ohio – In a world where opinions on beauty and body shaming appear to be taking over the internet more and more everyday, Lamise ElBetar says it's not what's on the outside, but on the on the inside that is most important to her. Her outward appearance, as she says, may make people stop and stare, but her amazing confidence is what really has everyone taking notice.
Lamise was born with a rare condition called venous malformation, which causes the lower right side of her face to sag and her lips to protrude.
The 33-year-old said surgery at the age of twelve improved the intertwined veins and muscle, but only for a short time.
Lamise said, "It grew bigger and had more complications in 2011 after the revolution. It was most stressful time."
With doctors in Egypt saying her case was too complicated to treat, she accepted the fate that she would never look “normal.”
Three years ago, she came to the United States on a scholarship to receive her MBA at the University of Akron. And it was here that a professor made an offer she couldn’t refuse, to help improve her quality of life.
"She told me her husband is a surgeon and I think she showed him my picture, and he said 'there's something that can be done to this girl.'"
With limited insurance as an international graduate student, an organization called Global Ties Akron began to rally behind her.
A “Team Lamise” GoFundMe page, created this past summer, has already raised thousands of dollars.
Executive Director of Global Ties Akron Michelle Wilson said, "We just got to know her and she's just an incredible, amazing, inspiring young woman."
Lamise said she doesn’t mind the hesitation and stares from total strangers, because she knows her appearance may be startling to some.
But when she looks in the mirror?
“I see a nice girl, a nice cute girl actually. I'm a pretty girl," she said.
It’s that confidence and love of self that will continue to give her the will to succeed and to survive.
Lamise is set to receive her masters in business next year and in addition to continuing her studies at the University of Akron, she also gives back by volunteering to help disabled and underprivileged children.
She will be traveling to Boston next month for the first of many medical procedures.
If successful, she will undergo yet another surgery to help transform her face.