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Most children look up to a fictional role model at some point. Whether it is a superhero, a celebrity, or a princess, we tend to idolize the characters we see in movies.
I vividly remember donning my Cinderella pajamas and pretending to feed the mice at my feet. And as fun as it was to encapsulate the princess I loved so dearly, for one girl in North Carolina, dressing up as a princess meant a little bit more.
13-year-old Abby was able to become her role model — Merida, of Disney’s Brave — in a breathtaking photo shoot by Tigerlily Photography. This was part of “The Princess Experience,” a photo series that shows girls how valuable and beautiful they truly are by telling their very own princess story.
And Abby’s is truly inspiring.
Throughout her childhood, Abby has been through many health challenges. Shortly after birth, she was diagnosed with congenital hip dysplasia. She then lost complete hearing in her right ear due to a hole in her eardrum. When she started school, Abby struggled with dyslexia and dysgraphia.
When Abby turned 10, it was finally determined that she had Turner syndrome — a condition that affects development in females. It occurs when a female is either partially or completely missing an X chromosome. While the symptoms of this abnormality vary, it can include heart defects, learning disabilities, and infertility.
Despite this grim diagnosis, Abby has yet to be discouraged. She accepts the condition with grace, and has even shared her excitement about the prospect of adoption. Photographer Kristi Smith, of Tigerlily Photography, says that Abby “is excited to be able to help children that will one day need a loving home.”
With each passing day, Abby has learned to overcome the obstacles of her condition and has shown one particularly admiral quality — bravery. Which is why it was no surprise that Abby chose to dress as Merida!
While beauty and bravery is most importantly found on the inside, sometimes it takes looking just as good to truly feel it. So on a warm day in November, Abby slipped on her Merida-inspired dress, her red hair adorned with a leaf crown, and set out to truly feel like a princess for a day.
Abby was photographed among a natural, outdoor setting in Selma, North Carolina, and they pulled out all the stops — designing a beautiful backdrop by The Flower Cupboard, Suppermeals, and One of a Kind Find and Design. She was even treated to an earthy feast with her dad, decorated with pretty flowers and wooden décor. They created a world for Abby to leave her troubles behind and to just have fun.
And best of all … she got to ride a pony! According to Smith, this was Abby’s favorite part of the shoot. “She seemed to come alive whenever she was with her.”
While spending time with Abby throughout the 3-hour shoot, Smith was struck by Abby’s character. “She has a quiet, sweet demeanor that is filled with compassion for other people,” Smith told Babble. “She really has a beautiful heart.”
That is truly seen through the photos and one of Smith’s favorite moments of the day. Right when they were ready for the daddy-daughter dance, it started raining. But they didn’t let that stop them, dancing right through it!
Highlighted in that small, seemingly insignificant moment, it is clear that Abby will not let the little things bring her down. She perseveres with kindness — and bravery — much like her Disney counterpart, Merida.
h/t: PopSugar MomsMore On