PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — A 22-year-old Philadelphia woman is influencing others online through videos explaining her condition and showing her thriving.
Nicolette Rivera, who calls herself a lifestyle influencer, got her start online by showing what she can do with a brush, some makeup and two feet.
“So if you couldn’t tell already. I don’t have arms,” said Rivera. “Nope, not there. They are just nonexistent!”
Rivera doesn’t let that stop her. Her YouTube channel has nearly a half a million views. Her most popular video has more than 122,000 views.
Rivera’s journey of self-empowerment and teaching others began long before she became an online sensation. She says her family is most important to her.
“They are very supportive and confident in me and they have always encouraged me to just be myself and not let anything stop me,” said Rivera.
Rivera was born with Femur-Fibula-Ulna complex, an extremely rare condition more common in males than females.
“It’s only effecting the growth of my arms,” said Rivera. “It’s super rare. It is not genetic and it was not caused by anything during pregnancy. It’s just something that happened during the embryotic stage and there is not really an explanation to it.”
From the time she was born to five years old she received occupational therapy. For her, mobility came naturally. She said she started doing everything with her feet as anyone would do with their hands.
“Over time I just would have an interest, so I would try it and if it was difficult I would find a loophole and make it work for me.”
She says her family’s encouragement and inclusion from a young age gave her the bold and bubbly spirit she has today.
With her YouTube channel she wants to inspire others to not be defined by any limitation.
“I never let my disability get in the way of my life. I never looked at myself differently and I just always consider myself just like everybody else.”
When she’s not on YouTube, Rivera tutors and mentors high school students. She hopes to grow her online presence into a full-time job.