A mother-of-four who suffers from a rare skin condition that covers her body in bubble-like lesions is finally embracing her appearance — and now even has the confidence to wear a BIKINI in public.
Rachael Reynolds, 43, endured years of cruel taunts and rude insults which made her so self-conscious that she often kept her body from view.
The genetic disorder, known as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), covers her face, neck, arms, back, stomach and legs.
She recently appeared on House of Extraordinary People which saw nine individuals including a bearded lady and a giant live together in a Yorkshire cottage for 10 days.
The TV series was billed by Channel 5 as a way of confronting prejudice and challenging perceptions.
Rachael said being part of the show changed her perspective and helped her become more comfortable in her own skin.
She even built up the courage to wear a bikini while filming a hot tub scene and plans to strip down to swimwear when she jets off on holiday later this year.
Rachael, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., said: “When I went in the house I never ever thought I would take my top off for the cameras, and filming.
“They didn’t know it either as part of it was in secret, so they were shocked when I went in the hot tub with a bikini top.
“I am able to not be as conscious about what I wear and not care as much what others think and be more comfortable in my own skin.
“I hope to be able to get out there and wear a bikini because I’m always covered up regardless of what people think.
“It’s my holiday, not theirs.”
Stay-at-home-mum Mrs Reynolds inherited the condition from her father who also suffered with the same lumps.
But her appearance didn’t start to change until she hit puberty aged around 13 and then steadily became worse with each of her three pregnancies.
Rachael has shockingly been heckled in the street by strangers and was once told she looked like she’d been bitten by a crocodile.
She feared that her neurofibromatosis meant she would never meet a partner who loved her for who she really was.
But after reconnecting with an old acquaintance, Mike, the pair fell in love and Rachael says he was the first man in her life to “treat me as human”.
The couple began dating in 2003 and married in a romantic ceremony in April 2013.
They live at home in Yorkshire with their children Logan, seven, Siobhan, 13, and James, 18.
Rachael also has a stepdaughter Chloe, 23, from Mike’s previous relationship.
Although her children appear to have not inherited the disorder, they get distressed by the verbal abuse their mother is tormented with every day.
She has undergone a lot of painful plastic surgery and laser treatment to remove the lumps over the years.
However, there is currently no cure and Rachael says her condition is continuing to worsen as she gets older.