Joseph Williams, a 41-year-old American, says he has been bullied his entire life because he was born without a jaw. He says he was saved by love after surviving decades feeling “useless”.
Now he wants to remind others who are struggling with challenges that they too deserve more out of life.
The Chicago man was born with the rare congenital condition otofacial syndrome caused by a mutated gene, leaving him unable to speak or eat with his mouth. Instead, he uses sign language and a feeding tube.
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“I can’t eat, speak or even breathe properly,” Williams said. Photo: catering
“Dating was also difficult for me because I had very low self-esteem and felt useless; But once I started believing in myself and realized I deserved more, I finally found my wife,” he said.
Williams, who works as a welder, had long assumed he would spend the rest of his days single until he met his soulmate Vania, 39, in 2019.
“We were friends at first, but eventually we started dating and falling in love,” he told Caters news agency. “We got married in 2020. I’m sure people never expected me to get married. To be honest, I didn’t think so either.”
Hoping to help others, he now speaks openly about how people used to run away from him or treat him differently. At times she wanted to hide and cry and even considered killing herself, but she struggled to keep her spirits up.
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Williams met his wife Vania in 2019 and they married in 2020. Photo: Caters
He mentioned that “there’s a reason God made me this way” because it helped him get through difficult times. “He gave me this burden because he knew I could carry it.”
“I understand that I’m different and that some people will think I’m ugly and won’t accept me, but I’m still a person who has a heart, feelings and a mind,” he continued. “He should be treated with respect like any other person.”
Instead of looking and pointing, he said he wants people to ask him questions.
“People stop what they’re doing to look at me and it gets annoying. One guy even stopped his car, turned around, and drove by just to look at me,” says Williams. “I just wish people would talk to me and ask me questions instead of looking at me like a deer in headlights.”
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As he grew up, he remembered that he was born that way for a reason. Photo: catering
He recalls growing up everyone wanting to protect him from the world, telling him, “I couldn’t do this or that, but I didn’t want my condition to stop me and I didn’t want to be restricted. .”
Williams learned to communicate through sign language, gestures, her phone, and writing notes while wearing a special tube in her stomach to eat.
“I can’t eat, speak or even breathe properly,” he said. “I have a tube in my stomach that I can put liquefied food in, but that means I’ve never eaten anything.”
When he was born, not having a jaw was “a shock” to his birth mother. Just days old, he was flown to Chicago for multiple jaw and facial surgeries.
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Williams spent her entire life jawless and bullied. Photo: catering
“I had a bone and skin graft when they tried to build a jaw for me, but as it grew my body rejected it and it was unsuccessful,” Williams said. “And I was put up for adoption as well, which led to me meeting my adoptive family.”
“Growing up was tough and being born that way gave me a lot of problems, but I tried not to let it affect me,” he continued.
Today, Williams promises his physical condition won’t stop him from enjoying life to the fullest with Vania, and his plans include a passion for playing the drums and sharing music.
“My dream is to be a DJ one day. Sometimes I have trouble communicating, but music is a way of expressing myself,” he says. “Being born without a jaw has given me a different perspective on life and made me who I am today.”
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