McKayla Maroney Costume: Scowl Works for Student With Bell's Palsy

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 09:03 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A college student with Bell's palsy decided to make light of her temporary facial paralysis by dressing up for Halloween as McKayla Maroney, the U.S. gymnast whose "unimpressed" scowl at the 2012 London Olympics made her a viral sensation last year.

Leslie Barrett, a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, was diagnosed with Bell's palsy in August after contracting Lyme disease. The disorder temporarily paralyzes the nerves in the face, leaving a person with a frozen expression.

After a friend pointed out that her face looked a lot like Maroney's infamous "not impressed" stare, Barrett knew she had the perfect Halloween costume.

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Maroney, 17, was the favorite to win the vault event at the 2012 London Olympics but ended up with the silver medal after falling during the competition. Her scowl as she stood on the podium to accept her award instantly went viral, with many posting photos of themselves doing Maroney's "not impressed" face.

Even President Barack Obama got in on the joke.

"I decided to incorporate my disability into my Halloween costume and dress up as you," Barrett wrote on Maroney's Facebook page, along with a photo of her "costume." "This has hands down been the best costume I've ever had. It was the first time in months I got to look like I was intentionally making a face and it has helped me deal with the slow recovery a little better.

Barrett wrote about her struggles with Bell's palsy in a column for her school newspaper, The Trinitonian, back in August.

"The inability to move the right side of my face has posed many challenges including expressing emotions and engaging in normal social interactions. A few others consist of: blinking, drinking fluids, speaking clearly, closing my eye, spitting when I brush my teeth, putting on lip balm, focusing my vision, putting on makeup, washing my face, working out and blowing eyelashes off my fingers," she wrote. "These daily struggles have been challenging to manage, but my friends have been incredibly supportive and have laughed with me at all the things I can’t do. I have learned a lot about gratitude, acquired the ability to embrace insecurity and can see beauty in imperfection."

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