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Woman was called the ‘Elephant Girl’ but went on to win beauty pageants

***EXCLUSIVE*** Meet the inspiring sports fanatic who was once called ‘Elephant Girl’ due to her swollen leg and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ‘fit in’ – but she is now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same. Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera (38), from Missouri, USA, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes. Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ‘elephant girl’, ‘elephant leg’ or ‘girl with the big leg’. At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America (Missouri) along with her very own tiara. Despite this victory, for a decade, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses to avoid the stares and comments. Amy was told by her doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and would never be an athlete. After thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful. By this point, Amy’s right leg was 200 per cent larger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy. Her right leg is now only one percent larger than her left leg. In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ‘fat’, Amy felt it her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body. This was the first step to her fully embracing her big leg, accepting herself for the way she is and not apologising for her appearance. She has since managed to participate in many sports such as; boxing, kickboxing, sky diving, weight lifting, yoga and is currently taking salsa dancing lessons.

Pintsized 'Dylan the Villain' is dwarfed by the Crufts trophy after becoming the first papillon to win the prestigious Best in Show prize

A Papillon called Dylan has won the coveted Best in Show prize at Crufts - the first time the breed has taken the top prize. The much coveted rosette was awarded to the Belgium dog this evening when the competition reached its finale in Birmingham. Dylan was also named winner of the Toy group earlier in the four day dog show. His owner Kathleen Roosens, who gave him a kiss, called him a 'butterfly' who she had nicknamed 'the villain' for his habit of coming in muddy from walks outdoors.  Judge Dan Ericson, said he had been 'spoiled for choice' but that his eyes were drawn to this 'beautiful dog' who had 'everything you could look for in the breed', plus personality. 

Gourd takeaway coffee cups grown by plants

***EXCLUSIVE*** An innovative design company is growing compostable coffee cups made from fruit in a bid to save the environment. These single-use cups are made from gourds, a fruit in the pumpkin family, which are grown inside 3D printed molds to make them the perfect coffee-cup shape when picked. The fast-growing squashes were used by our ancestors as drinking containers, and thanks to their waxy outer shell, can be dried out and used to hold liquids.

Exhibition under the ice

***EXCLUSIVE*** Visitors look at the photographs while using diving equipment. A dive photographer has created the world's first under-ice art exhibition, showcasing his work in a surreal setting. The underwater art gallery looks like something out of a sci-fi film as photographs float in the dark green water. The images have been hung from ice in the Arctic Circle above them and feature a series of alien-like fish found in the -2 degrees Celsius water there. In one shot, one unusual fish - a ctenophore - can be seen by a photograph of the same species, almost as if it's observing a portrait of itself. Photographer Viktor Lyagushkin said his unique art exhibition 'exceeded all expectations' and says his photographs 'look like portals to another world'.

Eight-year-old girl who had open heart surgery taking on fashion world

***EXCLUSIVE*** An eight-year-old girl who lacked confidence after being left with scarring following open heart surgery has bounced back to make an impact on the fashion world. Freya Ingham, from Astley, had treatment at Alder Hey Children's Hospital after being born with a hole in her heart. After feeling insecure about her scarring she now has the confidence to model dresses for top designers and appeared on the catwalk at London Fashion Week last September. And next week Freya will be jetting off to America to star in the New York Fashion Week from February 7 to 11. This will include an appearance on the catwalk when she will be carrying a doll modelling the same designer dress as herself.

Sea eagles fighting in Japan, wild horses thundering through France and an elephant's lunch: Amazing scenes from nature steal the show in new photo exhibition

***EXCLUSIVE*** From sea eagles fighting in Japan to wild horses thundering through the Camargue in France, these are just two of the pictures set to go on show in a wildlife photo exhibition. Other stunning shots due to be displayed by the British photographers include a cheetah with its six cubs and an elephant feeding, as well as a European Roller with its beak open after tossing up a grasshopper in Hungary.

Incredible photos reveal how Women Marines were thrown into the thick of it in WWII

***EXCLUSIVE*** Rare photos uncovering the hidden history of the United States’ female marines have been released in an enthralling new book. The captivating images are particularly timely, as women across the world celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March). The stunning vintage photos show two soldiers brawling in a makeshift boxing ring, an engineer ensuring the Marine Corps’ trucks were in tip-top condition, and a group of aviation mechanics checking a plane was ready for war. Another fascinating image shows the very first group of women to sign up for the Marines in the Second World War and the new recruits being put through their paces by drill instructors. Historian Jim Moran’s remarkable latest book ‘U.S. Marine Corps: Women’s Reserve’ offers a fascinating insight to the women who each ‘freed a man to fight’ and the vital work they undertook to protect their country in the throes of war.

Deer's antlers covered in rope

***EXCLUSIVE*** This deer appears to have grown a stag-gering beehive hairdo after its antlers became entangled in fishing nets. The sika buck had rubbed its antlers against a wooden sleeper used to store the nets outside a fisherman's hut. Amateur photographer Masaki Kasuga watched as the four-year-old male deer struggled to graze on the Notsuke Peninsula, Japan, with the rope from the net tangled on its head.

Smiling sunbathing seal

***EXCLUSIVE*** A seal looks very content to find a sunbathing spot as it warms up in the morning sun. The harbour seal was lying on a rock to keep out of the freezing cold sea near Helsingborg in the province Scania on the Southern coast of Sweden. Fredrik Lindbom, 34, from Sweden photographed the moment the seal appears to be smiling.