When Isabelle Stark was younger, everyone thought her protruding ears were adorable. People would “ooh” and “aww” over her photos and would tell the little girl her ears were cute. However, everything changed once Stark started middle school.
She was constantly teased over her large ears, and even though the Utah teen tried wearing beanies and strategically adding extra curls to her hair in order to keep the attention off her ears, the kids still bullied her and called her names.
“Kids called me 'Dumbo,' or said that I looked like a mouse," Stark, now 18, told People. “They'd even walk up to me and pull on my ears. I tried to brush it off, but almost every day, I went home and cried. For my entire life, my only wish was to have normal-sized ears.”
However, thanks to a kind-hearted doctor who went through a similar experience, the 18-year-old has finally had her wish come true.
Plastic surgeon Steven Mobely, a victim of teen bullying himself, gave Stark a corrective surgery where he pinned her ears back, giving the 18-year-old an appearance she craved for years. And he did this all for free.
As it turns out, Mobely had large ears as well. During his school years, he used to have a Luke Skywalker-inspired haircut that would hide his ears.
In 2002, shortly after becoming a surgeon, he had to turn down a kid who wanted to get his ears pinned because his parents couldn’t afford the surgery. Heartbroken over not being able to help the boy, the plastic surgeon started Mobley Foundation – a charity that provides otoplasty surgery (ear-pinning) to low-income school-aged children who are victims of bullying.
“This isn't just free cosmetic surgery – this is a charity that helps combat bullying secondary to having large ears,” the 45-year-old explained.
“I was so thrilled that I cried,” Stark recalled of the first time she saw her ears after the surgery. “It was the biggest day of my life. I can’t say thank you enough. My ears are so natural now and have a perfect curve.”
Stark no longer feels the need to hide her ears and for that, she is very grateful to Mobely. And the doctor says helping the teen proved healing for him as well.
“I'm really happy for Isabelle – now maybe she can move on to the next chapter of her life,” Mobely said. “To help remove that heartache and stigma for her was incredibly rewarding.”