21-year-old Long Island native Mariah Serrano had one of her legs amputated in 2009, after suffering from a painful club foot deformation since birth. Though the decision to undergo the life-changing surgery was anything but easy, it enabled her to walk without difficulty—and as a bonus, the then-teenager was able to wear heels like her peers. It's a bittersweet tale of a young woman finding a silver lining in a tough break, but not in the eyes of the NY Post, which distorted her malady for a story sneeringly headlined "Fashionista has leg amputated so she can wear high heels." Unsurprisingly, Serrano, who in fact did not lose her leg just "so she could teeter around in stilettos," is not happy.

Serrano was born with a club foot, and though she underwent several surgical procedures and wore braces, her doctors were unable to correct it. "For some reason it was really difficult to correct," Serrano, whom the Post described as a "glamour girl," told us. "It actually took two surgeries before I was two years old to get it so I could ever walk." As she got older, Serrano suffered from more and more pain, undergoing surgeries in eighth and ninth grade that eventually left her with a staph infection. "It was just getting worse and worse," she said. In 2009, a doctor finally suggested she undergo a last-ditch effort to relieve her of her suffering—an amputation. "Obviously I was scared," Serrano said. "But there was a certain amount of relief to feel like I could finally have an answer, an opportunity to participate in my own life and not be in as much pain as I was in all the time."

The surgery ended up being the right answer, allowing Serrano to walk without pain and live her life as normally as possible. The formerly home-schooled student ended up going to college and getting a job in the fashion industry, just like she'd always wanted. And as a bonus, Serrano, who spent most of her childhood and teen years in sneakers, was able to wear heels. "It was really exciting to wear awesome shoes. It was this perk for something that seemed like something bad happening to me," Serrano said. "With the Post, I was trying so hard to explain to this woman that I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to pursue my dreams because I couldn't walk. It was so very exciting that I would be able to walk normally and be able to wear shoes."

Serrano responded to the Post's profile of her on her blog, titled Confessions Of A One-Legged Fashionista. "I did not choose to cut my leg off so I can wear high heels, I had my leg amputated because I was very sick and the quality of my health and life were suffering," she wrote in her most recent post. "Doctors do not welcome the idea that you are unhappy with your footwear choices, so you should remove body parts."

Heels or no heels, Serrano, who lives in Queens now and is an assistant designer for a clothing brand and a social media manager for Meg boutiques, doesn't regret her decision to amputate for a second. "I live a totally normal life," she said. "I have a totally awesome and normal life."