I feel like when I was younger I struggled to find something that I could use to relate to my able-bodied peers as many of their interests weren’t accessible to me. But then I discovered makeup, it opened a door for me to have genuine common ground with my peers and created the opportunity of friendship as it was something we could both bond over. Inviting people over to talk and play with makeup helped to destigmatize me as “the girl in the wheelchair” and remove the barriers that I had with my friends, as they got to know me for who I am past the fact that I am a wheelchair user.
It gave me a chance to explain disability using tangible analogies and make it less intimidating to other people and I often found that when I broke that barrier I became a lot closer to my friends. They started to realise that I was just like any of their other friends and they could talk to me about anything.
Makeup also made me feel more normal, gave me more self-esteem and confidence, I may not look like other people in some ways but I did in others. Makeup helped me to express my creativity, due to my limb control other ways of expression aren’t always possible and so makeup is a way to show that side of myself. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own challenges: how I open makeup, apply it and the order I use it. I have had to adapt from the “normal way” so that I could do what I wanted to do.
Hair colour I found more expressive because although I can do my makeup I also struggle to do some aspects like applying lashes and also there's limitations on how many colours of eyeshadow can be applied. Whereas, with hair colour I have complete freedom over what it looks like and it helps me to embrace what makes me different by having vibrant hair colours that make me stand out. Hair colour also boosted my confidence when I was struggling with acne, by having vibrant hair all attention was immediately drawn away from my face and to my hair which made me feel less self-conscious when I was struggling with my skin.
I think it is important to end on saying that although I love makeup and hair styling, I don’t use it to hide who I am as a person but rather quite the opposite, I use it to showcase the true version of myself.