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Disabled Make-Up Artist Amasses Huge Instagram Following Thanks To Her Impressive Tutorials

Tess showcasing her makeup skills (PA Real Life/Collect)

A disabled fashion and beauty influencer, who has mastered turning negatives into positives, has become an Instagram sensation with 200,000 followers.

Graduating with a degree in psychology and criminology in 2011, when Tess Daly, 30, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, realized her planned career with the probation service was too physically demanding, refusing to give in, she threw herself into the world of fashion.

And when soaring travel costs made working as a freelance fashion stylist too expensive for Tess – who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, a form of muscle wasting disease – refusing to be beaten, she transferred her skills to Instagram.

“I loved freelancing, but I was spending more on getting to and from the shoots than I was actually earning," she said.

“Using a wheelchair means I can't exactly just pop on a train to get anywhere and I was spending a hell of a lot of money on taxis.

“But I've found a way to make things work and I have always preferred to talk about the things I can do, rather than stuff I can't do."

Tess' 30th birthday party (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I always think other kids were only starting to walk when I was learning to drive my first electric wheelchair."

Tess' mum, Sue Daly, 55, a nurse practitioner, first noticed her daughter was not progressing as quickly as she expected and took her to the doctor's when she was about 18 months old.

“You might not believe it to look at me now, but I didn't pop out of the womb with six heads," she laughed.

"By all accounts, I seemed like a perfectly healthy baby until I was about 18 months old."
–Tess Daly

“By all accounts, I seemed like a perfectly healthy baby until I was about 18 months old," she continued.

“The doctors told my mum not to worry at first, I was just a 'lazy baby,' but it soon became clear that it was something more serious."

Following a muscle biopsy, a procedure that tests for muscular diseases, Tess was diagnosed with SMA type 2 when she was 18 months old and it transpired that both her mom and her dad Mark, 57, a senior transport planner, were carriers of the SMA gene, with a 1 in 4 chance of their children having SMA, according to the NHS.

Tess and her brother growing up (PA Real Life/Collect)

Despite using a wheelchair for as long as she can remember, Tess, whose brother George, 27, does not have SMA, explained that her condition never posed any problems during her childhood.

“I don't have anything to compare my childhood to, but it was filled with happy memories and laughter," she said.

“I was never bullied or picked on. Sure, not everyone liked me, but I didn't like everybody either."

Tess on a night out (PA Real Life/Collect)

Interested in clothes, as a youngster Tess dreamed of pursuing a career in fashion.

“All my subjects at GCSE reflected my passion for fashion and becoming a designer, but all that came crashing down right before my exams," she said.

“I woke up one morning and my right arm, which had always been functional enough to sketch, suddenly stopped working."

She continued: “It's just another part of SMA that the world decided to throw at me, but I dealt with it.

“From then on it's always been easier to describe what I can do, rather than what I can't.

“I can feed myself, steer my electric wheelchair and use my mobile – that's about it."

Tess with her dad (PA Real Life/Collect)

Deciding to pursue a more academic career following her GCSEs, Tess took A-level Sociology, English and Psychology, before studying Psychology and Criminology at Sheffield Hallam University in 2008.

But her hopes of working in social work were dashed when she started work experience at a youth crime prevention center, a program for troubled children from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds.

“By the end of the first day I was absolutely shattered," she explained.

Tess with her mum (PA Real Life/Collect)

“The physical work was just too demanding, even the data recording and filing of documents was too much for me to handle," said Tess.

“I realized there and then that a regular job wasn't going to be for me."

Rather than wallowing in self pity, Tess decided to go back to fashion – becoming a freelance stylist after landing work experience on Gok's Fashion Fix on Channel 4.

"The work experience really opened my eyes to a world of fashion that can work around my disability."
–Tess Daly

“The work experience really opened my eyes to a world of fashion that can work around my disability," she said.

“I was able to put together outfits and choose what looks to go for without actually having to use my hands."

Four years into freelancing, though, in 2016, feeling burnt out and broke from traveling up and down the country, Tess decided to call it a day.

Tess at a wedding (PA Real Life/Collect)

As well as her extortionate travel expenses, she was spending a fortune on sessions with a personal make-up artist.

She said: “I've always loved having my make-up done and if my friends or family couldn't lend a hand, I'd simply call up one of my trusted freelance make-up artists and pay for it to be done professionally in the comfort of my own home.

“I was easily paying £30 ($38) each time and it got to the point where I realized this wasn't a luxury I could keep up. Then I discovered something that would change my life forever – an assistive eating machine called a Neater Eater."

Tess with pals (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “You can control it with small touches of the hand and it functions as a bionic arm for your wheelchair.

“It didn't just help me eat though – it helped me apply my own make-up too!"

With her new 'robotic arm,' Tess soon learnt to fine tune her make-up skills and began uploading tutorials onto Instagram.

"It might not be a full-time job, but it's empowering knowing that the videos I upload have an influence on what other people are wearing and buying – plus what girl doesn't want exclusive make-up sent to the door free of charge?"
–Tess Daly

“At first they were pretty lame uploads about what I was doing and how, but I learnt the ropes pretty quickly and the followers started coming in," she said.

“Now I don't even need to use my robotic arm when I'm putting together a tutorial, I've mastered the art of turning my arms into a living tripod.

“It might not be a full-time job, but it's empowering knowing that the videos I upload have an influence on what other people are wearing and buying – plus what girl doesn't want exclusive make-up sent to the door free of charge?"

Tess with her pooch (PA Real Life/Collect)

As she edges closer to a quarter of a million followers, prestigious brands are keen to send samples to Tess before they hit the shelves, hoping she will use them in her videos.

And she is keen for her work to shine a light on the power of the 'disabled pound.'

“There's a hell of a lot of disabled people in the country and we're completely sidelined as consumers at the moment," she said.

Tess showcasing her make-up skills (PA Real Life/Collect)

Tess concluded: “But there's a real shift happening now and I think companies are beginning to realize that we've got money to spend like everybody else.

“Meanwhile, I'm just someone doing what they love and sharing that with others, but if some good comes out of it too, then great."

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