My name is Stephanie Debes. I’m a makeup artist and disability awareness activist.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia as a result of medical malpractice. All four limbs are affected, leaving me to use a motorized wheelchair 24/7. My condition limits my ability to perform most everyday tasks and renders me dependent on others. I was born five months premature. Doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t last three days. Twenty-five years later, I’m defying the odds every single day.
My disability has brought me under the knife more times than I can count: hamstring surgery, gallbladder surgery, scoliosis surgery, and a patella osteotomy on my knee. Recovery is much longer for someone with a disability, and I’m no exception. For example, my sister had scoliosis surgery and was home in two weeks. I had to recover for two months.
The nature of my condition is that my muscles are constantly contracting, forcing me to spasm. I have what’s called “high tone spasticity” which means my muscles don’t know how to relax. I’m in a constant state of tension, and my feet have to be strapped into my chair, otherwise, I experience chronic pain. Sometimes when my spasms are intense, I have bowel movements or bladder movements involuntarily. You never know how a day is going to go.
My life is a revolving door of caretakers, physical therapists, trainers, nurses, doctors, and drivers. But, through it all, I’ve set out to achieve all my goals.
I am the founder of the Makeup on Wheels Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of the disabled community. I am also a certified makeup artist in SFX & Beauty.
- Stephanie Debes