"You need to be beautiful to work in beauty"

8th November 2017

That’s what Community Ambassador Sophia Wyatt was told by a beauty editor after she vowed to work in the industry, despite losing both her legs to meningitis

Sophia W

Having now worked extensively in television and film, Sophia has contributed to films like Atonement and working with stars like Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. She has also worked on news and sports programmes and says politicians are the most superficial of all. 

She has now found her vocation in permanent makeup and cosmetic tattooing.

Speaking to Get Surrey, Sophia said, “They didn’t want me to work in beauty therapy and they made it very clear someone with false legs would never be able to be a makeup artist."

 “As a disabled person, working in television was pretty much unheard of," she said.

“All of my career, I’ve not talked about my legs and I’ve not talked about my illness because if celebrities and models are very superficial they probably wouldn’t want a disabled makeup artist working on them."

“Walking with a limp, they didn’t know I’d lost my legs. I’ve had models tell me that they didn’t want me to touch their face because I’ve lost fingers. But I’d be doing their makeup and tell them I have leprosy and scare the hell out of them. I used humour to get back at them."

"I was so close to dying; I was just happy to be alive"

It was New Year's Eve 1993 when 16-year-old Sophia started to feel unwell. A few days later she was placed in an induced coma where she fought for her life for 20 days. When she woke up, Sophia was told she would have to lose her legs in order to save her life.

“It was horrific, but because I was so close to dying, I was just happy to be alive. My doctors were saying that as soon your wounds heal we’ll get you new legs."

While in hospital, Sophia found inspiration in a makeup artist who helps survivors of burns cover their scars.

“She inspired me to make the most of my life and I kind of feel like it’s my turn to do that to other people," said Sophia. “It wasn’t until I started to work with people who have burns or scarring or alopecia or cancer patients, that I’ve started to share what I’ve been through. It’s really boosted them to know that someone who has gone through really traumatic times has actually got through it."

"I feel so grateful to know I am making a difference to someone's life"

“With permanent makeup and the way that industry works, it is very superficial," she said, "A lot of my clients, when they go and have consultations with other therapists, they feel they don’t have any kind of empathy with them - it’s all about beauty and looking perfect."

“But my clients know it’s not about perfection, it’s about making their lives easier.”

Read more about Sophia.