A one-handed make-up artist has told of her frustration over being questioned by strangers about her disability every single day.
Keleigh Thomas, 25—who was born without her right hand or forearm—is frequently stopped on the street by people who want to know what happened to her.
“It baffles me why they would need to know when it doesn’t affect them at all. Most days I’ll get questions from strangers—it’s frustrating because I feel I have to explain myself every day.”
Keleigh Thomas at work (Collect/PA Real Life)
Keleigh’s parents had no clue until she was born that her right arm had not developed.
Even now, doctors are unsure as to why it happened.
Still, her father Paul, 56, helped her navigate through life without a hand, assisting with tasks such as tying a shoelace and using zips.
Despite a few painful jibes from cruel classmates at school, Keleigh, of Enfield in north London, has never felt bullied over her disability.
Refusing to let it hold her back, she has even become a successful film makeup artist.
Though she still finds herself the recipient of unkind comments, with people shouting ‘one armed bandit’ at her in the street, she tries to rise above the abuse.
However, what she finds far more difficult to ignore is people patronizing her and assuming she cannot do things—particularly when it comes to jobs.
Keleigh Thomas as a toddler (Collect/PA Real Life)
“When I’ve worked as a sales assistant, I’ve had customers take clothes from my hand because they assume I can’t fold them properly or pack bags.”
“I used to work as a gift wrapper, but customers wouldn’t let me wrap their presents for them. They tried to be sweet about it, as if they were doing it as a favor, but it was really patronizing.”
“It aggravates me when people assume I can’t do something just because I have one hand.”
Now a talented make-up artist, Keleigh showcases her incredible work on Instagram, proving she doesn’t need two hands to transform people.
Although she can make-over mere mortals to look red-carpet ready, her favorite work involves turning actors into gruesome zombies and bruised victims.
While many make-up artists use their non-dominant hand as a palette to mix colours, Keleigh uses her arm.
Keleigh Thomas ( (Collect/PA Real Life)
She also cradles her make-up brush in the crook of her elbow to help with imprecise tasks.
Thankfully, she rarely receives remarks from people within the industry.
Despite her success, Keleigh has only grown comfortable with her right arm in the last two years.
Before, she would purposefully hide it from view and would even change position during photos, to prevent it from being snapped.
“I used to try and hide it so I wasn’t faced with the same questions all day and every day.”
“But in the last two years I’ve become more comfortable with it.”
Keleigh Thomas (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I was given a carbon fibre arm on the NHS that allows me to work out and people have been really positive about it.”
Keleigh now realizes a lot of the negativity was in her head.
“Lots of people I haven’t spoken to in ages have messaged me saying how inspiring I am because I’m not letting it hold me back.”
A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.