By Katie Mercer @katiemercer_BM
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Videographer / director: Dave Hare
Producer: Katie Mercer, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Tess Daly’s beauty blog has racked up tens of thousands of followers, had her flown to hang out with other bloggers and make-up artists in Beverley Hills and ensures she is always first on the list when a cosmetic range launches a new powder or potion.
The 29-year-old is living the life that many fashion conscious twentysomethings would dream of.
But less enviable, is the limiting condition that she was born with that means she needs constant, round the clock care and can do very little for herself.
“Basically, I started blogging because wicked brows and lashes are about the only thing I can do for myself” the fiery fashion stylist said.
“I have spinal muscular atrophy type 2, which affects everything basically. I can’t sit by myself, I can’t stand or walk or move my arms properly. I need carers to help me with absolutely everything - and the ones that work for me have also had to pick up a few beauty skills along the way.
“I can do my own eyes, brows and lips but my PAs have to help me with my skin because I only have limited mobility in my arm and I just can’t reach my face.
“They’ve pretty much had to become make-up artists in their space time”.
Tess, who lives in Sheffield, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2 after her parents noticed that she wasn’t hitting the usual baby-milestones.
She explained: “I wasn’t walking, I wasn’t crawling so my parents knew something was different.
“I was diagnosed when I was 18 months old and have been in an electric wheelchair ever since.”
Straight-talking Tess says, humbly, that she thinks her huge online following is partly down to her disability.
She said: “It’s my unique selling point, if you will.
“I think that people just aren’t used to seeing disabled people or people in wheelchairs dressing like I do or looking like I do.”
But her best friend, Allia Kanjai, disagrees.
Allia said: “It’s not just because she’s disabled. It’s nothing to do with that. Tess is naturally gifted. She can put on make up better than anyone.”
Her hairdresser pal, Dan Biggin, agrees.
“She’s just so talented.
“I’ve been following her on Instagram since the beginning and I’m so proud of her.
“She’s the funniest person I’ve ever known and that’s why I think so many people want to follow her.”
Tess manages is able to feed herself using, what she calls, ‘a bionic arm’ - a tool that she fundraised for in 2014, which gave her a new lease of life.
She joked: “It was something completely new for me. I can scratch my nose, I can pick it if I want to pick it. They’re all things I couldn’t do before and it was really life changing. Scratching your nose is life changing”.
Tess doesn’t use the bionic arm to apply her makeup and instead manages to move her hand just enough to perfect her blending skills. The process is lengthy and tiring but she says it’s worth it.
“I was always interested in fashion and makeup and I love to pamper myself.”
The blogger says she is quietly ambitious and hopes that one day, her following will reach over a million people.
But opening up your life in this way always comes with a risk and Tess is no stranger to trolls and online bullies.
She said: “Sometimes I get negative comments but I just block them straight away.
“I answer them back though because the way I see it, they need schooling.
“They need to know they can’t go round talking to people like that. And I’m just the type of girl to point that out to them.
"Sometimes I get comments from people who seem genuinely a little confused.
“They’re like: ‘What?! she can blend better than me!' and I am like: 'Yeah I bloody can, don’t assume because people are disabled they have no skills' and I quite like that because you have the opportunity to educate people”.
Tess has recently started filming videos for her own YouTube channel called Tess Daly as well as continuing to upload her own make-up tutorials on to Instagram and Snapchat and showcasing her unique looks.
She said: “It’s a bit of fun but also, on the other hand, I love to do it and I feel so lucky to have made all these connections all over the world. I do genuinely feel like I’ve made tens of thousands of friends and it’s a great feeling. I can’t wait to make lots more.”