FASHION

NBA DANCER & CONGENITAL AMPUTEE

Amputee

Stephanie Thomas

DOCTORS SAID I WOULDN'T WALK, SO I DANCE!

I'm not a congenital amputee missing limbs, I am a congenital amputee born without a right thumb and toes on both feet that provide balance. Honestly growing up and as a young adult I felt shame and guilt for this fact. I wanted to be accepted by "them", you know the infamous "they"...what would "they" think, the fictitous people that I don't personally know and who don't have an impact on my life one way or another.  That's foolishness.

Today I am grateful, super grateful for my feet being exactly the way they are. Because my missing digits are not immediately noticeable I live in two worlds. In one world I'm treated "normal" in the other world I'm wierd a freak and have been told, "you're pretty, but your feet are f$%^ up". Really, Really (insert annoyed emoji of your choice). In the world of disabilitty, I'm often not "disabled enough".  I always know when someone's thinking this because they'll say, "Oh, what is your disability" My instincts make me want to say, "Why, why do you wanna ask?" But, I smile, and tell them my story, and then I get "the nod", the nod of approval that says, "you're ok, you're one of us". Well I'd like to say thank you for that, but I don't your approval either. I am intrinsictly approved because I exist, just like everyone else.

Many years ago I was a professional cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls during the early Jordan era. I started cheering the same season Scotty Pipen, and Horace Grant came aboard. I was cheering when Phil Jackson was still a part of the coaching bench for the Bulls. Oh, fun fact, during my audition I was number #23 out of hundreds of women, unfortunately I had no idea who Michael Jordan  was or that I should know the significance of that number. Ok, back to my story. Being a Luvabull and in my second year one of four captains of the team gave me a chance to do something I really love, dance. I love God's sense of humor, blessings me to be born without all of my toes, while at the same time giving me a natural abilty to move and express myself through dance. I'm also grateful that being born a congenital amputee gives me perspective in my work as a Disability Fashion Stylist. My personal story informs my work, I say my work, but it is really my life's work. I've attached the You Tube video of my work, but I'd like to leave you with this:

Define Yourself! If you don't define yourself someone else will. I am not an overcomer, I am not inspirational because I walk, my value is not attached to what I do, I am valuable because of who I am. If you love to "dance", don't let any diagnosis, or perception of others stop you from doing anything you love to do.

EMPOWER OTHERS!

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