I am so starstruck for Debbie van der Putten and you will be too!
Look at this photo and I challenge you to find a single imperfection.
Debbie became a model after a freak accident and a totally unpredictable chain of events. She has graced the pages of Elle Magazine, Playboy, and Cosmogirl. Still haven’t spotted her disability? I’ll give you another chance:
Maybe you caught it this time. Debbie lost her arm in a bus crash before she ever thought of becoming a model, but her photos prove that she is first a model and then an amputee. When I look at this picture I see an absolutely stunning woman with an expression on her face that completely draws you in. It’s only when your eyes drift away from the picture that you might catch the missing arm–a complete afterthought.
It all started in 2005… During her rehabilitation, her doctor encouraged her to participate Holland’s upcoming beauty pageant for disabled women: Miss Ability. This is where she walked her first catwalk, and though she did not win, her life would be forever changed. From this exposure, she was given the opportunity to pose for Dutch Playboy as the first amputee in Europe! (She did it!)
She continued modeling for charities until she was asked to be part of the Britain’s Missing Model–a reality show where 8 women with disabilities compete for the title. She didn’t make it too far in the competition, but it did start her on a new leg of her journey. Through this experience, she became the spokesperson for Models of Diversity–a non profit in London that advocates for all types of models regardless of their ethnicity or their physical abilities.
As the above video shows, Debbie was part of the Paralymic coverage in London last year. She is still modeling while pursuing her current endeavors to make disability more mainstream and to change perceptions.
Initially I found it hard to accept. I now belonged to a group of people who I thought were lonely. I thought I could forget about ever feeling pretty again; I was disabled.
But then I looked up the word ‘disabled’ in the dictionary. The definition lists words such as lame, defect, weakness and lack; words which definitely do not describe my personality!
Knowing I was so much more than a label that society lumps people with; I wasn’t going to hide away. – Debbie
Debbie never felt comfortable wearing her prosthetic arm, so she doesn’t. She walks down the street unapologetically and models on an international stage; she faces her disability in such a public way so she can be a role model for others, to let them know you can be disabled and beautiful. Or rather, first beautiful and then disabled.