by Debbie Van de Putten
My name is Debbie Van de Putten I’m a 26 year old from The Netherlands. And at least every 2 months I travel to London to work as a model and spokes person.
In 2005 at the age of 19, I went on holiday to Spain with friends. Because we were students at the time, we wanted to cut the costs of flying into Spain, so we decided to take an express bus. After being on the road for 16 hours, our bus driver fell asleep and our bus crashed. In the accident, my right arm was ripped off . I remember remaining calm and I realized I was losing alot of blood. I asked a surviving passenger for his belt to stop the bleeding. After that it all became foggy but a few hours later I woke up in a french hospital and was told that the doctors weren’t able to save my right arm.
Because I have been left handed all my life I didn’t have to learn allot. Everything went quite naturely and before I knew it, I was working again as a shopmanager in a childrens boutique selling high fashion labels. Because I accepted my circumstance from the start, it was easy for my friends and family to accept the outlook as well and nobody ever treated me any different. To this day I am very open about it and I never try to hide my arm. That makes it easier for people to approach me and talk to me about what happened.
My Modeling Start
One day, my rehabilitation coordinator got a phone call from the producers of a big dutch tv broadcasting company doing a TV show called “Miss Ability”. They asked him if he knew of any girls that could be interested in being part of the show. The show was a beauty pageant for young disabled women and the winner would become a spokesperson for disabled teens rights. I tried out and joined the tv show. I got third place. Some time after that, I received a phonecall from the Dutch Playboy magazine and they asked me if I was interested in posing for them as the first “amputee” in Europe. I would have the chance to direct my own shoot and it would be a positive campaign. I decided to go for it and it became international news!
Things began to move really fast and I received very positive reactions on everything I was doing. People were surprised and shocked even, but always respected what I was doing because I was sending a message. And that was that I wanted the media to change and bring more individuals with disabilities into tv shows, fashion magazines and put them on the billboards. Not necessarily involving me, but to use disabled models, presenters and spokespersons, that would make me so happy. There are so many beautiful and talented disabled people out there.
BBC’s “Missing Top Model”
Two years after Miss Ability, I was working in South Africa as spokesperson for a dutch company when I received a phonecall from Love Productions. They were going to make a reality TV series about eight girls looking to make it as fashion models in the London fashion scene. At that point I never modeled for fashion before. I did some photo shoots with interviews, and of course the Dutch Playboy shoot but never a fashion shoot and I love fashion so I decided to go for it! Once my part on the show ended, I was signed by Angel Sinclair Model Management in London and this past January by Ben Barry Agency in Toronto, Canada. These days, I am proud to say that I am a fulltime fashion model, a spokesperson, and I campaign for more diversity in the world of fashion and media.
After BBC’s “Missing Top Model” Sophie Morgan, the shows runner up, started the IMperfect Campaign. A campaign which aims to celebrate diversity by drawing attention to individuals who have surpassed expectation and affect change in all areas of life. Also to raise awareness of the disability-based discrimination in media. It has been such a success in the UK and I decided to get involved and began the campaign in Holland.
Follow Your Dreams
If you have a dream, follow it! I did and now I am traveling the world campaigning for more diversity, working with top photographers, fashion labels and models! I’m even going into space in 2014 as first person with a disability with a Dutch company called Curacao Space Expedition to promote space tourism for everyone, even people with disabilities! How amazing is that!
Disabled Life Media would like to thank Debbie Van de Putten for submitting and sharing her story with us!
Follow Debbie on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/DebsMoD
All images shown are copyrighted and owned by their respective owners