Clelia Rodrigues has a congenital disorder that prevents her from using her hands and arms – but the 27-year-old hasn't allowed her disability to stand in the way of her becoming a professional makeup artist.
Born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (CMA), which causes severe stiffness in the joints, Clelia, who is from Minas Gerais in Brazil, uses her mouth to hold her makeup brushes.
On her popular TikTok account, which has over 820 000 followers, Clelia can be seen transforming women, one brushstroke at a time.
Her mother, Rita, is also a makeup artist and growing up, Clelia was inspired watching her at work.
She noticed the positive effect it had on her clients.
“I thought it was beautiful for them to leave happy because they were more beautiful and to see how important that was for their self-esteem," Clelia says.
Clelia started practising makeup application on her friends and when her technique was perfect, she went professional at 24.
After one of her first clients posted a video of her doing her makeup, other professional artists reached out to Clelia and paid for her to go to various makeup courses and workshops.
She’s adapted the tools she works with for her disorder. For example, her blending sponge is attached to the end of a stick so she doesn’t have to hold it directly in her mouth, allowing her to keep enough of a hygienic distance from her clients.
Lipstick is taken from a traditional container and applied with a brush. When it comes to things that need to be done by hand, like applying cream or pulling the eye to apply the pencil, she asks clients to help.
"I adapt the way I can and I don't think, 'Oh, I can't',” Clelia says.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, she’s had to reduce the number of clients she sees every day.
Instead, she’s focused on growing her accounts on social media and uses her mouth and nose to edit the videos she posts on TikTok and YouTube.
When the pandemic passes, she hopes to reap the rewards of her sudden fame.
“My dream is to give lectures on makeup. I don't just want to tell people about techniques, I want to tell my story, to inspire everyone that they can be whatever they want,” Clelia says.