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Asperger's and me; a bridal make-up artist's first-hand account

04 Aug 2022

One bridal make-up artist shares how her Asperger's Syndrome has finally given her an appreciation for life as she knows it

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Image gallery

My name is Eleanor Norman and I am a bridal make-up artist... with a twist.

At age three, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism that makes communication and processing social cues extremely challenging. As a result, it took me longer to reach the usual milestones most children achieve, such as saying my first words.

I'm not alone; according to the National Autistic Society, as many as 700,000 people in the UK have some form of autism. This equates to one in every hundred people living with a challenging condition that doesn't get better over time.

School was particularly hard, partially because I found processing questions difficult but also due to not feeling part of any group. Asperger's can be a lonely condition, especially for a child, as many scenarios in school life reminded me that I thought differently to my peers. I was bullied and teased; punished for having a disability.

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Above: Eleanor and partner Chris Willin, to whom she is engaged

After leaving school, I attended Cambridge Regional College to study Hair & Media Make-up as I had developed a flair and interest in beauty. While I struggled still with social aspects of the setting, I finally found something that allowed me to be 'me'. It was here that I attended a masterclass with BBC Three Glow Up presenter Dominic Skinner. To see someone who has such creativity and vision only served to spur me on more.

I decided to begin my own business, Ellie Norman Makeup Artist. Work was initially slow, and I found the social side of the role kept me outside of my comfort zone. But I learnt, I challenged myself, and I persevered.

In 2021, I took my next big plunge into the unknown by quitting my part-time job to focus entirely on my own business. The decision caused me great anxiety as this overwhelmed my Asperger's way of thinking, but I was determined to make it work. I had to. 

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Above: Eleanor now runs a successful make-up artistry business in East Anglia

I enrolled with a bridal make-up agency to supplement my income and have received nothing but praise from the incredible brides and families that I have been lucky enough to meet. Did I inform the clients that I have a form of autism? No, but why not? I felt this was something to be hidden thanks to my negative experiences at school. 

What changed? I recently had to do make-up for the sister of a bride who also had Asperger's. This information was presented to me almost with a sense of concern, that I may recoil in horror at this news. Instead, I informed the bride that I too had the condition, and I could almost feel the relief from her in knowing that this potential issue was resolved. A kindred spirit was here to help her sister. It got me thinking. 

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Above: Eleanor has learned to embrace her differences and struggles, and turn them into something positive

I shouldn't hide my condition, it has made me who I am today. My condition allows me to see the finer details and to follow every instruction to the letter. I have provided make-up for brides all over East Anglia. I have assisted with make-up for proms, marketing and production videos. I am in control of my own social media marketing, a beautiful website and a blog. I plan to create videos to show that despite being neurodivergent, you CAN achieve your dreams. Do not let it weigh down your motivation; your goals are there for you to grab.

My condition doesn't hold me back, it encourages me to push harder for my clients. My brides deserve the level of attention that someone with my condition can provide. Embrace yourself, and your work will speak for itself.

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