The 22-year-old has over two million followers on TikTok where he shares makeup tutorials and glimpses of his day-to-day life with his husband.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 8, 2021. It has since been updated.
At the young age of 22, Gabe Adams-Wheatley has faced—and spectacularly overcome—more challenges than most of us could ever imagine. Born in Brazil with a severe form of Hanhart Syndrome, a rare condition that caused him to be born without legs or arms, he was put up for adoption at 9 months old. "I was adopted by a Utah family here in the US, and when they were adopting me, my mom was pregnant with her 11th child; she now has 13 of her own biological children, and I am her only adopted child," Gabe told PopSugar. Today, this inspiring young man has over two million followers on TikTok where he shares makeup tutorials, glimpses of his day-to-day life with his husband, and insights into how he goes about his daily routine without limbs.
Gabe credits his loving family's unwavering love and support for teaching him the importance of being as independent as possible. Speaking to Queerty back in February 2021, he revealed that growing up, his parents would encourage him to do as much as he possibly could on his own, including getting dressed, moving around outdoors with the aid of an electric wheelchair, and getting up and down the stairs inside their house unaided. Although incredibly difficult at the time, Gabe says he is now grateful for their tough love as they helped shape him into the man he is today.
He still remembers how his mom encouraged him to focus on the positives in his life when he was bullied in school. "I would come home in tears because people would make fun of me for the fact I have no arms or legs," Gabe recalled. "One day my mum was like, 'I need you to look in the mirror and name ten things you like about yourself. Then I want you to go to school and pick ten people and say one nice thing about them.' Just doing that generated this positivity in my life that made me strive to do better and be happy for myself so I could give my best to everybody else."
When the bullying got really bad, Gabe switched schools for a year in ninth grade. "I had to find my confidence again before I went back into the public school system, and when I did, I decided I wanted to join a dance company. That's when my excuse to get into makeup came. I had always been interested in beauty — I have four sisters, and they're all gorgeous, and my mom is also stunning. I always loved just sitting there watching them do their makeup and how each one of them did it so differently — whether that was starting with their eyeshadow first or starting with their foundation first," he explained.
"I started watching a lot of makeup YouTubers on their techniques and taking into consideration what works best for me because I have to use the makeup brushes and the beauty sponges in a very different and unique way. When I first started doing my makeup, the best way I could think of was to lie down and have a towel on the ground so I wasn't getting any products on the carpet. I had one of those circular, flat sponges that you can buy at Ulta, and I did my makeup lying down, but I was always having to lift my head up and would get kinks in my neck because it wasn't the best position to be in," Gabe shared.
"At the time, I had been doing motivational speaker work for about five years," he continued. "I actually never truly enjoyed it, I just thought it was something that I should be doing because there's a lot of people that could benefit from it, but when COVID-19 hit, I was like, 'Oh, this is the perfect point for me to actually do something that I want to do.' That's when I dove into making makeup videos. I was in my brother's house at the time, and I had this TV stand that hit just above my chest area, and I would do my makeup there every single day. The first video I ever posted, it was just from the neck up, and there were a bunch of comments saying, 'Why is he doing it this way?' and 'What's going on?,' and I was like, 'Oh, I need to show that I actually don't have arms and legs in the beginning of the video to people understand.' When I started to do that, the videos skyrocketed. Everybody was like, 'Whoa!'"
"It's still mind-boggling that this has been a possibility for me. It's always been a dream of mine to be somebody that people look up to and want advice from, and so now that I'm actually there, it's amazing," Gabe said, adding that although he's faced negative comments from some online, the positive response to his videos has eclipsed the negativity. "The thing that makes me so happy and makes me want to continue doing makeup and posting it on social media is when I get the comments and the messages from parents saying that their 4-year-old wakes up in the morning and says that they want to watch my videos while they eat their breakfast, or people who are going through a really hard time will scroll through my feed just to brighten their day and get a different outlook on life."
"And so, I hope that continues in many ways, not just for those people but also for people who are with disabilities, or in the gay community, or in any kind of community," he added. "I just hope that my content brightens their day and makes them want to better themselves and know that everybody goes through different things and comes from different walks of life. That's what makes us unique and special in our own ways, and it needs to be celebrated."