My next interview is with a young woman who wishes to remain known as Happy Amputee, the nick she also uses to promote videos of hers on her YouTube Channel. She’s from Central America, 26 years old and a single mother of two girls, who likes music, nice clothes (especially high heels) and watching movies.
At age 13, she lost her right leg above the knee when she was hit by a car.
How did the amputation change your life?
“Losing a leg starting adolescence is very difficult, because it is the time when you start worrying about your appearance as a woman. It’s the time when kids start to look at you, and boys. In that respect it’s a stage of my life I lost, because no boy did. I was the “strange” girl with a disability that didn’t fit “normal” society. Also, since my accident occurred when high school started, I had to leave school for recovery. Afterwards I could not resume my studies for economic reasons.
Insurance provided me with a rudimentary prosthesis, which used to start. I changed it for another I used another couple of years, until it was damaged and since then I’ve not been able to get another. So, I’ve been using crutches for 9 years until recently. I managed to get help to get a new prosthesis, although it’s not fully paid for yet. I hope to get some help with my channel and the videos I’m doing to tackle the financial commitment of the prosthesis.
So, my amputation radically changed my life, and I feel like I missed much of it.”
How does being an amputee influence how you’re looking at yourself?
“I’ve always felt ashamed of myself being amputated. I never went to the beach or pools for shame that my disability could be seen. On the street, I did not like to wear clothes that’d expose my stump: no skirts or shorts. People’s eyes are very uncomfortable and even people came to me to tell me on several occasions not to show my stump, because they thought it looked impertinent.
Over time, and particularly the last year, I’ve improved though. I learned of devotees and I personally met one who changed my life. Now I feel much better with the way I am and how I look.”
How big a role in your life does being an amputee have?
“Being an amputee is a fundamental part of my life. Everything is different when you are missing a leg, from getting up from bed in the morning until I return to it at night. Showering can be a challenge, taking care of my two girls is even more. Going out for a walk, taking a bus, walking on crutches in the midst of a crowd is a risk, to get a job… my whole life revolves around it.”
Do you feel people in every day life look at you differently?
“Yeah, I can never go unnoticed. People can be very surprised, I appear to even give fear to some, others are curious, some are imprudent and ask me uncomfortable questions. Then there are people who feel displeased at seeing me, particularly if my stump is exposed.”
What would be your main exasperations in that respect?
“What bothers me are the uncomfortable questions, the looks with disgust and particularly that people are angry when I’m allowed to go first in a row, feeling I’m taking advantage of my condition.”
What would you most like to be different in how people look at you as an amputee?
“It’s okay to look at me curiously, but never unpleasantly. I am a person like any other. I’m missing a part of my body, but my inner being remains the same, with the same feelings, only with a little difficulty. It’s okay to give me some help, but do so because you want to do it, and not out of pity.”
You recently started a YouTube channel, showing videos of yourself. What made you decide to go do it?
“I do not currently have a job, and for an amputee with no education it’s almost impossible to get one, more if you walk on crutches. Perhaps with a prosthesis it would be easier to get a job and continue my life, but being unemployed I have no resources to pay for one.
This was how I decided to start a YouTube channel to help me generate income to pay my prosthesis through donations, video sales and revenues from YouTube.”
What do you think of the response you received?
“I am very happy with the response from visitors to the channel. I’ve been in touch with many and it even has helped me to raise my self-esteem: they make me feel valuable and beautiful.”
You also do videos ‘on request’ I think? What do you think of the requests you got so far?
“So far, they have been feasible. Nobody has asked me for a vulgar video or anything going against my principles. So yes, I ‘m still doing on requests.”
Did starting the YouTube channel change the way you look at yourself?
“Definitely. My self-esteem went up a lot. I even feel more confident when I walk down the street and people look at me or greet me. The girl I see in the mirror now is self-confident and happy to be the girl she is.”
When did you first become aware of the existence of devotees?
“A few months ago I uploaded a picture to a social network that showed my condition as an amputee. I was surprised at the number of requests I got after publishing the pic, and I started talking to some guys. One of them became my friend, and he was the one who explained me the whole issue of devotees.”
What was your initial feeling about it?
“Initially I felt afraid of those people, believing they were strange and had bad intentions. But I eventually realized the idea and now it’s something I like. Talking with them made me discover they are people with a particular taste, who can become very special and important in my life.”
Did that change over time?
“Yes, I was slowly changing as I learned more about it. Now I see devotees as boys of good intentions (mostly) and with a particular taste for special girls like me, girls who usually cause displeasure to guys who are not devotees. So I love that there are devotees.”
Does modeling for your YouTube channel play any role in how you look at devotees?
“Yes, I try to read all the reviews to know exactly what they like, what they want to see. As long as they’re respectful, modeling for them and pleasing them makes me feel good. I feel I can do something in return for their generosity.”
Of course I like that you speak of devotees in very positive terms, however I’d also be curious if you’ve had negative experiences. Not everyone in the devotee world is respectful after all, unfortunately.
“Really, until now I’ve not had bad experiencies with devotees!”
You describe devotees as people with “a particular taste for girls like me.” Doesn’t it bother you that devotees like something about you that is part of your being disabled, part of the very thing that is a fundamental and troublesome part of your life?
“I’m not disabled, I’m just a girl with a missing part, no big deal :). For me… it’s like having big boobs or a big ass. Guys like that, and so I have a big stump. That’s my charm :)”
You also talk of ‘generosity’. Meaning you are raising substantial amounts of money with the channel and the videos you sell?
“Even if you give me 1 dollar I’d call that generosity. Every single dollar is a big help to me. And no, the channel doesn’t bring me any money. I need millons of views to get money from YouTube. I’ve had some donations, but the more important revenue part is videos on request. Guys send me money for videos with special requests. It’s not a lot, but I can pay part of my loan and buy personal things that I need. I don’t have a job.”
If you could give devotees some advice, what would it be?
“Remember that amputees are people like any other. We only have a different physical condition. We are not a complement to a stump, we want to be treated as individuals, with respect, and our amputation is only part of our appeal.”
And finally, is there anything I didn’t ask that you would have loved to tell?
“Not yet :)”
Happy Amputee’s YouTube channel can be found here.