Megan Fisher wasn't always known for the avant-garde makeup looks she posts to her nearly 17,000 Instagram followers today. In fact, she refers to her history with makeup as "basic." As a former national-level equestrian and member of the Reserve British Army, false eyelashes and bright eyeshadows weren't important to her. However, this changed in 2018 after the now 27-year-old developed maternal sepsis—a severe, potentially deadly infection of the uterus that can occur postpartum.
Since then, as Fisher describes, the chronic illness diagnoses began piling up. They include severe mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), epilepsy, POTS, and gastroparesis, among several others. Her conditions cause severe allergic reactions, seizures, and chronic pain, and she is unable to maintain her weight and adequate nutrition. As a result, she is fed via a feeding tube and is a full-time wheelchair user. She also has PTSD.
"The voices in my head started becoming out of control, especially after losing my home-based bakery, The Allergy Queen, to my health," Fisher says. "My husband became worried that I didn't have a reason or a purpose—I had always been a person that wanted to work hard."
Fisher's husband, who she met through the Army and college, had always encouraged her to pursue modeling, but she feared she wasn't good enough. Alternatively, he suggested she channel her love of art into makeup. She was initially hesitant, already hyper-aware of strangers' stares due to her medical devices. But she eventually warmed up to the idea and shared her first Instagram post in November 2021.
"For the first time in years, my 'old' personality shined through," Fisher says. "I'd had enough—the pressure of my journey released itself. I thought, 'Let's give them something to stare at!' Then, the color, passion, and sparkle were released."
Now Fisher creates makeup looks inspired by her conditions to encourage open conversations about disability and destigmatize "scary" medical devices. Many of her looks center around the colorful patterns of "tubie tape," used to hold a nasal feeding tube in place.
By accentuating the parts of her body she would usually feel embarrassed by, Fisher has developed a new sense of confidence and an appreciation for everything her body does to keep her alive. "Using makeup to express myself gave me a voice and confidence without having to speak," she explains.
Her makeup looks have also helped others with chronic illnesses or disabilities, inspiring them to confront their insecurities and show the world they are enough.
Fisher's talent and growing social media following have put her on the radar of some of her favorite brands. She is on the PR list for about-face, the makeup line created by Halsey, who recently announced they also have POTS and MCAS.
Fisher has to be especially careful about the products she uses due to her risk of allergies and anaphylaxis. She also has to seek out products with ability-inclusive features. Due to a suspected stroke, she has weakness in her right side that affects her ability to hold a makeup brush. She uses Kohl Kreatives makeup brushes, designed with larger handles that make them easier to grip. To clean her brushes, she uses Brushdoc, a powered makeup brush cleaner.
"This makes my life so much easier and allows me to work multiple days a week with my hands rather than having to take days off due to pain and worsened weakness in my hands," Fisher says. "It has truly been a lifesaver for me."
As for what's next for Fisher, she wants to continue connecting with new brands and developing her makeup skills in hopes of becoming a professional makeup artist for disabled models. She is also considering applying to BBC's Glow Up for the opportunity to represent the disabled community on a large platform. Additionally, she's hoping to land a modeling contract with a disability-friendly agency soon.
"Disability is seen largely as something that should be hidden, or you shouldn't be proud of," Fisher says. "I see my disabilities as beautiful scars. Makeup is an art form—it can be beautiful, it can be dark, and it has the power to enhance your scars. It can help people express who they are and the stories that disabled and chronically ill individuals have faced. The meaning of my work has always been that I want others to feel empowered to embrace their scars as they are there to [remind you] that you survived, you got through it, and you're strong."
If you know someone with a chronic illness, Fisher encourages you to check in on them regularly. Her loved ones' support has helped turn bad days around. She says she chooses to believe in herself thanks to their encouragement and is grateful for every moment she spends with them.
Fisher says, "I am strong. I am brave. I am a good mother. I am a good wife. I am a good daughter despite the physical and mental challenges I face. And for those reasons, I am enough, and you are too."