At the age of two, Barbie Thomas climbed onto an electrical transformer and grabbed hold of the wires. The ensuing electrical charge hurried through her tiny body and scorched her arms all the way down to the bone, leaving them, according to her interview with the Daily Mail, like charcoal. “’The doctor said I wouldn’t live – and if I did live, I’d probably be a vegetable.”
But she did. Even after losing both of her arms, Barbie Thomas is inspiring us in millions of different ways.
Not only did she go on to become a mother of two teenage boys, Barbie has also enjoyed showing everyone just how much fun there is to be had and how much can be achieved, no matter your circumstances. Through her high school years, she was on her school’s swim team and participated in dance and soccer. She was an active teenager and loved staying in shape.
In 2000, she was bit by the bodybuilding bug. “I used to read about all the fitness competitors in magazines. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to be like [these women] and do the things they were doing. I thought it was amazing.”
In 2003, she entered her first competition. “I did get some funny looks. I’m sure people were wondering what I thought I was doing up there,” Barbie explains. “But after I did my routine for the first time, people realized that I was an athlete just like the rest of them – and I did belong up there,” she gushes. “I don’t know why they go as crazy as they do for me; maybe it’s something different.”
Or maybe it’s just that her bravery and her cheery disposition hook everyone from the moment she flashes her wide, friendly smile. Just this past weekend, at the NPC Junior USA Bodybuilding Championship, she scored the only standing ovation in a group of several hundred other competitors, both male and female. She may not have finished as high as the others, but Barbie Thomas definitely won over the hearts of everyone in the audience that day.
Of course, overcoming obstacles isn’t anything new to her. Each day, she brushes her teeth, gets dressed, texts, cooks and drives—all with her feet. If that wasn’t enough, she maintains her lean physique by keeping up with an active workout regimen… and by trying to get her boys to do their chores.
For those around her, she is nothing but encouraging. “The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself,” she says. “Everyone has limitations and handicaps in some way or another – mine are more visible than yours maybe…. You can do whatever you put your mind to.”