Impossible is not a word that Bebe Vio Grandis subscribes to. In fact, she’s put it out of her mind so much that she’s adopted the mantra that if something seems impossible, then it can be done. If you know the fencing world champion and Paraplympic medalist, then you get it. If you don’t know her, well, you will soon, because the 25-year-old Venice native has just become the newest member of the L’Oréal Paris family of spokeswomen who embody the strength and spirit of the brand.
As one of the youngest faces of the brand, Vio Grandis plans to use the global platform to spotlight the strength of people living with disabilities, as well as to empower women across generations to lean into their fears and turn them into another F-word — fuel. It’s an experience she knows all too well. After contracting acute meningitis at the age of 11, the star athlete lost her limbs. Instead of forcing her to give up fencing — which she had been doing since the age of five — it made her pivot, and choose to triumph over adversity rather than succumb to the fear of failure. It’s the reason why she’s been given the nickname the phoenix.
“The phoenix can live and die and burn and live again,” she said. “My scout group saw me in each step living, dying, burning, and then living again.”
With dreams to grow the Bebe Vio Academy she launched in partnership with Nike, to expand her foundation art4sport, which offers sport as therapy for children with physical challenges, and to one day become the president of the Italian Paralympic Committee, her momentum shows no signs of slowing down. And with this new role with L’Oréal Paris, the philanthropist and generation icon gets to be a role model for even more young girls and women around the world.
She recently shared some of her story and beauty favorites in a candid Q&A. Keep reading to learn more about why this woman of worth has no real beauty secrets and where she gets the undying confidence that she generously spreads to everyone around her.
What message do you aspire to share and bring as a L’Oréal Paris spokesperson?
I believe in the strength of women, and I would like every woman to be aware of her beauty, importance and uniqueness.
What is something no one could guess about you?
That I am always afraid. [I have this] fear of not being up to my task, of not working hard enough, or not being able to motivate others sufficiently to achieve our common goals, and above all of not being a positive example for the children who believe in me and who follow me. But luckily I’m able to transform fear into energy and find the strength to always try.
What’s your secret to feeling beautiful?
I love myself and I love my body. I know I’m not perfect but I like myself as I am, because I believe in the unique beauty that each of us has.
Tell us about your daily beauty routine.
I’m very simple. In the morning I wash my face and then apply hyaluronic acid [serum], then some mascara — [L’Oréal Paris Air Volume Mega Mascara is my favorite] — and go. I have no [beauty] secrets and I don’t use a lot of makeup because I like myself the way I am.
How do you define the relationship between beauty and sports?
Fencing is a very elegant sport but it physically upsets you. After each match I am unpresentable, all red, disheveled and sweaty — but I like it that way!
What do you think we can all do to empower more women?
I believe very much in the strength of women and I want every woman to be aware of her strength and believe in herself. Our job is to make them aware.
What helped shape your own sense of worth?
I’m an athlete and I love competition. Since I was a kid, I have learned to fight to achieve my goals. Together with my teammates we have almost always succeeded and the objectives that we have not reached are there waiting for us, and we will go get them. Because we are worth it!
Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Sofia and Mauro for L'Oréal Paris