Impact Style’s Joanna Grimwood has been delving into lives of the individuals who have made large strides within the fashion industry despite facing adversity. This is their story – one by one. To kick off the series: model, Lauren Wasser’s story!
Until unforeseen circumstance saw her right leg being amputated, Lauren Wasser had been destined for a life within the fashion industry. The daughter of two models, Wasser’s modelling career began when she appeared in an issue of Vogue at just two months old. As a teenager, she turned down a Division 1 basketball scholarship to continue pursuing her blossoming modelling career.
In 2012, when the model was twenty-four years old an almost fatal case of toxic shock syndrome resulted in her live being transformed forever. It was at a friend’s party that Wasser began to feel unwell. After returning to her house in California, she began running a one hundred and seven degree Fahrenheit (almost 42 degrees Celsius) temperature. Police arrived at her home, after her family raised worries that the model had not checked in with them for an unusually long time. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was placed in a medically induced coma.
Doctors soon determined that Wasser had toxic shock syndrome, which is a type of blood poisoning caused by a bacterial infection that results from the use of tampons or an IUD (Intrauterine Device – a contraception method). Unfortunately, by the time that Wasser received medical treatment her limbs had become gangrenous and doctors were unable to save her right leg, resulting in its amputation.
“It took me a while to figure out if I was still worthy, if I was still pretty”
Understandably, Wasser found adjustment to life as an amputee difficult, especially as someone who had based their life and identity on her appearance. The model said it herself: “Everything was based on looks”. Her acknowledgement of the superficiality of the industry within which she worked only made it harder for her to come to terms with her disability. Wasser stated: “It took me a while to figure out if I was still worthy, if I was still pretty”.
Wasser’s girlfriend Jennifer Rovero, decided to aid the mental healing process by frequently taking photographs of the model in the months following her amputation. Wasser exclaimed: “It wasn’t until I met my girlfriend who forced me to do what she calls photo therapy [that] I started to see myself in a new light and how other amputees were responding”. The “photo therapy”, as they soon called it, allowed Wasser to adjust to the changes to her body. She soon began to believe that they made her a beautiful person inside and out, but in a different way than before.
Three years later, Lauren Wasser has now returned to professional modelling, making huge advances in societies’ current definition of beauty. Wasser was chosen to model for the Nordstroms holiday catalog, which she used as a debut after her horrific ordeal. On Instagram, Wasser exclaimed: “Huge moment for me and [my girlfriend] … my first real job back in the modelling game”.
In December, Wasser and Rovero released photographs that resembled those of Kylie Jenner, which were featured in January’s issue of Interview magazine (read Impact’s comment on the original shoot here). The photographs were released to show their distaste for Jenner posing in a wheelchair. The couple felt that the original photographs undermined the hardships of living life with a disability.
In addition to returning to modelling, Wasser has begun a campaign to raise awareness of toxic shock syndrome, a syndrome which has been reported to occur in one in one hundred thousand women. She has started her campaign by sharing her story with the publication, Vice.
“I knew I had to create a platform and do what I could to show this side of beauty”
It is extremely admirable that someone who was so entrenched in the attitudes of the industry in which she was involved, has come back to revolutionize it. In Wasser’s words: “I knew I had to create a platform and do what I could to show this side of beauty”.
Check out her blog The Impossible Muse here
Go here to check out Lauren’s girlfriend and photographer, Jennifer Rovero’s Instagram
Get more information on Toxic shock syndrome here
Image Credits: theimpossiblemuse via Instagram, the impossible muse blog