Meet the Model With Golden Legs Who Set Out to Make the Fashion World More Inclusive
Lauren Wasser was only 24 when her whole world came crashing down. The model lost her legs due to an infection. But instead of giving up, Wasser returned to the fashion world to try and make it more inclusive. Thus, she became “The girl with the golden legs” due to her bright prosthetics and stellar attitude — never taking “no” for an answer.
Lauren Wasser grew up in a family of models.
Lauren Wasser was born on March 2, 1988, in California. Her parents were professional models, and Wasser made her first appearance alongside her mom in Vogue when she was only 4 months old. Growing up in a family that worked in the fashion industry, the young girl was naturally drawn toward this career.
Up until her illness, she lived a very active life.
Wasser’s other big passion was basketball — she was so talented at the sport that she even got a prestigious athletic scholarship. Despite her love for the game, Wasser decided to focus on her budding modeling career instead. But living a very active lifestyle continued to be the norm for the young model for several years.
She was only 24 years old when her world came crashing down.
Life was going really well for Wasser, but everything changed when she was taken to the hospital with a high fever. Later she was diagnosed with Toxic Shock Syndrome, and doctors said she only had a 1% chance of survival.
The 24-year-old model was put in a medically-induced coma, and unfortunately, both of her legs were affected by the disease. She needed to have her right leg and left toes amputated. A few years later, her left leg had to be amputated as well.
Wasser struggled to accept her new condition, but found a great source of support in her family.
When Wasser woke up in the hospital, she had to realize that her whole world had changed. “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. I cried and screamed for my mom not to allow it to happen,” she later recalled the ordeal.
After Wasser was released, she couldn’t come to terms with her new condition and got very depressed. Thankfully, her family never left her side and supported her in these challenging times.
Her little brother, who was only 13 at the time, was one of the main reasons Wasser chose to not give up and make the best of her life. “I wanted to show him that no matter what happens, you have to make the best out of things.” After spending 8 months in a wheelchair, Wasser got a prosthetic leg and foot and could walk again.
She returned to modeling as the “girl with the golden legs.”
“My whole job has been to show that you are enough, and you’re beautiful in the skin you’re in and highlighting your scars and the things that you hate most.” With this resolution in mind, Lauren Wasser decided to return to the modeling industry and started looking for gigs again. Many of her colleagues were supportive, but some people doubted whether she could truly make a comeback.
Wasser opted for gold-toned prosthetics instead of ones that matched her skin once she had come to terms with her new condition. “Making it my own and giving it life, so to speak, changed my perception,” she said, explaining her choice in an interview. Thus, she became the “girl with the golden legs,” and started walking for famous designers again.
Currently, she’s still taking the fashion world by storm and fighting for more inclusivity.
After having her left leg amputated because of the pain, the model can now live a more active life again. She’s returned to her passion — basketball, and is planning to run a marathon soon. Wasser’s modeling career continues to be on the rise. In 2022, she walked for Gabriela Hearst and Louis Vuitton and appeared in campaigns for Lacoste, Furla, and Shiseido.
The successful model also continues her fight to make the fashion world more inclusive and accepting of people with different disabilities and conditions. Her activism and her work in fashion have prompted Harper’s Bazaar to choose her as one of the inspiring women on their special-edition Women of the Year 2022 covers. “I’ve worked so hard to be myself and never take ‘no’ for an answer,” is how Lauren Wasser sums up her success.
Who’s your favorite model? What do you think about Lauren Wasser’s story?