“I think I’m more beautiful now than I’ve ever been, inside and out.”
To call Lauren Wasser multifaceted would be an understatement. The daughter of two models, she appeared in Italian Vogue at just 2 months old. As a teenager, she excelled in athletics, earning a Division 1 basketball scholarship, which she turned down to pursue her modeling career. In between modeling gigs, she took classes at Hollywood’s world-famous Groundlings theater and biked 30 miles a day. But her life was turned upside down in October 2012 when the 24-year-old noticed that she was feeling a bit “off.” She would lie in bed for countless days until going to the hospital with a 107-degree fever.
When she got to the hospital, doctors determined that she was suffering from toxic shock syndrome, a complication of bacterial infections linked to tampon use. Eventually, Wasser developed gangrene in her hands and feet. “It’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever—I don't know how to describe it to you,” she would later say to Vice. The gangrene eventually led to the amputation of her right leg below the knee. “I wanted to kill myself when I got home,” she said. “I was this girl—and then all of a sudden I don’t have a leg, I’m in a wheelchair, I have half a foot, I can’t even walk to the bathroom.”
Recently, with the help of her photographer girlfriend, Jennifer Rovero, Wasser made a dramatic return to the modeling game with a spot in the Nordstrom holiday catalog. “Super stoked to see this out!” she wrote on Instagram. “Huge moment for me & [my girlfriend] … my first real job back in the modeling game. We both cried that day face timing my mom on set in disbelief to have even been chosen for the [Nordstrom] Holiday catalog.”
Wasser also had some fun recently by taking shots at Kylie Jenner, who drew heavy criticism for posing in a wheelchair for Interview.
Wasser attributes the comeback to her girlfriend, who took lots of pictures of her to help her overcome depression via “photo therapy.” “She would just keep shooting me, and shooting me, even in the moments when I didn’t want her to shoot me,” Wasser said. “I would just mean mug her, and be so angry, but through her showing me those pictures, I saw myself in a whole different light. I think I’m more beautiful now than I’ve ever been, inside and out.”