At 24, Lauren Wasser was given a one percent chance to live. At 30, Vogue Magazine dubbed her “Fashion’s Girl with the Golden Legs.” After toxic shock syndrome (from a regular ol’ tampon) almost claimed her life, Lauren fought to become the unconventional icon we deserved, but didn’t know we needed.
The model and actor has been through hell and back, and now uses her platform to advocate for women’s health, among other social issues. And she does so with a sense of humor, two golden legs, and a type of positivity that can only come from being on the brink of losing it all. This “f*ck it” attitude is what will continue to propel Lauren into the spotlight in 2019.
Can you tell your story in your own words and explain to our readers what happened to you at the age 24?
When I was 24 years old, I almost died from toxic shock syndrome caused by a tampon, using the product as I should. I had developed a 107-degree fever, my kidneys and other vital organs started to shut down. I suffered a massive heart attack and was given a one percent chance of survival. Gangrene had developed in my right foot and was moving quickly up my leg. They had to amputate below the knee. My left foot was severely damaged and doctors said there was a 50 percent chance that it wouldn’t work. This past January of 2018, after six years of fighting for a foot that had no toes or heel, I made the decision to have it amputated. I’m so happy to say I am finally pain-free and I can do anything and everything with my new pair of golden legs!
You’ve turned a traumatic experience into something positive. How do you maintain that positive outlook on life?
I maintain positivity because I am so lucky to be alive and get this second chance to be on this planet. I’m going to do everything in my power to change, inspire and to live my best life because we only get this one shot. I want to lead by example and hope others will do the same.
What do you hope people learn from following your journey?
I hope people get angry and driven to make a change, because toxic shock syndrome can be prevented and it’s 2019... No more young girls or women should be in danger or dying because of a women’s hygiene product. One life is too many!
I also hope whoever sees me and is maybe facing a hard time in life or just struggling in some way can see how far I have come and see all is possible. I hope that the that fact I didn’t give up will encourage them to keep pushing because they can make it, too.
There’s a big emphasis on social media, especially when it comes to models. How has it impacted your career?
Well, being called “Fashion’s Girl with the Golden Legs” by Vogue magazine was one of the coolest moments for me. I definitely think social media has brought a ton of opportunities and also has given me the voice/platform needed to tell my story. TSS is thought to be unrealistic and rare but in reality, it affects women and girls around the world every single day. Social media has helped me to tell my story and educate others.
Why is it important for models to pay it forward and use their voices?
You have this platform to be able to give insight and shed positive light so, do it! Use what you have to spread love and for the greater good.
What would you change about the fashion + modeling industries if you could?
To be honest, I think it’s improving so much! I was just on the cover of ELLE Czech Republic. Me, on the cover, with a blue Versace dress with these gold ass legs. I have never seen someone like myself grace the cover of a high-fashion magazine. It’s amazing! I’m so grateful and excited for 2019 because I’ll be wearing some heels this season.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
Being able to be an example of God’s work and give hope to people and families going through the hardest moments of their lives. To have faith and believe because miracles do happen.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Something I experienced first-hand: Trust your gut instinct in whatever situation. It doesn’t lie. 💯
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career to date?
Being a part of Loudermilk, a television show on DirecTV. I play “Memphis.” It was created by Peter Farrelly, who is a genius and the man behind one of the greatest movies of all time: “Dumb and Dumber.” Being cast and acting alongside some amazing people like Ron Livingston and Will Sasso is honestly a dream!
I don’t think I have had just one highlight, and I don’t think I have really even started. Having to be in pain and misery trying to save my left foot for the past six years held me back in all aspects of my life. This past January, when I finally amputated my leg and got my second golden leg, was the first time I have felt pain-free and finally like myself again. That being said, I think you haven’t seen anything from me yet and 2019 is going to be HUGE just for me in life and in my career.
Where does your passion/drive come from?
Almost losing my life has opened my eyes to how precious life is and knowing that this is my second shot, I want to be my best and do my best. I get my strength from God and the fact that so many women lost their lives to TSS and I barely got away. I’m their voice you will never hear and I’m the face you will never see. For the women who have been affected or died over the past 30 years, I want to open the eyes of the world to show that TSS shouldn’t even be a thing in this day and age. I want to protect, inform, and educate the women and men of tomorrow. That’s my drive.
Whose career really inspires you?
I’m not really sure how to answer that. I admire some actors and their craft. But I mostly admire the people who get up every day even though they have every reason to stay in bed or hide or not want to face the world. People who have real-life shit happening, but yet they are still at their jobs, they are still going places, they are still living their life. That’s inspiring.
When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?
Great quote: “Failure is an opportunity in disguise” - Max Weigand
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for in 2019?
Too much to share, you just have to stay tuned ;)
Photography by Annie McElwain Photography
Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica