This woman was born without her right forearm, but she never allowed this to become an obstacle on her path to realize her dreams. She proved for sure that dreams do come true if we believe in ourselves.
Shaholly Ayers was just like any other kid but was born without a right forearm. At a very young age, she got so used to hearing the word “no.” Everywhere she went, she was always rejected. She was bullied as a kid in third grade, and they often called her names like “one-armed freak,” reported TODAY.
“Kids are really accepting when they’re young,” Ayers told TODAY. “But as I got a little older, around third grade, that’s when people started name-calling. I was beat up by a boy because of my disability. A neighborhood bully.”
But this congenital amputee never gave up. In college, she planned to pursue modeling as her career. But a modeling agency bluntly rejected her.
“I talked to one of the agents,” Ayers said. “And she told me, ‘There’s no way you’re going to be a model because you don’t have two arms.’ I tried to explain—I have a prosthesis, I can wear that—really trying to sell it.”
At first, she was mad and really upset, but she did not let the rejections stop her. People were mean to her, so instead of giving up under the emotional pressure, she actually steeled her mind to prove them wrong.
“I was so new, I was so green,” she said. “I didn’t have a portfolio or anything. I had to start at the very beginning. I worked with photographers and makeup artists to build my portfolio first, and then I started going to local boutiques and telling them I’d model for them. It worked.”
Ayers said then the work started pouring in, and there was no looking back for her. Ayers is now a popular fashion model. She has already been featured in various magazines such as Glamour.com, The New York Times, GQ Italia, and a few others. She has also modeled for different brands.
In 2015, Ayers walked the runway during the New York Fashion Week and also posed for Nordstrom catalog. She does sport her prosthesis but does not really feel the need for using it.
I’m comfortable wearing my prosthesis or not wearing it, but what I’ve found is that (directors) are really understanding,” Ayers told TODAY. “They want to be as true about it as possible. They say, ‘Would you wear a prosthesis with this, yes or no?’ For the first Nordstrom catalog, I was wearing a long coat. I don’t think (the prosthesis) even fit under that. With activewear, I wear the prosthesis every time.”
“I use it more as a tool,” she said. “I use it for working out primarily, kayaking, doing things outside.”
Ayers wants people to change the way they perceive disabled people. And her life itself is the best example that disability does not stop anyone from doing what they love or believe in. Indeed, Ayers is a great inspiration for everyone. She is the first amputee model, a partner of Love 4 Limbs and the Brand Ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion, a consulting firm that helps to hire people with disabilities.