Thousands, if not millions of little girls grow up with dreams of becoming models. Shaholly Ayers was one of them.
She was just like any little kid. She had friends, played sports, and went to school. But when she reached third grade, something changed. “People started name-calling,” which might not sound that abnormal, but it was because Shaholly was special.
A congenital amputee, Shaholly was born without her right arm below the elbow. Teachers, coaches, and other people began telling her a word she’s sadly grown used to hearing: no.
An agent told Shaholly, “There’s no way you’re going to be a model because you don’t have two arms,” but that never held her back.
“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.”
She began getting work, but still, some photographers asked her to hide or cover up her disability. As time went on, though, the industry evolved and turned an eye towards inclusion.
From the Broken doll series. We shot this during a time when disability was not prevalent. Prior to this I either consciously hid my arm or photographers would ask me to hide it. Jenny was one of the first photographers I worked with that told me to be myself and encouraged my difference! I ❤ you Jenny! Photographer @jennychenphotography . . . . . #creative #fun #model #amputee #bodypositive #adaptive #fashion #makeup #shoes #disability #diverse #instagood @photooftheday #empower #different #prettydifferent
Now, Shaholly serves as brand ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion. She’s walked New York Fashion Week’s runway, and appeared in ad campaigns for Nordstrom.
While Shaholly is already doing wonders for making disabilities more accepted in mainstream media, she wanted to do more. She launched Love 4 Limbs, the foundation supports child amputees and their families through an online community.
Shaholly wants to make sure other little girls and boys aren’t bullied like she was: “I was beat up by a boy because of my disability.” She took that hurt and channeled it into her passion for modeling.
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