MIXTE. Both your parents were models, and you started in the industry when you were still a child. Was it obvious for you to pursue this career as a young adult?
Lauren Wasser: I was just kind of tossed into it, my mum and dad were both models, my mum (ndlr: Super model Pamela Cook) had me when she was 21, she was shooting with Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Italia and they threw me into the shot so it’s kind of just been in my blood, and part of my everyday life.
M. What was your life like before your toxic shock syndrome?
L.W. I was active, playing basketball, my first love. Being an athlete was my dream, everything revolved around maybe going to WNBA, playing in college. I prefered to wear Jordans than a pair of Stilettos, I was very much a tomboy…
M. How does a healthy young model and athlete come to terms with not only a near death experience, but also a double amputation?
L.W. It was the worst thing that could‘ve happened, but I just had faith and I knew I would come out of this somehow. I really had to build myself from the ground up and inside out and figure out what life is really about. It taught me that it’s not just physical that matters, it’s about what you do and the message you share with the world, how you lead your life. So I thought about that and realised TSS had been killing women since before I was born. That was really what ignited that fight in my heart: this fight for transparency and research was bigger than myself.
M. I imagine this experience has made you grow a lot…
L.W. Yeah of course! I contemplated suicide, and my depression was very severe to the point where I didn’t want to be here anymore, I didn’t see myself ever even being looked at, loved again. I could never imagine the modelling industry would look at me again. I had just shunned everyone out. This experience led me to dig deep and find my own self. My faith honestly kind of got me through it..
M. At what point did you decide you would go back to modelling?
L.W. I didn’t have any plans, I didn’t think it was a possibility, again the fashion industry is so one dimensional, and has been for my entire life, so I already knew that it was one way, one vision… So my hopes were never to go back; it was more so just to tell the world that periodic protections are a huge problem affecting the future, and the young generation of girls who are now getting their periods around 8-9 because of the hormones in the food and are more susceptible to getting TSS. This is what made me want to share this new version of myself.