The life of a fashion model can appear exhilarating — you travel the globe and spend days in exotic locations. You’ll be lauded for your looks and make your living based upon the shape of your body, tilt of your eyes and the glow of your skin. But in an industry driven solely by appearance, physical changes or imperfections (i.e., weight gain, scarring, hair loss, etc.) could spell the end of a career.
Imagine then, being 21-year old Brazilian fitness model Paola Antonini, who at the beginning of a promising career, suffered a devastating loss. Today, nearly five years later, she lives life without limitations as a successful working model, social media influencer, columnist, positive body image advocate and amputee. Here is her story.
Shortly after Christmas in 2014, Paola as the tragic victim of a drunk driver. Her left leg was severely crushed and despite four attempts to repair her injuries, amputation was determined to be the best course of action. Two surgeries followed.
“At that moment, I didn’t care what that meant for my modeling career or the rest of my life; I just wanted the pain to go away.”
Physiotherapy began immediately, and frustration and negativity gave way to determination and confidence. Paola did not want to be defined nor limited by her injuries. In April 2016, she proudly shared a modeling photo which highlighted her amputated leg. The post went viral and earned her worldwide renown as a source of inspiration to others in similar situations. Focused on resuming her modeling career, Paola continued to engage on social media, documenting her progress and setbacks, quickly amassing over 2.5 million followers.
“I really want to show people that anything is possible, and life doesn’t have to stop because of an amputation. No way! We can do whatever we want.”
Today, Paola leads a very active lifestyle and travels extensively sharing her story, including a TedTalk feature. She takes pride in her independence and growing career and has worked on a number of campaigns with many well-known, world-wide brands.