The phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one that can apply to the modeling industry. And as barriers are being broken for modeling in the 21st century, women and men of all different shapes and sizes are being welcomed into the industry.
Shaholly Ayers has proven that beauty has no boundaries.
Though born without her right arm below the elbow, Shaholly has been proving wrong those who said she couldn’t do things her whole life.
I'm truly spoiled. Living and working in Hawaii for over a decade I have become used to working with talented artists. So much so, that I tend to take collaborative efforts such as these for granted. I am truly blessed to have worked with the most amazing photographers, makeup artists, and stylists on the island! It's been so fun and fulfilling to create works of art with you all! Photographer @richimages808 Makeup: @girlwiththewingedliner Designer: @kinizamora ………………………………….. A big THANK YOU to all of the artists I've worked with over the years! ❤❤❤❤ You!
She had always been treated differently because of her arm, going back to even elementary school.
“People would say to me, ‘Oh you would be so pretty if you had two arms,'” Shaholly told People. Hearing that at such a young age could scar people for life, but this woman refused to let it get to her.
Shaholly, despite her disability, had participated in many sports when she was younger. The coaches always told her that they didn’t know how to get her adjusted to sports like rowing, but that she was welcome to try—and she always found a way.
Shaholly wanted to help change people’s perceptions of disability, and the only way to do that was visually—she decided to become a model.
But when Shaholly decided to become a model, she faced a lot of barriers.
She moved to Hawaii as a young woman and it was there that she started contacting modeling agencies. But they all rejected her.
“[One agent] told me there’s no way you’re ever going to model because you’re missing an arm,” Shaholly told Megyn Kelly on the Today Show. This was just one of many rejections that she had faced when trying to chase her dream.
These rejections were just more fuel to the fire inside Shaholly; she was determined to become a model.
So Shaholly struck out on her own and started modeling in Hawaii without an agent, creating her own portfolio and networking with photographers, makeup artists, and boutiques to get known and find work. She did local gigs for a while, until, in 2014, she got her biggest job yet: she was booked to be in a Nordstrom catalog!
“It was a dream come true. I felt like I’d arrived,” she told People.
Since then, she has continued to prove her critics wrong by doing more Nordstrom catalogs, and amassing over 6,500 followers on Instagram.
She even became the first amputee without a prosthetic to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week!
Shaholly has now been modeling for 10 years.
She is also the brand ambassador of Global Disability Inclusion, a consulting firm dedicated to helping companies provide opportunities to disabled people through changing perceptions.
“My arm is really my badge of honor,” Shaholly said looking back on her career. The one thing that others thought was holding her back turned out to be the thing that motivated her to get to where she is today.
Shaholly is a prime example that even when it seems like everyone is doubting you, you shouldn’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams.