Amputee model makes a splash at the Shanghai Fashion Week 2021

A special model with a prosthetic leg drew quite a lot of attention at the recently-held Shanghai Fashion Week 2021.

The model, Niu Yu, or bettern known as Chunyougege, dazzled many audience with her confident though imperfect runway catwalk at the Fashion Week.

Niu, born in 1997, is a full-time vlogger and photographer, sometimes she does some modelling for clothing brands.

When the Shanghai Fashion Week reached out to her, she felt nervous and flattered.

A model with a prosthetic leg drew quite a lot of attention at the recently held Shanghai Fashion Week. CGTN spoke to amputee model Niu Yu about her life and where she gets her inspiration.

“I know that there’s a huge gap between me and the professional models. I have to wear comfortable shows such as trainers because of my prosthetic leg. The runway would just take me one minute to walk, but what is hard for me to overcome is the psychological problems.”

“It took me a really long time to muster enough confidence to get on the runway. It counts as a big breakthrough for me,” Niu said in an interview after the Fashion Week.

When preparing for her turn to walk, she’s all sweaty and nervous. One friend read her a message left by a 13-year-old girl, who’s a long-time follower of her Douyin account, saying she also lost her right leg but she has always dreamed of walking on the runway just like all the other physical-challenged models like she sees on TV, they are imperfect but still beautiful. The young follower wishes the day would come sooner.

Niu at the runway of the Shanghai Fashion Week 2021

Feeling pumped up by the message, Niu felt energized. “Just standing on the runway would break certain stereotypes about the physical-challenged. After I uploaded my experience at the Fashion Week, I got really positive feedback from my followers. They think I’m great.” Niu said in the interview.

Being a photographer, she has to guide the models and sometimes reverse the roles to feel what it is like to being photographed.

“Once a sportswear brand found me and wished to hire me as their model. One staff member of the brand told me that a prosthetic leg and sports seemed that they can’t be linked together, but it can’t stop you from striving upwards and embodying the spirit of sports. His words really lifted me up.”

Photos of Niu shot for the sportswear brand

Niu lost her right leg in the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 when she was 11. The earthquake happened while she’s in classroom. Having been buried for three days, her right had be to amputated when she’s sent to a local hospital.

As she grows old, she has to constantly reminds herself to not let the fact that she’s wearing a prosthetic leg get to her.

On May 12, 2018, the 10th anniversary of the Wenchuan Earthquake, Niu participated in a marathon. In the last few kilometers, Niu couldn’t run any longer and couldn’t feel her leg, someone in the audience shot “Go China! Go Wenchuan!”

The message gave Niu strength to run the last few kilometers. She was once a team member of field track in elementary school, but that was more than a decade ago. Niu hasn’t run even once after she got her leg amputated.

Niu at the commenmorative marathon of the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake

“Having finished the marathon is like overcoming a big challenge in my life. I think it’s time to move on and find other challenges.”

Niu set up a Douyin account to share her life’s antidotes and what it feels like to live as an amputee. Now she has over 850,000 followers.

“I have been surrounded by love ever since the accident. If it’s not for the rescuers, I couldn’t live to this day. As of 2020, there are over 85 million physical-challenged people in China but you can hardly see any in the streets. I want do something for this group, so I started my Douyin account.

In the end of the interview, Niu left a message saying that “Everyone comes to this world with their own light. Ordinary but unique.

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