Despite being accused by trolls of photoshopping out her leg for attention, an amputee model has proven the haters wrong by featuring in LA Fashion Week and modelling bras for Kim Kardashian.
Model and actress Cherie Louise, 30, from Taranaki, New Zealand, has soared to success, booking incredible modelling gigs in spite of her disability and the accompanying critics.
Louise was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, at 6 after she began having a persistent high fever and pains in her left hip. Osteosarcoma is a form of bone cancer where the tumours look like early forms of bone cells that normally help make new bone tissue.
To save her life, Louise’s parents were told that her entire left leg and half of her pelvis had to be amputated. The amputation, called an external hemipelvectomy, is an extremely rare and high-risk operation, making prosthetics difficult to use.
Louise has received insensitive and hateful comments on social media about her disability, with people even accusing her of photoshopping off her leg to gain attention.
At 16, she moved to Australia to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Louise took inspiration from an amputee model on Instagram, Mama Cax, who has sadly since passed away.
Since then, Louise has gained momentum as a model, signing up with the US agency Other People’s Children.
In July 2022, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career further and was quickly booked a campaign for Kim Kardashian’s clothing brand SKIMS.
This year, Louise was also booked to do her first-ever catwalk show, walking in LA Fashion Week in October. She was also due to walk in Sydney Fashion Week, but was unable to do so due to catching Covid.
Despite her success, the hardest part for Louise is navigating the instability of the industry. She has to be ready at any minute for a casting call and struggles to make plans with her friends and family back home.
Louise spoke about her incredible experience on Kim Kardashian’s campaign and LA Fashion Week.
“After moving to Los Angeles, I was booked for my first campaign for Kim Kardashian’s clothing brand, SKIMS,” she said.
“It was their first-ever bra campaign and I was booked to model for the campaign along with many other incredible women that I have looked up to such as Brooke Shields and Chelsea Handler.
“It was a big day with so many models included in the campaign and the experience was a very positive one for me. Their production is very well run and you can tell that the people you’re working with are trusted and the best at what they do. I really hope to work with them again soon.
“I was booked to walk in LA Fashion Week this year and it was actually my first ever catwalk show. I was booked for my first catwalk in Sydney Fashion Week in May this year and fell ill with Covid only two days before the show - I was heartbroken.
“Then in October, I received the call to walk in a huge show curated by Issa Rae in collaboration with Delta for LA Fashion Week. It was another great production to be a part of and was the best experience I could ask for for my first catwalk show.
“I felt really proud of being selected among such incredible models.”
Louise also spoke about some negative comments she received, saying, “People on social media often accuse me of faking having one leg and claim that I Photoshop my leg out of my photos for attention. They can’t grasp that images flip depending on whether you use the front or rear camera on your phone, or if a photo is taken in a mirror.”
Louise said the most difficult part has been “navigating the instability of the industry as someone just starting to break into it.”
“It takes a lot mentally to stick through when the industry itself is quiet and there isn’t much happening,” she said.
“I try to keep busy in other ways and always take action to try and attract more interest/exposure to myself as a model. The industry is unpredictable and you just have to be ready at all times for something to come at the last minute.
“You’ll get a casting call for something the next day. That means I can’t really plan to go see my friends or family back home without risking missing out on work and that’s something I’m learning to deal with.”
Louise said her move to America for work is probably her “biggest achievement”.
“I had to build up my career and accomplishments for years before having enough behind me to be able to apply for a visa to work here. I know this visa is really difficult to get and being approved for that was a huge step in my career.
“I wasn’t sure what would happen after moving to Los Angeles, I didn’t know if I’d get work or how things would turn out at all.
“After being here a few months now, I’ve been getting booked for amazing jobs and know that this is where I’m meant to be right now. "