Niu Yu, 24, stole the limelight at the Shanghai Fashion Week for her confidence while striding down the runway with a prosthetic right leg.
Niu completed her first walk down the catwalk recently and the video clip of her catwalk appearance quickly became one of the hottest topics on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media platform, on Oct. 20.
She received many compliments for her courage. "She is so cool and so pretty," commented a Weibo user. "The most beautiful woman is one who lives with confidence in herself," another Weibo user praised.
"I didn't know how to walk down the catwalk. I didn't even know how to move my hands on the stage. But I felt that I was pretty cool when I took the stage," Niu replied in a short video posted after the fashion week ended.
Niu noted that she was not alone on the stage, recalling an encouraging message she received from a 19-year-old girl with a disability last year. The girl, who also had a limb removed, said she has always dreamed of walking down the runway just like all the other famous models overseas who also face similar situations of physical impairment. "Although we are not perfect, we are still beautiful," the girl said, wishing her day would come sooner.
For Niu, it has been a long journey since the Wenchuan Earthquake occurred in southwest China's Sichuan province in 2008. Having been buried under debris for three days following the collapse of her school, her right leg had to be amputated, which came as a terrible personal blow to her. At that time, she was 11 years old and a member of the track and field team at her school.
Niu struggled for quite a long time before putting on the prosthetic leg for the first time. She was shielded away from the public, used a sponge to wrap up the artificial limb and wore long pants to cover it.
That was until May 2018 when Niu decided to make a big change in her life. Niu removed the sponge, walked around crowded areas and proudly showed off her prosthetic leg. On May 12 that year, which was also her 21st birthday, she completed a marathon to mark her birthday, grabbing the public's attention.
Niu now works as a photographer and vlogger, sometimes she does some modeling for clothing brands. She often uploads video clips about her life's many antidotes on short video platforms such as Douyin, where she has accumulated more than 850,000 followers.
She explained that she shares her experiences in order to help the wider public better understand the 85 million people with physical impairments in China and so as to encourage individuals in her community. She wishes to encourage others who share the same fate as her to stay strong and optimistic.
"Physical impairment doesn't affect my passion for life. We can shine just like others," Niu said, hoping that she could give people courage and strength.