As years gone by, we have seen the fashion industry grow in terms of trends and inclusivity. While size 2 models were the only ones accepted in the industry back then, today we see more women with different physical appearances gracing the runways and cover magazines alike. And because of that, Nadeera Vasu seized her chance to express her fashion side despite being different than other models we usually see. We are excited to have Nadeera Vasu with us to learn more about her experiences being in fashion as someone who is differently-abled. Here is our exclusive interview with the beautiful Nadeera Vasu.
1. Everybody has their own life story, and we are pretty sure you have one too. Take us through your personal journey that brought you to this day.
I was born with a rare genetical disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). It is commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. There are many types of OI, but I have the most severe form of it. When I was born, I had some complications. I was born with multiple fractures throughout my body. Though some fractures had already healed in my mother’s womb itself, the X-ray basically showed this whole messed up structure. As if someone had beaten me up into pieces. Besides that, my lungs were also underdeveloped and thus, I had some serious respiratory problems. I was in the ICU incubator for 22 days before the doctors told my parents they could take me home to make me feel comfortable and prepare for the worst.
However, here I am today, 26 years old and still very much alive. Throughout my life thus far, I’ve had about a few minor fractures and two major ones which I can remember very vividly. When I have an episode of fracture (usually in my legs), I will end up being bedridden and out of school for a few months as recovery takes longer than usual for me. That being said, due to the fact of being extra cautious and careful, the number of fractures I’ve had can be said to be a lot lesser as compared to some of the other OI patients out there in general.
Besides fractures, I had to make numerous hospital visits throughout my younger days due to the respiratory issues I had had to endure. A slight cough and cold would eventually get me admitted to the hospital. Getting a place in a regular school wasn’t a walk in the park either. My mom had to fight for my rights to an education and eventually to a school that would accept me. She then spent the next 11 years accompanying me to school every single day.
In school, I didn’t have a particularly smooth ride either. From the aches and pains I had to endure from the long hours of sitting, to the bullying and isolation from my surrounding peers, and just being alone and lonely most of the time. The one thing that kept me going was my mother’s love and sacrifices. And of course, my strong belief in God & the Bahá’í Faith. Fast forward, I graduated from school with exceptionally flying colours and made my way to university, completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology, and now work from home as an HR Executive whilst attempting to allocate some time to give back to the society in the form of advocacy and modelling.
2. We discovered that you walked the Malaysian Fashion Week last year. How did that opportunity come about?
I was spotted in DON Management’s Instagram page by Three Little Ahmads, a clothing line selling reversible fashion for children. They chose me and another Model from DON Management to model their adaptive clothing wear for Malaysia Fashion Week 2018.
3. Were you always this enthusiastic about fashion? What inspired you to dive into the industry?
Since young, I’ve always been a very fashionable person. I am very particular about mixing and matching my clothes to make it look elegant, and I always ensure that I wear matching accessories to go along with it as well. My mom plays a big role in my fashion choices as she is the one who chooses most of my clothes and knows what I like and dislike.
In all honesty, I always thought that becoming a fashion model would be a far-fetched dream for me. Our society has been moulded to perceive fashion models to be a certain way, i.e. the standard; tall in height, fair in complexion, and skinny to the bones. Therefore, although I have always had the interest within me, I never actually expressed it to anyone as in my mind, I was dead certain that I would never be able to be a fashion model.
Fast forward, when my peers and I decided to venture into starting an agency for the differently-abled, my perception slowly started to shift. As I began to do my research on this subject, I realized that many countries in the West are already doing what my peers and I aspired to do in Malaysia and that the mindset of what “true” beauty is, has shifted and is slowly beginning to take a different lead. I was thus truly motivated to be a part of this change. Now, I really want to bring about a positive change and a sense of inclusiveness to our society, and to break down the stigma that surrounds us. Hence why I have decided to pursue this industry.
4. Who is your style inspiration?
No one in particular comes to mind at the moment, but I draw inspiration from billboards, magazines, TV programmes, social media, and so on. Somehow, being fashionable was within me all along. I always ensure I am well dressed wherever I go. And as mentioned earlier, my mother plays a huge role in my fashion choices too, so I suppose she inspires me as well.
5. What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy acting and often imagine different roles in my mind whilst acting them out silently at the comfort of my own home when nobody is watching. I have always wanted to pursue an acting career ever since I was young, though I have never actually gotten the chance to just yet. Hopefully soon!
6. We understand that you are part of DON Management, a modelling agency that casts differently-abled people for shoots and other projects. Tell us more about the mission that DON Management is trying to achieve.
I was indeed a part of DON Management as I co-founded the agency together with three other peers of mine, automatically making me a business partner and a model signed under them. However, I am no longer a part of it anymore as I have other pursuits and plans for myself. I have now chosen to be a freelance model instead. Therefore, I prefer to refrain from commenting about DON Management any further.
7. What was the biggest accomplishment that you have achieved so far?
The biggest accomplishment for me personally would be going on the runway for Malaysian Fashion Week 2018. It was something I never thought I would ever be doing. However, I do hope more opportunities as such do come my way so that I can continue to inspire others and change the perception of the public.
8. What do you hope other differently-abled people in Malaysia could take away from your achievements?
Anything is possible as long as you believe and set your heart and mind to achieving it. However, one must always remember that effort, patience, and perseverance is needed to achieve one’s goals in life as well. So, don’t be too quick to give up on your dreams.
9. Now that you have walked runway and attended various photoshoots, what is next for one Nadeera Vasu?
I hope to do a lot more for the differently-abled community who are often marginalized or forgotten. I also really hope to continue to do more photoshoots and strut more runways in the future as I sincerely want to play a major role in breaking the common stereotype that surrounds people who are differently-abled. I really want more and more people to see that we too are capable of being portrayed in this manner regardless of how we look on the outside. Just because you see someone in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean they can’t be models or actors and so on; we too can do these things just like everyone else – instead of just sitting behind the desk and a computer screen. That’s what I’d really like people to see and realize.
10. Any advices that you could share to people who aspire to do the things you do?
Beauty comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Never ever allow the perception of a few individuals make you feel you are not beautiful or any less of a person. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from pursuing your passion, dreams, and aspirations in life. If you have found something you are passionate about, just go for it!
If you want to know more about Nadeera Vasu and her mission to conquer the fashion world, you can always check her out at @nadeeravasu on Instagram.