Life After Toxic Shock Syndrome: Healing through Activism

Adapted from ‘Model Lauren Wasser on Surviving Toxic Shock Syndrome and Creating Her Own Lane in Fashion’ by Teresa Lam from Hypebae. Article available at: https://hypebae.com/2019/12/lauren-wasser-model-toxic-shock-syndrome-survivor-activist-interview

After a TSS diagnosis and two amputation surgeries, model Lauren Wasser has emerged from her near-death experience a fierce advocate for increasing transparency in the menstrual product industry. 0.003% of menstruating women will contract toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in their lifetime – a condition which primarily affects menstruators who use tampons, and is most common among women between the ages of 15 and 25. 

Wasser is striving to raise awareness of the potential harms that can arise from tampon use, citing the lack of transparency in advertising for products which have the potential to seriously injure or even kill their users. Her goal is for companies producing feminine hygiene products to remove harmful, toxic chemicals from their products, and to make TSS a worry of the past. In order to accomplish this goal, Wasser believes that more accountability and regulation in the industry is crucial. She is currently advocating for a bill to be passed in the United States Congress that would mandate menstrual product ingredient transparency, in order to ensure all women are able to make informed choices regarding what they are putting on or in their bodies. 

Despite everything she’s been through, Wasser is not letting her past negative experiences hold her back. She has returned to the active lifestyle she’s always loved, and is channeling her energy into running, basketball, Pilates, and even training for the 2020 New York City marathon. 

Although her work addressing important issues in the menstrual product industry is inspiring in itself, her advocacy doesn’t stop there. She is also changing the face of the fashion industry, modeling for companies like adidas, Chromat, and Savage X Fenty. She believes that the opportunities she’s received are a sign of progress and increasing inclusivity in an industry which has traditionally been criticized for its lack of diversity.

When asked to give her younger self advice, she stresses the importance of living in the moment and loving with a full heart. True to this sentiment, through all of her important work, her primary goal is to leave a ‘legacy’ of positivity for generations to come. 

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