As a girl with two perfectly usable legs, I still wobble in shoes that come with heels higher than two inches.
When pictures of 26-year-old Er Ma Ayie surfaced on social media in China, she put girls like me to deep, deep shame. The Sichuan-native not only has just one leg she manages to fiercely walk the streets of China, in a 7.8-inch heel on her left leg, no less. Quite fashionably too, might I add.
As her pictures began circulating around Weibo, she won over men and women in China everywhere and was quickly deemed the “Asian Venus” for her strength and beauty. But she’s not just known for her graceful looks — she also has an inspiring story.
Er Ma, as you can imagine, did not always walk so confidently. When Er Ma was only 3 years old, she was in a tragic car accident that left her with an amputated right leg. Due to the placement of the amputation, she wasn’t given the option of a prosthetic leg. Thus, Er Ma grew up insecure, forced to cope with the circumstances she was given.
Er Ma also grew up an aspiring singer and received much praise from her teachers. After graduating high school, she became a kindergarten teacher, specializing in teaching kids how to sing. Later, at the age of 19, she was recruited to sing for Chengdu Disabled Art Troupe. Though she admits she had “never been as happy as that day,” she remained apprehensive because of her leg. She believed that she needed to wear long gowns and high-heeled shoes in order to achieve the image of an elegant singer she always envisioned.
Despite her insecurities of not being able to wear high-heeled shoes like her fellow singers, she gave it a try anyway. She even recalls almost breaking her leg the first time she attempted it. But she never gave up, and eventually she trained herself to walk in the high heeled shoes pictured above. Now, with much more confidence, Er Ma recently told reporters, “Luckily I didn’t give up trying to wear it. Now I can wear a 20-centimeter-high heel very confidently. I feel I am no different from the other girls.”
When told that photos of her walking in heels had gone viral on social media, she said, “I am surprised to hear that … I am actually a common girl.” She added that she hopes that the photos perhaps “opened people’s hearts and helped them to cope with their own defects.”
Er Ma’s self-assurance continued to grow from there, and she even took up yoga and badminton, among other physical activities that she never thought she would be able to do. “We should never let our body defects affect our mental health,” she said. “As long as your heart beams, your outward appearance won’t dim.”