Venezuelan model Yarelbys Tua, also known as Yare, has broken stereotypes about people with disabilities in the entertainment industry. A resident of the United States, she has created a platform for visibility and social normalization through her Instagram account and has managed to model at New York Fashion Week 2022.
Yarelbys Tua, Venezuelan model who inspires through her fight against disability in the entertainment industry
From a young age, Tua participated in ballet and modeling activities, and her dedication and effort have allowed her to be a positive figure for the inclusion and social acceptance of all people with disabilities.
In 2010, at the age of 13, Yarelbys Tua received a diagnosis of osteosarcoma in one of her ribs and began a treatment process that included chemotherapies and radiotherapies. Despite feeling fear and sadness, Tua approached the challenge with a positive mindset and never let depression stop her.
During one of her chemotherapy cycles, Tua even fulfilled a ballet commitment and danced despite her body not being 100%. Finally, after nine cycles of chemotherapy and one surgery, biopsies indicated that the cancer was gone.
Yarelbys Tua’s Struggle with Cancer and Disability: A Resilient Woman’s Story
During her treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she suffered inflammation in her spinal cord that resulted in a disability in her right leg. She now needs a cane to walk.
“I experienced damage to some nerves in my back after 22 sessions of radiation therapy. Months after finishing my cancer treatment, I started to feel the effects of disability,” he said. Among the first symptoms, she mentioned loss of balance, tingling in her foot and loss of sensation.
The process of coming to terms with the disability was very difficult for her, as she had just overcome a battle with cancer and now had to face a new adversity. She had to go through a grieving process.
The disability became evident when she was in her fourth year of high school, but she tried to move forward with her life like any other teenager, despite the limitations. She began her university studies in Venezuela in Psychology, but due to the country’s economic difficulties, she decided to emigrate to the United States when she turned 18.
Tua arrived in the United States in 2018 with an open mind and full of expectations. She had had a previous experience in Venezuela where she had started her path to independence, which prepared her to face the challenge of being a migrant, but with greater opportunities. After her arrival, Tua managed to get a job, buy a car and gradually built a life in the United States.
Pandemic transformation: How Tua found her passion in modeling with disabilities
During the covid-19 pandemic, Tua’s life changed drastically, and she was forced to rethink her future plans. Before the pandemic, Tua was working at Disney in Orlando and was building a successful career there.
However, she had not yet explored her passion for modeling. A photographer friend motivated her to pose for him and she began posting her photos on his social networks. The positive response motivated her to explore the world of modeling further, including participating in castings for people with disabilities.
During the most difficult days of isolation, Tua reflected on her future and realized that she wanted to follow her passion. She took courses to learn more about social media and build her online presence.
This led her to be contacted by an agency in Los Angeles that represented talent with disabilities. Tua discovered that there were other models with disabilities working and being the face of well-known brands. This motivated her to dedicate herself fully to modeling.
The story of a model with a disability: Changing misconceptions about disability through social media
She highlights that she had a misperception of how society views disability, and that this misperception motivated her to make a change through social media.
At first, she was afraid to share photos showing her disability on social media, as she feared people would question her or perceive her as strange or uncomfortable. She also feared conveying a message of “poverty.”
She explained that in the past, she did not know how to handle her disability because of the way society sees her as unhappy and pitiful. The message she conveys is that she is happy with her disability. People often assume that her greatest wish is to not have a disability, but that is not true.
She learned to look beyond the disability, because although it makes her different, it does not make her less valuable. Her disability has become just another quality. The difficulty really lies in the inaccessibility of the world and the lack of opportunities.
She relates that when the challenge of driving came to her, it did not come to her mind that she could not do it, but rather that she did not know the challenges that other people with different limitations would face. She also admits to having been afraid of not being hired because of her disability, or that someone would think she was not capable.
Tua: The Disabled Model Inspiring Society to Embrace Diversity
Tua questioned her mobility limitation in her matchmaking process, doubting whether anyone would be interested in her. Explained that her message is for society to approach disability with acceptance. Tua wants to normalize the presence of people with disabilities in society.
Recently had the honor of walking the runway at New York Fashion Week, opened a fashion show with an adaptive fashion line and was photographed for an inclusive Tommy Hilfiger campaign.
In her future projects, Tua will work with inclusive brands and continue to do social media activism. She wants to create a YouTube community to be closer to her followers.
Will also continue modeling and hopes to return to New York Fashion Week this year. Tua dreams of hosting a show and being a speaker in English and Spanish on inclusion. She sees her future in the entertainment world recognized in a few years.