Having your parents present during your childhood gives you a sense of security.
If you are forced to grow up without parental presence or knowing your parents abandoned you, you may develop feelings of resentment toward your parents.
Xueli Abbing, a 16-year-old Chinese girl, was abandoned by her parents at birth. She was abandoned at the door of an orphanage, and her parents’ identities were unknown.
The orphanage staff named her; the ‘Xue’ in her name means snow, and the ‘Li’ means beautiful. Because she was born with albinism, she was given this name.
Albinism is a genetic condition that causes a person’s skin, hair, and eyes to be pale due to a lack of pigment melanin.
She was adopted by a Dutch family who provided her with a loving home. She was 11 years old when she was asked to model for a designer in Hong Kong for a shoot in which he wanted to portray various types of beauty.
“She called the campaign ‘perfect imperfections’ and asked if I wanted to join her fashion show in Hong Kong,” Abbing said in an interview to the BBC. “That was an amazing experience,” she added.
People with albinism face discrimination in many parts of the world. They are even ‘hunted’ in some cases due to the false belief that their bones have medicinal properties. . “I’m lucky I was only abandoned,” Abbing has said.
Models with albinism are sometimes used as props to portray angels or ghosts, which Abbing describes as “sad.”
However, Abbing was fortunate to work with a London-based photographer who treated her as any model should be treated. The end result was an amazing photoshoot. One of the images was even purchased by Vogue Italia for their June 2019 issue.
“At the time, I didn’t know what an important magazine it was and it took me a while to realize why people got so excited about it,” recalls.
Being a model has its own set of challenges for Abbing. She has 8 to 10% vision, so looking directly at camera flashes hurts her. But she still wants to represent people who aren’t conventionally beautiful, and that motivates her.
“There are still models who are like eight foot two and skinny but now people with disabilities or differences are featured more in the media and this is great – but it should be normal,” she said in the interview.
“Maybe because I cannot see everything properly I focus more on people’s voices and what they have to say,” she said. “So their inner beauty is more important to me,” she says.
She aspires to make a difference in the world by educating others about her condition. “I want to use modeling to talk about albinism and say it’s a genetic disorder, it’s not a curse,” she says. “The way to talk about it is to say ‘a person with albinism’ because being ‘an albino’ sounds as if it defines who you are.”
“I’m not going to accept that children are being murdered because of their albinism. I want to change the world,” she said.