‘When Xueli was a baby, her parents left her on the ground outside an orphanage. In China, albinism is seen by some as a curse.’ BBC reported.
Albinism is a rare genetic disorder affecting the production of melanin pigment in the body, which ultimately leads to pale skin and hair and makes one extremely sensitive to sunlight.
According to the outlet, Xulie Abbing’s parents abandoned her on the doorstep of an orphanage when she was just a few days old. Since then, her biological parents’ identity has been unknown.
Fast forward sixteen years – Xulie is a fashion model and influencer who’s been featured in Vogue magazine and worked with several top designers of the world.
“The staff at the orphanage named me Xue Li. Xue means snow and Li means beautiful. I was adopted when I was three and went to live with my mum and sister in the Netherlands. My mother said she could not think of a more perfect name and she thought it was important to keep a reference to my Chinese roots.” She told BBC.
“At the time I was born in China, the government enforced a one-child policy on families. You were extremely unlucky if you had a child with albinism. Some children, like me, were abandoned, others were locked away or if they did go to school their hair was painted black.”
She further said that her birth parents didn’t leave any information about her, so nobody at the orphanage knew about her exact date of birth.
” But about a year ago, I had an X-ray of my hand to get a more accurate idea of age, and the doctors thought 15 was about right.”
Xulie started modeling when she was eleven years old. Her no-mom was friends with a designer from Hong Kong, so she connected her with Xulie, and that’s where her journey started from.
“She has a son with a cleft lip and she decided that she wanted to design very fancy clothes for him so people would not always just stare at his mouth. She called the campaign “perfect imperfections” and asked if I wanted to join her fashion show in Hong Kong. That was an amazing experience.”
“After that, I was invited on a couple of photo shoots and one of them was for Brock Elbank at his studio in London.” She continued. “He published my portrait on Instagram. Zebedee Talent modelling agency got in touch and asked if I wanted to join them in their mission to get people with disabilities represented in the fashion industry.”
“One of the pictures Brock shot of me was featured in Vogue Italia’s June 2019 edition with Lana del Rey on the cover. 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.”
She also told BBC’s Jennifer Meierhans that the Kurt Geiger campaign was one of her best works where she showed her talents to the world, and people admired her for it.
“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.”
Speaking of her genetic condition, the sixteen-year-old Chinese model said,
“Models with albinism often get stereotyped in shoots to depict angels or ghosts and it makes me sad. Especially because it perpetuates those beliefs that endanger the lives of children with albinism in countries such as Tanzania and Malawi.”
“My albinism means I only have eight to 10 per cent vision and I can’t look directly at light as it hurts my eyes. Sometimes if it’s too bright on a shoot I will say ‘May I close my eyes or can you make the light softer?’ Or I’ll say ‘OK, you can do three pictures with my eyes open with the flash and no more.’”
“At first they might think it’s hard but when they take the first picture they are like ‘Wow’ and they are really happy with the results. My management say to clients ‘If you can’t arrange that you can’t have Xueli.’ It’s important to them that I feel comfortable.” She concluded.
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