At a young age, Xueli Abbing was left in the hands of an orphanage in China by her own family because she was born albino.
Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, and/or eyes to have little or no pigmentation. Some people with albinism suffer from vision problems, over-sensitivity to sunburn and elevated risk of skin cancer.
According to research, apart from these problems, people with albinism do not suffer from higher rates of other diseases and live just as long as those who don’t have the condition, but they do have to deal with how other people view them negatively.
In spite of her family’s abandonment, 16-year-old Xueli grew up to become one of the world’s most prestigious models.
Her uniqueness even earned her the chance to grace the pages of famous fashion magazine, Vogue Italia.
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Xueli was adopted by a Dutch family who then returned to the Netherlands along with her.
She entered the modelling world at the age of 11, often showing up in magazines and modelling in fashion shows for top designer brands like Kurt Geiger.
The early exposure she had raised more public awareness towards the tribulations of the albino community. She became an inspiration for others to break the stigma of unconventional beauty.
According to FMT, Xueli said that having worked with many experienced photographers and prestigious brands, she saw how her individuality was able to make a difference in the fashion industry.
“In this industry, one’s difference that belongs to an individual is considered a gift and not a bad thing. It gave me a platform to raise awareness on albino people.”
While there are still many models who are typically skinny and tall, Xueli said that one’s physical uniqueness can help them in this industry.
“There’s still models who fit the usual description like being skinny and tall but those who have a slight difference in their physique, that makes them more outstanding and shine more in media. This is a good thing and it should be normalised.”
According to BBC, Xueli entered the modelling world by accident after her mother contacted a fashion designer from Hong Kong who was designing clothes for her son.
She then joined the fashion designer’s show through a campaign themed “Perfection of The Imperfect” which became the starting point of her career.
The British model agency who represents Xueli, Zebedee Management said that they are working towards representing more models like Xueli to embrace all kinds of beauty and encourage diversity in the modelling industry.