The Story of a Girl Who Was Abandoned by Her Parents Because of Her Appearance and Models for Vogue Today
For decades, the modeling industry has been supporting unreal beauty standards. Luckily, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in campaigns intended to break such prejudices. Thus, we bring you the story of Xueli Abbing, an albino model whose beauty was recognized, even by Vogue.
Xueli was left outside of an orphanage.
Xueli Abbing was born with albinism, a condition that causes a lack of pigment, making her extremely pale and sensitive to sunlight. Superstitions around this genetic condition are still preserved in some parts of the world, which presents a serious threat to people who suffer from it. Because of that, Xueli was abandoned by her parents.
Her name reflects her appearance.
Since her birth parents didn’t leave any information about her, she doesn’t even know when her birthday is. Inspired by her pale skin and white hair, the staff at the orphanage named her Xue Li, which translates to “beautiful snow.” At the age of 3, Xueli was adopted by a family from the Netherlands. Her mother was happy that Xueli’s name perfectly reflected her looks and also represented her Chinese origins.
At the beginning, Xueli wasn’t aware of her success.
At 11, Xueli got in touch with a designer who wanted to make a campaign for people with disabilities. The campaign, called Perfect Imperfections, launched a beautiful albino girl into the modeling world. She did several photo shoots after that, and one of her photos was featured in Vogue Italia’s June 2019 edition. Xueli admitted that she didn’t realize the importance of the magazine at the beginning.
She found the silver lining in her lack of sight.
Since melanin participates in the development of cells at the back of the eye, people with albinism often suffer from poor eyesight. However, Xueli didn’t let it take away her spirit. “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.”
Xueli wants to spread the message and fight against discrimination.
Xueli used her popularity on social media to raise awareness about people with albinism. As she said, they are often represented as ghosts or angels instead of normal people, which makes her sad. Xueli strongly believes that her differences do not define her, and she wants to prove that to the world.
Today, Xueli is an UNESCO Ambassador.
Xueli has recently become a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Her mission is to fight against traditional beauty standards and break the barriers in the modeling industry. “I’m just one person. Now with this title of Goodwill Ambassador, I can use it to raise more awareness. By seeing more disabled people in the media, people will begin to think it’s normal,” she said.
Have you ever experienced discrimination because you’re different?