From Rejection to Triumph: The Inspiring Journey of an Abandoned Beauty

Albinism is a rare genetic condition that affects people of all races and backgrounds. It leads to a reduced production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin, hair, and eye color, often resulting in lighter or completely absent coloration. Unfortunately, individuals with albinism often face stigma and are viewed as different, especially in less developed regions.

Sixteen years ago, a girl with albinism was born in China. When her parents saw her snow-white skin, they made the heartbreaking decision not to bring her home. Consequently, she was placed in an orphanage just days after her birth. The staff at the orphanage, moved by her situation, named her Xueli, meaning snow white and beautiful. Little did they know that she would be adopted by a loving family from the Netherlands, who would give her a wonderful life.

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At the age of 11, Xueli was discovered by a renowned Hong Kong photographer who invited her to be a part of a campaign celebrating the beauty in every individual, titled ‘perfect imperfections.’ Xueli Abbing shared her amazing experience, stating, “She called the campaign ‘perfect imperfections’ and asked if I wanted to join her fashion show in Hong Kong.”

In some parts of the world, there exists a belief in the extraordinary healing powers of albino individuals’ bones. This has led to some of them being targeted, resulting in disfigurement or even amputation of their fingers, arms, or legs.

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Aware of this, Xueli considers herself fortunate to have been abandoned rather than subjected to such cruelty.

When photographs of her were shared on social media, a London-based photographer took Xueli under her wing, ultimately helping her secure a coveted spot on the cover of Vogue Italia magazine for its June 2019 issue. Reflecting on this achievement, she remarked, “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.”

Xueli acknowledges the progress in featuring individuals with disabilities or differences in the media, but emphasizes that it should be the norm, not the exception. “Maybe because I cannot see everything properly I focus more on people’s voices and what they have to say,” she shared in an interview. “So their inner beauty is more important to me.”

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Determined to raise awareness about albinism, Xueli uses her platform in modeling to dispel misconceptions. “I want to use modeling to talk about albinism and say it’s a genetic disorder, it’s not a curse,” she asserts. She also advocates for respectful language, preferring the term ‘person with albinism’ over ‘albino,’ which can be limiting and defining.

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“I’m not going to accept that children are being murdered because of their albinism. I want to change the world,” she added.

Individuals like Xueli, with her wisdom and compassion at only 16 years old, remind us that it is our unique differences that make the world a beautifully diverse place.

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