Albinism is a range of disorders varying in severity. It is caused by a reduction or absence of the pigment melanin, often causing white skin, light hair and vision problems. The oldest human anomaly on record is that of albinism. The modern word was coined by a 17th century historian named Balthazar Telez. He coined the term “albino” after seeing two different races of tribe members along the coast of West Africa. The condition affects an estimated 1 in 17,000 people globally, however, its prevalence varies by region and race. Here, we have collected some stunning images portraying the beauty within this disorder among different races.
#1. Maschall from Germany
FACT: Albinism is one of the most misunderstood disorders on the planet. The disorder is surrounded by myths and facts without valid proofs. In some parts of the world, people consider albinos to be sterile or even cursed in life. Meanwhile, in parts of Africa, the myth is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent children with albinism every year. Locals believe that albino body parts have magical powers that can cure them from AIDS. Albinos are hunted down, dismembered, and their body parts are sold around the country.
#2. An albino child of East Asian descent.
FACT: Another popular myth surrounding this rare and beautiful disorder includes ghosts. People who live in local communities in Africa believe that any black mother who bears a child with albinism was impregnated by the ghost of a former colonist from Europe. Of course, you don’t need us to tell you that this is in fact a myth and is only believed by people who are mostly uninformed.
#3. Diandra Forrest from the USA.
Diandra Forrest, an African-American model and actress, is the first female model with albinism to be signed to a major modelling agency. Her beauty and spirit has caught the attention of many magazines. She has also walked in numerous international fashion shows featuring famous artists and brands.
I realized I had albinism at the age of nine. I grew up in a family of five children, in which only my younger brother and I had the condition. As a child, I often felt out of place.
I had neighborhood friends who asked my older brother if I was adopted. In school, or even on the train with my mom, there would be parents, adults, who stared at my brother and me and laughed at us. I didn’t understand why.
#4. David Guerrero from Colombia.
FACT: Although there are several myths surrounding the disorder, people with albinism can in fact live a long and healthy life just like any other human being. However, because their skin provides no protection from the sun’s harmful rays, the chances of a person with albinism getting cancer is much higher than a person without. Apart from that, people with albinism might suffer from multiple eye conditions, such as poor eyesight, involuntary eye movements or sensitivity to light.
#5. Chihiro from Japan.
FACT: The famous book “Moby Dick”, written by American writer Herman Melville and published in 1851, is based on a real whale with albinism. Mocha Dick, a white whale of the Pacific, was a destructive sperm whale living near Mocha island off southern Chile. He was known to survive countless attacks from whale hunters and was also known to retaliate.
#6. Azfar Firdaus from Malaysia.
FACT: Albinism is caused by a mutation in one of several genes that produce or distribute melanin. Due to this mutation or defect, it will result in the absence of melanin production or decreased production of melanin. The defective gene is passed down from both parents to the child and causes albinism. In the United States, the disorder is found in about 1 in 20,000 people. The number might seem a bit high, but when compared to the rest of the world where the chances are 1 in 3,000, it is comparatively low.
#7. Nariyana from Sakha Republic, Russia.
Nariyana is the second child of an ordinary and typically black-haired family in the Sakha Republic. Unlike her family, relatives, and friends, Nariyana’s skin is like porcelain and her hair is blonde. Nariyana was born an albino and modeling agencies from all over the world want her to model for them. Nariyana’s mother Elena, however, says that she’s only 8 years old and still needs to live a life of a child.
We have already got many offers from modeling and advertising agencies but I don’t want her to work yet. When she grows up, she’ll choose who she wants to be for herself. When I ask her now, she says she wants to be a model.
#8. A man from Venezuela.
FACT: People born with albinism synthesize vitamin D five times faster than dark-skinned people. Vitamin D is produced when ultraviolet-B light from the sun enters the skin. In cases where the skin lacks the pigmentation, light enters easily and produces vitamin D at a fast rate.
#9. A woman from Europe.
FACT: Due to the myths and unverified facts surrounding the disorder, people born with albinism have been bullied and shunned. In order to spread proper and correct information on albinism and the best available treatments, a network of European associations of patients with albinism, known as Albinism Europe, unites people with the condition so that they can benefit from having a network of support.
#10. Shaun Ross.
Shaun Ross is an American model, actor and dancer with a very 90’s-inspired look. He’s also an anti-bullying campaigner who was the first ever international male fashion model with albinism. Shaun Ross has managed to land himself major fashion publications and has been featured in campaigns and runway shows of top designers in his native United States, as well as on an international level.
#11. Yulffi White from Spain.
FACT: There are two types of albinism. One of the most common and most severe is Oculocutaneous albinism, which causes the person to have pale white skin and hair from birth until their death. The second form is less severe, and as the person ages, their skin and hair starts to darken.
#12. Man from Nairobi, Kenya.
FACT: Albinos are hunted in Kenya. Men, women and children who are born with this beautiful disorder are hunted down by witch doctors who are funded by local politicians. Locals in Kenya believe that albinos bring good luck and pay hunters to track them down and bring back lucky charms. The practice also occurs in Tanzania and neighboring countries.
Since you read the article this far, you might be interested to know what causes albinism and whether there are any treatments for it.
Albinism is caused by partial or complete loss of pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes. The cell called the melanocyte is responsible for giving skin, hair and eyes pigmentation. In a case where a person has albinism, the melanocytes are present but the genetic mutations tend to interfere with their pigment production or its ability to distribute it to keratinocytes.
According to Raymond Boissy, a professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, there are no treatments for albinism. He suggests people with the disorder take extreme precaution when going out in the sun. However, researchers, such as Richard King at the University of Minnesota, are trying to develop gene therapies to correct the DNA.