Seeing beauty in the differences

International Albinism Awareness Day – June 13

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Thando Hopa, a South African model, lawyer, and activist. became the first woman with Albinism to be on the cover of Vogue in 2019.

Maya Adimora, Staff writer

At first glance, International Albinism Awareness Day does not appear to be anything important, but, for all people with albinism, it makes a world of difference.

At its core, albinism is an inherited genetic disorder that affects a person’s skin, hair, and eyes, and can have an impact on people of any race. There are seven types of albinism commonly grouped under oculocutaneous albinism (affecting the eyes, hair, and skim) and ocular albinism (mostly affecting the eyes with lighter skin and hair). According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “One person in 17,000 has some type of albinism.”

While albinism is considered aesthetically pleasing in many places, its effects are more than skin-deep. People with albinism are at high risk of developing life-threatening skin cancers if they do not wear sunscreen or clothe themselves properly. Also, many people with albinism have vision problems. These include “strabismus (crossed eyes), photophobia (sensitivity to light), nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movements), impaired vision or blindness [(legally blind)], astigmatism”. (https://bit.ly/3uIAJgV)

In countries all over the world, people with albinism are discriminated against in healthcare and education. They are ostracized and rejected by friends and family for looking different. Children with albinism’s limbs are cut off for “good luck charms” and “potions”. Some people with albinism are even attacked and killed.

On December 18, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared International Albinism Awareness Day to be on June 13. It was first observed in 2015. You can participate in this day and raise awareness on albinism by:

  • Educating yourself on albinism and its effects
  • Donating to organizations focused on albinism (like org)
  • Learning about famous people with albinism

Using the hashtags #InternationalAlbinismAwarenessDay and #IAAD

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