Ruby Vizcarra‘s fair skin has brought her joy as an adult, but pain as a child.
Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, she endured the stares and bullying of classmates who called her “ghost.” She recalls one time as she was walking home from school, and a little girl questioned her mother why Vizcarra was so white, to which the mother replied, “It’s because she is very sick, and it can be contagious.” And they quickly walked away from her.
“I still remember that day. I have it very present in my heart because it made me cry,” she says. “I now use it as a propeller that ignites my fuel to achieve my dreams.”
Vizcarra always knew she has albinism, a genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin. Most people with albinism have fair skin and eye conditions, and they are sensitive to the sun, traits she shares.
“When I was little, I didn’t know why I was different, but my mom would always say I had albinism,” Vizcarra shares with Yahoo Lifestyle. And there was “neither a positive or negative connotation about it.”
There was not much education in her household regarding her condition.
Vizcarra is not the only member of her family with albinism. One of her four sisters has it, as well as her paternal grandmother, and a maternal aunt, who died before she was born.
Because of her lack of education about the condition, Vizcarra used to get painful sunburns. She didn’t know she had to wear sunblock and avoid the sun, she says.
Teachers didn’t understand why she couldn’t play outside as long as the other kids did. Classmates always questioned her “weirdness,” which made her feel like she didn’t belong.
When she turned 18, she began to read up online about albinism.
“The comments were so erroneous,” she says. “They said people like me were ugly or we are from the devil, and have red eyes.”
After a lifetime being called “abnormal,” Vizcarra decided to reframe her narrative. She discovered her passion lied in modeling. She knew she wanted to do it for a bigger cause, to show the world albinos are beautiful.
“I still had a lot of fear and insecurities when I approached a modeling agency: What if they reject me, I used to think,” she says.
The agency welcomed her with open arms, but Vizcarra quickly discovered that the jobs she was booking were not in the realm of showcasing albino beauty but more commercialized.
“I had to part ways. I wanted to connect with photographers who understood my message; I wanted to be very natural, no makeup, and just show who I truly am.”
Now at 24, Vizcarra is a full-time model and has started an organization geared toward albinos in her hometown. She named it Movimiento Albino Latino and aims to bring support to albinos and to educate others about the condition.
“It been a very long road, but I am finally proud of who I am, and through my modeling platform, I have reached others who are like me, ” she says. “Being different is a blessing.”
She has worked on many projects to bring awareness about albinism. She was even the leading lady in the video “Que No” by the Mexican band Cafe Tacuba.
She says she constantly connects with people who say her self-love has helped them find beauty in their “different.”
“Even when I decided to stop dyeing my hair other colors and simply embrace my natural silver, I received messages from women who said I inspired them to embrace their natural beauty too,” she says. “Hearing that I am helping others is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Wet n Wild chose a model with albinism as the face of its new beauty campaign
- 8-Year-Old ‘Siberian Snow White’ Stuns Modeling Agencies
- This Albino Woman’s Review of Fenty Beauty Proves the Brand Is Truly Inclusive