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Shueli Abbing The story of an abandoned street doll transforming into a Vogue model

Abandoned because of her appearance when she was a baby, the girl is now a Vogue model. Shue Li was an ‘unfortunate’ baby born in a home in China where albinism is believed to bring bad luck. That’s why she was left at the door of an orphanage by her family when she was only three years old.

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Now, she is 16 years old with the name of Shueli Abbing and is modeling for popular designers.

Shueli was born in China, where albinism is believed to be cursed in some society, and was left at the door of an orphanage by her parents.

Shueli Abbing Vogue Model

When Shueli was a tiny baby, she was left by her family at the door of an orphanage. Probably because of its characteristic that is believed to bring bad luck in some of the population in China, namely albinism.

Due to this very rare genetic feature that causes the body not to produce the pigment that gives color to the skin and hair, Şueli’s skin and hair are very light and sensitive to the sun.

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But looking different is a huge advantage for a model, and albinism paved the way for Shueli to become a model. Photos of the world’s most famous fashion designers, now 16 years old, adorn the pages of Vogue magazine.

She told her life story to Jennifer Meierhans:

The staff at the orphanage named me Shue Li. Shue means snow, Li is nice too. A Dutch family adopted me when I was three years old, and I have been living in the Netherlands with my mother and sister ever since.

My mom said that when she heard the name Shue Li, she couldn’t think of a better name for me and it was important to have a name that points to my Chinese roots.

At the time of my birth, the Chinese government still followed a policy of imposing children on families. It was unfortunate that you had a child with albinism in China. Some were abandoned like me, others were kept behind locked doors. If he had been sent to school, they would have dyed her hair black.

However, the situation is worse in some countries in Africa. People with albinism can be hunted, amputated arms and legs, killed. Sorcerers use their bones to make certain medicines, and people believe they can heal some illnesses. But of course these are not real. These beliefs are superstitions. I’m lucky I was left on the street.

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I don’t know when my birthday is, as my biological family has left no information about me. But about a year ago, I took an X-ray to get a clearer picture of my age, and the doctors estimated my age to be 15.

I started modeling at the age of 11 completely by chance.

My mom originally knew a designer from Hong Kong. The woman had a cleft lip son, and she decided to design wonderful outfits for her son so that anyone who sees her doesn’t just look at her mouth.

She called this the “perfect flaws” campaign and asked me if I wanted to attend a fashion show in Hong Kong. It was a great experience.

After that fashion show, I was invited to take a few photo shoots. One was at Brock Elbank’s studio in London.

After this shot, she shared our portrait on Instagram.

The Zebedee Talent model agency contacted me and asked if it would like to participate in its efforts to represent people with disabilities in the fashion world.

June 2019 issue with Lana del Rey

The Zebedee Talent model agency contacted me and asked if it would like to participate in its efforts to represent people with disabilities in the fashion world.

One of the photos Brock took was in the June 2019 issue of Vogue Italy, with Lana del Rey on the cover.

I didn’t know how important Vogue was back then, and it took me a while to understand why people were so excited.

It is not cursed to look different in the modeling profession, on the contrary, it gives me a great advantage and the opportunity to raise awareness about albinism.

Kurt Geiger’s campaign is a very good example in terms of allowing me to show my difference. They allowed me to design and direct the footage with my sister, as the photographer could not be in the studio with me due to coronavirus restrictions. It meant expressing myself the way I wanted it, and I’m really proud of the result.

There are still skinny models taller than 1.80 yeah but what’s different now, people with disabilities appear more in the media and that’s beautiful. But now this should become normal.

Models with albinism are often considered for angel or ghost-themed shots, and that makes me sad. But I am sorry that he feeds the beliefs that cause the lives of children with albinism to be in danger in countries like Tanzania and Malawi.

Because of my albinism, my eyes can only see 8-10 percent and I cannot look directly at the light because it hurts my eyes. Sometimes if the shots are too light, “Can I close my eyes, or can you reduce the light a little?” I ask. Sometimes I say, “OK, you can take three pictures with the flash with my eyes open, nothing more.”

They may have thought it was difficult at first, but when they took the first photo and looked at it, they were really happy with the result. My manager tells the clients, “If you can’t adjust the light, you can’t work with Shueli.” My comfort is important to them.

They say that my visually impaired nature gives me a different perspective and that I see details that escape others’ eyes. This also makes me not pay that much attention to the traditional understanding of beauty. Perhaps because I can’t see everything perfectly, I focus more on people’s voices and what they say. Inner beauty is more important to me.

I love modeling because I meet new people, I improve my English, and I love seeing people are satisfied with my photos. By turning modeling into an opportunity to talk about albinism, I mean “It’s not a curse, it’s just a genetic disorder.” People with this genetic trait should be referred to as people with albinism. Because when you say albinos for someone, it’s like the definition of who they are.

People tell me that I have to accept things about my past, but I don’t think so. I think one should see what is happening and understand why it is, but not accept it. I will not accept the killing of children for albinism. I want to change the world.

I want other children with albinism or any difference or disability to know that they can do whatever they want. I am different in some ways but in other ways I am like everyone else. I love sports and climbing and I can do them like anyone else. People may be telling you that you can’t do certain things, but you should try.

WHAT IS ALBINISM? WHY SHOULD SAY ALBINISM AND NOT ALBINO?

Albinism is a genetic difference that affects the production of a substance called melanin, which gives color to eyes, skin and hair.

In people with albinism, melanin is either poorly produced or not produced at all, so their skin, eyes and hair are usually very light.

The prevalence of albinism is also different in different parts of the world. For example, it is estimated that one in every 17,000 people in the UK has albinism.

The term “albinism person” is preferred to the term “albino”, which is often used in a derogatory sense and ignores other aspects of that person.