Albino individuals are often persecuted in Africa because some believe their body parts transmit magical powers. To combat the negative stigma and celebrate those with the congenital disorder, a beauty pageant was recently held in Kenya.
Did you know? In some (primarly Eastern) African countries, individuals born with the congenital disorder of albinism are often targeted due to local lore. It is believed that certain body parts of albino people can transmit magical powers; in result, the approximate 15,000 albino individuals who live in sub-Saharan Africa must always be on the watch.
For the first time ever, however, a number of people affected by the disorder were able to celebrate their skin condition and ignore the stigma attached to their appearance. The Guardian reports that the world’s first albino pageant which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, was designed to celebrate people who lack pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes, and at the same time fight back against persecution they often face.
Ten women and ten men modeled the latest fashions at the Beauty Beyond Skin event. At the end, Mr. and Miss Albinism Kenya were crowned in front of the crowd of about 1,000 people. Says Loyce Lihanda, who was crowned Miss Albinism Kenya:
“For so long albinos have been treated as half-humans because they [are] different. In turn this has affected our self-esteem and the ability to utilise and explore our skills and talents. We come from a mentality that we cannot achieve what ‘normal’ people can because we are different. Yet time has proven that we can excel.”
Reportedly, all contestants reported higher self-confidence after the event. Isaac Mwaura, Kenya’s first parliamentarian with albinism and founder of the Albinism Society of Kenya told Thomson Reuters Foundation:
“I knew I was handsome (but) people with albinism are seen as not beautiful, as not good-looking, and that has an effect on their self esteem.”
This one-of-a-kind pageant is inspiring for numerous reasons. Following is a video of the unique event:
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