After a lifetime of being teased and misunderstood, albino model Ruby Vizcarra made it her mission to overcome the stereotypes about her skin condition and encourage others to embrace their natural beauty.
During an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, Vizcarra, 24, recounted that while she was growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, there was a lot that she didn’t understand about her condition of albinism, which leaves people mostly devoid of pigment in their skin, hair and eyes.
“When I was little, I didn’t know why I was different, but my mom would always say I had albinism,” Vizcarra said.
Although she isn’t the only one in her family with the skin condition — one of her four sisters as well as a paternal grandmother and a maternal aunt were also born with albinism — she didn’t understand as a child why she got sunburned so easily and couldn’t play outside for as long as other kids did.
And she wasn’t the only person who didn’t understand much about albinism.
Vizcarra recalls walking home from school one day and overhearing a little girl ask her mother why Vizcarra’s skin was so white. The mother responded by saying Vizcarra was “very sick” and that her condition “can be contagious.”
“I still remember that day. I have it very present in my heart because it made me cry,” the model said. “I now use it as a propeller that ignites my fuel to achieve my dreams.”
RELATED VIDEO: Model Lauren Wasser Faces Another Leg Amputation Because of Toxic Shock Syndrome
After turning 18, Vizcarra began to learn about albinism online and decided to pursue modeling professionally.
But once she was signed by a modeling agency, she realized she wasn’t going to book the kinds of jobs she’d hoped — and began to forge her own path.
“I wanted to connect with photographers who understood my message,” she said. “I wanted to be very natural, no makeup, and just show who I truly am.”
In addition to pursuing modeling, Vizcarra has also started an organization called Movimiento Albino Latino, which not only provides support to albinos, but also educates others in her community about the condition.
Vizcarra added that the most rewarding part of her journey has been hearing from women “who said I inspired them to embrace their natural beauty too.”
“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 added. “Being different is a blessing.”