Ever since infancy, a girl was subjected to unlikely circumstances. It all began when her parents left her outside an orphanage because of her unusual appearance. Years later, she became a rising star, inspiring people with her phenomenal story.
Xueli Abbing’s life was filled with endless twists and turns that went on to define her future and personality. Her life story began, quite interestingly, on the day when she was abandoned on the ground outside an orphanage.
Many might have thought that her life would have ended at that moment, but fate had different plans for her.
Abandoned as a Baby
Abbing said she was born in China when the government’s one-child policy was in effect, and thousands of babies were left by their birth families. Like many other infants, she said her biological parents dropped her outside an orphanage’s door and vanished without a trace.
Abbing said people with albinism face increased discrimination, with some considering it a curse.
The Chinese girl noted that she never heard from her parents or knew who they were after that incident. The orphanage took her in, and their staff members named her Xueli — “Xue” meant snow, while “Li” was defined as beautiful.
Abbing said her birth parents abandoned her because of her looks. She was born with albinism, a genetic condition that causes decreased pigment melanin or no melanin, resulting in eyes, hair, and skin appearing pale in color.
Despite a relatively rough start in life, a Dutch family adopted her when she was three. After that, she moved with her new family to the Netherlands, where her mom and sister, Yara, provided her with a loving and affectionate environment.
Kickstarting Her Career
Abbing said she entered the modeling agency by accident at age 11 when a Hong Kong designer invited her to model for a photoshoot aimed at portraying various forms of beauty. Regarding her experience, she shared:
“[The designer] called the campaign ‘perfect imperfections’ and asked if I wanted to join her fashion show in Hong Kong. That was an amazing experience.”
Abbing said people with albinism face increased discrimination, with some considering it a curse. She told BBC:
“I’m lucky I was only abandoned.”
The young Chinese noted that models with albinism faced stereotypes and were mainly depicted as angels or ghosts in campaigns and photoshoots. “It makes me sad,” she admitted.
Making It to Vogue
Fortunately, Abbing worked with a photographer in London who treated her with utmost respect and kindness. The resulting photoshoot turned out to be incredible, and according to Abbing, one of the images was sold to Vogue Italia for their June 2019 issue.
Abbing said it took her a while to understand that Vogue was an important magazine and being featured in it was a big deal.
Doing photoshoots was cumbersome for the young lady, who only had 8 to 10% vision and couldn’t look directly at the camera as it irritated her eyes.
Changing Her Focus
Despite the odds, Abbing said she felt glad to represent people with visible differences and be their voice. She expressed:
“Maybe because I cannot see everything properly I focus more on people’s voices and what they have to say. So their inner beauty is more important to me.”
At the tender of 16, Abbing was said to have graced the pages of Vogue magazine and fronted numerous campaigns for famous designers, such as Kurt Geiger.
Raising Her Voice
Abbing’s loving sister, Yara, who managed her social media presence and sometimes photographed her, shared with Bored Panda:
“She works as a model in order to raise awareness around albinism and to show others that people with disabilities are ‘normal’ as well and can perfectly participate in society.”
According to Yara, when her sister was not busy with photoshoots or gracing runaways, she indulged in a myriad of activities, including sports. Abbing enjoys crocheting, climbing, watching informative videos online, and being philosophical about life.
Changing the World
Abbing hopes to use the modeling platform to raise awareness about albinism and garner support, stating:
“I want to use modeling to talk about albinism and say it’s a genetic disorder, it’s not a curse. The way to talk about it is to say ‘a person with albinism’ because being ‘an albino’ sounds as if it defines who you are.”
Even though Abbing has a long way to go, she said she wants to change the world and encourage others like her to believe in themselves. Rather than letting her circumstances define her, Abbing is making albinism her strength and uses modeling to raise her voice.
Undoubtedly, the young model is a shining example that our differences can be our defining features, introducing us to endless possibilities. Thank you, Xueli, for breaking stereotypes and teaching us that true beauty lies in embracing ourselves.