Shaun Ross

I’m ambivalent about Fashion Week—I like clothes but I also think it contributes to the loud noises in our ears saying “This is what you’re supposed to look like. This is what perfect is.” That being said, it looks like this years New York Fashion Week is making at least some strides to include more diverse models, including an albino model named Shaun Ross. More importantly, he’s an excellent role model and unbelievably positive force for high self esteem and self love.

CNN has a profile and video about the 22-year-old Ross, who walked in the runway shows for Third NYC and Monsieur Belange. Ross was born with albinism, “a congenital disorder that results in the production of little to no pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.” Ross says he does not let his albinism define him, although growing up in the Bronx wasn’t without challenges. He was bullied, called names, and teased mercilessly.

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He calls himself a “confident outcast,” and said “I just had to accept it. I’m going to be me; either you’re going to accept it or you’re not.” Ross attributes his confidence to his mother, who taught Ross that his skin ddin’t make him different than anyone else. He says:

“It’s really weird to say, but I never thought about my skin being weird. I just knew that’s what it was. I never asked myself why I didn’t look like my parents. My mother has showed me you have no fear. You let people judge you, but who gives a f—k?”

Ross uses his twitter account to bring awareness to albinism and employs the hashtag #InMySkinIWin. The hashtag has evolved to simply promoting the idea of loving yourself and who you are. The tweets that he gets in response are glowing, and show the real effect of speaking out like this.

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Yes. This. Can more people with different bodies and faces and abilities speak up about accepting our differences and then moving the fuck on? And can designers please cast more people like Shaun Ross, who show that beauty encompasses all people, regardless of height or size or conventional norms? If you aren’t following Ross on Twitter, do so immediately for daily doses of body positivity and self love.

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Photos: Instagram, Twitter