Beauty can’t be confined to a single definition, and the fashion industry can only benefit from using models whose appearance more accurately represents the world at large. Diandra Forrest is one woman who is bringing much-needed change to this field. She was born to African American parents, but she has albinism—her hair is naturally blonde and her skin is milky white. Despite her encounters with adversity, Forrest has since rose to fame as a striking model with albinism that’s the first to be signed to a major agency.
Albinism is a rare condition—approximately one in 17,000 people is born with it. Of course, this difference made Forrest a target of childhood teasing. “I often felt out of place,” she recalls. Her older brother also has albinism, and people would often ask them if they were adopted. “In school, or even on the train with my mum, there would be parents, adults, who stared at my brother and me and laughed at us. I didn’t understand why.”
As she grew into adulthood, Forrest gained confidence so that eventually, people’s lack of understanding did not bother her. Her gorgeous looks afforded her a career in modeling, and now she’s part of campaigns in major fashion magazines as well as runway shows. Forrest’s unique beauty expands the very definition, allowing others—who don’t fall within society’s often-rigid conventions—to have visibility. This is in line with her hope for children with albinism—that they will know their own beauty. “Growing up, I would have loved to have someone older around who had albinism so I could see what I was going to look like when I grew up, just to motivate me, and who could understand some of the things I was going through.”
Thanks to Forrest’s trailblazing career, these young people have someone in the public eye they can look up to.