Ruby Vizcarra was nicknamed a "ghost" as a child, but her fair skin has become a source of pride following years of pain.
The model lives with albinism, a genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment in the skin. Like most people with the condition, Vizcarra has fair skin and eye conditions and is sensitive to sunlight.
"When I was little, I didn't know why I was different, but my mom would always say I had albinism," she told Yahoo Lifestyle. She recalled there was "neither a positive or negative connotation about it."
Vizcarra's family includes others with the condition, including one of her your sisters, her paternal grandmother and late maternal aunt. And though albinism was a norm in her home, her unique look wasn't well-received by her peers.
The model grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she endured bullying by classmates who made fun of her "ghost"-like appearance and "weirdness," which led her to feel like an outcast.
She recalled another instance in which a young girl asked her mother why Vizcarra was so pale. "It's because she is very sick, and it can be contagious," the mother said and they quickly walked away.
"I still remember that day. I have it very present in my heart because it made me cry. I now use it as a propeller that ignites my fuel to achieve my dreams," she said.
After being called "abnormal" for years, Vizcarra turned to modeling both to reinvent her own self-worth and to show others that albino is a beautiful, not intimidating, condition.
"I still had a lot of fear and insecurities when I approached a modeling agency. What if they reject me? I used to think," she said.
An agency welcomed Vizcarra, but she didn't appreciate their narrative. She said it looked more to commercialize her and albinism rather than showcase its beauty.
"I had to part ways," she said. "I wanted to connect with photographers who understood my message; I wanted to be very natural, no makeup, and just show who I truly am."0comments
After some hard lessons and letdowns, Vizcarra said she's "finally proud" of herself and what she's accomplished through modeling. She had worked on multiple projects to bring awareness about albinism and has selected gigs to prove "being different is a blessing.
"Even when I decided to stop dyeing my hair other colors and simply embrace my natural silver, I received messages from women who said I inspired them to embrace their natural beauty too," Vizcarra said. "Hearing that I am helping others is the most rewarding feeling in the world."