An Aʟʙɪɴᴏ Girl Who Was ᴀʙᴀɴᴅᴏɴᴇᴅ As A Baby Grows Up To Be A Vogue Model
“Xue” means snow and “Li” means beautiful, a fitting name for this model with ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ. The name was given to her 16 years ago at an ᴏʀᴘʜᴀɴᴀɢᴇ ɪɴ Cʜɪɴᴀ. Xueli is changing how the world sees ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ and ᴘʀᴏᴠɪᴅᴇs ᴀ ᴠᴏɪᴄᴇ for those who look different from the unreachable beauty standards of the modeling ɪɴᴅᴜsᴛʀʏ.
Xueli started modeling at the age of 11 for a friend of her mother’s who was a fashion designer. This sparked the start of her career when she was approached by talent agencies. ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ, which is a ɢᴇɴᴇᴛɪᴄ ᴄᴏɴᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴ, involves ᴠᴀʀʏɪɴɢ ᴅᴇɢʀᴇᴇs ᴏF ᴠɪsɪᴏɴ ɪssᴜᴇs. Xueli has approximately 8% to 10% of her vision. Because of this, she often closes her eyes during photoshoots. She states on her Instagram that this is “because the light is almost always too bright. When I do open my eyes, I mostly squeeze them…”
Xueli says that her “more negative experiences range from being ᴀʙᴀɴᴅᴏɴᴇᴅ as a baby to sometimes being excluded at school for being different.” She says that this experience “was, of course, very difficult, but it also made me stronger.”
Despite the critical modeling ɪɴᴅᴜsᴛʀʏ, Xueli has become widely successful. At just 16, she has already been featured in major publications, including Vogue. Her pictures have also been shown in museums, and she has modeled for a variety of fashion brands.
Bʀᴇᴀᴋɪɴɢ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ʜᴜʀᴛFᴜʟ beauty standards. “Everyone is unique no matter what,” she says. She uses her platform to raise awareness for people with ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ and to promote representation. She states, “People with disabilities or that look different should also feel more confident about what they can do and achieve.”
Similarly, she doesn’t want her modeling career as an Aʟʙɪɴᴏ woman to fall prey to stereotypes. “Models with ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ often get stereotyped in shoots to depict ᴀɴɢᴇʟs ᴏʀ ɢʜᴏsᴛs and it makes me sad. Especially because it perpetuates those beliefs that ᴇɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ the lives of children with ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ in countries such as Tanzania and Malawi.”