Friday, October 02, 2009

Model Diandra Forrest Helps Raise Awareness About Albinism

The hottest model on the international catwalks these days is 19 year old New York native Diandra Forrest.

She's a 5'11" tall, African American with blonde hair, high cheekbones, hazel eyes and full lips.

Diandra is also an African American with albinism. It's a hereditary condition that occurs in one of of every 17,000 births in which the skin, hair and eyes produce little or no melanin, resulting in a lack of pigmentation.

ABC's 20/20 is doing a story later tonight at 10 PM EDT on people that have this condition. In Tanzania people with albinism are being attacked, killed or mutilated by witch doctors who believe that their organs or potions made from them can bring luck or cure disease.

In Zimbabwe people with albinism are reportedly being raped by those who believe that sexual intercourse with them can cure HIV/AIDS.

Those atrocities and the persistent discrimination have galvanized people around the world with albinism to organize and become more active and vocal in combating the discrimination and negative stereotyping they face.

Diandra Forrest knows all too well about that. She was teased, taunted and had her ethnic background questioned while growing up in the Bronx.

Thanks to Melissa Reed, her sixth-grade teacher who was also an African-American with albinism, the future model began to undergo a transformation from a shy, quiet child too afraid to speak up to an outgoing young woman unafraid to speak her mind and pursue her dreams.

Diandra's career is starting to take off. She's signed with the prestigious Ford Models in Paris after initially starting her career with Elite.

She just took her first trip outside the United States to France in order to walk the runways during Paris fashion week and fulfill a lifetime dream.

"I'm a model, but I'm not a model just because I'm albino," she said. "I have the look, the body and it's just something that I've strived for, that I've always wanted to do."

She's also expanding our definition of beauty at the same time as well.

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