Xueli Abbing: “Together, we can fight the horrible myths about albinism”

Xueli Abbing has recently been appointed as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against racism and discrimination. The 17-year-old Chinese-born Dutch model is breaking barriers in the modeling industry. Xueli is proving to the world that her differences do not define her.

Why did you decide to support UNESCO’s cause in fighting discrimination and racism and what pushed you to become our Goodwill Ambassador?

UNESCO's Director General read an article on the BBC. She then asked if I’d like to be their new Goodwill Ambassador. I was aware of the existence of UNESCO but I never thought I could join such a big organization. And when I learned more about UNESCO, I started to realize that their goals were in line with my goals to end discrimination and racism.

Albinism affects one in 17,000 to 20,000 people worldwide. What have you learned from your commitment to raising awareness of People with Albinism?

I’ve learned some horrible facts, that People with Albinism get chased after and are not safe, for example in Tanzania, Malawi… but also some good things: there is a lot of research on albinism, such as how to protect yourself against the sun… During my few years of raising awareness, I’ve started to realize that I still have a lot to learn.


What is your message to young People with Albinism?

My message is that you are not alone. I sometimes felt very alone and very special, most of the time in a good way but sometimes in a bad way. I want to say to those children or young people: you are not alone, there is a whole alliance of persons with albinism who are here to stand beside you and we all can fight the horrible myths about albinism.

You were featured in Vogue Italia's June 2019 edition with Lana del Rey on the cover. How did that make you feel?

Actually, I didn’t really know what Vogue was but I did know that it was something very prestigious. So I was very honored to be featured in Vogue and I still have the magazine at home!

I will do my best and contribute to fight any form of racism and discrimination.
Xueli Abbing

How can we ensure that more people with disabilities are represented in the fashion industry?

I’m just one person. Now with this title of Goodwill Ambassador, I can use it to raise more awareness. By seeing more disabled people in the media, people will begin to think it's normal. I hope that will happen someday, that people think it’s normal. Then there will be more people represented, and this is how it should be.

Can you give us a specific example of how you use your modeling career to raise awareness of albinism?

So far, I mainly used modeling to spread the message through social media. So people also see that a person with albinism can reach such goals. That’s basically how I raise awareness, telling my story and explaining the things I’m doing. Because people may think my story is inspiring and, most of all, I can educate people with it.

What do you consider your greatest success?  Do you think your voice is being heard?

Becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO is actually my greatest success and a big honor. I hope this will get my voice heard and understood better. So, thanks to UNESCO, persons with albinism are better represented and I will do my best and contribute to fight any form of racism and discrimination.