Changing Lives: Albinism in the Media, Part III
Albinism in Photography
In contrast to the negative connotations of albinism in movies, photography has softened the stigma of albinism. Surprisingly, several photographers have captured the innate beauty of pure whiteness. Yulia Taits (2016) takes pictures of albinistic people with white backgrounds and props without editing out any of the whiteness and is fascinated by the color white having different shades (Figure 3). She comments, “Their unique beauty hypnotizes me. This beauty is so pure and amazing for me, as if it was taken from fantasies and fairy tale legends.”
Arguably, in these comments, she is idealizing people with albinism, so my only critique is that people with albinism need to be seen as regular people who happen to have unique differences in order to give and take empathy and relationships with others instead of fantastical characters.
Figure 3. Taits’ images of people with albinism (Richman-Abdu, 2017)
Overall, however, her pictures show how precious, unique, and beautiful people with albinism are. After all, is not the value of being tan and having dark eye lashes from media as well? People in some Asian countries love pale skin and even try to make their own skin lighter. Neither of these values is better than the other—but the difference shows that beauty is certainly in the eyes of the beholder.
The photography movement is not limited to the United States. Patricia Willocq was born in Congo and saw first-hand the stigmatized and undignified way people with albinism are treated, so she created a photo essay (Figure 4) to show “beauty in difference” (Frank, 2016). This demonstrates the beauty and every-day life of people with albinism. These people obviously have hopes and dreams that are similar to countless other people’s. Artwork like this is helping demystify and deconstruct the stigmas about albinism.
Figure 4. Images of Willocq’s work (Frank, 2010)