Lerato Sithibe is a woman living with albinism. She wears her skin proudly not allowing negative stereotypes to define her.
“It is important for people like me not to let others define their identity. Wear your skin proudly because you are wonderfully made,” she said.
Sithibe (28) from Kroonstad in the Free State, explains that her condition is hereditary and is the result of a person having a reduced amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes.
“We are not the muthi or aliens people think we are. We are human beings just like everyone else.”
Seithibe wears many hats. She is a model who also uses fashion to raise awareness about albinism and is an activist for people with disabilities in the Free State.
She said she grew up in a loving family that never made her feel different or less loved for having albinism.
“I didn’t understand why my skin colour was different from other people, why every time I went outside people would call me names and stared at me like I was an outsider.”
The stigma attached to albinism made Sethibe more grateful for her family, crediting them for the strong and confident woman she is today.
Some of Sithibe’s proudest achievements include being crowned Miss Free State Albinism 2018 and being chosen as one of the finalists for the Face of Free State Fashion Week 2018.
With September being Albinism Awareness Month Sithibe said she would be happier to see more people with albinism coming out and doing great things in the modelling industry and other sectors.
How should people with albinism take care of themselves?
- Avoid sun exposure during peak sunlight intensity periods (9am to 3pm).
- Wear protective clothing, broad-brimmed sun hats and shirts with collars and long sleeves.
- Use sunscreen on all sun-exposed areas at least SPF 30 and re-apply every two hours when out in the sun.
- Visit your doctor regularly for eye and skin examination.
- Wear sunglasses when exposed to sun.