South African model Thando Hapo is the first woman with albinism to cover Vogue

Paulina Cachero
·2 min read
South African model Thando Hapo is the first woman with albinism to cover Vogue
South African model Thando Hapo is the first woman with albinism to cover Vogue

“I once said to a close friend that it would really be lovely to see a woman with albinism on a Vogue Cover,” South African model, activist and lawyer Thando Hopa wrote on her Instagram. “I would not have imagined that that woman would be me.”

With her eyes gently closed and her head tilted towards the sky, Hopa has made history as the first woman with albinism to grace the cover of Vogue. The model is the highlight of Vogue Portugal’s “Africa Motherland” edition, an homage to Africa as the cradle of humanity, reads a tweet from the magazine’s Twitter account. The issue seeks to celebrate the full spectrum of African beauty and also features Sudanese model Alek Wek in an alternate cover of the April edition.

Being the one to achieve this important first was “overwhelming” for Hopa. The South African model shared what this “footnote in history” meant on her Instagram. “I'm emotional, because I see progress and get to form part of a progressive story and narrative,” Hopa wrote. “I got to a place in my career where I appreciate every specimen of my body and knowing that wherever I go, my existence, the way it is, has always and will always be enough.”

In her cover story, Thando got candid about growing up with white skin in a “pigmented society” and how her albinism fueled her passion for activism. She also shut down the idea that inclusion in the fashion industry is just a fleeting “trend.”

“I do not think that human bodies should ever be called “trends.” I have a serious problem with people who say albinism is a trend, or vitiligo is a trend. Or people who say ‘It is so cool to be black right now,’” Hopa said. “Human bodies are not disposable.”

The decision to celebrate African beauty comes amidst a recent campaign for the publication to start an international edition for Africa. In an interview with Reuters, supermodel Naomi Campbell, a contributing editor for British Vogue, expressed a need for Vogue’s presence in Africa: “There should be a Vogue Africa. We just had Vogue Arabia— it is the next progression. It has to be.”

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