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Thando Hopa is the first woman with albinism on the cover of “Vogue” mag

Thando Hopa, a South African model, lawyer and activist, is on the April cover of “Vogue Portugal” for their “Africa Motherland” edition. The magazine stated that the issue is an ode “to origins” and to “Africa, as the birthplace of mankind”.

Vogue magazine has started a new campaign to launch more diverse black women into the limelight. The 2019 April issue is a historical one as it features South African model Thando Hopa, the first albino model to grace the cover of this international fashion magazine. The April edition is meant to be a celebration of the full range of African skin and beauty.

“This edition celebrates the boundless creative resources of Africans and Afro-descendants through fashion, beauty, art, lifestyle, entertainment and culture,” said the features editor at Vogue Portugal, Patricia Domingues.

Thando Hopa was named one of the BBC’s top 100 most influential women across the world in 2018 for her activism on the discrimination people with albinism suffer for a condition that is hereditary. In an interview with Top Women she said she uses her modelling career to show the beauty of her skin. “There is a contradictory belief that people with albinism bring either good or bad luck. People hug and hold me for good luck, or conversely spit into the necklines of their tops to ward off bad luck, or they make a big show of not wanting to touch me for fear of becoming like me or having children who are like me. I felt like a walking commodity, struggling to find the words to explain how ordinary I am.”

Read: People with Albinism gather for International Day of Social Justice

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I was once talking to a friend about the dilemma one constantly finds themselves in when dealing female representation in the media. The response was something I digested because the challenge endures beyond the media fraternity. They said "some women feel liberated when they keep their clothes on and some women feel liberated when they take their clothes off" Some people may think that these are two groups of women fighting for two different things, but in my view, this is a unified group of women fighting for one thing – bodily sovereignty. My understanding is, women need environments that allow them to feel like they have control over their representation, agency over their bodies and there are no punitive measures imposed on them by cultural codes when they choose to authentically navigate their bodies in a manner that is most comfortable to them. The power clothes have in regulating a female body is actually frightening. Depending on which cultural environment she finds herself in, she's either pressured to show very little or show quite a lot of her body without any regard or respect for her sovereignty and choice. Other women themselves internalize this level of sexism, and we use cultural tools to subdue any authority our fellow sisters have over their bodies. Cultural tools are usually punitive in nature and usually a woman has to contend with the possibility of harm coming her way which is either physical, financial or emotional. If she says "I do not want to!" with anything that is intrusive or imprisoning with respect to her body, can we please allow that to be enough and for no further justification to be required from her, as if we own her body in community of property – she does not owe us an explanation over HER body. Photographer: @elsa_niemoller thandohopa#photograpy#activist#activism#fashion#writer#diversity#inclusion#representaion#feminist#feminism#art#albinism#blackgirlmagic#iamenough#model#actress#southafrica#afro#kinkyhair#naturalhair#authenticity#thoughtleader#narratives#change#storyteller#body#representationmatters

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Relating her experience of landing the Vogue cover to Sowetan Live news website, Hopa said, “I was in total disbelief when I was first contacted to do the cover. My mother thought I was going to be trafficked by a bunch of strangers! The shock was probably because we’ve never come across a woman with albinism on a Vogue cover. I felt a bit overwhelmed, thinking about the many barriers the very existence of this representation could break.”

She went on to speak about what the cover means to her on Instagram: “I once said to a close friend that it would really be lovely to see a woman with albinism on a Vogue cover. I would not have imagined that that woman would be me. “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” I’m emotional, because I see progress and get to form part of a progressive story and narrative. 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.”

“Thank you for allowing me to make a footnote in history @vogueportugal.”

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I once said to a close friend that it would really be lovely to see a woman with albinism on a Vogue Cover, I would not have imagined that that woman would be me. "We are the ones we have been waiting for." I'm emotional, because I see progress and get to form part of a progressive story and narrative. 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. Thank you for allowing me to make a footnote in history @vogueportugal Thank you to the people who advised, supported and contributed significantly to this journey, who harnessed the essence of representation and inclusion. @gertjohancoetzee @melshaw001 @asandasizani @lynetteb_ Dr Precious Motsepe @unalbinism @audisouthafrica @asifhoosen @khanyi_matla @phindiv @pirelli Tim Walker @bbcafrica @bbc @motsepefoundation @afi_sa @glamour_sa @marieclairesa @foschinisa @pridemm @fashion_friend1 @staceylhanmer @kirsten___goss @beautyrevolution_za @samhopa @wokeproject @mimiinblue @adwoaaboa @infra_red_99 Not to mention I worked with an amazing team, it was one of the most unique and refreshing experiences I've ever had. Produced by @imi_oztas Features editor @patriciatrdomingues Editor in chief @sofia.slucas Photographer:@rhysframpton Styling @sallyannebolton Make up:@suuad_jeppe Journalist @joanapem P,S thank you to @shaundross for sending so much love my way and @diandraforrest for the shout out. #thandohopa#photograpy#activist#activism#fashion#writer#diversity#inclusion#representaion#feminist#feminism#art#albinism#blackgirlmagic#model#actress#southafrica#afro#kinkyhair#naturalhair#authenticity#thoughtleader#narratives#change#storyteller#body#representationmatters#voguecover

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An alternate cover of the Vogue Portugal April edition will feature the celebrated model Alek Wek. This will be the second Vogue cover for the British-Sudanese beauty.

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