Shaun Ross' 'In My Skin I Win'

Albino male model Shaun Ross starts his 'In My Skin I Win' campaign promoting healthy beauty standards.

"I remember when I was a young little boy. There was a little piece of me that never thought that a lot of little things were very possible." This is how male model Shaun Ross starts his TED Talk in London about albinism and beauty standards. Best known for being the first male albino model, Ross never thought of becoming the face for many advertorials, editorials, beauty campaigns and runways.

Ross states, "When I used to be about 6 or 7 years old, my mother never used to allow me to ride anywhere past the stop sign on my street. I was not allowed to go to a friend's house, I wasn't allowed to turn the corner or anything because, when I was younger, a lot of people used to tease me. And I don't come to all of you guys to feel sorry for me, because I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't. I am extremely proud of myself. And I wish that everybody else in this room is proud of themselves as well"

Ross spoke at length about the difficulty of being rejected by society because of his appearance. But, he also made everyone aware of the danger surrounding him at a younger age because he was looking like no one else. While he kept sharing his personal story, he added: 'Throughout the years, things are passing by and you're hearing remarks from family like 'you can do this, you are beautiful, you're extreme' and everything you could imagine. And then, you step outside into the world and you hear something completely opposite: 'you're ugly, you're a disaster, you're a fault or you're kind of a new test tube baby.' These are the things I heard for years so, automatically, when I got approached to do modeling, I never would have thought that I could have been a model because, in my eyes, the way the society painted it for me was that I'm completely wrong. I'm not acceptable and I'm not beautiful."

The 22-year old has decided to start the In My Skin I Win dedicated to embrace the different beauty standards. He first started it as a movement for individuals who have albinism but would like to extend it to every different type of beauty. Watch the all whole video below and discover a gallery featuring Shaun Ross above. If you want to talk about it, tweet @okayafrica with #inmyskiniwin.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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