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Albino model previously bullied over appearance features in Vogue

The Independent logo The Independent 09/02/2018 Chelsea Ritschel

a person wearing a hat © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited A 22-year-old model who was previously bullied for his albinism has had the last laugh - by becoming a Vogue model.

Leo Jonah, from London, was born without pigment in his skin, eyes, or hair - the effects of a rare congenital disorder caused by a mutation in one of several genes.

As a child growing up with albinism, Leo and his siblings, both of whom were born with the same condition, were bullied for their appearances.

And growing up looking clearly different, it was hard to fit in. He told the MailOnline: “I couldn’t just walk to the shop without getting into a fight. Every single day I’d get into a fight.”

But it was Leo’s unique appearance that captured the attention of a modelling agency - and transformed him into a successful model.

Now featured in the pages of Vogue Russia, Leo is using his own experiences to educate others about albinism - and inspire those born with the condition to embrace it.

Looking back on his childhood, Leo remembers how he used to wish he didn't have the condition, as it would have made fitting in a lot easier.

“When you’re growing up, everyone is trying to fit in. And naturally, I couldn’t fit in. Even if I wanted to try and fit in, it wouldn’t work,” he told the MailOnline.

And for Leo’s family, it was especially difficult to fit in.

According to Leo, in addition to being the first black family on the street, the family made headlines when his younger sister was the third child to be born with albinism.

Although the condition is genetic, it is extremely rare for three children born to the same parents will have the condition - as there is only a one in four chance of giving birth to a child with albinism if both parents carry the gene, according to the NHS.

But in spite of the odds, Leo’s mother Faith gave birth to three children with the gene.

However, despite the bullying that he endured, Leo grew up confident, which he credits his mum for.

And although Leo does think the attention his appearance draws can be "quite annoying," at the same time, the constant stares and the knowledge that he can never be invisible has grown on him - as it is this inability to blend in that caught the attention of the modelling world.

Now, Leo wouldn’t change a thing about his appearance - as it has given him the opportunity to walk in London Fashion week, model for Vogue Russia and Hunger magazine, and appear in various music videos.

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