Ellen Renton,


From the health visitor who told my mother that her baby would definitely have to attend a special school, to the cafe waiter who asked if I normally only came outside at night, people I meet always make judgements about me based on a set of assumptions, because I have albinism.

Meet Ellen Renton

Meet Ellen Renton

Countering misconceptions

"Hollywood would have the world believe that I am a sadistic killer or a supernatural being."

When confronted with ill-informed ideas about albinism, I have learned not to direct my frustration at the person asking me why my "eyes won't stop shaking" or if my hair is "really that colour naturally," because these questions represent a problem much bigger than one person's warped perceptions, one that won't be resolved by angrily correcting someone.

The common preconceptions about people with albinism are shocking, but considering our unfair and inaccurate portrayal in society and culture, they are hardly surprising. Hollywood would have the world believe that I am a sadistic killer or a supernatural being, and the results of a quick internet search attribute me with various false traits including the ability to glow in the dark, anger problems and low intelligence.

Hopes and dreams

This is why the introduction of an International Albinism Awareness Day is so important. The international aspect of this occasion is significant, because countries in which persecution is less prevalent need to accept responsibility for perpetuating stereotypes, rather than working to dispel them. If the world tackled this issue collectively, rather than the West always pointing the finger at East African countries, a solution might be more of an achievable aim. The idea of awareness is also hugely important, because ignorance is always the greatest barrier to progress. Any hope of eliminating the persecution of people with albinism surely lies in spreading awareness.

The #NotGhosts campaign not only challenges the mythological beliefs surrounding albinism, but also declares our place in society as humans - the same as everyone else. Albinism does not dictate every aspect of my personality, it is only one dimension of my character. Assumptions exist on the basis that all people pertaining to a certain group in society are identical in every respect, and so the sooner that the world accepts people with albinism as fully fledged members of society, the sooner these assumptions and their fatal consequences might give way to knowledge and understanding.

Ellen Renton