Thursday, November 20, 2008
Shaun Ross is a stunningly gorgeous 17 year old Bronx-born black fashion model. He is also an amazing dancer. What is so unique about Shaun is that he is albino. His gorgeous, full, Afro features are contrasted by his alabaster skin, green eyes and blond hair. His lithe dancer's body is the perfect canvas for any photographer's or designer's work. Shaun was recently featured in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times and is making a lot of headway in his burgeoning modeling career. In the articles, he speaks of teasing by kids and classmates, which to me, is heartbreaking. It particularly angers me when blacks participate in any form of discrimination (race, color, economics, size, immigrant status, sexuality, etc) because we know the resulting pain all too well. He seems to have traversed it pretty well and is turning his specialness into a commodity. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I am sure his success is like salt in the wounds of the haters.....and they should suffer!
Shaun in many ways reminds me of Alek Wek. Alek is one of my ALL TIME favorite models, not only because of her beauty and her sweet spirit, but because Alek represents a challenge to and shift in modern beauty aesthetics for blacks globally. Alek was in-your-face BLACK - no apologies, no regrets, no escaping it. Many blacks were forced to face their own self hatred. Alek's career was in many ways a little civil rights movement in and of itself - breaking down barriers, broadening views and beauty ideals and beating a path for the next round of pretty little chocolate girls.
Shaun makes you think and feel when you look at him. He makes you question preconceived notions of color, race and beauty. I think it is just as ridiculous to say "I don't see color" as it is to judge or discriminate against someone because of color. His color is part of his beauty - another gorgeous shade in the vast and ever-expanding spectrum of black beauty. It is that very same beauty, as rare and singular as it is, that should be celebrated and embraced. And to top it all off, this kid is GOOD.
I really wish him all the success in the world. Social soapboxes aside, I am sure this kid just wants to model and dance and be young and beautiful and fabulous. He will.