@Thevisualchef looks ‘beyond the ordinary’
‘Representation’ is a buzzword people throw around within creative spaces – we frequently mention representation yet rarely realize it.
Yet @Thevisualchef carries this mantle and shines a light on underrepresented forms of beauty. In one of his latest series, the photographer captures albino and dark-skinned women. He places the models against natural greenery with traditional brown garments, threaded hairstyles, and African jewelry.
Within the natural greenery, @Thevisualchef reminds us that the beauty of albino or dark-skinned women exists naturally. Moreover, we need not alter or glamorize their appearance before seeing their beauty. As he writes in his caption, “this collection of images tells a story of our uniqueness and the beauty that accompanies it.”
@Thevisualchef’s emphasis on the skin – not just color – diversity particularly stands out. For instance, one of his models is Shimbe Avalumun, a freckled albino woman. She describes herself as “An African child with white skin.”
The media has just begun to represent young, dark-skinned women, and movies like ‘The Woman King’ do this well. Nonetheless, culture has relegated albinism to an invisible form of blackness. Yet @Thevisualchef challenges the underrepresentation of albino people in his work as he focuses on Shimbe Avalumun.
This message was essential given that @Thevisualchef situates these photos in Nigeria. Africans with albinism can suffer alienating social stigma within their communities. Traditionally, it is believed that albino people are either cursed or have spiritual powers, leading to the persecution of Albino people in places like Nigeria and Tanzania.
Amidst these stigmas and stereotypes, @Thevisualchef provides the gift of perspective. He describes perspective and choice as “some of the unique gifts” that humans possess. With this perspective, he shows how albinism is an underrepresented form of beauty that needs to be celebrated, not hidden.
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