Featured Image: Shinkirô
Model and activist Alba Parejo became a social media sensation after posting images of her rare disease and scarring online. From Barcelona, the 16 year old is using her uniqueness to promote the diversity of beauty alongside messages of self acceptance across the world. Inspiringly, Parejo portrays the glorious and fascinating element in being ‘different’. By showing her confidence and determination to display that all women, regardless of their appearance, are beautiful, Parejo is powerfully changing societies conditioned beliefs of what beauty is.
At what point and why did you decide that you would show your birthmarks and embrace them?
When I was 13, I was meeting a boy and I liked him, so, one day I showed my back to him because he didn’t know about my disease; he only knew that I had moles (I did not show my skin to anyone because I did not love myself) . So, when I showed it, he told me not to show my back to anyone because no one wants a deformed girlfriend. Consequently, I began to show my birthmarks because I did not want to have another surprise like that and I just wanted to be with a boy that did not care about my body.
How has social media influenced your understanding of what is acceptable to be beautiful?
The July of 2016, I posted a photo showing my scars. After that, there were a lot of people who added me on social media platforms and they talked to me to explain their feelings and problems about their bodies. I began to love myself step by step because the messages made me so happy and I have learnt a lot. Nowadays, thanks of the different points of view of the people who wrote (and write) me, I have learnt that are so many types of beautiful: you can be fat, thin, short, tall, with a big nose or with stretch marks, it doesn’t mean you can’t be beautiful.
Where you are from, what are the standards of beauty?
I live in a city near Barcelona (Spain) and here the people normally are open mind but the standards are still being like always. Sometimes you can see a different advertising and it depends about the brand.
What is your opinion on beauty standards/ how have beauty standards affected you?
I don’t agree about the beauty standards because I think that all of us are different and beauty standards create damage to people because they think “oh I want to be like her but I can’t because I have stretch marks or scars or a disease”. We need to be happy and accept ourselves.
I’ve been trying to work with a model agency for 2 years but I can’t because I measure 1’60 and the majority want a model who measure more than 1’70, or, because I have nevus and scars and so there were agencies weren’t interested in me.
How does it feel to experience so many positive responses from people and the media since you’ve embraced your birth marks?
At the beginning, it was so crazy and I didn’t realise what was happening. One day I was a normal girl with birthmarks and a day later, I was in a lot of magazines around the world talking about me and my disease. It was so incredible because I met a lot of people and there were people with nevus who talked to me to explain me their feelings and problems and to know how to accept you with a rare disease. It made me so happy and it gave me more power to being where I am.
Do you think the idea of beauty is changing?
Yeah, little by little, but yes, it is. I mean, a few years ago it was so rare and strange to see a model with a rare disease, wheelchair or, more simple, someone with curves. Society is accustomed to see tall models with a 90-60-90 figure and nowadays is changing extremely and I’m so happy because this change is so open mind and now we can normalize bodies that in the past there were so unusual. I think that now there are people who prefer different people than the normal because when you see advertisings with a different people, it surprises you and it makes you curious.
What does beauty mean to you?
For me is something relative because we are all beautiful in our own way. The person with glasses and the person with no hair are equally beautiful as another person. I’m trying to show people that no-one can decide what they will be born to look like or choose their physique, so the best decision is to love ourselves. Each one is as it is. The difference is not in the reality, but in the eyes of people who see it.