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“I’m a Different Shade of Normal” – South African Albino Lawyer, Thando Hopa turns Model to Challenge Perception of Albinism



Thando Hopa - BellaNaija - June2015

Thando Hopa with Gert Johan-Coetzee

Beauty is a choice“.

According to Daily Mail, an albino woman – Thando Hopa, born and living in South Africa, has turned to the profession of modelling for an inspiring cause – to change the attitude of people towards albinism.

The 25-year-old Layer was persuaded to enter the profession by celebrated fashion designer – Gert-Johan Coetzee, and has since used it as a tool to reaching others like her and the world, starting with South Africa.

According to her – “I eventually decided beauty is a decision and I am going to be beautiful despite what people say. My tagline is ‘a different shade of normal'”.

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She stated – “I had been approached to do modelling before, but I didn’t go for it because I never saw the benefits. I thought, “It’s such a shallow profession – why would I want to do that? I am a lawyer.

But after meeting with Gert in 2011, she started to consider the prospect. “Gert came to me and asked me if I would like to do a shoot and I said I would consider it.” “And then I spoke to my sister. And my sister said to me, “Don’t look at modelling as modelling. Look at it as an opportunity for you to actually change perception of albinism. Remember how you grew up. Remember how people really treated you.“.”

Thando recalled how she used to get hugged by strangers for good luck, her teachers thinking she was mentally challenged due to her poor eye-sight and how a woman once screamed at her on the street, referring to her as the devil’s child.

Now, Thando has walked numerous runways, had shoots and appeared on the first issue of Forbes Life Africa.

Thando Hopa - BellaNaija - June2015003 Thando Hopa - BellaNaija - June2015004

Narrating her first runway experience she said – “The dress was gorgeous – black and green. I can tell you, I have never felt so expensive in my life. But I was actually so scared because in essence that was the first time I really walked in heels. I was even saying a little prayer when I was walking, “God, please don’t let me fall on this catwalk!’ I was absolutely frightened.”

Thando Hopa - BellaNaija - June2015005

Thanks to her modelling, Thando says her confidence had greatly increased and she no longer covers her skin with layers of clothes and makeup. She said – “I could never go out without make-up but as time goes on, your confidence just grows. It took years for me to get to a point where I could walk around without make-up.” “People tell me I have become a positive influence for their children, for them to see that they can go beyond their circumstances.”

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Such an inspiring story.

Photo Credit: DailyMail | AfricanMetro | IEFIMerida | CapitalFM

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at) or style(at) | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle


  1. nene+

    June 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Bold and beautiful.
    Great job. We all deserve respect and dignity doing what is right.

    • polypoly

      June 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! come thru hunty and serve us Albino fierce teas…….yass boo!!! Gert-Johan u berraaaa be ready to walk that NY Fashion week runway…..slay and werk it

      her hair is slaying you Weave Queens like for real… paid all tthat $$$ but still can be as fierce as this #AfricanQueen #AlbinoQueen #QueenOfEquality #QueenOfPromotingEqualBeautyStandards

  2. Fabulous B

    June 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Crazily happy about this. Great representation on a great platform; greater things to come, I believe. Bless you, sister

  3. Fabulous B

    June 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Gert Joan-coetzee, not forgetting you. If not for you, this cause & lady may not take centre stage. More grease to your elbow

  4. jwezee

    June 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    She is Beautiful

  5. Charis

    June 30, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Beautiful woman

  6. Bosola

    June 30, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    is it me or does he hair in the first picture look like igbo eba? but she is pretty tho!

    • Ayoola

      July 1, 2015 at 3:21 am

      i think you’re just craving it o !!

  7. Jojo

    June 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    And you are beautiful too

  8. Leah

    June 30, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    She is absolutely gorgeous! And cheers to whoever did her makeup and hair, they did not eliminate her in the process.

  9. Ghostmode

    June 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    wow she’s beautiful

  10. Mary Fynn

    June 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    She is really cute even with the clolour

  11. Mi

    June 30, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Wonderfully made…

  12. Bruness

    June 30, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Lord!! She’s beautiful #no jokes#

  13. Thots

    July 1, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Undoubtedly gorgeous in her pure natural form. Beauty is indeed ubiquitous. God is good

  14. Anita

    July 1, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Another shade of beauty!

  15. hetty

    July 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    What a wow
    Shes pretty indeed

  16. Tope George

    July 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    WHA OO She look take away

  17. Tope George

    July 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    which to know her

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