However, it isn’t always the presence of melanin that defines a woman as “black.” Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about people like Rachel Dolelarly important to feature women of colour. We have written stories about 10-year-old fashion designers and world renowned graffiti artists, to name a few. In South Africa, women of colour-part Tholispani.Space , we pride ourselves on our ability to feature creative South Africans. If you’ve read any of our other articles, you know that we focus on three things: fashion, art, and community. We have featured both men and women on our website, but believe that it’s particularly black women – are undeniably the most oppressed group. However, they are also the strongest. We all know a strong black women in our lives. In fact, many of us were raised by them. Despite socioeconomic challenges and widespread misogyny, black women not only persist, but thrive.
We mean black women who are born with albinism. Albinism, which is a skin condition characterized by the absence of pigment, doesn’t mean that black women with this condition are excluded from the black community. They are still just as black as their brothers and sisters with melanin. And they are certainly just as creative. It certainly is harder for South Africans with albinism to break into the fashion and art industries due to negative stereotypes. However, it is far from impossible. Women like Refilwe Modiselle are living examples.
Refilwe Modiselle is a Soweto-born model, singer, and actress most known for her modelling work. 33-year-old Refilwe has been in the modelling industry for 20 years. She was first approached in 1999 at the young age of 13 by Y! Magazine and quickly became the country’s first professional model with albinism. However, just because she became famous as a teen didn’t stop her from being bullied at school due to her albinism. Kids can be cruel and those at Refilwe’s school were no exception. But she didn’t let that stop her.
just six years later at the age of 19, she became the first albinistic model to walk on a South African runway when she was in L’Oréal’s Mizani 2005 show. Just a few months later, fashion designer David Tlale recognised her talent and asked her to wear his clothes on the runway. Then in 2012 at the age of 25, she became a Brand Ambassador for popular clothing line LEGiT. In 2013, Oprah herself featured Refilwe as one of the 15 most powerful women in Oprah’s annual Power List. In addition to modelling, Refilwe has since branched out into other aspects of the entertainment industry as a singer, actress, MC, and TV & radio host.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: don’t let anyone stop you from chasing your dreams. There are so many creative people in South Africa that have the passion and talent, but stop pursuing their passions.
Maybe someone told them once that they didn’t look the part. Or that they weren’t as talented as they thought. Or that the career path they wanted to pursue wasn’t profitable. Or that they would never become popular. Just because someone says something ugly about you doesn’t mean that it’s true. In fact, more often than not, they say these things because they are jealous of your potential.