South African model Thando Hopa is spreading an inspiring message of self-acceptance and positive self-image through her work.
Her mission is to change perceptions of beauty in the media and remind people that they are enough as they are.
Hopa has hit pause on her career as a lawyer to pursue her a bright future as a model, actress, public speaker and activist for albinism.
She spent four years as a prosecutor, working with sexual offences cases, before walking away from law in 2016.
I cried when I had to give up my gown. I had given four years of my life to prosecution.— Thando Hopa, South African model
I needed to try and do things that I have always been afraid to do. It was such a difficult decision.— Thando Hopa, South African model
Hopa says she gained invaluable inspiration from women and survivors who stood up for themselves and reclaimed their dignity.
Now she wants to use her modeling career to share her story, portray a positive narrative and contribute to affirming healthy self-image.
Hopa explains that many people see her as a symbol for breaking thoughts of inadequacy, fighting prejudice and negative perceptions.
I wanted to give a positive narrative about albinism.— Thando Hopa, South African model
There is no image monopoly on possibilities. Anybody is allowed to dream and access possibilities.— Thando Hopa, South African model
Representation is important to see that you are celebrated and belong in society, with your idiosyncrasies and difference.— Thando Hopa, South African model
I've realised about the power of relatability. People relate to a feeling of inadequacy and they want a break from that.— Thando Hopa, South African model
I'm not comfortable with the word albino. The term albino can be a plant, it can be an animal. It's very dehumanising when its applied to a human being because it make you sound like a thing.— Thando Hopa, South African model
She spoke about her experiences with her intersecting identities and how she dealt has dealt with discrimination.
She also reflected on being scouted by designer Gert-Johan Coetzee, her August cover for Marie Claire and being the first black South African to feature in the Pirelli Calendar (2018).
Take a listen to her recount her inspiring journey: