Anoushey Ashraf is tackling one social issue after another on her social media platforms. Recently, she advocated for animal rights and this time she's talking about albinism.
Earlier this week, the star posted that one of her followers Syeda Fizza Zaidi, who has been diagnosed with albinism, reached out to her to speak about the condition with Anoushey in hopes of reaching a wider audience and spreading awareness about the genetic disorder.
Albinism, which is a rare group of genetic disorders, causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color due to a reduction or absence of the pigment melanin.
The star sat down with Fizza to have a chat on Instagram Live and discussed what albinism is, how she deals with it, and what she has to say to people who have the disorder.
Fizza explained that the disorder "is considered a taboo and I was mocked for it." People in school stopped talking to her. "I found out that there was a rumour in school to stay away from me because I have something contagious."
She said that due to a lack of awareness on the topic, she and her elder brother were oft bullied for their condition. "At that time my brother [who also has albinism] was 18/19 years old and he dyed his hair, after which I also dyed my hair to fit in. But even after I dyed my hair people would make fun of me and said I didn't look normal. Imagine a 10-year-old dying her hair. So when I became older I realised that I didn't want to dye my hair and I'm fine the way I am."
Although she explains that she still dyes her hair and eyebrows, it's something she does when she feels like it, otherwise she's okay with her original hair; white.
"My parents have been very supportive, they were mentally prepared because one of my aunts also has albinism. However, my mother does get a little conscious and tries to shelter me, like limiting my outings," adds Fizza.
Soon after, she decided that it's best to start speaking up about albinism and educate people on it "After I started posting about this [on my Instagram page], I received a lot of positive response. Now in school people come up to me to commend me for speaking up about it."
Unfortunately, in a country like Pakistan where fair skin is fancied and admired, she still receives uninformed statements on her condition. She says, "In a country of brown people I'm white, and I'm treated differently for it too." She's told," You're so white, you're so lucky", but she explains, "It's not about the 'perks of being white', you don't even know why I am like this."
Fizza may have supportive friends and family, but her mother warns her that when it comes to wedding proposals, she should prepare herself, because the taboo still exists.
"My mother is facing problems while looking for rishtas for my brother. It's just a taboo. She has also said it to me, that I will face this too when it's my time," and Fizza says she knows and understands this.
"In our society there is hardly any acceptance of people who are different. I just want to tell people to be accepting of it and not treat them differently, it's offensive to stare and pass comments. Be accepting of them, don't take pictures of them from the back or stare."
"If you're a youngster with a condition, accept it and be confident, own it," adds Fizza.
Speaking to Images Anoushey said that when Fizza reached out to her, she explained that she had been bullied and called names due to which she would to bring light to the matter.
"So I spoke to her about it and I tried to use my platform to raise awareness about what albinism, really is how it begins and how people who have it are different from us, how they need inclusion in our society and [to put together] a better understanding of what it is altogether."
"What I was trying to achieve through my post was raising awareness because I didn't know myself what it really was, what the condition is. I wanted to learn for myself and I wanted people to learn; I wanted them to understand that next time [you see] someone who is an albino, be kind and not stare and be okay with them whoever they are in this world."