We Love Model Shaun Ross’ “In My Skin I Win” Body Positive Movement!

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You may be familiar with American model Shaun Ross, or at the very least seen him in magazines, on runways, in a music video, on a TV show and more. He has appeared on ‘America’s Next Top Model’, and can also be seen taking Beyonce’s measurements in her ‘Pretty Hurts’ music video.

When you look at him he is visibly different to the majority of male models and fashion icons you see draped in the finest clothing and accessories. Shaun has albinism, a rare condition that occurs when a mutated gene from a parent is passed onto a child, and is missing key proteins that produce melanin. This affects the skin and the eyes, which is why many people who have albinism also have very poor eyesight.

Shaun is an African American male model who has risen to quite impressive heights in his career, and the fact that he happens to have albinism is also working to break down stigma in powerful ways. He is part of a new direction in fashion that is learning to accept diversity and difference, albeit every so slowly.

Plus size women, women with vitiligo, women of color, and older women, are now starting to be seen in the mainstream fashion world more than ever, and it is having an empowering trickle down effect to the rest of society. We are now looking at fashion and beauty and cheering at the broader range of societal representations and it is a good thing!

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Shaun Ross is a guy who understands he is in a position to inspire many around him to embrace their differences and not feel afraid of who they are. There is a popular meme that regularly gets shared on social media which says “in a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act” and it couldn’t be more true.

Back in 2012 Shaun started a movement called In My Skin I Win which is a way to empower those who have been bullied to feel validated, mostly by teaching them to love who they are.

“In My Skin I Win is a movement for anyone who has ever felt defeated by a negative social construct of what beauty actually should be. Beauty is you and what you make from your confidence in your own perfectly imperfect body. Together, if we encourage others to love what they see when they look at themselves, we can win in our skin,” says the website’s description.

The hashtag #inmyskiniwin was also created and it has been used quite a lot on social media platforms, and continually growing since it started. Shaun’s message has become such a powerful force for change online, that he was asked to give a TEDx Talk in London in 2014, titled ‘In My Skin I Win‘.

Before he launched the website and started the movement, Shaun tried to raise funds on a crowd-funding site, and although he didn’t end up reaching his goal, it’s clear the message is hitting the right targets.

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“In My Skin I Win first started out as a movement for individuals who have albinism, and later grew to become a phenomenon with global reach that everyone can relate to. The core idea of being comfortable in your own skin is the founding idea, and our goal is to show people all around the world that they too are not alone,” said the Fundly campaign page.

Typical to many people who are seen as different-looking in the world today, Shaun talks about being bullied as a child, and although he received plenty of love and encouragement from family, when he ventured out into the world he was constantly told he was “ugly”, not beautiful, etc.

It was when he started modeling, that things started to shift in terms of people’s perspectives on him. It also enabled him to realize what a unique opportunity he had to stand for others who don’t necessarily have a voice.

“I have a duty, and I know that if I stick to it and push really hard, I can make a difference or change something,” he said in the TEDx Talk.

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We’ve often heard spiritual people, or those who believe in a higher power, say “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle”, and whether you believe in God or not, when we see people like Shaun Ross embracing the fact that he is different from others in society and has been placed in a very visible and narrowly-defined industry, it’s not hard to comprehend that it is for reasons other than just making money or getting famous.

Other advocates who we admire who have faced the odds and used their difficult circumstances for the benefit of empowering others, are Lizzie Velasquez and Malala Yousafzai.

Lizzie is a girl who was bullied a lot growing up because having a very rare disease where she cannot put on weight (in a nutshell) makes her look visibly different from the majority of people. When she was in high school she was called ‘The ugliest woman in the world’ in a video that was uploaded to Youtube and it shocked her. Instead of hiding away in fear, she was able to get the best revenge possible: by becoming a motivational speaker, powerful anti-bullying advocate and also a popular Youtube vlogger combating the negativity online with her vibrant and positive messages.

Malala is the young Pakistani girl who lived in a time and place where educating girls was forbidden by the Taliban. After being shot in the head on a school bus a few years ago, she has gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, speak at the UN about the importance of educating girls in the developing world, write a book, and travel the world meeting girls just like her.

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Both Lizzie and Malala have been the subject of documentaries showing their powerful journeys, and we don’t think it will be long until Shaun will have his story shared in the same way. In the meantime, seeing his advocacy grow, along with his modeling career, is a sure sign that the world is ready to accept diversity.

Of course, there will always be those who don’t care to embrace differences and would rather contribute to negativity, but it is far more important that those who have a very public voice continue to use it in the hope it will encourage those in the world who do not have one.

If you want to take part in the #inmyskiniwin movement, you can upload an image to social media using that hashtag and share why being in your own skin makes you powerful. You can also purchase apparel from the website.

Sharing positive messages about diversity, self-acceptance and body positivity doesn’t have a deadline as far as we’re concerned. We will continue to be a platform dedicated to these kinds of messages because the world needs more rebels willing to stand against stereotypes, bullying and narrow definitions of beauty.

Check out Shaun’s full TEDx Talk below:

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  1. Pingback: Underwear Brand Dressmann Just Made A Badass Statement For Positive Male Body Image

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