By Carolin Schmidt

FASHION-OBSESSED twins who both have albinism want to inspire people to be proud of the skin they were born in

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Videographer / Director: Adam Gray
Producer: Camile Rocha-Keys, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

The chances of a child being born with albinism are one in 17,000 - but the chances of twins being born with albinism is far rarer - the odds are not even known.  
Identical twins Rosemary and Christina Alubankudi, from New York City, are part of this rare club. 

The 24-year-olds were born with the rare genetic condition, which is caused by a partial or complete lack of melanin, the pigment, which gives hair, skin and eyes their colour.

The sisters aren’t just twins, they are best friends too and through their love of fashion, they want to inspire others to be proud of who they are.  
Rosemary told Barcroft TV: “Our big message would be to just embrace your skin, embrace your beauty.

“Use fashion to enhance yourself and conquer your confidence and be the best person you could be.”

The fashionistas were born and raised in Manhattan and have recently completed their Masters in Global Fashion Enterprise at Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University.

Christina said: “I love fashion, I love dealing with clothing and accessories and dressing people and seeing how clothes would fit on someone.”

While Christina and Rosemary are confident now, being different wasn’t always easy. The girls were teased in school.

Rosemary explained: “We would literally sit on our own, some people didn’t sit with us. We had like a couple of friends that would sit up with us once in a while.

“Having albinism, I would say it’s really hard and it’s kind of difficult when you’re growing up with it, because at one point you don’t understand what it is, then you get to that stage and be like oh my god I am different from other people.”

The twins’ attitude to their albinism changed when they graduated from high school and started college, where they met more open-minded people.

Rosemary said: “I feel like college was a whole other ball game. Like a whole other world that just opened your eyes to there are so many different people.

“It is just so awesome because people really take you into consideration.”

“You gain that confidence and you use it to a positive.”
Christina added: “As you grow, and you start learning about yourself you will start loving yourself and know you’re different and have something to offer as well." 
Due to the lack of the pigment melanin Rosemary and Christina also have poor eyesight and their skin is sensitive to light.

“We have really low vision and sometimes, even though we have glasses on, we can’t really see from far and people don’t understand that, and that’s a frustrating thing,” Rosemary explained.

Christina added: “And you’ve just got to be aware of going outside and staying under the sun too much, so like you know how people go to the beach and they lay under the sun, we can’t do that at all.”

To take control of their condition, the twins always tried to ignore people staring on the streets. Over the years Christina has devised a successful antidote: “I stare back and then they turn,” she said.

In spite of their similarities, the twins don’t get along all the time.

“Our relationship is Tom and Jerry, because we fight so much and argue but then we’re like best friends and we can like, make up.” Rosemary laughed.

Inevitably their shared love of fashion though brings the twins together.

Christina said: “We love fashion, we love to look at different types of fashion bloggers, we love to see their style, we love to see how people dress.

“Instagram, social media is a really great platform where I am seeing so many people coming out with albinism, bringing awareness to it.”

To Rosemary and Christina, blogging about their outfits is a creative outlet. They have been obsessed with fashion since the early days of their childhood.

The twins’ father, Emmanuel explained: “When they were younger, first of all they loved dressing, which they still grew up with, the passion of dressing, they still love it, they always dress nicely, always try to look nice and they are always together.”

In future the twins aim to start their own fashion brand to show more of albinism in the industry.

Christina said: “We just want to show our own sense of style and just to have fun.”

Rosemary added: “At the end of the day there is not one type of beauty, there are multiple types of beauty and if we have to showcase everything so that everybody can be confident, everybody has to be happy and everybody can see themselves in someone else.

“We never doubted that we were going to achieve our dreams.

“The meaning of beautiful to me I would say is somebody that embraces themselves and is comfortable in their own skin and embraces their imperfections that god has given them so not changing yourself 100%, but enhancing yourself with a little bit of make up or fashion is not bad, but like beauty at the end of the day is your inner beauty, your attitude, your confidence.”

You can follow the twins at: http://www.instagram.com/stylebytwinology