A five-year-old model with albinism has become one of the new faces of Primark’s kids range.
Elijah Enwerem, five, from Willenhall, West Midlands, is mixed race but because of his condition, he has light skin and white hair.
Albinism is a condition that affects the production of melanin – a pigment that colours skin, hair and eyes. People with albinism will produce less melanin and some won’t produce any at all.
Elijah has struggled to understand why people would point and stare at him and why he looked different to his siblings.
So when a chance Facebook post led to suggestions he should be a model, his mum Lucy Dawes decided to go for it to see if it would boost his confidence.
Earlier this year, Elijah had his first big campaign, modelling a range of kids clothes for high-street retailer Primark – and his confidence soared.
Lucy tells Metro.co.uk ‘He was always asking why he looked different and why people would stare and point at him.
‘I wanted him to understand that the reason everyone does that is because he is so remarkable.
‘When he walked into Primark and saw himself on the wall, it was like mission accomplished.
‘He gets it now and his confidence over the last year has grown phenomenally. He has gone from hiding from people and growling at them to happily speaking to people.
‘Elijah has an Instagram page and he connects with people all over the world, including people with albinism.
‘Next weekend, we’re meeting up with another model who has albinism and they are going to do a shoot together. That helps him understand too.’
Elijah’s modelling began In 2017, when Lucy posted a picture of Elijah making cinnamon buns on a Facebook group called Black Country Vegans.
She explains: ‘People have said ever since he was really small that he should be a model because he does look really striking, but you don’t think anything of it.
‘I am a member of Black Country Vegans – I have been vegan for about three years now – and I have quite a few friends in that group. I posted the picture and lots of people said “aren’t they cute” but one lady said: “I hope you don’t mind me saying this but I think your little boy could be a model.”
‘I told her lots of people say that but she was serious and she told me to look at a group for modelling on Facebook.
‘I requested to join and it gave advice on agencies and how to avoid scams.
‘They had a list of agencies and I decided to try and send some photographs to some of the agencies.’
From there, Elijah was signed by Zebedee management and after some small jobs, they were approached by Primark to see if he could appear in their campaign.
Last month, the store was praised for using model Kaiden Williams, who has skin condition vitiligo, in their campaign.
Lucy said modelling has been great for Elijah but she is determined that it won’t get in the way of his school work or day-to-day life.
She explains: ‘Modelling is very London centric and we are up in the Midlands. Everything happens down there. People do it as a hobby down there and it’s not like that for us.
‘I have held him back to a point because I don’t want him to miss school or anything important.
‘You do see some kids who go all over the world but we don’t want it to be like that. It can’t disrupt school and our day-to-day life.’
Elijah enjoys modelling and even at five years old, he says he wants to spread a message.
Lucy laughed: ‘When he said ‘why does everyone look at me?’ I told him that when he was a grown up, he’s want people to look at him.
‘We all want people to take notice of us. I told him he was halfway there – everyone was already taking notice of him.
‘When they take notice of you, you just have to tell them what it is you want to tell them because they’ll be listening to you.
‘He said he wants people to know a few things:
You mustn’t hurt animals
And you have to love everybody, even ansty people because that is how you teach them to love.
‘That shows what he’s like. He is the most compassionate child I have ever met.
‘He had a birthday party and he said he wanted to invite a boy who I had never heard about. He is the boy who has special needs in his class and he thought no one else would invite him so he wanted him at his.
‘Mind you, he can still be an absolute pain in the bum at times.’
by – metro.co.uk