NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan 

Kazakh sisters with albinism, Asel Kalaganova and Kamila Kalaganova, attract the attention of the fashion world with their “angelic” look.

The Kalaganovs family, known as the only family in Kazakhstan where two children with albinism grew up in the same house, draws great interest from local and foreign media.

The two sisters, living in the Aktau city on the shores of the Caspian Sea, were born with a genetic disease, albinism.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, girls’ mother Ayman Sarkitova said that she has a son as well who has not albinism.

“When my first daughter, Asel, was born white, we could not immediately understand that she had albinism. Everyone was surprised, including me, but then we learned that my husband’s grandfather has albinism,” she said.

Like her sister, Kamila was born with albinism 13 years later, Sarkitova said, adding: “Following her birth, interest in our family grew. Even my son, who was born normal, was asking: ‘Why do my two sisters not look like us?'”

No outside activities during daytime in summer

Asel, 17-year-old elder sister, said that she had a “hard time” making new friends at first.

“It felt like people would not want to communicate with me or be friends with me. When I realized that I could not continue this for the rest of my life, I started to take a step myself,” she said.

Emphasizing that she was sometimes extremely uncomfortable with people’s gaze and being photographed while going outside, Kalaganova said she got used to it later.

She said her 3-year-old sister Kamila, also born with albinism, was, in contrast, happy that people showed interest in her.

Kalaganova also said she never goes out during daytime in summer.

“I usually go out after 8 p.m. in summer. If I have to go somewhere, I always apply sunscreen. When I go down to the beach, I often sit in the shade,” she said.

Fashion world

Known as the “white princesses” of Kazakhstan, the sisters received numerous offers from domestic and foreign advertising companies, Kalaganova said.

“I am currently working with a local modeling agency. Since my sister is young, she only plays in commercials suitable for her age. However, I already have projects both at home and abroad.”

Ayjan Sisenaliyeva, Kalaganova’s manager, said that Asel started to attract the attention of foreign fashion houses after she appeared in an advertisement for an American shampoo brand.

“There are too many advertising companies that want to work with Asel. However, since they have albinism, we cannot evaluate every offer. Because Asel cannot stay under the sun for a long time. For this reason, we prefer advertisements to be shot indoors,” said Sisenaliyeva.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara

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