One Brazilian family shares an unmistakable bond. In Bahia, Brazil, the family of seven-year-old Samuel Silvia all shares the same distinctive white patches across their skins. These “beautiful stains” are a result of a rare genetic disease known as Piebaldism. Piebaldism is often confused with Vitiligo, however, it is different in that the markings never change or grow. Piebaldism instead is a condition where there is a lack of melanocyte cells in the body. These cells are responsible for producing skin pigment. The absence of melanocyte cells leaves certain areas of the body lighter than others. Other than this discoloration there are typically no health effects of the skin condition. While the condition has garnered the family’s attention for generations, young Samuel has turned his condition into the opportunity of a lifetime.
Samuel’s grandmother was the first in the family to sport the unusual skin tone. Unfortunately, in his grandmother’s youth, she was bullied and shamed for the markings, causing her to ultimately cover her skin as much as possible with long clothing. Other memebers of the family also share the same unique skin, including two of Samuel’s cousins and his mother. Samuel’s mother, Nivianei de Jesus Purifiçao, however, took a different approach to her stunning skin condition. Despite people’s initial attempt to bully her for her skin and calling her names such as “Free Willy” (after the iconic orcha whale with white patches), Nivianei has grown to be quite proud of her condition. Yet when her son, Samuel was born with Piebaldism she became quite concerned with protecting him from bullying from other children. To lessen the appearance of his condition, Samuel’s parents kept his head shaved to hide his white streak of hair at the front of his hairline. At first, Samuel’s family felt as though they were protecting him through his lack of hairstyle. But as Samuel grew older, it became increasingly important to teach Samuel to be proud of the skin he is in. With that decision, Samuel grew his hair out into a beautiful and unique afro. To further showcase Samuel’s bright spirit and beautiful skin his parents made him an Instagram account. Almost immediately Samuel’s Instagram account gained widespread attention.
Samuel and his family used his Instagram account as a platform for explaining Piebaldism and to show off Samuel’s unique, yet stunning, skin. His account instantly gained attention from Sugar Kids modeling agency. The agency contracted Samuel in April of 2019, from there Samuel’s life has been forever changed. With his new modeling contract, Samuel has been able to model all over the world. Samuel has appeared in London Kids Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, Junior Style London, Toronto Fashion Week, Bazaar Kids, and Dixie Magazine. These events and photo shoots have been life-changing for Samuel. Coming from a relatively poor area of Brazil, Samuel’s modeling career has allowed him to see parts of the world he may have otherwise never experienced. For many fashion outlets, Samuel embodies inclusiveness, beauty, and an undeniable presence. But according to his family, Samuel is just having fun. He is thriving as a model, enjoying posing and expressing his creativity. Samuel Silvia is living his dream and showing the world how beautiful he is, inside and out.