Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen better watch her back! The striking looks of twins Lara and Mara Bawar have been turning heads all over São Paulo and the world. Their modeling career has been propelled largely in part to their unique look.
The 11-year-old twins from São Paulo, Brazil both have albinism. The defining characteristic of albinism is lack of skin and hair pigment. Their parents are originally hail from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, which makes their look all the more striking.
But their condition has captured the attention of photographers, including Swiss photographer Vinicius Terranova. Terranova photographed the twins in a series entitled Flores Raras (“rare flowers”). The twins are rare flowers indeed, as an estimated 1 in 20,000 people in the world are affected with albinism.
The Bawar sisters were also captured by photographer Anna Mascarenhas. Mascarenhas discovered the twins on Instagram. Mascarenhas had been working on a photo project to emphasize the beauty of blackness in Brazil, and the Bawar sisters proved to be captivating subjects.
The photo series gave Mascarenhas ample time to get to know all three Bawar sisters. ”Their parents came from Guiné Bissau for opportunities when their mum was pregnant with the oldest one, Sheila," says Mascarenhas. "After a while, she had the twins, Lara and Mara. They are albino, and in the beginning the dad thought she cheated on him, so he left. Eventually, they split and she raised the girls by herself."
"The mum works as a hairdresser in the centre of São Paulo, specializing in hairstyles for black hair. The older one, Sheila, is 14-years-old, she dreams about being a model, and so do her younger sisters. But the problem is that it seems they don’t belong in any category. Living in a favela in São Paulo, and having a single mom to pay for all the expenses, it’s almost impossible to consider this dream to be a success," said Mascarenhas.
"The twins are very hyperactive, although sensible. All the three girls are amazing and loving. I wanted to show how they see each other as sisters, as black girls, as individuals. How they relate to what society expects from them, being marginalized by their class and color. And, most important, how they relate to what they see in the mirror.” said Mascarenhas.
Terranova has been using his photographs of the twins to celebrate diversity. "My art represents the beauty in diversity and both the literal and symbolic extensions of empowerment," said Terranova. He couldn't have found better subjects!
The girls are proud of their features. "We feel albinism is pretty, we love our hair, eye color and skin tone," said Lara. Mara also embraces what makes her stand out in a crowd. Said Mara of her condition, "growing up like this was amazing, we love being different and are happy with our unique beauty."
Even though the twins have such a distinct look, success wasn't easy for them. "When I met the girls, it made me start wondering why it has to be so hard for them”, says Mascarenhas. “Getting in the industry is hard for anyone, but why does it have to be even harder for them. Here in Brazil, we have a very multicultural population. But when we talk about publicity and fashion in general, we still have a large path to cross. Everything is still very white and skinny like we are committed to a square we can’t abandon."
Regardless, Lara and Mara and their sister Sheila have all managed to make their way into the modeling world. The sisters have modeled for brands including Nike, Insanis and Bazaar Kids. They've also managed to rack up around 6,000 Instagram followers.