The Ray of Sunshine

Mirian Njoh is a designer, model and digital content impresario who was ostracized because of her albinism. Now, with her blog, Ugly Duckling Diaries, she’s a muse to others who feels like the odd one out

WHAT SHE’S WEARING Top: hoop earrings by Melody Ehsani, jumper from Sororum by Mirian Njoh. Above: turtleneck sweater by Missguided. Cropped top and skirt set from Sororum by Mirian Njoh. Nike Air Force 1 ’07 shoes. Earrings by Missguided. Photographed at Casa Loma

Where I’m at style-wise
I always joke that, for me, getting dressed is the hardest part of the day. I think so deeply about fashion because I love it so much. I’d say my style is experimental, versatile, and a little bit street. Any time I’m lounging with friends or taking it easy, that’s an athleisure day. I’ll put on Nikes or cool sweats or something. If I have a meeting, I’ll be more put together—maybe some Ankara prints that are bright and colourful.

DIY is in my DNA
It was a normal thing for me to see people making their own clothes: my grandma used to sew church clothes, formal and casual wear for my sisters and me, or make a quilt using scraps from old fabrics. My mom would make curtains. I ran with that DIY stuff, too. I wasn’t rich, so it was “if you can’t buy it, you have to make it.” I got a sewing machine when I was 13. That opened up a lot of my curiosity. I would go online to sewing blogs or read forums with people who reconstructed their old T-shirts into new clothes.

My road to self-love
I can’t say I was comfortable with my looks my whole life. I wasn’t trying to stand out in grade school. But as I started working in the fashion industry, I saw so many different models with different looks. I dyed my eyebrows, because naturally they’re really pale, like practically invisible. But look at the industry now—everyone has bleached eyebrows. If you see something celebrated, you can start to love it in yourself.

Why I stopped caring about colour theory
You know how people match their skin to seasons? Fall, winter? I’m apparently more of a spring—pastels are supposed to look better on me and against my hair. So I’ve always stayed away from olives and cranberries. Autumns wash me out. On one shoot, though, a stylist put this mustard top on me, and I was like, “I dunno how this is gonna look.” But it changed everything. I try to pick things up from the stylists I’m on set with—the way they play with proportions or colours or mesh different textures—a soft lace with a harder accessory. I love being exposed to the creativity of someone seeing me differently than I see myself.

I’ll always break the bank for…
A good shoe. That’s where I’ll put my money. I don’t have tons of pairs, but I wear the ones I love all the time. I have a pair of Karl Lagerfeld heels in a nude tone, and they go with everything. I also have a growing collection of Nikes. The AirMax 270? I’m so into them. They’re baby pink.

My guaranteed mood enhancer
It’s fun to double down and put on something super vibrant. I like to be a big ray of sunshine—bright colours, big hair, bright lipstick. If people are going to look, give them an eyeful.

My Aussie obsession
I love Australian brands. I don’t know so many originate there—but when I was shopping online recently, everything I loved was Australian!

How I keep my skin happy
I’m definitely very ardent about skincare. I’ve used Cetaphil for years—it’s so good for delicate skin. I also try to stick to natural products, like a witch hazel with lavender or a cooling aloe vera or pure prickly pear oil. My skin is very sun-sensitive, but if anything, that works to my advantage. A lot of people don’t worry about protection from the sun—people go out all day to tan—but for me, a bad burn is more intense.

My custom hair and beauty routines
I’m a kitchen beautician—I want to make everything I can, my own body butter, my own deep conditioner. Even if you’re not making a deep conditioner totally from scratch, if you have your base conditioner, you can beat an egg into it or avocado or extra virgin olive oil—I’m all for adding in your own elements. Bulk barn has a lot of good, basic stuff if you want to round up ingredients, like flaxseed or coconut oil. Kensington Market is great if you’re looking for 100% shea butter.

 

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