Four-year-old Arliyah Brown, from Queensland, had been the subject of stares and sometimes cruel questions since she was born with albinism.
Because of this, she has an absence of pigments in her skin and her skin is as snowy white as her hair, which strangers would often reach out and try to touch.
"It's not good for a little girl to think people don't need to have any limits with her," her mom Hailey said. "People just walk up to her and grab her – she looks like a doll so people just want to play with her."
“Because of that, she’s got really sensitive about her hair, she doesn’t like getting it dirty, won’t join in for crazy hair day,” she added. “She’s really protective of it.”
The albinism also means Arliyah is partially blind and needs a cane to walk around, which can also draw stares from people.
“I was in denial for a long time about it, I kind of just brushed it off and thought to myself ‘oh no one will notice’,” Hailey said. “But once I realized the sun hurt her eyes and people were noticing her eyes were different, I knew people were going to notice, and that’s when it sort of hit me. It was overwhelming.”
But it was an offhand comment from a stranger that made a huge impact on Arliyah's life — in a good way.
One day, another little girl began pointing at Arliyah: “Mummy, that girl over there is Elsa!”
Arliyah hadn’t seen Frozen yet…
After watching the film, Arliyah now believes she is Elsa, and will take any opportunity to dress up as her possible.
“Because she’s a Disney princess and at the time Elsa was so talked about and everybody wanted to be like her, Arliyah got a lot of positive attention from that, which was a good change,” Hailey said.
Arliyah recently welcomed her new baby sister Mackenzie to the family, and she also has albinism, which naturally presents more challenges.
But Hailey said she’s almost glad she was born with it.
“I’m never going to be able to fully understand their condition, only someone who has it is going to be able to understand it completely,” she said. “At least the girls have each other and can go through it all together.”
Let it go, let it go…