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Interview With Daniel Ruenes: "There Is Nothing Wrong With Being Different"

This is an interview with Daniel Ruenes, a Colombian model with vitiligo who, after struggling with himself, found the security that today inspires new generations .

John Daniel Ruenes

Photo: IG-juandanielruenes

LatinAmerican Post | Carlo Mario Torres

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Leer en español: Entrevista a Daniel Ruenes: "No hay nada malo con ser diferente"

Juan Daniel Ruenes is not just any young man, and every time he remembers the reason for this statement, his voice breaks and he is unable to hold a conversation.

He knows with authority that a twelve-year-old boy should not get up at dawn to get his clothes ready, and go out in the company of his grandfather to look for sustenance for his family until the sun goes down. 

However, that was the routine that he had to embrace while living in El Bagre - Antioquia, a small municipality located 280 kilometers from the city of Medellín , where the economy revolves between the extraction of gold and silver, the practice of livestock and rice cultivation.

"I have seven brothers; I am the third of them (...). I did not have the support of my parents. They were with me physically, but not emotionally”, he told us at the end of a photo session in Mexico City.

Yes, today Daniel is dedicated to modeling, and in a very short time, he has become the model with vitiligo with the greatest international projection that Colombia has had in its recent history.

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“Vitiligo came into my life at that same age when I gave up my childhood to go work with my grandfather. I remember that at that time I was very shy, and the illness further accentuated my shyness and insecurity.”

And the closer he got to puberty, the more his emotions stirred, since he quietly discovered the particularities of a skin condition that still has medical science on edge.

“Not telling the people closest to me where the spots were coming out for fear that they would laugh at me was crazy; It was horrible for my insecurity.”

Fleeing from all this situation, Daniel arrives in Medellin with the clear objective of completing his high school studies, without imagining that in that place the doors to a new present would open wide.

“When I left for Medellín I was filled with security. I had my first girlfriend. And as for the friends I made there, I thought they would make fun of me, but they didn't. For this reason, when I turned 18 I told myself: I'm going to go out into the world a little more”.

With the help of an uncle, he went on to work in a small business dedicated to the manufacture of cushions, to take the leap in a large factory with the same company name, where he met the one who would be his fairy godmother, but instead of a magic wand, he had a camera with a wide spectrum lens.

“I noticed that a photographer who went to take pictures for the company's product catalog was looking at me carefully. Then he approached me to ask me to pose with the fabrics, and I agreed without any pretense. At the end of the session he tells me that my profile is ideal for being a model”.

Quickly, an agency signs him and his world begins to turn in his favor. In a matter of weeks he was called to film a video clip with the singers Greeicy Rendón and Juanes, and four months after this project was launched, he received the call to go live in Mexico.

In the Aztec country, he has been the protagonist of fashion editorials for renowned print and digital publications. In Colombia, he was summoned by the illustrious designer Esteban Cortázar to be part of the most inclusive sportswear campaign that has been carried out for the Éxito business group.

And the chain of events that makes his town, family and an entire industry proud continue, but Daniel prefers to focus on building a strong message for the new generations:

“Those boys and girls who feel different, I tell them to keep going. If your parents don't believe in you, don't think that all is lost for you. Don't think that everything bad they tell you is true. There's nothing wrong with being different, there's nothing wrong with wanting to venture out."