Meet Winnie Harlow, a Supermodel With Vitiligo, Who Has Been Fighting With Beauty Stereotypes Since Childhood
Starting from a young age, it is engraved into our minds that we all have to look a definite way. Girls slick back their curly hair with enormous amounts of gel to make it look better, our bodies have to be slim, our skin has to look like porcelain with not a single impurity or spot of acne. But thanks to some truly unapologetic women like Winnie Harlow, we are now seeing a huge change in the world’s narrow beauty ideals.
Here at Bright Side, we want to give a big round of applause to Winnie, who has trusted in herself more than in anything in this world and become not only a fashion model, but a self-esteem model for many people.
Winnie’s path was not a fairytale from the beginning.
Winnie’s real name is Chantelle Brown-Young. She was born in the Greater Toronto Area and was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 4 years old. Starting from early childhood, she’s had to live with the feeling that she’s different.
“Growing up, I never saw anyone like me on TV, billboards, or on the runways,” she says in her interview. “I felt like I was the only person in the world like me.” Her peers did not accept her because of her condition, and in her interview, she confessed it was rather painful.
“I don’t think my skin condition affected my self-esteem as much as the people around me affected my self-esteem,” says Winnie.
Her career started unexpectedly, even for her.
Like most talented people, Winnie’s modeling potential was discovered by chance. Her “fairy godmother” was Toronto journalist Shannon Boodram, who filmed a YouTube video about Winnie and her condition. It quickly collected more than 150,000 views. Shannon encouraged Winnie, who was just 16 years old at the time, to think seriously about a modeling career.
“She called me and told me that I should keep modeling, that the camera loved me, and that I was a natural,” recalls Winnie in her interview. “She actually didn’t believe that had been my first photo shoot.”
Despite all of her challenges, Winnie appeared to be a hard nut to crack.
Winnie’s big entrance into the public eye happened in 2014, at age 19, when she participated in America’s Next Top Model hosted by Tyra Banks. While she didn’t win, she was still in the final rounds. This experience must have been pretty tough for the model, as she rarely comments on it in her interviews.
“At that point in my life, I was told or made to feel like I couldn’t model or that it wasn’t for me,” says the woman about the show.
Modeling helped Winnie Harlow to speak out and inspire others.
Winnie Harlow has become a face of a famous fashion brand, and she often appears on television and openly speaks about beauty standards. She has received many awards in different spheres and continues rocking the fashion industry with her brave opinions.
Winnie is redefining global standards of beauty. “I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” she says. She tries to make fashion less aspirational and more inspirational.
She resumes, “I always say you should focus on your own opinion of yourself, rather than the opinions of others.”
Do you find Winnie’s story inspirational? Who is the model that you consider to be the ambassador of diversity and beauty?