“Focus On Your Own Opinion Of Yourself, Rather Than The Opinions Of Others”, Winnie Harlow, Model & Vitiligo Advocate”

Winnie Harlow born Chantelle Brown-Young is a Canadian fashion model and public spokesperson on the skin condition “Vitiligo” who gained prominence as a contestant on the series America’s Next Top Model due to her condition and is redefining global standards of beauty. 

Although born to Jamaican parents, Harlow brought up in Canada was diagnosed with the chronic skin condition – Vitiligo, which is characterized by depigmentation of portions of the skin, at the age of four. Vitiligo is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body and is thought to be an autoimmune disorder which can affect people’s emotional and psychological wellbeing with many people reporting feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, shame and depression. Children and young adults tend to be image conscious and can find the disorder and its symptoms devastating.

Harlow was a victim of bullying by other children throughout her childhood by students both black and white.The verbal harassment led to her changing schools numerous times and dropping out of high school, after which she contemplated committing suicide. Harlow was discovered by America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks on Instagram, and subsequently became one of the fourteen finalists of the twenty-first cycle in 2014.

In 2016, Harlow was featured in a commercial for Sprite, and was featured in a campaign for Swarovski. The same year, she was chosen as one of BBC’s 100 Women. In July 2011, Harlow posted a video titled “Vitiligo: A Skin Condition, not a Life Changer” on YouTube. She talked about the condition and answered questions about her life living with vitiligo.

In November 2014, Harlow spoke in a TED presentation, recalling her experience with vitiligo. She was presented with the ‘Role Model’ award at the 2015 Portuguese GQ Men of The Year event.

Asides working with the likes of “Black Eyed Peas”, Drake etc. Harlow has appeared in top music videos, cameoed in Beyoncé’s “visual album” Lemonade, was in one of Lilly Singh (a.k.a. IISuperwomanII)’s videos on YouTube named “Three Girls, One Elevator” and recently became the first model with Vitiligo to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, bringing some long overdue awareness to this skin condition. 

Culled from personal health news, Wikipedia

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