Model Behavior

Model Calls Out Newspaper That Thinks She's A 'Vitiligo Sufferer'

"I am Winnie. I am a model. And I happen to have vitiligo."

Model Behavior is a series highlightingfashion models promoting body positivity, and working to create inclusivity and diversity within the industry by expanding our definition of conventional beauty.

Model Chantelle Brown-Young, who goes by the name Winnie Harlow, is one of many challenging society's standards of beauty in the fashion industry. In the past, Harlow, who has vitiligo — a skin disease that causes the skin to lose its natural color — has spoken about how her condition isn't what makes her different from others: it's her mindset. Harlow is proud of who she is, and her confidence shines through in every photograph. 

But it's clear not everyone knows her backstory, and many still don't know much about vitiligo. 

This was apparent when the London Evening Standard newspaper published a photograph of the model with a caption that falsely assumed she is "suffering" from the skin condition. The caption, attached to a photo of Harlow on the beach from her Instagram, reads: "Model Winnie Harlow is seen going for a paddle in the sea off the coast of Dubai in a series of snaps which the Canadian vitiligo sufferer, 23, posted to her Instagram page."


Harlow wasn't having any of that. She reposted the newspaper's photograph on Instagram with her own message. 

"[Evening Standard Magazine, Evening Standard,] and all other tabloids, magazines and people who write articles on me... PSA: I'm not a 'Vitiligo Sufferer.' I'm not a 'Vitiligo model.' I am Winnie. I am a model. And I happen to have vitiligo. Stop putting these titles on me or anyone else. I AM NOT SUFFERING! If anything I'm SUCCEEDING at showing people that their differences don't make them WHO they are! All our differences are apart [sic] of who we are but they don't define us!"

Harlow adds that she's sick of reading headlines that suggest she's suffering from her condition: 

"Do you see me suffering? The only thing I'm suffering from [is] your headlines and the closed minds of humans who have one beauty standard locked into their minds when there are multiple standards of beauty! The beach was damn fine that day, nothing to suffer about!"

After sharing her message, Instagrammers filled Harlow's feed with positivity:

"You are my hero Winnie," one person writes.

"Excellent response! I too have vitiligo. I sport my spots with pride because they're a part of me. I'm perfectly imperfect with or without my spots!" another adds.

"Every single time I look at you, I am in awe at how imperfection is perfect. Thank you for setting this standard and speaking back to anyone who thinks otherwise. You are so beautiful and an inspiration to all of us who forget that what makes us beautiful is so much more than what media and the world tell us it is. It's about embracing your unique beauty — like you do — every day," another writes.

(H/T: Mic)

Cover image via Sam Aronov /

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