Chantelle Brown Young, known by the name Chantelle Winnie, became a model at the age of 21. The young woman had an illness called Vitiligo since she was four. Vitiligo is when the skins turns white due to the loss of pigment from the melanocytes, cells that produce the pigment melanin that gives the skin color. The melanocytes are destroyed, leaving depigmented patches of skin.
Even with this illness, the Canadian model, succeed to stand out in an area where it usually known for its uniformity. She was the face of brands like Desigual and Diesel in 2015, she also made an appearance in the visual album Lemonade of Beyonce in 2016.
During her childhood, Winnie Harlow was bullied by her classmates in middle school, insulting her of being a zebra or a cow. Thinking they could catch Chantelle’s illness, some of her classmates refused to sit next her.
“From the moment they began to make some comments, I realised that there was something in me that was not like the others”
explains Winnie Harlow to the New York Post.
At the age of 17, she quitted school, to go and work in a call center, in between she joined Instagram and started to post pictures of herself. This is at this moment the model Tyra Banks, member of the jury of America’s Next Top Model, and the world discovered her.
“I have never seen a vitiligo that symmetric”
said Tyra during Winnie Harlow audition.
Although she was dismissed on the show, Winnie got noticed by professionals of fashion. The photograph Nick Knight was the first to make her work for a photoshoot for ShowStudio and i-D magazine. In 2014, an advert contract was signed and she became the face of the brand Desigual. She has done the runway for the ready-to-wear brand during the fashion in New York.
“Desigual is unusual, this is probably why they thought of me”
said Winnie. She was also seen in the video clip of Eminem featuring Sia “Guts Over”.
“This is the same illness than Michael Jackson had”
explains the model.
“My immune system self destructs. My cells are dying. It does not hurt me. Some got white skins, others black, I have both. I am not a monster.”
She is also on “Those girls are wild“, this is a YouTube Channel of her friend Shannon, from who she is the face of a brand for bennies called Natural Me.
Winnie Harlow, disturbs the usual codes.
“The fashion industry has a new muse now that redefine the standard beauty.”
This is how the website Ted Teen shown Winnie Harlow after a conference called My story is paint on my body.
“I realised that I did not want to enter in a mould that was not made for me”
“I want to help people who has some “flaws” to accept the difference.”
On her Instagram account, she encourages her fans to be more tolerant:
“Do not support me because I have vitiligo, but because I am a human being, and because we are all equals. No one is perfect. We all want to be loved.”