How Model With Vitiligo Overcame Bullies to Become a Magazine Cover Star
Chantelle Brown-Young is not your typical model and doesn't plan to be.
Chantelle Brown-Young is challenging the fashion industry's definition of beauty - and winning.
She has vitiligo, a rare skin condition that causes patches of her skin to turn white.
After catching the eye of Tyra Banks, she shot to fame and is now the face of Desigual. She has modeled for Sprite, graced the cover of Ebony magazine and is even sparking controversial copycats, who are using make-up to look like her.
But the 21-year-old's success comes after years of bullying, she told INSIDE EDITION.
“I have it on my hands. I do have it in little circles and dots on my knees, my feet," she explained in an interview last year.
The condition started when she was a child, she said.
“I first got it when I was four years old, but I don't think I understood that I had vitiligo until I was like maybe in middle school, and that's only because that's when bullying started for me,” she said.
The bullying persisted all throughout middle school and high school.
“Kids called me all kinds of mean things," she said. "They called me ‘cow, zebra.’ They asked me if they should milk me - all kinds of horrible, horrible mean things that a kid at that age should never have to hear.”
She now has vitiligo across 40 percent of her body. She said she struggled with her self-esteem and thought she was ugly.
But everything changed when a local fashion photographer discovered her on Facebook. And, as luck would have it, she caught the eye of supermodel and creator of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks.
She said: “It was hope for me to be on the show. I never thought it was ever going to happen, but it did!”
She now models under the name Winnie Harlow.
Elle magazine even named her one of the 12 women who are redefining beauty.
On her social media pages she gives her fans inspiration through her messages of positive self-esteem.
In recent weeks she has come under attention for sparking a debate about blackface.
Some of her Caucasian fans have applied makeup to look more like her before posting images online. But some critics argue that they are putting on blackface.
The model responded on Instagram:
My response to this is probably not what a lot of people want but here it goes: every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does Not mean our culture is being stolen. Have you ever stop to realize these things used to be ridiculed and now they're loved and lusted over. No one wants to "steal" our look here. We've just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don't have it love and lust after it. Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn't mean she wants to be white and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injection doesn't mean she wants to be black. The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don't want to be each other we've just gained a national love for each other. Why can't we embrace that feeling of love? Why do we have to make it a hate crime? In a time when so much negative is happening, please don't accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over #1LOVE ?
The 21-year-old refuses to be defined by her disease and proves to be a woman truly comfortable in her own skin.
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