Winnie Harlow Is Not Suffering From Vitiligo
By now, you’ve heard of Winnie Harlow. The 24 year old Canadian native has been making waves in the modeling world since she became a contestant on America’s Next Top Model in 2014. She’s been the face of Desigual, landed several magazine covers, walked during London Fashion Week, and even attended the 2018 Met Gala, one of the most exclusive parties of the year. Harlow also has vitiligo, a skin condition characterized by non pigmented areas of the skin. Vitiligo is not medically harmful, and only affects one’s appearance.
Despite the fact that it isn’t harmful, many are quick to talk about Winnie Harlow’s skin like an unfortunate infection, when it is far from it. Earlier this year, The Evening Standard, a British publication, ran a picture of Harlow, describing her as a “Canadian vitiligo sufferer.” Many were appalled by this, including Winnie herself. She took to Instagram, calling out the magazine in a post saying, “stop putting these labels on me or anyone else. I AM NOT SUFFERING.”
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@eveningstandardmagazine @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 of who we are but they don’t define us! I’m sick of every headline ending in “Vitiligo Sufferer” or “Suffers from Vitiligo”. Do you see me suffering? The only thing I’m Suffering from are 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! 🙄👉🏽
Winnie, like any other person, should not be characterized by what she looks like. Her position as a model gives her visibility, but it should be a point of inspiration for others, not permission to reduce her to one aspect of herself. So often in the media, we see celebrities boiled down to their appearance and talked to as if they are a fountain of knowledge on all issues because of the way they look or who they are. In fact, Harlow is tired of it. In 2016, she told ELLE Canada “I am very sick of talking about my skin… I am not a vitiligo spokesperson just because I have vitiligo.”
Well said Winnie, Well said.