Model Chantelle Winnie's Powerful Message About Self-Acceptance
Fact: beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. And as twenty-year-old model Chantelle Winnie proves, beauty can also come in two colors, on one body.
Winnie, who has the skin condition vitiligo, is probably most well-known for placing sixth in the 2014 cycle of America's Next Top Model. She's also now the brand ambassador for Desigual, and featured in Diesel's Spring 2015 ad campaign.
But she wasn't always this comfortable in her skin, or as celebrated—though she's pretty much always attracted attention, she explained recently in an essay for Cosmopolitan.
Vitiligo, which causes melanocytes, the cells that give skin pigment, to be destroyed, affects between .5% to 1% of the population worldwide. It often starts in your 20s, but it can appear at any age. Winnie was four years old when she began to develop white patches on her skin.
At first she wasn’t teased or taunted by classmates, she wrote in her essay, but a change of schools in third grade led to harassment and bullying that would only get worse as she got older.
She was called a cow and mooed at, and got into fights in middle school and high school. "I remember sitting by my window, wishing upon the stars that my skin condition would go away. I wondered, 'Why me?'" Winnie wrote.
Winnie, who grew up mostly in Toronto, Canada, eventually switched to an alternative school before dropping out to work at a call center because she couldn't take the abuse.
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She says that it wasn’t until she was noticed by a Toronto-based journalist who made a Youtube video featuring her that she ever considered modeling as a career path. After that, Winnie set her sights and didn't give up: She started networking, posting pictures of herself to social media, and eventually made it onto Tyra Banks' reality competition.
Her story proves grit and believing in yourself no matter what can take you far, but the really beautiful thing about her is this message:
“People sometimes ask when I learned to love myself. But that was not the issue. I didn’t have a problem with myself or my skin. I had a problem with the way people treated me because of my skin. They tried to define me," Harlow wrote. "I had to relearn how to love myself by forgetting the opinions of everyone else and focusing on my opinion of myself.”
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