It is said that beauty is not skin deep–Winnie Harlow is one courageous girl who definitely proves that statement. This young model has surpassed superficial problems and has bravely embraced her body and her looks. Winnie suffers from a skin disorder that many would see as a serious issue for a model. Despite this, she courageously chose to step out into the world of modeling. And, she has truly made this world her home.
Today, Winnie is an extremely successful model and she has regularly featured on the covers of some of the most prestigious names in the world of glamor. She is extremely popular on social media and she regularly tries to inspire and motivate other young people. Winnie is an ideal role model and her success in the world of modeling is an inspiration to all of us. Our society can often be extremely judgmental, especially when it comes to women and their looks. Winnie has successfully defeated many such biases and has achieved the success that many of us can only dream of. If you dare to dream, you can achieve it. That seems to be the message that Winnie’s success story has for all of us.
By now, I am sure you must want to know more about this gorgeous model. In this brief article, we cover the 15 most important facts about Winnie and her struggles and her inspiring success story. Read this article if you wish to be inspired if you wish to dream more and achieve more.
15. Winnie Was Discovered By Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks, the famous supermodel, and television personality, first came to know about Winnie through Winnie’s Instagram account. Tyra, the host of the popular TV show, America’s Next Top Model, was impressed by what she saw and reportedly, she invited Winnie to participate in the show. Tyra has been full of praise for Winnie and she says, “Her skin breaks down barriers of what is considered beautiful.” After her appearance on Tyra’s show, Winnie started receiving many great offers and her career as a model took off. Soon, she went on to represent top brands and also featured on the covers of many popular magazines.
Tyra, herself a successful model and a popular youth icon, has been a tremendous inspiration for Winnie. Tyra was instrumental in introducing this gorgeous young model to the world, and we can’t thank her enough for this great pick! To be chosen by a supermodel like Tyra would definitely be considered a huge success. This is another feather in Winnie’s cap!
14. Winnie Has Worked With Top Names In The Industry
The above photo shows Winnie and Bella Hadid, another famous top model, and fashion icon. Well, Winnie’s career is certainly touching stratospheric heights! This young model has already worked with many of the top names in the glamor business. One of the well-known clothing lines that she represents is also endorsed by the top Brazilian supermodel, Adriana Lima! Clearly, this girl is going places.
What makes Winnie’s success even more stunning is that she is only 22 years old and was a late entrant into the modeling world. To reach the very top levels of the modeling industry in such a short period of time is itself a testament to Winnie’s poise, grace, and charm. And, to achieve this despite her skin condition is an incredible achievement. Today, Winnie’s success is making a massive impact on the modeling industry itself. Jamie Feldman says, “Her success as a model has undoubtedly helped to change the landscape of the fashion industry”. We definitely can’t wait to see more of Winnie.
13. She Suffers From Vitiligo
Winnie has a rare skin condition called Vitiligo. (Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, also suffered from this condition.) As you can see in this photo, this condition leaves white patches on a person’s skin. The exact cause of this condition is not known and no cure is available for this skin disorder. Winnie Harlow was diagnosed with this condition when she was just 4 years old. The disease left a severe psychological impact on her. But, this brave girl did not let it impact her life negatively.
Winnie says, “I just decided I’m going to tell myself that I am beautiful and this is how I may be for the rest of my life. I need to accept it, embrace it and enjoy it.” Winnie certainly did not let this condition stop her from realizing her dreams. She made the bold decision of stepping into the world of modeling. Her success clearly proves that she made the right decision.
12. Her Real Name Is Chantelle Brown-Young
Winnie Harlow was born Chantelle Brown-Young and it was only later that she decided to use the name, Winnie Harlow. She says that she decided to take the name Harlow as a tribute to Jean Harlow, the famous American film actress and pin-up girl from the 1930s. In Winnie’s own words, “So my name is Chantelle Brown-Young, but in high school, I made up this nickname “Harlow”. I don’t remember exactly where Winnie came from, but Harlow was a tribute to Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe’s icon. So that’s how Winnie Harlow name came about. But when I started working and modeling I wanted my real name to be out there too, so I combined Chantelle and Winnie for Chantelle Winnie.”
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Shakespeare in the famous play Romeo and Juliet. Winnie certainly proves him right. No matter what name she chooses to go by, she is today one of the top names in the modeling industry and an inspiration to many young people.
11. She Is Very Popular On Social Media
Winnie has been very active on social media. In fact, she was popular on social media even before she started out as a model. Didn’t we tell you that Tyra Banks discovered her through Winnie’s Instagram account? Today, Winnie’s Instagram has over 1.8 million followers while her Twitter has more than 45 thousand followers. Winnie is an inspirational figure and her tweets reflect that. One of her recent tweets reads, “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness”.
She can also be quite sharp when dealing with trolls. When one troll posted, “wow and she thinks she hot in this pic so many things wrong here …… id sooner f*** a regent park rustie”, she quickly responded, “And yet No One would sooner f*** you”. A pinned tweet on her page says, “Funniest diss I’ve heard: “Ur only a model because of ur looks”… lol & Beyonce’s only a singer cause of her voice, that’s the point.” You go, girl!
10. She Once Dated Lewis Hamilton
Feeling jealous yet? We did tell you that Winnie has worked with many top brands and top people in the modeling world. Similarly, she is often spotted with many well-known celebrities at top awards ceremonies and parties. She is reputed to have a close friendship with Nick Cannon, Puff Daddy, and many other famous people.
In 2016, she was spotted with Lewis Hamilton, the famous Formula 1 racer and former world champion, at the GQ Awards and at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 Fashion Show. Many newspapers and online publications then declared that the two were dating. Earlier, when Lewis Hamilton split with his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, he was dubbed the most sought after bachelor by some of the media. Later, there were rumors that he had dated Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, Rita Ora, and Barbara Palvin.
Recently, there are rumors that Winnie is seeing Drake, the Canadian rapper, and actor. Before this, she had reportedly also dated Nick Cannon, the American rapper and actor.
9. She Has Appeared In A Beyonce Video
Winnie has appeared in the music video for Beyonce’s hit single Freedom from the album Lemonade (2016). This song also features Kendrick Lamar and was nominated for the Grammy awards in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. Apart from this, Winnie Harlow has also featured in the music videos for The Black Eyed Peas’ #WHEREISTHELOVE, Eminem’s Guts Over Fear, and JMSN’s The One.
While talking about being featured in Freedom, Winnie says that she almost missed this opportunity. She says, “Well, I was actually contacted by their team a couple weeks prior but my agent at the time didn’t get back to them because they wouldn’t tell us much about the project. But a friend of a friend of mine works super closely with Beyonce. She asked her for my number, gave me a call, and didn’t really say much other than: “Beyonce wants you. Can you fly to New Orleans tomorrow?” Really, who can say no to that! I’m honored she contacted me because she used a lot of strong black women to show our power as women and for us to represent all our different walks of life as equals.”
8. She Was A Finalist At America’s Next Top Model
We have mentioned earlier that Winnie was discovered by Tyra Banks and invited to participate in the 21st season of America’s Next Top Model. Before this, she used to model on Instagram. In a 2016 interview with CNN, Winnie said, “My little sister started a Facebook page for me and one of the producers from the show sent me a message showing interest. I didn’t believe it but I followed through and ended up being on the show for season 21.”
At the show, Winnie was well appreciated and was ultimately selected as one of the season’s 14 finalists. Later, she was eliminated in the second week and the show’s judges remarked that she was “too tight”. Winnie says, “There was an uproar on social media. I said, ‘Calm down. It’s just a show — and a reality show at that.’ I was cracking up.” Winnie then appeared on a spin-off contest with other eliminated contestants and returned to the show after winning the highest public vote. Subsequently, she was again eliminated in the 13th episode of the show.
7. She Is A Brand Ambassador For Desigual
Winnie’s performance in America’s Next Top Model was very well appreciated. It brought her a lot of positive attention and she soon started receiving offers from top brands. She was also approached by the well-known Spanish casual clothing line, Desigual. She accepted their offer, flew to Barcelona, modeled for their fall campaign, and went on to become their brand ambassador, along with Adriana Lima, the Brazilian supermodel.
Winnie says, “Desigual stands for being unusual and unique and atypical, so they figured I’d be the perfect person for that. They had a new line that had a lot of dots. And some of my skin patterns are dots. In the campaign video, there’s a part where the dot on a scarf lines up perfectly with a dot I have on my waist, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.” That fall photoshoot was one of the first campaigns for a top brand featuring Winnie.
6. She Became The Face Of Diesel and Sprite
Today, Winnie is one of the most well-known models in the world. In 2015, the famous Italian clothing line Diesel chose Winnie to model for its spring-summer 2015 campaign. For this campaign, Winnie worked with Nick Knight, the reputed British fashion photographer. In 2016, the soft drink brand Sprite chose Winnie for one of its commercials. Sprite later announced that they chose her because, “she is a fresh, vivacious talent who doesn’t need anyone telling her who is. She is a dream chaser and groundbreaker who shows up, and shows out on her own terms.”
Over the years, Winnie has built up a huge portfolio. She has walked for the clothing line, Ashish, at the famous London Fashion Week. In 2014, she modeled for several fashion magazines and websites, including i-D, Dazed, and Showstudio.com. Later, she went on to feature in magazines like Glamour, Complex and Cosmopolitan. She was featured on Vogue Italia’s website and on the cover of Ebony magazine. She has also appeared in a Swarovski campaign.
5. She Was Bullied As A Child
Winnie, who has Jamaican ancestry, was born in Toronto, Canada. She was diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 4. But, Winnie did not realize that she looked different from other kids till she was 8 years old. At that age, she started a new school and soon discovered that other girls feared that they might contract her condition if they came into contact with her. At first, this fear simply meant that the other girls avoided her. Later, though, it turned into vicious bullying.
Winnie says, “Kids called me a cow and mooed at me. I remember sitting by my window, wishing upon the stars that my skin condition would go away. Soon after, my mom went to the school and explained to my class that I had a skin condition called vitiligo, which occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. The disease had left me with a loss of skin color in patches across my body – my arms, knees, face. It’s not contagious.”
4. She Was Physically Attacked And Forced To Quit School
Despite her mother’s best efforts, Winnie was regularly targeted by bullies at school. Shockingly, the bullying later turned to physical violence and Winnie was forced into a fight. As a result, she was suspended from school and later, was forced to quit school altogether.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, Winnie said, “In middle school, the bullying got physical. One night at a basketball game, I sat by myself while a girl mooed at me. I turned around and rolled my eyes. She kept mooing, and I told her to stop. A group of older kids prodded her, saying, “You’re gonna let her talk to you like that?” After the game, outside in the cold, she rushed toward me, shoving me. People crowded around us. I didn’t want to fight. With vitiligo, my skin is sensitive in extreme temperatures. To get out of the situation, I let her beat me up. The next day, she came at me again. This time, I snapped, defending myself extremely well.”
3. She Has Contemplated Suicide
After she quit school, Winnie finally decided to take up modeling for a career. As we have seen, that was definitely the right decision and today, she is one of the top models in the world. However, this has not stopped people from bullying her. Even today, online trolls regularly pass hurtful comments at her. Winnie has revealed that some of these comments have been so hurtful that she has even contemplated suicide.
In one interview, Winnie said, “I get comments that I am a leper, I control how my skin changes, I bleach my skin, my skin’s burned. None of those are true. If one day I’m all black I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white, I’m still a model. I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition.” Winnie says that the comments that she was a leper were the most hurtful and they even forced her to think of suicide.
2. She Does Not Try To Cover Her Condition
Winnie has said in a Cosmopolitan interview that she has accepted who she is and she refuses to cover up her skin condition. She said that she rejects the idea of dyeing her skin, using UV light therapy or topical medicines, even surgery. She also mentioned that she is “not for or against” other people doing that but she’s proud of her skin and does not want to hide it.
In another interview, she said, “When I was younger, for family portraits my mom would use her makeup to blend in my skin … which would end up in orange patches! So, I would have orange patches rather than white patches on my skin. She thought it would make me feel more comfortable, until one day I said “Mom, can we not do this, I hate this process, I hate taking pictures like this.” And she was like “oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I didn’t know” and then she just stopped from there.”
1. She Works Hard To Inspire Others
Winnie has shown tremendous bravery in accepting her skin condition and achieving success as a model despite this disorder. That itself makes her a truly inspiring figure and a role model. In one interview, when she was asked how she felt about being the first big model with vitiligo, she responded, “Well, I’m not just my skin, so it doesn’t feel like I’m the first vitiligo model. I’m just… a model.”
To add to all this, Winnie also works tirelessly to try and inspire others, especially those who suffer from the same condition. In 2011, she had appeared in a YouTube video, “Vitiligo: A Skin Condition not a Life Changer” in which she spoke about her condition publicly. Later, she even gave a TED talk on the subject. In 2015, Winnie helped and encouraged April Star, a 10-year-old child and model who also suffers from vitiligo. Winnie later said, “She’s perfect. She’s headed on the perfect track.” Winnie is definitely an inspiring figure and we wish her even greater success in future.