*Former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Winnie Harlow has declared she is not a spokesperson for the disease that made her famous.
The 22-year-old Canadian model has vitiligo, and she explained in an interview with Elle Canada for its Feb. issue, that she doesn’t put pressure on herself to be THE FACE of the skin disease.
“People try to put it on me, like I speak for women, for Black women,” Harlow explained. “There’s so many other pieces to me. I’m not a vitiligo spokesperson just because I have vitiligo. I don’t perm my hair anymore, but I’m not a natural hair expert just because it grows out of my head like that.”
“I’m just living life,” she continued. “And if that inspires you, I’m proud. But, I’m not going to put pressure on myself to be the best person in the world and tell everyone I have vitiligo. If you want to know about it, you can do your research.
“Either way, I’m not in the dictionary under ‘Vitiligo.’”
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Harlow gained prominence as a contestant on the twenty-first cycle of ANTM after her prominent form of vitiligo caught the attention of host and former model Tyra Banks on Instagram.
In addition to rejecting being the spokesperson for vitiligo, Harlow also told Elle mag that she does not embrace the label of “role model.”
“I feel like I am an inspiration,” she said. “That’s the word I prefer. I don’t believe that I have to be a role model, someone to be emulated.”
Harlow added, “I love myself the way I am, but people will always message me about other people with vitiligo who cover their skin,” the model explained. “‘Winnie Harlow, you need to tell them that they need to love themselves the way they are and stop covering their skin!’ No! If that’s what makes them comfortable and what makes them happy, let them be. This is just what makes me happy. Right? So, that’s why I do it.”