*former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Winnie Harlow has inspired many with her confidence in spite of her untraditional look. Harlow, whose real name is Chantelle Brown-Young, has vitiligo, a condition which causes a loss of skin pigmentation.
She placed fifth in the ANTM competition and her appearance resulted in contracts with major fashion brands Desigual and Diesel.
As Winnie continues to make waves in the fashion industry, fans, many of them White, have taken to social media donning make-up copying her skin condition to pay tribute to her style. Many believe imitation is the highest form of flattery, but in this case, these fans are being blasted for sporting “blackface.”
Winnie harlow (1st pic) who’s stunning HAS vitiligo, these WHITE woman are mimicking her look,ITS STILL BLACKFACE WTF pic.twitter.com/tGTl8Dh1PN
— Black Girl (@BLVCKMATTERS) August 22, 2015
Winnie posted a lengthy Instagram message Saturday in response to those criticizing her fans, saying these individuals are “showing love and appreciation” and not being “hateful.”
“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.”
Relishing her White approval perhaps, Winnie seems to dismiss the notion of cultural appropriation:
“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?”
Harlow’s skin condition was once a source of insecurity, so the positive reaction is something she appreciates “these people recreating.”
“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 ?”
Read Winnie’s full response here.
What are you thoughts? Do you think she’s missing the point, or are critics making a fuss over nothing?