If they are not your relatives then at least you must have come across one in your neighbourhood or even sat near one in a taxi, someone suffering from vitiligo.
Vitiligo is an incurable skin pigmentation disease that causes colourless patches to develop on a person’s body. In Uganda here the locals usually say ‘he or she was burnt by twins’ as an explanation to the disorder.
And just like everyone else who has had the same fate, Canadian model Winnie Harlow, born Chantelle Brown-Young, did not have an easy childhood as she was diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of four. Almost all the victims are bullied for their appearances and Harlow was no exception, her peers at school taunted her with cruel nicknames such as “cow” and “zebra”.
“The bullying was so bad that I was forced to drop out and be home schooled,” Harlow recalls. And despite dropping out of school, Harlow fought back, found a rejuvenated sense of self and learned to love who she regardless of people’s opinions and comments.
As the common saying goes disability is not inability, vitiligo may have made Harlow’s past hell but its defiantly making her future paradise, as we talk she has over one million followers on Instagram.
The super talented model who featured in Tyra Banks’21st season is now the face of Spanish fashion label Desigual and she’s been shot by fashion photographer and director of online platform SHOW studio Nick Knight, whose portfolio includes Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Kanye.
We should pick a leaf from Harlow’s life, she believed in herself and fought hard for her place in society and today people all over the world are trying to imitate her condition. When asked about her opinion on these imitations in an interview with CNN this is what she had to say;
“I think that people are not imitating me in a negative form. They were showing their version of me and I appreciated it. (It is very clear to me when someone is showing love. I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something that I once cried myself to sleep over.” Harlow’s Instagram)