Harlow, born Chantelle Brown-Young, was diagnosed at four years old with a condition called Vitiligo, which causes light patches to form on her naturally darker skin, the same condition Michael Jackson had. Clearly, her unique appearance hasn’t stopped her from rising up the ranks in the modeling industry, with some major celebrities also taking notice.
Namely, Drake. The rapper posted a photo of the two of them backstage at a fashion show, and received a flood of positive comments on the pic.
Now, get familiar with the inspiring stunner. Here are five things you need to know about Winnie Harlow:
1. The Canadian star was discovered at the age of 16 by a Toronto photographer, who encouraged her to model.
#tb.. Ya lol 👧before she was👸 #vitiligo #chantellewinnie #attitude #spicegirlsshirt lol. I wish I could ensure that little girl that things would get better, and everything would work out..💭❤ A photo posted by ♔Chantelle Winnie♔ (@winnieharlow) on Sep 21, 2013 at 12:23pm PDT
Harlow reminisced on the days around getting discovered. “I was at the age still that I was worried about other people’s thoughts but I was trying to get out of thinking that way, to think about myself and that I should love myself,” Harlow told Today in 2014. “I was just growing into myself.”
2. She overcame bullying as a child.
Harlow, who was fully supported by her single mother and would often fly from Toronto to the States to visit her dad, had a tough time dealing with other kids. She admits to being called “zebra,” “milky,” and “cow,” among other derogatory terms. However, she’s since seen past her detractors and become a beacon of inspiration. “The only person that can make you feel that you aren’t beautiful is you,” she told Today. “You can’t let someone else lower your self-esteem because that’s what it is — self-esteem, you need to first love yourself before you have anybody else love you.”
Learn more about the #newrules at this year’s New York Fashion Week from The Gossip Table.
3. She was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.
@tyrabanks Reading this was an amazing way to end 2014❤️ new things to conquer this year! Playtime is over, it’s game time💪 thank you for all your love and support ladybugs💋 #Grind A photo posted by ♔Chantelle Winnie♔ (@winnieharlow) on Jan 6, 2015 at 2:40pm PST
Although she was the second contestant voted off 21st cycle of the reality show, she still remains close with host Tyra Banks.
4. Last November, she gave a thought-provoking Ted Talk about the definition of beauty.
Here is just an excerpt of her speech: “The reason I feel there is beauty in everything is because when I was young, I was picked on for something that today I feel is amazing. One thing about me connects millions of people around the world, which I think you can probably see is my skin condition.” She later admitted that after suffering through years of being bullied, she began to bully others, which she now regrets. “I want to put this idea in your head that it takes one person to realize there is beauty in everything, and you don’t have to be on one side of the spectrum or the other side of the spectrum, or fit into someone’s mold…be your own person, know for yourself what beauty is,” she explained.
5. She’s the face of Desigual.
A photo posted by ♔Chantelle Winnie♔ (@winnieharlow) on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:53pm PST
America’s Next Top Model was simply a platform for Harlow to be seen, and she certainly intrigued a few designers. She was immediately flown to Spain to meet with the team behind Desigual. Now, she’s the face of their fall campaign and recently walked the NYFW runway for the brand. Additionally, she walked the catwalk for Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief charity fashion show.
For more on Winnie Harlow, follow her on Instagram, where she regularly posts photos of herself as well motivational messages.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]