Canadian model Winnie Harlow doesn’t let her vitiligo define her and the former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant is so adamant in that stance that she has declared she is not a spokesperson for the disease.
The 22-year-old made the statement in an interview with Elle Canada for its Feb. 2017 issue, where she confessed that she doesn’t put pressure on herself to be the voice of her community as the only Black person in the room nor does she do it for her vitiligo.
“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.'”
Along those same lines, Harlow stated she also 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.”
Because of Harlow’s non-desire to be imitated, she isn’t one to demand other people accept their physical distinctions the way she has.
“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.”