Winnie Harlow has become a global star in the fashion industry.
Winnie has grown from model to spokeswoman and activist, openly speaking about her battle with body image issues and her skin condition vitiligo.
In a recent feature by CNN, Harlow recalls her past and being teased in school growing up. As a kid she was called things like “cow” and “zebra.”
“The bullying was so bad that I was forced to drop out and be home schooled.”
Things worked out in the end, though.
Harlow has since become the face of Desigual, has gained a 2.7 million followers on Instagram, and been featured on the covers major magazines, like France’s L’Officiel and Elle’s February 2017 edition.
Is this real!? What a way to finish off Fashion Month!!!! ❤❤🙏🏽 Thank You @lofficielnl for allowing me to grace your cover.. and to shoot in the home of Mr Christian @Dior himself in France?! Epic! Thank you @Nicolettegoldsmann for your creative direction on something different to any shoot I’d done before, @lauramariecieplik for helping me feel free on set @camilljosephine for making me a cutie @cyrilhair for being the first person to do short hair on me @normanpohl for slaying this face, my family @thesquadmanagement 😍 and EVERYONE on set who took a shot of tequila avec moi, you’re the realist 😂😘❤
In 2011, Winnie released a video titled, “Vitiligo: A Skin Condition Not a Life Changer,” and opened up on her past struggles with vitiligo, and the peace she’d reached with it.
“I’m not a monster. I’m a a sweet girl who likes pink. It’s not at all a big deal… People have eczema and stuff like that and are afraid to show their skin… It’s you, embrace it.”
Harlow has always been open about the obstacles she’s faced in the past. During high school, because she was bullied so often, Harlow ended up dropping out.
But instead of being held back by this decision, Harlow was empowered it. She told CNN in a 2016 interview,
“I learned to love who I am despite what anyone would say about or to me. This gave me the courage to really stand up to anyone or any obstacle in my life.”
Harlow was first discovered on Instagram by Tyra Banks and has since been apart of other projects, including appearing in Beyonce’s Lemonade visual album and appearing on Tyra’s America’s Next Top Model.
Before that, her first modeling job was with British photographer Nick Knight. For someone who hadn’t been considering a modeling career, Harlow has come a long way.
But the most beautiful thing about Winnie is who she is on the inside.
We feel the pressure to meet our “standard” of beautiful in so many areas in life, it’s refreshing to see how at peace Harlow is with herself, and just how stunning she really is. She’s become a reminder that no matter who you choose to be, be yourself with confidence, because that’s the only quality that will shine through in the end.
Winnie has remained the same carefree girl she was when she first rose to prominence, and she will no doubt continue to slay with the power of embracing who she is.