She has one of the most recognisable faces in fashion, but Winnie Harlow has revealed the distinctive look that’s made her famous once made her want to kill herself.
The Canadian model, who’s rumoured to be dating Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, suffers from vitiligo, a condition which produces the distinctive pale areas around her mouth, torso, hands and knees.
The patches, which are due to a lack of melanin, led to Winnie being bullied throughout school.
After starting a new school, girls would avoid her, fearing they might catch her condition.
Winnie revealed to Cosmopolitan: “Kids called me a cow and mooed at me. I remember sitting by my window, wishing upon the stars that my skin condition would go away.”
At high school, the teasing turned into violence.
Winnie said: “In my junior year a group of girls jumped me, starting a fight. I got suspended, then started skipping class. I dropped out of school when I was 16, 17.”
In a YouTube video about her condition, Winnie spoke out about how she contemplated suicide, saying: “The harassment and the despair that it brought on was so dehumanising that I wanted to kill myself.”
And after being scouted for modelling, the digs continued. When requests for work came rolling in, modelling agencies would tell her to focus on becoming a make-up artist instead, which Winnie said was an ‘indirect hit aimed at my skin.’
But after appearing in America’s Next Top Model, walking for London Fashion Week and appearing in Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, Winnie’s having the last laugh.
I get comments saying that I’m a leper, I control how my skin changes, I bleach my skin, my skin’s burned. None of those are true.
The world is looking at me now. I either let the haters affect me or I step my money up.
If one day I’m all black I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white I’m still a model.
I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition.
Winnie refuses to use make-up, skin dye, UVA light therapy, medicines or surgery to alter her appearance. Way to go, Winnie.