Bullies Called Her a ‘Cow’ and Beat Her Up, But Now…

Jul 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm |

Model Winnie Harlow Reminds Us True Beauty Is Unique

Model Chantelle Winnie-Brown

(Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

Model Chantelle Brown-Young AKA Winnie Harlow and her unique brand of beauty made a big splash when she was featured on the fifteenth season — or the 21st cycle — of America’s Next Top Model. Since the show’s airing, the success story has gone on to represent several big brands like Desigual and Diesel and has walked on major runways around the world. But the world hasn’t always been able to see Chantelle’s striking beauty the way they do now.

Chantelle has a chronic skin condition called Vitiligo, which causes portions of people’s skin to lose their pigment.

“I discovered that I was ‘different’ in the third grade,” Chantelle writes for Cosmopolitan. “As the new kid at school, I was trying hard to find my footing. I thought I had made friends with a couple of girls, until they stopped talking to me. When I confronted them, they said their mothers had warned them to stay away, because they might catch my skin condition.”

It was the first time she felt shamed by the way she looked. “Starting with that incident in the third grade, it would define the way people treated me.”

Growing up in the Toronto area, Chantelle says she was given extra love from her family through the development of her condition, which didn’t begin its onset until she turned 4. The model moved from private school to public school after Chantelle began struggling to keep up, and that’s where the serious bullying began.

“In middle school, the bullying got physical. One night at a basketball game, I sat by myself while a girl mooed at me. I turned around and rolled my eyes. She kept mooing, and I told her to stop. A group of older kids prodded her, saying, ‘You’re gonna let her talk to you like that?’ After the game, outside in the cold, she rushed toward me, shoving me. People crowded around us. I didn’t want to fight.”

Model Chantelle Winnie-Brown

(Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

Eventually the harassment got so bad that Chantelle’s principal suggested that she go to an alternative school. Soon after she transferred to a private school a journalist in Toronto who noticed Chantelle’s Facebook page told her she though she was “strikingly beautiful,” and shot a YouTube video with her. All it took was that one small seed of confidence planted in her psyche, and Chantelle began to dream of a bigger future for herself.

After pounding the pavement for a few years, desperately trying to get noticed and gaining followers on her social media fan pages, Tyra Banks finally took an interest in Chantelle and invited her to be on Top Model. After gaining an international platform and following, the next steps of her career began to fall into place, and Chantelle was able to redefine the positive self-image others had taken away from her so long ago.

“I had to relearn how to love myself by forgetting the opinions of everyone else and focusing on my opinion of myself. Today, my motto is: You only have one life. Live it for yourself, not for anyone else.”

Share if you think true beauty is unique!

True beauty is unique. Just look at her now!