Model With Vitiligo Redefining “Beauty”


*Just when you think you might be able to define the term “beauty,” I invite you to take a look at model Chantelle Winnie’s stunning cover shot!

Winnie was born Chantelle Brown-Young in 1994 in Toronto, to parents of Jamaican heritage.  At the age of four, she contracted vitiligo, a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes a loss of pigment on the skin in patches around the body, particularly the face and hands.

While the condition is not contagious, it affects two percent of the population and has no known cure.  Vitiligo affects all ethnicities, but is more visible among people of African and Hispanic heritage.

By the time she entered school, Winnie has being teased — and even beat up — by her classmates.  Some likened her to a cow and “mooed” at her, while others simply avoided her in the mistaken fear that they might  “catch” the condition.

“I remember sitting by my window, wishing upon the stars that my skin condition would go away,” she remembered.  “I wondered, ‘Why me?'”

Winnie’s life took a turn when pictures from her Facebook page were seen by a YouTube personality, who encouraged her to model and shot a video that soon went viral.  By 2015, she had found herself on fashion runways from New York to Madrid, alongside models like Naomi Campbell.

Perhaps her most high profile shoot was for the cover of Italian fashion magazine L’officiel’s September 2015 edition — the first time that a model with vitiligo — of any race — had been featured on the front of a major fashion magazine.  

It goes without saying that Winnie is redefining the term “beauty” for the 21st century!   That said, she’s careful about no being seen simply as a role model for those with vitiligo.  “I am not my skin.  I am a model with a skin condition,” she says.

Let the church say “Amen!”

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